After Aunt Margie’s funeral, we had three weeks based in Wycombe, before heading back to Florida. We were quite busy during this time, with work, babysitting, meeting friends and catching up with appointments at the optician and dentist. We went to a meeting of our folk dance club, and to their spring dance. One Friday night we did our usual ‘pub crawl’, up to the Crown at Hazlemere.
Ian had a bit more work to do, and a meeting at the Department for Education about the work he had already done. We were both involved in an ERA meeting at our flat. Charlie and Oscar stayed with us twice while Claire was on her trips to Dubai. Some of the time, the weather was very good, so we made several trips to the park. The Bank Holiday weekend, and the one after, there was a travelling children’s funfair. We went twice to the children’s weekend cinema, and on one occasion we saw some street theatre in the town, which was fun even if we did not exactly understand the message the actors were trying to convey!
With Claire’s impending move, there was quite a lot of paperwork, emails and phone calls to deal with. We also needed to clear out our belongings from her shed! So one fine morning we went to her house and shifted everything outside. Our old tent and camping gear had not been used since 2011, while Ian’s art materials (paints, brushes etc, plus many finished paintings) had been stashed in the shed since we retired in 2008. Obviously we did not expect Claire to take them all to Bussage, and we did not have room for them all in the flat. We chose a few things to take to Florida, and the rest were disposed of, via friends, Freecycle or the tip!
Bussage and Henley
On April 27 Sandie went with Claire to Bussage. The primary purpose of the trip was to visit the local school, where Charlie will become a pupil after the move. It was only after Claire had fixed the appointment that she discovered it coincided with an INSET day at Charlie’s current school, so he was able to come along and see the school for himself. But there seemed no point in subjecting Oscar to the long journey, so he and Ian had a ‘boys’ day out’: they went by bus to Henley, where they walked by the river, had fun at the playground, visited some charity shops and had lunch in a pub.
Two days in London
We love days out in London, but it is very rare for us to visit the city twice in one week, as we did this time. Ian had to go to London on Tuesday 28 April for his DfE meeting, so we decided to make it a day out for both of us. While Ian was at the meeting, Sandie bought theatre tickets and then walked along the Strand, visiting familiar haunts including King’s College where she did her first degree more than 40 years ago! She had lunch sitting in the sun in the courtyard of Somerset House.
In the afternoon we met up at Waterloo and took a train to Kingston. We walked another stretch of the Thames Path, but with limited time available we were able to walk only five miles, from Kingston to Richmond. (This stretch is amazing – it is as though you are in the depths of the country, hard to believe you are so close to London.) Then it was back to the Strand for dinner in a pub and a performance of Oppenheimer at the Vaudeville Theatre – an RSC production, and brilliant as always.
The following Saturday we went up to London to have lunch with Rose Hague, a friend from New Zealand days. Once again, we decided to make a day of it. The Wycombe trains arrive at Marylebone, and we were meeting Rose at the new Granary Square near King’s Cross. With time to spare, we decided to walk along the Regent’s Canal, for the first time in many years. We stopped for a coffee break at the busy Camden Lock market. We had a long leisurely lunch with Rose, and went with her to the British Museum. In the evening we saw Gypsy at the Savoy. Imelda Staunton’s performance was amazing, but we were rather disappointed with the play itself.
Faversham and Slough
On Monday 4 May we went with Claire and the boys to Faversham, to visit Andrew and his family. We gave light sabres (Disneyworld souvenirs) to our granddaughters; the boys had brought theirs, so (appropriately for ‘Star Wars Day’), there was a lot of harmless fighting in the garden. We had lunch in Herne Bay, and strolled along the seafront. The children had some rides and the family enjoyed ice creams. On our return to Faversham, we went down into Andrew’s cellar and emptied one of the trunks we’d stored there since 2008 when we first went to New Zealand. The contents consisted mainly of Ian’s chess sets, silver spoons and spoon racks. We took them back to Wycombe, for storage there or onward transfer to Florida.
After lunch the next day, we went to Slough. Well, almost – we did not make it to the town centre. We got off the bus in the Farnham Road, went in a few shops and then walked through housing estates to the cemetery where Sandie’s parents are buried. We put flowers on their grave, and then walked along the canal to the Red Lion pub in Langley. This was a nostalgic trip, as we walked along the canal many times when we lived in Langley, and went to the Red Lion frequently! The purpose of this visit was to meet up with Sarah and Tami, friends from NFER with whom we had an enjoyable dinner.
For Sandie, one of the best things to happen during this time was that she acquired a new laptop. Her old one was well used and well travelled; in recent times it had developed problems (doubtless due to old age) which made it increasingly difficult to use. It finally packed up completely, and has been replaced by one which is much smaller and easy to tote around. This blog shows the new laptop in use!