On Wednesday 3rd May we left our home in Sarasota and headed for our home in High Wycombe. We had to remember that we were flying from Orlando, not Tampa – it seemed a long time since we flew out in November! In our rental car we had two full cases, one very heavy. When we first bought our condo (more than two years ago) we had visions of flying the Atlantic with just hand luggage, but we realise now it will never happen – there are always things to take back and forth.
First week back
Of course, it is never as hot in the UK as it is in Florida. But as we were returning in May, we did hope for mild spring weather. In fact, it was mostly grey and very cool: going from max temperature 30+ to 13 was quite a shock. We had the best tans we’d ever managed to acquire, but could not show them off as we needed to cover up!
Still, being back in the UK had compensations. The day after we landed, our Friday night pub crawl (with Caroline) took us to the Crown at Penn, so Sandie could enjoy her ‘vegetarian fish and chips’ for the first time in six months – halloumi seems impossible to get in Florida. On Saturday night we had dinner at Chutney, our favourite Indian restaurant – we haven’t yet found one as good in Sarasota.
We had several appointments lined up for immediately after our return. Sande had an eye test and chose new specs – badly needed as she managed to scratch her current ones earlier this year. Ian went to the health centre twice, for his regular check-up and tests. We both had dental check-ups scheduled (in Ian’s case, a bridge tooth needed replacing), but these were cancelled at the last minute as the dentist had gone sick.
On Sunday 7th we had a meeting of the company formed to manage a small block of flats, one of which we own. Since we had to go to Slough for the meeting, we combined it with a visit to the cemetery where Sandie’s parents are buried.
On Weds 10th we had a day in Reading, where we did some shopping and went for a stroll along the canal. The sun actually came out and it was very pleasant sitting at a canalside pub with a glass of wine in our hands.
Second week back
We had our delayed dental appointments, and Ian had his bridge tooth replaced. Sandie collected her new specs.
On Thursday 11th we went to see the screening of NT-Live’s Obsession. We decided it was not really our kind of play! The next evening we went to our folk dance cub, for the first time since October. We took the bus to Bourne End, and then strolled along the Thames – delightful in the early evening sun. We did our pub walk on Saturday evening, but sadly the pub where we’d decided to eat was not serving food that evening, so we ended up at an Indian restaurant in Hazlemere.
We’ve linked up with two local groups that were new to us. As we now know, there are ‘Pulse of Europe’ gatherings in many cities to highlight the positive benefits of the EU; in Wycombe a small number of people have a stall near the parish church on Sunday afternoons.
‘Skeptics in the pub’ is a national (international?) organisation of open-minded people who meet to discuss all kinds of issues. The Wycombe group meets twice a month, but the main meetings now take place in a hall, as the numbers are too large to be accommodated in a pub. But there is a bar there, so the title is still reasonably accurate!
On Tuesday 16th Sandie had lunch in town with our friend Anne. On Thursday we went to Slough, for s trip combining business and pleasure. We had to see our solicitor and sort out some things regarding our flat there, but we took the opportunity of having lunch with our friends and former colleagues Sarah and Tami.
21 in Centigrade!
Friday 19th May was the big day when Ian reached 70. We’d booked for dinner and theatre in London, but it happened that Ian was needed at a business meeting that afternoon, which fitted in quite nicely. We went to London by train as usual; after coffee in the West End we strolled down to Millbank, where we met our ERA colleague Lesley for lunch. Then she and Ian went off to the meeting, while Sandie amused herself, mainly by looking round the Tate.
We met up again in a nearby pub, and then Lesley went home and we went back to the West End. We looked round Stanfords bookshop and were then in perfect time for dinner at Brown’s restaurant. It was not far from there to the Prince of Wales Theatre, where we saw The Book of Mormon, which we’d long wanted to see. It was very funny, extremely well done, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Celebrations continued over the weekend. On Saturday evening we had a birthday dinner at the George and Dragon in Marlow. It was originally planned by Claire as a surprise event, but then Ian decided to invite the family. So he knew that they were coming, but not that several friends were joining us! It was a great evening, giving us the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, and meet new ones: Phil (Maggi’s fiancé) and Ant (Claire’s boyfriend). We had a lovely dinner, followed by a mango-flavoured birthday cake made by Hope and Bel (with help from Ellie).
Charlie and Oscar stayed overnight with us, and on Sunday morning we played cricket outside. Claire and Ant joined us later; Andrew, Ellie, Hope and Bel also came over, bringing another cake – this one to celebrate Claire’s birthday on the 23rd. More cake, drinks, cards and presents! Some of Ian’s cards seemed intended to reassure the recipient that he wasn’t really 70 at all: 46 in hexadecimal, 21 in centigrade, 18 with 52 years’ experience etc. But our favourite (and most positive) message was composed by Charlie: ‘To inseventy and beyond’!
Soon after our children and grandchildren had left, Caroline took us to Piggot’s Farm, where they hold music weekends culminating in a concert open to the public. We heard close harmony singers in one barn, and an orchestra in another. It was an interesting place (our first visit), and we enjoyed a relaxing end to a wonderful weekend.