From Faversham we set off on a tour of England and Scotland, visiting friends and relations. To do this we borrowed back our car, known as the Green Machine, which Andrew uses to go to school in term time. Since his term had just finished, he was happy for us to use it for the next six weeks.
We went first to Norfolk, where we stayed with our friends Una and David in Ormesby, and did a day trip to Sheringham to visit Sandie’s cousin Mike and wife Jane, and also to see Mike’s mother Joan who is over 90 and in a nursing home. Another day we went into Great Yarmouth and had a nostalgic wander along the seafront and round the town, with doughnuts on the seafront and chips from Yarmouth market. On the way back to Ormesby we visited our friends Linda and Don, and took flowers to the grave of our best man Barry, who sadly died last year while we were in New Zealand.
From Norfolk we went west to Loughborough, and stayed with our friends Jacqui and Roger. Sandie went on a day trip with Jacqui and her mother, also in her 90s, to Trentham Gardens near Stoke. As Roger was at work, Ian was able to have the house to himself and do some consultancy work. The next morning we went with Jacqui to Elvaston Castle Country Park – another nostalgia trip, as we went there many times when we lived in Loughborough.
We then went north to Glasgow, to visit Ian’s Aunt Margie, who lives in a sheltered flat. The guest room was not available, so we stayed in a nearby hotel. Aunt Margie was the third nonagenarian we saw on this trip. Although still very alert mentally, she is physically frailer now and realises that the time may come when she needs to move to a care home. We took her to visit two possible places and she is now on the waiting list at both. As the weather was amazingly good, we were also able to take her to some of her favourite haunts, including Loch Lomond, where we did a boat trip in the sunshine.
After leaving Glasgow we headed south to Manchester. We stayed two nights in an aparthotel, and found that our window was directly opposite Paul and Rosie’s flat! They were at work during the day, but we had two pleasant evenings with them, as well as a trip to Lyme Park. From Manchester we returned to High Wycombe, stopping en route for lunch with our friends Robert and Teresa in Wolverhampton.
During our stay in Wycombe we took Charlie to the seaside: first the beach at West Wittering, then into Bognor Regis for rides and ice creams. After four days, we loaded the Green Machine with all our camping gear, and headed back to Faversham, in time to celebrate Isobel’s fourth birthday on August 3rd.