Regretfully, we left Sarasota on Saturday June 13th and flew overnight back to the UK. On the same day, Claire was at a wedding in Kent, and she stayed overnight in a nearby hotel. Charlie and Oscar stayed with their Uncle Andrew and his family. We landed at Gatwick early on Sunday morning. After a while, Claire came to collect us and took us to Faversham, where Ellie provided lunch for all nine of us. We later drove home to High Wycombe. It was good to see the family again!
A moving saga
While we were in Sarasota, we were talking to our solicitor almost every day, and hoping to hear that we had exchanged contracts relating to Claire’s move to Gloucestershire. By the time we returned to England, this still had not happened, but everyone had agreed on June 30 as a completion date, and we were on the verge (so we thought!) of exchanging contracts. On Thursday 18th we were told that exchange would take place the next day, so we were anxiously awaiting confirmation, but it did not happen. Another attempt was made on Monday 22nd, but that failed too.
Finally – late on Tuesday – we got the message that the people at the top of the chain were refusing to exchange until an issue with the house they are buying was resolved – and that could take weeks. So the best we can hope for now is to complete in late July, and (taking our vendors’ holiday into account) it might not be until late August. Everyone who has ever bought and sold property in England will no doubt share our frustration. The worst thing is the uncertainty. It makes it difficult to arrange anything, and causes particular problems with regard to Charlie’s school. But there’s nothing we can do except wait.
Getting some exercise
During our first two weeks back, we expected to be helping Claire with packing. But as that has not happened, we’ve taken the opportunity to go for some walks. One afternoon we started from our flat, walked up through Keep Hill Woods and along the road to the village of Flackwell Heath. After a drink in a pub there, we returned by a different route, partly following an old railway track.
Two days later, the weather forecast was good and we decided to do a longer walk. But we had an appointment in Slough at 6pm (to inspect improvements at the flat we own) so needed to end up there. In the morning we took the bus to Uxbridge. After a look round the charity shops and our morning coffee, we set off along the Grand Union Canal towpath. The weather was indeed good, and we enjoyed sitting in the sun at a couple of pubs along the way. We detoured down to Little Britain Lake, where we are our picnic lunch, and walked along the Slough Arm to the town, where we were in perfect time for our appointment. It all worked well, and was something of a nostalgia trip, as we walked those paths many times when we lived in Langley, but had not done so for many years.
We did another long walk yesterday. This time we took the bus to Chesham, where it was market day and the sun was shining. We wandered round the town (charity shops and coffee as usual!) and then did a nine-mile circular walk. We’d done it once before, but that was way back in 2002. The paths were mainly flat and easy to follow, although we did manage to get lost at one point in the afternoon. We enjoyed the pleasant (typically English) scenery, and saw lots of wild flowers along the way, including a whole field of poppies. In the village of Little Missenden, we stopped for a drink, and admired the medieval frescoes in the Saxon church.
A weekend in Evesham
We were invited by our friends Brenda and Phil to an early joint birthday celebration on June 20th. So we hired a car for the weekend and drove to Evesham on Saturday morning. Brenda and Phil had planned a treasure hunt for 20 guests in the afternoon. In five cars, we drove round a specified route, trying to find answers to about 50 questions we had been given. We were pleased to share a car with our old friend Ian Handscomb and his partner Martin, as we had not seen them for some years.
On our journey we stopped to visit some churches and a beautiful walled garden. We were baffled by a complicated sundial, unlike anything we’d seen before! The treasure hunt was good fun, and the questions quite easy, so everyone got top marks, or very nearly. Afterwards we had a delicious dinner back at the house – Brenda and Phil had obviously worked very hard, and they are great cooks!
We stayed overnight in Evesham, and had planned to do a walk in the Cotswolds the following morning. We discovered, however, that it was the National Morris Weekend in Evesham, and ended up staying in the town to watch. Over 30 sides took part, coming from all over the country. On Sunday morning they gathered at the park by the river, and processed – with some dancing on the way – up to the market square, where they took it in turns to perform. We have watched morris dancing many times, but we have never seen such a variety of costumes and dance styles. One group did not dance at all – they performed a mummers’ play about the Spanish Armada. There was also a Welsh folk dance group, and some groups performing English clog step dances, as well as the more traditional morris dancing with swords, sticks, handkerchiefs etc. All great fun to watch – but we did wonder what people from other countries would have made of it!