We’ve managed to keep ourselves busy over the past couple of weeks. Ian painted the bathroom – twice, because Sandie was not happy with the first colour chosen! While he was doing that, she cleaned out the kitchen cupboards – another job that needed doing. We finished a complete draft of our book about the journey we did last year, following that undertaken by Ian’s father during World War II. We had a meeting of our ERA partnership, and managed to attend the Marlow Folk Dance Club – for the first time in exactly a year!
Going for walks
We’ve done several walks recently, some short and some long. Sometimes we’ve managed to combine walking with doing other things. For example, when we were choosing new flooring etc for our bathroom, we wanted to visit some shops in Loudwater, two miles east of Wycombe. It was a beautiful day, and our route took us along back roads and footpaths, some of which we had not previously discovered. After looking round the shops we had a pub lunch, and then came back by a different route, stopping at more shops along the way.
Another day we had arranged to meet our friends Sarah and Tami for dinner in the Red Lion at Langley; we also wanted to take flowers to Sandie’s parents’ grave in Slough Cemetery. And we wanted to have a look at our Slough flat, as we had had reports of rubbish being dumped nearby. Again, it was a warm day and we wanted to do some walking.
We set off at 9.15 and caught the Slough bus, but alighted in the Farnham Road. (This paragraph may not mean much to those unfamiliar with the area!) We did what we have done several times before: visited charity shops there, had coffee, bought flowers and then walked through back roads to the cemetery. From there we walked down into the town centre, and had lunch. We walked along the High Street (more charity shops!) and detoured to our flat. Then we walked through Upton Court Park, along Trelawney Avenue, through to Langley ‘Village’ (where we used to live) and up to Langley Park. We walked through the Arboretum, and round the lake, and followed footpaths which would bring us to St Mary’s Road. We reached the Red Lion just as the church clock opposite was chiming 6 – after walking six or seven miles, we’d made it at exactly the right time!
A weekend with the boys
Charlie and Oscar stayed with us again the first weekend in September, while Claire was working. They are now really keen on swimming, and attend classes where they have made great progress. The forecast for Saturday was sunny in the morning, but rain in the afternoon, so we came up with what seemed to be the perfect plan. In the morning we took the bus to Bourne End, and walked along the Thames Path to Maidenhead, with stops on the way for coffee, watching the boats go through Boulter’s Lock, a picnic lunch and a playground. Reaching Maidenhead we went to the swimming pool and spent a couple of hours there before catching the bus back. It all worked well, although the forecast was sadly not entirely accurate. It was sunny when we set off, but we had rain later in the morning as well as in the afternoon.
Next morning we asked the boys what they would like to do, and with no hesitation they opted for swimming again. This time we went to the Wycombe pool, and once again we combined it with a walk: we took a taxi there and walked back (downhill!) with a stop at the adventure playground on the Rye.
A day at the seaside
The weather forecast for w/b 11 September was good, with Tuesday expected to be the warmest day. We had no other plans, and fancied a trip to the coast – perhaps we’re missing Florida (though it’s not quite the same!). We hired a car and drove to West Wittering, which we always considered to be one of the best beaches along the south coast. Once again we were disappointed with the weather – by the time we reached Wittering there was quite a lot of cloud, and a fairly strong breeze. The beach was also not as good as we remembered. Still, we were able to walk along the sands as far as Chichester Harbour, where we took photos of the boats before returning to the car park by an inland route. We then drove into Chichester, a city we always enjoy visiting, and spent a couple of hours there before heading home, with a stop en route at a country pub for dinner.
A day in London
On Saturday 17th we went up to London for the day. As usual, we went to the theatre: this time we saw a stage production of George Orwell’s 1984. But our main reason for choosing that date for our London trip was so that we could take part in the pro-refugee demonstration. Along with thousands of others, we marched from Park Lane to Parliament Square, chanting and waving placards. In the Square we heard moving speeches from politicians, church leaders, celebrities – and refugees.
We were calling on the UK government to take its fair quota of refugees (at present it is near the bottom of the list of European countries to do so). In particular, we were thinking of all the unaccompanied children currently kept in conditions described as ‘a living hell’ at Calais. Nearly 400 have a legal right to residence in the UK – many have relatives already living here – yet the government has been slow to allow them entry. We need to put pressure on our MPs and local councils to honour their obligations, so that these children can be reunited with their families and have a safe place to live.
We were also protesting against the racism and xenophobia which sadly seems prevalent in large sections of British society and the media. And not just in Britain, of course. The government’s plan to build a long wall in the Calais area is horribly reminiscent of Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. We await November with trepidation, and just hope that his bid for the US presidency is unsuccessful.
We said in our last blog that we would get the results of our proposal (for an evaluation project in Cambodia) on September 9. It is now the 18th, and we have had no news, so we still do not know where we will be spending the winter!