We’ll start this blog where the last one finished – with the saga of Claire’s move. She finally decided to put in an offer for the house next door to the one we’d been in the process of buying since March. After some negotiation, her offer was accepted – but just two days later, the owners decided not to move after all. And less than one week later, the original chain collapsed. So Claire is back to square one, and has to find another house, but there is nothing suitable currently on the market. It will be some time before she is able to move, so Charlie will be back at his High Wycombe school in September.
We had another day up in London on 30 July. This time the tubes were operating, so we were able to start as we usually do: train to Marylebone, tube to Piccadilly Circus, buy theatre tickets in Leicester Square, have coffee and visit Stanfords travel bookshop. Then we took the tube to Waterloo and the train to Mortlake, to continue walking the Thames Path.
We ate our picnic in the garden by Mortlake Station, then walked through to the river, and had a drink at the Ship Inn, where we ended our previous walk. The first part of this walk was through a tunnel of trees – pleasant, although our view of the river was somewhat obscured. We stopped at a pub in Putney for a mid-afternoon drink; after that the scenery became more industrialised until we reached Battersea Park, where we paused to take photos of the Peace Pagoda.
We ended our walk at Vauxhall Bridge, and got a bus to the West End. After dinner in a pub we went to the Duchess Theatre to see The play that goes wrong. This has had good reviews and is supposed to be very funny; obviously most of the audience thought so, judging by the laughter around us. But it was pure slapstick, a kind of humour that doesn’t appeal to us, so we were disappointed. A week later, we saw an excellent touring production of Oklahoma! at our local theatre, and that was very much more to our taste.
While in London Sandie experienced several problems with her camera, and decided it was really time to get a replacement. Two days later, she bought a so-called ‘bridge’ camera, and tried it out that evening on one of our pub walks. She has used it a lot since, experimenting to see how it compares with her SLR. So far she is pleased with the results.
Outings with the boys
We have spent a lot of time with our grandsons recently. Sandie and Claire took them swimming twice, and we all went (Ian as well) to Black Park, where Claire and Charlie completed the junior ‘Go Ape’ course, climbing through the trees on all sorts of bridges, swinging platforms and zipwires.
On Monday 3rd August, while Claire was in Dubai, we took the boys to Langley by bus. We showed them the house where we lived for 18 years, then drank coffee while they enjoyed the playground in the centre of the village. We continued our nostalgia trip by walking up to Langley Park, about two miles away. There is a better playground there, and a café where we could get hot drinks to have with our picnic, and ice creams afterwards. Then we explored the Arboretum and the lake, before walking cross-country to the Red Lion pub, which used to be our local. Finally along the canal back to Slough – stopping en route at yet another playground which the boys had spotted – and a bus back to Wycombe.
Claire belongs to the Qantas UK Cabin Crew, and normally flies only to Dubai – the Australian crews take the planes on from there. However, the British flight attendants do sometimes now go ‘all the way’, and last Saturday Claire set off on her first ever trip to Melbourne. She is away for a week, and the boys came to stay with us for the first four days.
We planned a trip to the south coast (first time for ages!) for Tuesday which was supposed to have the best weather, according to an early forecast. But on Saturday the weather was warm and sunny – and the forecast for Tuesday had changed – so we decided to make the most of it and go then. First Ian took Claire to the airport, so we were late setting off, and the traffic was very heavy, so we didn’t reach Littlehampton till 3pm! After that, though, we had great fun: playing on the beach, walking along the prom to a playground, walking along the river to a nice café where we had dinner before returning home (a much faster journey).
On Sunday we went to the Chiltern Open Air Museum, not far from here. We’d visited before, but many years ago. We thought the boys might like it, especially when we discovered that they had a ‘Vicious Vikings’ weekend on. We had no idea that there were so many people who spend their weekends dressing up in Viking clothes, camping in Viking tents, demonstrating Viking traditions and engaging in Viking battles! We arrived early enough to enrol the boys for the ‘Children’s Army’ which fought the adult Vikings during the afternoon. The children had great fun chasing the Vikings and tackling them with wooden swords: there were fearsome yells of triumph when (not surprisingly) they won.
The weather was wet and miserable on Monday, so our only excursion was to the children’s matinee at the local cinema. However, it improved again yesterday, so we went to Henley and did a walk along the Thames, passing Temple Island, stopping for a picnic lunch at Hambleden Lock and Weir, and for drinks at the Flower Pot in Aston. Then it was back over the hill to Henley and the playground there.
Earlier today Ian drove the boys to Bussage. They will stay with Maggi until Claire returns from Australia on Saturday. Meanwhile, we shall be setting off on our travels once again!