Back to a Home We’ve Never Lived in Before

Our USA road trip ended at Las Vegas Airport on Thursday 27th June.  During the previous eight weeks, we had travelled over 7,000 miles across ten states; we’d stayed in 47 different motels or hotels; and we’d visited a dozen national parks or monuments.  All in all, we’d had a great trip with so many varied experiences that it would be hard to say what we enjoyed most.

We were fortunate enough to get on the first flight we tried out of Las Vegas – unlike our experience in Cape Town. We were luckier than some others, because the BA flights to Vegas had suffered technical problems, and many of the full-fare passengers on the same plane had been waiting for two days!

A new flat, and a surprise

Claire picked us up from Heathrow and drove us to our new home: we’d exchanged contracts and completed the purchase while in the USA. She’d worked hard while we were away, getting our belongings brought out of store and arranging the delivery of a bed and table we’d chosen back in April.  She’d also bought two chests of drawers, and assembled them as well as our old bookcases. She’d even made up the bed, so we were able to move in straightaway.

However, after we’d dumped our luggage in the flat, Claire was keen for us to go round to her house, because the boys wanted to see us, and also because there was a ‘surprise’ waiting for us there.  The surprise turned out to be a black and white kitten, called Bruce, who had joined the household just days earlier.  He is playful, friendly and very cute.

Bruce, our new surprise

Bruce, our surprise

Settling in

Our flat is a second-floor two-bedroom apartment in a modern development five minutes’ walk from Claire’s house. Our time so far has been mainly spent sorting out all the stuff piled up in the spare room and buying all the 101 things you discover you need in a new home.  Opening all the boxes and finding things we’d forgotten we’d got (because they’d been in store for five years!) was a bit like Christmas.  The problem however was trying to shoehorn everything into a smallish flat.  Even though we’d got rid of tons of stuff before leaving our house in Langley, we still have hundreds of photo albums, theatre programmes and other souvenirs accumulated over the years.  We’ve made quite good progress, but it will be a long while before our second bedroom can be used as a bedroom, if ever.

Our new flat

Our new flat

Our spare room/junk room

Our spare room/junk room

Big hats on the Thames

In addition to the unpacking, shopping and occasional babysitting duties, we have managed to go out and enjoy ourselves.  We’ve had a couple of pub meals, and seen the film Now You See Me at the cinema.  On Sunday 7th July the weather was remarkably warm and sunny – definitely too good to be indoors!  So we decided to walk a stretch of the Thames Path, from Reading to Henley (about nine miles).  On the way, we saw many different river craft, from large gin palaces to small canoes being energetically paddled. And we visited three pubs (walking in hot weather makes you thirsty, that’s our excuse).  As we’ve often said, the Thames Path is the longest pub crawl in England!

Coffee by the Thames

Coffee by the Thames

The Bull at Sonning

The Bull at Sonning, one of our pitstops

One of the multitude of river craft

One of the multitude of river craft

The Thames near Henley

The Thames near Henley

 

A crowd round the ice cream van

A crowd round the ice cream van

It happened that our walk coincided with the Henley Regatta.  So when we reached Henley we were able to amuse ourselves by taking photos of the crowds who were then starting to leave the enclosures.  The men wore standard uniform of loud blazers and straw boaters; the women wore posh frocks and large hats.  We thought of trying to get in, as we were wearing hats, but Sandie was not sure her ‘Bud light’ baseball cap would qualify.

Henley Regatta

Henley Regatta

The royal barge

The royal barge

Big hats

Big hats

Bright blazers

Bright blazers

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