A birthday celebration on the Thames

Early on May 11, we landed at Heathrow once more, and spent another ten days in England. We chose May for a break because it was halfway between January and September (this was before we decided to do an extra trip in March) and also because it was Ian’s birthday – more of that later. It turned out to be a busy time, and more eventful than we had anticipated.

Family and friends

Our base for the visit was the Travelodge in High Wycombe. During our stay we managed to see all of our three children (+ partners) and four grandchildren. We also visited Ian’s Aunt Margie, now settled in a care home in Glasgow, by doing a flying day trip from Luton, along with Claire and Charlie (now aged three). And we met up with several friends, enjoying a number of pub meals in the process!

4 generations: Aunt Margie, Ian, Claire and Charlie

Paul pays a flying visit to see his sister and newest nephew

Keeping busy

The weather was very cold for May, but we managed to do a few pleasant country walks. We did quite a lot of shopping, mainly things to take back to Ghana, but we also helped Claire to choose new carpet for her bedroom. We dealt with post that had arrived for us during the past two months, did some babysitting and Sandie went with Claire to look at possible nursery schools for Charlie.

A typical English country scene

A less typical English scene – alpacas among the buttercups

Health issues

A lot of time was taken up with medical or (in Sandie’s case) dental appointments. Ian went twice to our GP’s surgery, for tests needed for insurance purposes. He also went to the dermatology department at the High Wycombe Hospital, where a growth on his neck was diagnosed as a basal cell carcinoma – fortunately the type of skin cancer that does not spread, but it needed to be removed. He was given an NHS appointment in July, but opted to have the operation carried out privately, which worked out cheaper than another trip home! It was done at a hospital near Slough, on the day that we had arranged to go there for other reasons, so it made remarkably little difference to our plans.

Birthday celebrations

Ian’s 65th birthday was on Saturday 19th May, and our final weekend in England had a definite Thames theme. On Saturday morning we took the bus to Henley, and had coffee and huge gooey cakes before setting off to walk along the river to Marlow. We have walked the whole of the Thames Path in the past, and Ian was keen to do a chunk of it on his birthday. Henley-Marlow is a favourite and familiar stretch, so it was something of a nostalgia trip.

Enjoying coffee and cakes in Henley at the start of the walk

Approaching Marlow at the end of the walk

That evening – after scrubbing up! – we went to Windsor, or rather Eton, for dinner with Claire, Raf, Andrew and Ellie. (Paul was sadly unable to join us, but had managed a brief visit to Wycombe on the previous Wednesday.) Ian had chosen the House on the Bridge Restaurant; we had passed it many times but not previously eaten there. We sat at a table overlooking the Thames, with Windsor Castle in the background. The food and service were excellent.

Birthday dinner at the House on the Bridge

The following day we went to Boulter’s Lock, near Maidenhead, and had a family lunch at the hotel there, another restaurant with a splendid view of the Thames. This time we were joined by our grandchildren. We had a very leisurely meal, and a wander round Ray Mill Island, where there happened to be a ‘duck derby’ that day.

Grandchildren enjoying lunch at Boulter’s Lock

Later, after Andrew & co had set off back to Faversham, we went with Claire and the boys to Carter’s Steam Fair in West Wycombe, and watched Charlie enjoy several rides. And the next day we flew back to Ghana!

Charlie enjoys a ride at the Steam Fair

Claire and Charlie on the swing-boats

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