Archive for August, 2016
On Sunday 14th August we said goodbye to our Florida condo, and headed back to the UK, landing at Gatwick the following morning. The time since then has passed quickly. We continued working on the proposal, in consultation with our colleagues in the UK and potential partners in Cambodia. The proposal was submitted last week, and we await the results, which should reach us on Sept 9th.
Our flat needs some cleaning and decorating, and we decided to make a start on the bathroom. We haven’t actually got down to work yet, but we’ve been looking around shops and choosing colours etc. Meanwhile, we’ve spent some time going for walks, and relaxing with friends and family.
Five pubs and a coffee shop
On Tuesday 23rd August we awoke to bright skies and sunshine. According to the weather forecast, it was to be the best day of the week, so it seemed a shame to stay indoors, and we decided to go for a walk. We took the bus to Uxbridge, where we looked in a few shops and had coffee before setting off to walk east along the Grand Union canal. We stopped at the Malt Shovel for a drink, and again at the Water’s Edge. Then we walked down to Little Britain Lake, where we ate our picnic lunch.
From the lake a footpath leads to the Slough Arm of the Grand Union, which we followed west towards Slough. We detoured to the Red Lion pub, which used to be our ‘local’ when we lived in Langley. We sat in the garden, enjoying a nostalgic drink and debating whether to press on towards the cemetery or return home. Then Sandie’s phone rang – it was our friend Caroline, and we had arranged to do a pub walk with her and her daughter Louise on Wednesday evening. Or so we thought. It transpired that Sandie had missed a text message making it Tuesday instead.
That settled the question for us! We had a long wait in Slough for a bus (having just missed one) and it was a slow journey back to Wycombe, due to heavy traffic. So we did not get home until 6.10. We had just a few minutes to turn ourselves round before Caroline and Louise called for us. Then we walked to the General Havelock for a drink, and up the hill to the village of Flackwell Heath, where we had dinner at the Stag. A good day for walking – and pubs!
A family weekend
On Friday 26th we picked up a hire car and drove to Faversham. Ellie was at work, but we were greeted by Andrew, Hope, Isobel, Charlie and Oscar. The boys had returned the previous evening from a visit to Disneyland Paris, and Claire had dropped them at Andrew’s. It was great to see all four of our grandchildren again. In the afternoon we had an excursion to Broadstairs, on the train. The beach was crowded, but we managed to find a space, and the children enjoyed splashing in the sea.
In the evening we brought Charlie and Oscar back to Wycombe – they were to stay with us for the weekend, while Claire was at a birthday celebration. The weather was not great, but we enjoyed ourselves nevertheless. The boys love swimming, and are making good progress with their lessons. So on Saturday morning we went to the leisure centre. We did not realise until we had changed that the small pool was being used for lessons and was not open to the public. We could not persuade Oskie to go in the big pool, since even at the shallow end he would have been out of his depth. But we found a great bouncy castle for him to go on, and signed him up for a climbing class the next day. In the afternoon we went to the cinema, to see the new film version of Swallows and Amazons.
On Sunday morning we were back to the leisure centre early for Oscar to do his climbing. There is a fantastic set-up, with walls of all heights and levels of difficulty, and Oscar went up like a monkey. Afterwards we all had another swim. This time the small pool was open, but after a while Charlie moved to the big one, and eventually Oscar decided to join him.
In the afternoon we braved the clouds and occasional spots of rain to go to the Rye, the big park in Wycombe. In addition to the two playgrounds there was a small children’s funfair; the boys loved the bungee trampolines, the indoor bouncy castle and the huge inflatable slide. When they got home, the boys began painting some dinosaur money boxes we’d got them.
On Monday the weather improved somewhat, so in the morning we went to Denham Country Park. There is a new adventure playground there, which kept the boys active for some time. We also walked through to the canal, and had coffee (or coke) and cakes at the tea garden by the Deep Lock. We were back home when Claire and Maggi arrived. We walked into town and had lunch in a pub; we came back through the Rye, so the boys were able to spend more time there before Claire took them home to Bussage.
After our camping trip, we had two weeks in Sarasota before returning to the UK. We had plenty to keep us busy. First we had to wash or clean our camping gear and pack it all away; the car needed a good clean too!
We were soon back in what has become our regular routine. On Monday mornings Sandie goes to her tap dance class (other activities are ‘on hold’ for the summer); on Saturday mornings we go downtown to the library, the charity shops and the farmers’ market. We usually go down to the bayfront for our Friday evening ‘pub crawl’, occasionally further afield to Anna Maria Island, and we’re branching out to find new places too. We’ve discovered a bar that does great ‘happy hour’ cocktails, and a really good Thai restaurant, both not far at all from our condo. One night we were later than usual going down to the bayfront (because we’d been for cocktails first) but were in perfect timing for a really wonderful sunset.
On Sunday mornings, and sometimes during the week as well, we go to one of the beaches near Sarasota. We went to Turtle Beach for the first time in quite a while; the last time we went, there was heavy machinery repairing the beach south from the car park, and we wondered if they had finished. They certainly had: the machines had all gone, and we were amazed at the difference they had made. The beach used to be very narrow, and in places it was difficult to get past rocks without wading deep in the sea. Now there is possible to walk on the wide sandy beach, all the way to the southern tip of the island.
We had a few tropical thunderstorms (which we expected) and two days’ solid rain (which we did not). However, we did not mind too much as we had plenty to do indoors. We attended a meeting (by conference call) of the Board of Directors of Central Park II, and spent time chatting with neighbours, or writing emails to the directors, about some of the issues raised. We also spent a lot of time on proposal development (so much for being retired!) in frequent electronic communication with our ERA partners, and with some Cambodian consultants who will work with us on the project – if we get it! Watch this space.