Posts Tagged Faversham

47th on 42nd

After returning from Manchester on 1st October, we kept ourselves busy.  The analysis and reporting for Sutton Trust occupied most of our time until the report was submitted late last Friday.  We have had problems with our Slough flat, and began to consider if this was a good time to sell.  Discussions, research and meetings took up a lot of time.  And Sandie got involved in a Young Enterprise event, helping Caroline with a presentation to the young people who are to be managing directors of their various companies.

Still, there were opportunities to enjoy ourselves, such as meals with friends, and visits to pubs or restaurants.  We went to the local cinema twice, to see the film Kingsman: the golden circle (quite entertaining) and the NT-Live Encore screening of Hamlet, with Benedict Cumberbatch.  We went to our folk dance club; the first time since May that we’d been able to go, and the last time for quite a while!  And we had two days out, to celebrate special occasions.

Our wedding anniversary

47 years ago

On Tuesday 10th we celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary with a day out in London.  It followed the usual pattern of our ‘London days’, with perhaps some extra treats along the way.  We went first to Leicester Square and were amazed to find there was no queue at all at tkts.  After coffee, and a visit to Stanfords, we walked the final stretch of the Thames Path (for the third time).  In August we completed a short walk on the Isle of Dogs, so we started from there this time.  Walking from Crossharbour DLR station to the river, we stopped for a drink at a pub called Pepper Saint Ontiod.  We’d never heard of any Ontiod, saint or otherwise, but an online search next day showed that there was no such person.  The address of the pub was Pepper St On The Isle Of Dogs – they’d decided to abbreviate to Ontiod and make him a saint!

Saint Ontiod of blessed memory

We followed the Path to the end of the Isle of Dogs and then through the Greenwich foot tunnel, emerging by the Cutty Sark and the Royal Naval Museum.  The painted ceiling was closed, but we had a quick look in the chapel and lunch in The Old Brewery, an interesting place which (luckily for Sandie) had some American-style IPAs.  Then we continued our walk along the river.  It was years since we were last in that part of London, and we were amazed at how much building was going on.  We paused for a drink at the ‘Anchor and Hope’ pub, where we remembered stopping before.  Having only discovered Aperol Spritz in June while in Italy, we now find you can get it anywhere – Gt Yarmouth, the east End of London…..

Looking back at the City

Through the Greenwich foot tunnel

Sandie finds an IPA!

The chapel at Greenwich

An atmospheric sky

The Dome

Captain, I think there’s a problem with the ship!

Gormley’s Quantum Cloud

Now, where are we exactly?

Sunshine and Aperol Spritz – perfect!

We reached the Thames Barrier at 5pm, and needed to get back quickly to the West End. The Underground does not extend that far, and there was no obvious bus. We asked a man to confirm that we were heading in the right direction for the nearest railway station, and he kindly gave us a lift.  We reached Charing Cross with just enough time for a pub dinner and a cappuccino on the way to Drury Lane for the 7.30 performance of 42nd Street.  It was brilliant – wonderful costumes, great sets, and fantastic tap dancing.  It made Sandie keen to be back at her tap class in Sarasota, though she knows she will never be anywhere near that level!

The Barrier

Inside the Theatre Royal

Cheers!

A special birthday

Ellie’s 40th birthday was on Friday, and as part of the celebration we were invited to a family tea on Sunday 15th.  Claire, Ant, Charlie and Oscar were going too, so they kindly detoured to pick us up on their way from Bussage to Faversham.  It was a long journey for them, especially as there were hold-ups on the motorways.

We reached Andrew and Ellie’s house at 1.15pm.  Ellie’s mother and sister, her brother and his family were already there, so 16 of us sat down to lunch.  Ellie did a great job of seating and feeding us!  Some of us had not seen Hope since her birthday last month, so there were presents for her too – and congratulations for Isobel, who just a few days ago heard the good news that she’s passed the Kent test, and will be joining Hope at grammar school next year.

The kids’ table

The adults’ table

Now, what can it be?

Just what I’ve always wanted!

After lunch was cleared away, we all went out for a walk at the Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park. The children enjoyed running around, and we all collected edible chestnuts – we’ve never seen so many!   Sandie regretted having bought some the day before. Back at the house we had cake (made by the girls), and then Ellie’s family moved on to Rebecca’s house, leaving more manageable numbers for tea.

Feeding Lucy

Into the woods

This is where they used to make the gunpowder…

Now I realise why they said ‘No Smoking’

Climbing the walls

Cousins assemble

Who let these kids into my woods?

Chestnut hunting

Cake time!

We left at 7pm, and (after more hold-ups on the M2) reached our flat at 9.15. Claire and co did not stay, as they still had a long way to go.  We relaxed and watched TV – while eating plenty of roast chestnuts!

 

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Dancing in the church

After the boys left, we had four days before setting off on our travels again.  We had an ERA meeting and did some related work.  Then we were off – not abroad this time, but to visit family and friends in England.  An invitation to a silver wedding party meant that we needed to hire a car, and then we started thinking about other people we could visit in roughly the same area.  It ended up almost as a challenge – how many friends and relatives could we see in a week?

Friday 4 August

Ian collected the rental car and we headed west.  We stopped in Moreton in Marsh for lunch and to look at the charity shops.  Then on to Evesham, to visit our friends Brenda and Phil.  The weather was good, and it was Phil’s birthday on Saturday, so we began with birthday cake in the garden. Later Phil showed us his elaborate railway set, and Brenda her set of bell plates – something we’d never even heard of before.  Some of her friends came for a rehearsal, but we missed this as Phil took us out for a walk – along the river Avon and back via the pub!

Tea in the garden

Birthday boy

Ring out those bells!

A gaggle of geese on the Avon

Saturday 5

From Evesham we drove down to Bussage (near Stroud) to visit Maggi and Phil.  We’d planned to stay at Claire’s on Sunday, but Maggi and Phil were going to be away, so we did a detour to see them, and their new house, on Saturday.  Claire and the boys arrived at the same time as us (their house is only five minutes’ walk away) and Maggi did a lovely lunch for seven.

In the afternoon we drove down to Purton (near West Swindon, where we lived thirty years ago) and checked into an apartment for the night.  It was very comfortable – more like a small bungalow!  After changing into our glad rags, we walked down to the church for Liz and Dave’s silver wedding celebration.  This began with drink and nibbles in the churchyard: two gazebos had been set up, but fortunately there was no rain.  About 7 we went into the church itself, which looked beautiful – a long table (for about 60 guests) already set with candles and food.  There was music while we ate, and later a band played in a side chapel, with dancing in an adjacent space.  It was a wonderful evening.

Churchyard drinks

Happy couple

In the church

The bride and groom, 25 years on

Most fun in the church for centuries

Strutting their funky stuff

Sunday 6

Back to Bussage for an overnight stay with Claire.  In the afternoon we went to Coate Water, near Swindon, and walked round the lake.  This was enjoyed by everyone, including the boys and Claire’s dog Peggy.  For us it was a nostalgia trip, because we went there several times when we lived in Swindon, 30 years ago!  It hadn’t changed at all.  Ice creams and a bouncy castle completed the outing.  Then it was back to Claire’s; by then Ant had arrived and he helped Claire cook a great roast dinner.  Later that evening, we played cards, and introduced Ant to Oh, hell!, the Schagen family’s traditional game.

Coate Water

Any alligators?

Bouncin’!

Monday 7

From Bussage we drove to Loughborough, along the Fosse Way (also nostalgic, as we used that route several times between Loughborough and Swindon).  We stopped in Stow on the Wold, looked round the main square and had lunch in a traditional bakery/café.  A few miles further on, we passed through Moreton in Marsh, thus completing the first loop of our travels, which we’d decided would form a (very rough figure) of eight.  When we reached Loughborough, we were welcomed with tea and home-made ginger biscuits.  We hadn’t seen Jacqui and Roger for over a year, so it was good to have an opportunity to chat and catch up on the latest news.

Tuesday 8

The weather forecast said rain all day – and it proved to be accurate.  We needed to go somewhere indoors, and decided on a trip to Leicester.  The big excitement in the city a few years ago was the rediscovery of Richard III’s bones and their subsequent re-interment in the cathedral.  Jacqui is now a cathedral guide, so we had the full tour unofficially. In addition to Richard’s tomb, we found an eight-foot tall medieval knight and a Richard III puppet show, as well as some nice modern stained glass.

Richard III statue at Leicester cathedral

Richard’s tomb

Do not annoy this guy

Richard III puppet show

Modern stained glass

Opposite the cathedral is the King Richard III Visitor Centre, with information about his life (including the controversy about whether he was a good guy on an arch-villain) and the story of the finding of the bones.  We also visited the Guildhall which is nearby, had coffee in a Buddhist café and managed to look in a few charity shops as well!

Reconstruction of Richard III

Storm trooper armour

Leicester Guildhall

Grrrr!

Inside the Buddhist cafe

Wednesday 9

We said farewell to our friends, drove into the centre of Loughborough, and looked round the shops there (more nostalgia!).  Then we drove south – through pouring rain – back to Wycombe.  We arrived home in the afternoon, and had time to do some shopping before driving to Twickenham, where we had dinner and a very pleasant evening with Robin and Margaret.

Thursday 10

We headed off in a different direction, to visit Andrew and his family in Faversham.  Ellie was at work, but we were able to give Isobel her (belated) birthday presents and admire Hope’s new hairstyle; she has had her incredibly long hair cut off and given to a charity which provides wigs for children who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy.  It is a dramatic change, but looks great, as well as contributing to a good cause.

A new Hope

Birthday girl

In the afternoon Andrew drove us and the girls to Rochester, where we visited the castle, the cathedral and several shops, including one which is reputed to be the biggest second-hand bookshop in England.  Back in Faversham, Ellie had arrived home.  Andrew cooked dinner for us all, and we had a cake made by Isobel for dessert.

A wet Thursday in Rochester

Rochester castle

Inside needs work

On the ramparts

Rochester cathedral

Artwork in the cathedral

Friday 11

Our grand tour was over.  Ian returned the hire car and Sandie had a dental appointment.  Back down to earth!  But we would like to say a big thank you to all our friends and family members who gave us hospitality and so many nice meals during the past week. We will have to start cooking for ourselves again now!

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Touching Base

After returning from Bussage we had two weeks before setting off for Turkey.  We made the most of the time, visiting family and several friends.

On Tuesday 19th April we spent the day in Slough, taking flowers to the cemetery where Sandie’s parents are buried, and having lunch with Sarah and Tami, former colleagues from NFER.  The next day Robin and Margaret came to dinner.  The following week Sandie had lunch with Anne and Annette, and we did a pub walk with Caroline.  Lesley and Dougal came for a meeting of our ERA consortium.

In the General Havelock

In the General Havelock

Country walks

There were just two days – coincidentally, both Thursdays – when we had no other commitments, and went for long walks in the country.  The first one was from Stokenchurch; the weather was grey and cool when we set off, but later the sun came out and it was quite warm.   We saw lots of bluebells, spring lambs and several pheasants.  We had coffee at a very nice pub in Ibstone, and later drinks sitting outside a pub in the picturesque village of Turville, which has been used in many films and TV shows.

An uphill climb

An uphill climb

Bluebell woods

Bluebell woods

Primroses

Primroses

Fancy a quick gambol?

Fancy a quick gambol?

The windmill at Turville

The windmill at Turville

Refreshments at the Bull & Butcher

Refreshments at the Bull & Butcher

Yellow flowers (species unknown)

Yellow flowers (species unknown)

The second walk started in Old Amersham.  Luckily it was sunny that day, although there was quite a stiff breeze much of the time. Once again we saw lots of spring flowers: woods carpeted with bluebells, as well as daffodils, narcissi, may blossom, fields of rape… and (in people’s gardens) tulips, cherry blossom and magnolia trees.  Definitely springtime in England!  We heard birds singing all the time, and at one point a deer ran across our path.

Old Amersham

Old Amersham

Magnolias

Magnolias

Rape!

Rape!

On we go

On we go

Bluebells

Bluebells

Pub at Seer Green

Pub at Seer Green

Curious horse

Curious horse

Weekends

We had Charlie and Oscar to stay with us for the weekend 22nd – 24th April, while Claire was on one of her work trips to Dubai.   On the Saturday we took them up to London for the day.  We spent some time at the Tower of London; we had a tour led by a Beefeater, and especially enjoyed a performance of various historical events given by a group of actors at different locations around the Tower grounds.  We then went on to the Monument, where we climbed the 311 steps – the boys going much faster than us.  We looked at other places associated with the Great Fire (which Charlie is studying at school) and ended up at the Museum of London.

Beefeater Tour

Beefeater Tour

Battle royal

Battle royal

Pudding Lane

Pudding Lane

The Monument

The Monument

The golden top

The golden top

Some of the 311 steps

Some of the 311 steps

View from the top

View from the top

The Golden Boy at Pie Corner

The Golden Boy at Pie Corner

Charlie in antique fire-fighting gear

Charlie in antique fire-fighting gear

The following Friday we picked up another rental car and headed north to visit Paul and Alexa in Bury, Lancs.  That morning Paul had put a message on Facebook, asking if our car had snow tires!  There was a picture of the houses opposite his, covered in snow.  On our way north we stopped at Redditch, where our friends Jenny and David live.  We had a delicious lunch in their sunny conservatory, and caught up on news from the past three years, since we’d seen them last.

After leaving Redditch we got stuck in several traffic jams, and did not arrive in Bury until 8pm.  It was our first visit to Paul and Alexa’s home.  The snow had vanished but it was still very cold.  We were welcomed with prosecco and later given a very tasty meal – we did well that day for being waited on!  Next morning we walked to the local park and then drove to the town of Ramsbottom.  We climbed to the tower at the top of Holcombe Hill – there was still a patch of snow on the grass. We visited a coffee shop and later a smart pub outside the town.  In the evening Paul and Alexa took us to their favourite restaurant (Indian, vegetarian) for a lovely dinner. Afterwards we played Oh, hell! (card game) – a Schagen family tradition.

Paul & Alexa doing exercises

Paul & Alexa doing exercises

Heading up Holcombe Hill

Heading up Holcombe Hill

Holcombe Hill

Holcombe Hill

The Peel Tower

The Peel Tower

We had to leave early next day, as they had another commitment, so we returned home by a different route, in order to visit friends in Loughborough.  We crossed the Peak District, but the scenery was rather spoiled by the heavy clouds and occasional rain.  It was cold too – we saw lots of heavily-clad walkers, and Sandie kept thinking that she should not need fur-lined boots in May.  We had a pub lunch with Jacqui and Roger, and later drove home, thus completing a massive circle – OK, an irregular oval – since leaving on Friday morning.

As Monday 2nd May was a Bank Holiday, we were able to visit Andrew and his family in Faversham.  We strolled around the town and down by the Creek, and had another pub lunch.  As we had to wait some time for the food to arrive, Andrew produced a pack of cards and we all played Oh, hell! again.  We were pleased to see that Hope (11) and Isobel (8) are already getting good at it.  When approached by a man from the next table, we thought he was going to complain about our shouts and laughter, but he just wanted to know which game was causing so much fun.

Oh Hell! in the pub

Oh Hell! in the pub

Antique shops by the Creek

Antique shops by the Creek

The excitement knows no start

The excitement knows no start

Cornet recital

Cornet recital

It’s less than three weeks since we returned from Florida, and we’ve been lucky to see so many people.  We’d like to thank them all for their hospitality!

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Three weeks in Wycombe

After Aunt Margie’s funeral, we had three weeks based in Wycombe, before heading back to Florida. We were quite busy during this time, with work, babysitting, meeting friends and catching up with appointments at the optician and dentist. We went to a meeting of our folk dance club, and to their spring dance. One Friday night we did our usual ‘pub crawl’, up to the Crown at Hazlemere.

Ian had a bit more work to do, and a meeting at the Department for Education about the work he had already done. We were both involved in an ERA meeting at our flat. Charlie and Oscar stayed with us twice while Claire was on her trips to Dubai. Some of the time, the weather was very good, so we made several trips to the park. The Bank Holiday weekend, and the one after, there was a travelling children’s funfair. We went twice to the children’s weekend cinema, and on one occasion we saw some street theatre in the town, which was fun even if we did not exactly understand the message the actors were trying to convey!

A cardboard fountain??

A cardboard fountain??

With Claire’s impending move, there was quite a lot of paperwork, emails and phone calls to deal with. We also needed to clear out our belongings from her shed! So one fine morning we went to her house and shifted everything outside. Our old tent and camping gear had not been used since 2011, while Ian’s art materials (paints, brushes etc, plus many finished paintings) had been stashed in the shed since we retired in 2008. Obviously we did not expect Claire to take them all to Bussage, and we did not have room for them all in the flat. We chose a few things to take to Florida, and the rest were disposed of, via friends, Freecycle or the tip!

Sorting out the shed

Sorting out the shed

Farewell to the art work

Farewell to the art work

Bussage and Henley

On April 27 Sandie went with Claire to Bussage. The primary purpose of the trip was to visit the local school, where Charlie will become a pupil after the move. It was only after Claire had fixed the appointment that she discovered it coincided with an INSET day at Charlie’s current school, so he was able to come along and see the school for himself. But there seemed no point in subjecting Oscar to the long journey, so he and Ian had a ‘boys’ day out’: they went by bus to Henley, where they walked by the river, had fun at the playground, visited some charity shops and had lunch in a pub.

Morning cappuccino

Morning cappuccino

Henley in the spring

Henley in the spring

Two days in London

We love days out in London, but it is very rare for us to visit the city twice in one week, as we did this time. Ian had to go to London on Tuesday 28 April for his DfE meeting, so we decided to make it a day out for both of us. While Ian was at the meeting, Sandie bought theatre tickets and then walked along the Strand, visiting familiar haunts including King’s College where she did her first degree more than 40 years ago! She had lunch sitting in the sun in the courtyard of Somerset House.

King's College

King’s College

Another old student

Another old student

Somerset House

Somerset House

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la!

The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la!

In the afternoon we met up at Waterloo and took a train to Kingston. We walked another stretch of the Thames Path, but with limited time available we were able to walk only five miles, from Kingston to Richmond. (This stretch is amazing – it is as though you are in the depths of the country, hard to believe you are so close to London.) Then it was back to the Strand for dinner in a pub and a performance of Oppenheimer at the Vaudeville Theatre – an RSC production, and brilliant as always.

Sailing boats on the Thames

Sailing boats on the Thames

Herons not just in Florida

Herons not just in Florida

Are you sure this isn't the Mississippi?

Are you sure this isn’t the Mississippi?

Boats at Richmond

Boats at Richmond

The following Saturday we went up to London to have lunch with Rose Hague, a friend from New Zealand days. Once again, we decided to make a day of it. The Wycombe trains arrive at Marylebone, and we were meeting Rose at the new Granary Square near King’s Cross. With time to spare, we decided to walk along the Regent’s Canal, for the first time in many years. We stopped for a coffee break at the busy Camden Lock market. We had a long leisurely lunch with Rose, and went with her to the British Museum. In the evening we saw Gypsy at the Savoy. Imelda Staunton’s performance was amazing, but we were rather disappointed with the play itself.

Regents Canal

Regents Canal

Walking the towpath

Walking the towpath

Water skier

Water skier

Camden Lock market

Camden Lock market

Granary Square

Granary Square

Greek bodies at the British Museum

Greek bodies at the British Museum

4 heads are better than one

4 heads are better than one

Faversham and Slough

On Monday 4 May we went with Claire and the boys to Faversham, to visit Andrew and his family. We gave light sabres (Disneyworld souvenirs) to our granddaughters; the boys had brought theirs, so (appropriately for ‘Star Wars Day’), there was a lot of harmless fighting in the garden. We had lunch in Herne Bay, and strolled along the seafront. The children had some rides and the family enjoyed ice creams. On our return to Faversham, we went down into Andrew’s cellar and emptied one of the trunks we’d stored there since 2008 when we first went to New Zealand. The contents consisted mainly of Ian’s chess sets, silver spoons and spoon racks. We took them back to Wycombe, for storage there or onward transfer to Florida.

May 4th be with you!

May the 4th be with you!

Light sabre mayhem

Light sabre mayhem

Herne Bay

Herne Bay

On the helter-skelter

On the helter-skelter

I scream for ice cream!

I scream for ice cream!

After lunch the next day, we went to Slough. Well, almost – we did not make it to the town centre. We got off the bus in the Farnham Road, went in a few shops and then walked through housing estates to the cemetery where Sandie’s parents are buried. We put flowers on their grave, and then walked along the canal to the Red Lion pub in Langley. This was a nostalgic trip, as we walked along the canal many times when we lived in Langley, and went to the Red Lion frequently! The purpose of this visit was to meet up with Sarah and Tami, friends from NFER with whom we had an enjoyable dinner.

The Kirby plot in Slough cemetery

The Kirby plot in Slough cemetery

Along the Slough Arm

Along the Slough Arm

Artwork under a bridge

Artwork under a bridge

Postscript

For Sandie, one of the best things to happen during this time was that she acquired a new laptop. Her old one was well used and well travelled; in recent times it had developed problems (doubtless due to old age) which made it increasingly difficult to use. It finally packed up completely, and has been replaced by one which is much smaller and easy to tote around. This blog shows the new laptop in use!

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Stranded in the Freezer

Our plans to head off again to warmer climes in January were frustrated by two factors. One was that Claire and her partner Raf had separated, so she needed help with childminding while she was flying.   On each trip, she is away for three nights and two days.  As she works part-time, she does an average of one trip a fortnight, but she managed to schedule four trips for January, when it became obvious that we would be around.  So we have been based in High Wycombe, alternating between the Gordon Road house when Claire is away and the Travelodge when she is at home.

Grandparenting duties

Grandparenting duties

The other reason for our continued stay in the UK was that Ian had a number of medical and dental appointments.  His new ‘bridge’ tooth was fitted on Jan 15, and the basal cell carcinoma was removed from his arm on Jan 30 (stitches to be removed Feb 12).  He continued to suffer chest pains and breathlessness, and hospital tests on Jan 7 indicated that (contrary to the GP’s theory) he had angina.  The next step was an angiogram, but that had to wait until Feb1, and travel plans had to be postponed until the results were known.

The main downside of being stuck in the UK in January was the weather. This year we had snow and ice for a couple of weeks. Charlie enjoyed building a snowman with Sandie in the back garden, but for us the cold was to be endured, not enjoyed.

The Big Freeze

The Big Freeze

Charlie clearing snow off the car

Charlie clearing snow off the car

Snowman

Snowman

In one six-day period with no childminding or medical appointments, we hired a car and drove first to Loughborough to visit friends there. We saw a couple of theatrical productions: the musical based on Whistle Down the Wind, performed by a very good amateur group to a full house in the town hall, and a one-act comedy called Out in the garden, performed by university students, often with no clothes on (Brrr!).  Despite snow on and off, we were able to visit some old haunts, including Leicester, Wollaton Hall (near Nottingham) with its collection of stuffed animals, and Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall

Part of the stuffed animal collection

Part of the stuffed animal collection

Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle

Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle

From Loughborough we drove to Faversham and spent a weekend with Andrew, Ellie and the girls. Fortunately the weather had improved by then.  We spent Saturday afternoon in Canterbury, mainly exploring the bookshops and charity shops. Claire brought the boys down on Sunday for the day, and we all had lunch together in a local pub.

Hope, Bel and the Giant Nose, in Canterbury

Hope, Bel and the Giant Nose, in Canterbury

Lunch in the pub

Lunch in the pub

STOP PRESS:  Ian had his angiogram on Feb 1.  He was diagnosed as having ‘mild coronary artery disease’, which will be treated by medication (he now has five sets of pills to take daily, instead of two). He was in the hospital for 12 hours, as he suffered internal bleeding after the procedure.  More internal bleeding necessitated a trip to Stoke Mandeville hospital early the following morning, but we have been assured that it is a fairly common occurrence and nothing to worry about.  He should be back to normal soon!

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Our UK tour 2012

On Thursday 27 September we hired a car and began a tour of friends and family in the UK.  We drove first from High Wycombe to Faversham, with two stops on the way – one pleasant, one less so.  First stop was Slough, where Sandie collected her new specs and Ian had a tooth extracted. Second stop was Box Hill, where we enjoyed a circular walk which took us up to the top of the hill and enabled us to enjoy some glorious views of the English countryside.

View over Surrey from Box Hill

Faversham

We stayed for four nights with Andrew, Ellie and the girls.  On Friday they were all at work or school, so we did a pub walk (6.5 miles) from Conyers Quay.  Part of the walk followed the Saxon Shore, rather bleak but beautiful.

Marshland near Faversham

Walking the Saxon Shore Way

On Saturday afternoon we took Hope and Isobel to Margate, where we strolled along the beach and visited the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery.  The actual galleries were closed (preparation for the next exhibition) but there was a colourful interactive art installation which kept the girls entertained for some time.

Hope & Isobel on Margate beach

The installation at the Turner Contemporary gallery

It had been Hope’s eighth birthday a few days earlier, and she had had her party the previous weekend, but on Sunday there was a family get-together in her honour.  Claire drove down with Charlie and Oscar for the day, and we were joined by Ellie’s mother and sister, brother and his family.

Hope, her cousin Robert, Charlie and Isobel enjoy ice creams together

Norfolk

We left Faversham early on Monday 1st October, and drove north to Norfolk. We headed first for Sheringham, where we had lunch with Sandie’s cousin Mike and his wife Jane.  In the afternoon we visited Mike’s mother in a nursing home, and then drove to Ormesby, to stay with our friends Una and David.

On Tuesday they joined us for a walk in Burlingham woods, and we discovered that students from a local high school used the woods to display their GCSE artwork – a novel idea, and we had fun spotting the ingenious creations.  After a pub lunch we visited the Fairhaven Water Gardens nearby.  In the evening we joined other friends (Linda and Don) for dinner at a hotel on the seafront in Great Yarmouth.

Art in the trees at Burlingham woods

More student art in the woods

At Fairhaven Water Gardens

More woodland art at Fairhaven

The next day the two of us returned to Yarmouth, but on the way we stopped at Caister Cemetery and laid flowers on the graves of our friend Barry and some of Sandie’s relatives, including her grandparents.  They died many years ago, but it has only recently been possible to erect a headstone on their grave.

The new headstone for Sandie’s grandparents

Loughborough

On Thursday 4th we left Ormesby and headed west.  We stopped first at Peterborough, a city that Ian had never visited before, to have lunch, visit the cathedral and have a brief stroll along the river.  Then it was on to Loughborough, to stay with our friends Jacqui and Roger.

Inside Peterborough cathedral

The towers of Peterborough cathedral

On Friday we walked up Beacon Hill, the second highest point in Leicestershire.  It was a nostalgic trip because we went there often with our children when we lived in Loughborough.

On top of Beacon Hill

Long-horned cattle on Beacon Hill

On our way back we stopped at the university, where Ian once taught for nine years.  In the evening we went with Jacqui and Roger to the new Curve Theatre in Leicester to see Finding Neverland – the musical.  The music was great and the special effects amazing; we thoroughly enjoyed the show.   On Saturday the four of us drove us to Derbyshire, stopping at the village of Eyam, and again at Matlock Bath on the way back.

Autumn colours at Eyam

12th century Celtic cross at Eyam church

Matlock Bath

Glasgow

On Sunday 7th we drove 300 miles north to Glasgow, to visit Ian’s Aunt Margie who is in a nursing home there.  Following a stroke, her mobility is very limited, but we were able to borrow a wheelchair and take her to some of her favourite haunts in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond.  We were lucky again with the weather, and the autumn colours were beautiful in the sun.

Loch Lomond

Autumn colours at the Pond Hotel

On Wednesday 10th (our 42nd anniversary!) we completed our grand tour by driving back south to High Wycombe.  As it is a long journey, we made an early start.  We checked out of our hotel at 8.15, and found the car completely frozen over.  Unfortunately, the hire company had not provided us with de-icing equipment, so we used non-essential plastic cards as scrapers.  As Ian remarked: ‘We know we’re not in Ghana any more!’

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