The weather has been mostly good over the past two weeks, which has encouraged us to go out and do some walking. And when walking on a warm day, you need refreshment. We’ve also spent quite a lot of time with our grandsons. Hence the title of this blog!
London with the boys
At the end of June, Claire went to Edinburgh for a long weekend hen ‘do’. Charlie and Oscar stayed with us. When we collect them from school, we often walk from there to the Rye, a large park/playing field with an adventure playground. That Friday, we felt like a change, and as we had the use of Claire’s car, we took them to a pub a little way out of town, which has a playground in the garden.
The next day the four of us went up to London. Starting from Hyde Park Corner, we walked right through Hyde Park, admiring the gardens and statues, and stopping for coffee by the Serpentine. Then we crossed into Kensington Gardens – more statues and flowers, a pause at a small playground, and over to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. On a warm Saturday this was inevitably crowded, but the boys enjoyed playing there for a couple of hours while we sat in the sun and read the weekend Guardian.
We returned by a different route to Hyde Park, and took out a pedal boat on the Serpentine for half an hour. Great fun, if rather exhausting for the pedallers! Then we took the tube to Leicester Square, as we wanted to get some maps from Stanfords, the travel bookshop. On emerging from the station we were amazed to find the streets absolutely packed, and some of the tube entrances closed. Only later did we discover that the gay Pride march had taken place earlier that day. Pubs and restaurants were jammed, but we managed to find a pub slightly away from the really busy area, where we were able to get a table and have something to eat before returning home.
While in Chesham two days earlier (see previous blog) we’d spotted a chair in a charity shop which went perfectly with our other dining chairs. We bought it, but had to leave it until we could go with a car to collect it. We’d also spotted a great playground in Chesham, and another at Little Missenden, halfway round our walk. It seemed the perfect outing for that Sunday morning. We collected the chair, and the boys spent a short while on the Chesham playground. But then it started raining, so the Little Missenden playground will have to wait for another occasion.
Walks long and short
We decided that we would aim to do one long walk every week, and on Wednesday 1st July we chose an eight-mile loop from Marlow. We’d done it before, but several years ago, so we enjoyed doing it again. It happened to be the hottest day of the year, so we naturally got very thirsty. We couldn’t wait to reach a pub half way round the loop, but when we got there, we discovered it was closed for refurbishment. Disaster! Luckily, a mile or two further on, the path skirted a golf club; to our great joy (and somewhat to our surprise) non-members were able to get drinks from the bar.
We arrived back in Marlow at 4pm, and met Claire and the boys at the big playground (where else?). After a short stroll along the Thames, we went to a nearby pub for drinks, and ended up eating there as well.
It is our habit on Friday evenings to go for what we jokingly call our ‘pub crawl’: a short walk with stops at one (or two) pubs for drinks, and then another pub for dinner (and more drinks, of course). Recently we have been exploring different walks (and different pubs). We’ve been to Bourne End many times, but only recently discovered a walking route there, on footpaths most of the way. That made a good pub crawl last Friday. Yesterday we took the bus to Bourne End, and walked along the Thames to Cookham, where we had dinner by the river. A rare treat, eating an evening meal outside in England! But the weather has been good – so good in fact that we’ve twice gone out for an evening walk on days other than Fridays, just because it was far too nice to stay at home.
Friday 3rd July was Sports Day at the boys’ school. This year it was held on the school’s rather small playing field, so there were separate events for each year group. We were there early to see Oscar in the Nursery School events, and to see Claire win the parents’ Egg and Spoon race. After a break we were back for the Year 1 events (Charlie’s year group). And Claire won again! Ian had a go at the men’s egg and spoon, but came in near the back of the field.
Next day was the school fete, with the usual stalls, face painting, refreshments etc. Claire had several tries at a competition which involved putting pegs on a paper plate, but despite several attempts she did not win this one.
London again – by bus
We decided that for our ‘long walk’ this week we would do the next stretch of the Thames Path, starting from Richmond. We chose Thursday because the weather forecast was good. What we didn’t realise was that there was a tube strike scheduled for that day! And – contrary to our usual practice – we’d booked theatre tickets two days earlier, so changing our plan was not an option. We looked up buses for journeys which we would normally do by tube, but were well aware that when there is a tube strike it can be difficult to catch a bus in Central London.
Over breakfast on Thursday morning, we debated how to get to Richmond without going through London. There is a bus from High Wycombe – passing close to our flat – direct to Heathrow, and we guessed there must be one from Heathrow to Richmond. So there is – but unfortunately it goes from Terminal 5, not the central bus station. Finally we decided to go from here to Slough, because we knew we could get a bus direct from there to T5.
Our plan worked – although we just missed a connection in Slough, and the journey to Richmond took longer than we had anticipated, so we finally arrived there at 12.40. After a drink we detoured up Richmond Hill, as we’d heard that there were great views of the river from there. The views (we thought) were disappointing, but there were some beautiful gardens where we ate our picnic lunch.
Then we walked along the Thames – but only 4.5 miles, as we wanted to allow plenty of time for getting to the West End. We finished at Mortlake, and if we’d had any sense we would have caught the train from there to Waterloo. But we decided to go by bus (free for seniors!) which involved changing at Hammersmith. There was a delay there, and an awful traffic jam when we reached Kensington. In the end we decided it would be quicker to walk, so we left the bus near the Albert Hall and hiked the two miles to Leicester Square. Fortunately we reached the theatre in time, and managed a quick snack on the way, though not the full meal we had planned.
At the Duke of York’s we saw Hay Fever, by Noel Coward. Felicity Kendall was brilliant as ever, though we did not find the play itself terribly funny. Afterwards we walked to Trafalgar Square, and got a bus (no problem this time) to Marylebone, where we were able to get a train home. We counted ourselves lucky that we had achieved all we wanted to do, despite the strike!