We landed at Heathrow at noon on Monday 14th October. Claire picked us up, and took us back to Wycombe, where we spent the next three weeks. Most of our time was occupied with the usual round: meeting up with friends and family, babysitting, medical appointments and visits to the optician, hairdresser etc. We also completed another stage in sorting out our possessions: between four of us (Claire, Charlie and ourselves) we managed to get everything out of Claire’s loft, and took our belongings back to the flat. The next challenge was finding somewhere to put them all!
A disappointing day
It was a long time since we’d been to the theatre, so we decided to have a day in London on Saturday 19th. The morning followed our regular pattern: train to Marylebone, tube to Piccadilly Circus, half-price theatre seats from tkts in Leicester Square, coffee in the Moon under the Water, browse in Stanfords travel bookshop.
The weather forecast was reasonably good, so we decided to spend the afternoon walking along the South Bank (doing more of the Thames Path). We stopped for lunch in a favourite pub, the Founder’s Arms. Until then, all was well. But while we were in the pub, the heavens opened, and we sat watching people hurrying by with their umbrellas. Disappointment No 1! We abandoned the idea of a walk, and dashed into the nearby Tate Modern. And then we had Disappointment No 2: the Turbine Hall has been closed for redevelopment.
We crossed the Millennium Bridge, took the tube to Marble Arch, and spent the afternoon looking round the shops in Oxford Street and Regent Street. We ended up at the Stock Pot near Leicester Square, where we planned to have dinner. The Stock Pot has been one of our favourite London restaurants for many years – there are not many places where you can get good cheap food in the West End. But to our shock we found it had closed – Disappointment No 3!
Last stop was the Theatre Royal Haymarket, to see One man, two guvnors – Disappointment No 4! We were keen to see the show, as it gets very good reviews, our friends have liked it, and the near-capacity audience certainly enjoyed it. So it must be our failing that we do not appreciate slapstick, and spent most of the performance wondering why other people seemed to find it funny.
A bout of gout
The day after our London trip, Ian woke with a swollen and very painful foot, which made walking very uncomfortable. The GP confirmed (when Ian managed to get an appointment) that it was a classic case of gout. He was advised to avoid red meat (easy) and red wine (less so). He was also given pills which appeared to help, although having got better, his foot got worse again a few days later. It seems that gout is a one-off problem for some people, while others suffer frequently. We just hope that Ian is in the first category!
A pants party
Wednesday 23rd October was Oscar’s second birthday. We had a birthday tea on the day, and he opened presents from the immediate family.
His birthday party was the following Sunday, and as usual Claire made this a big event. Her chosen theme was Aliens Love Underpants, which (for the benefit of readers who don’t have young children) is the title of a popular book. As it happened, there was a stage production of the book at the Wycombe Swan Theatre, and we took the boys on Saturday morning.
For the party, the house was decorated with washing lines draped across the living room, with more than 20 pairs of pants of varying colours, patterns and sizes. There was a birthday cake in the shape of a pair of spotted bloomers. Charlie had a cape made out of pants, and Oscar wore pants on his head. Some of the adults also had pants on display, although usually with jeans underneath! There was of course plenty of food and drink, and after dark there were fireworks – not pants-shaped, however.