Saturday, 21 May 2022

Are we still here?


At the end of March Chris and I went off to Sussex for a holiday.  The main purpose was to catch up with friends and ex-colleagues.  It is 10.5 years since we left Sussex for Worcestershire, so it was definitely time to visit.  We hired a holiday let in a small village called Findon, near Worthing.  It was superb and I would highly recommend it if anyone wants a break in that part of the world.  Little Longmead, Findon.  It was spotless, the best equipped holiday home we have ever been to.  The owner lives next door and is very friendly and helpful.  How is this for a view from the back garden?  It was very peaceful.

We had no plans for Saturday and Sunday, so on the former we decided to pop to Worthing to find a sea front café for a spot of lunch - not a hope as we could not find a car parking space for love nor money, so we ended up at a M&S café - not quite what we had planned.  

Sunday we went to the RSPB reserve, Pulborough - a much better option for a gentle very peaceful stroll and a quiet sandwich enjoyed in the sun with a wonderful view.

We did drive up to see our old house, which has changed a bit, as you would expect in 10 years.
2011 as we left
March 2022

We came away with the feeling that we were so glad we moved to Worcestershire when we did.  The number of new houses (and in one case a whole new village) was unbelievable.  Also the traffic was pretty dire and the countryside not as nice as where we are now.  The week was definitely a great success as we both caught up with the people we intended to meet and I even had lunch by the sea in Goring by Sea (Sea Lane Café - which I can recommend) with a couple of my friends.  

Just after we got home I had a cataract operation on my left eye and oh my goodness, what a difference.  Even though that was my better eye sight wise, I now find I can do most things without glasses.  For very small print I have an old pair of glasses with just one lens for the right eye or a magnifying glass.  The right eye will be done on 4th July.  Hopefully, four weeks after that I will be able to drive again - for now I am being chauffeur driven.

We have had a landscape gardener in to make our rather dull garden look a little better now we are here most of the time.  My favourite part is the raised bed for herbs (and a few strawberry plants) made from reclaimed cobbles.

We also have a couple of troughs for mint and tomatoes

We made a brief appearance at St Richard's Festival in Droitwich.  The weather was glorious on the day we went and after our couple of hours serving on the Worcester, Birmingham and Droitwich Canal Society Stall
Chris selling duck race tickets closely supervised by Monty of course!

we were able to wander around and enjoy a beer in the sun.  It was so good to see so many people out enjoying themselves again after a two year gap.

On the May Bank Holiday Monday, I went to a tulip festival at Morton Hall, Redditch with a friend.  It was well worth the visit which we ended with a rather fine light lunch.  

Listed Chestnut Tree

Japanese Tea House

All profits go to the RSC and they had a few costumes on display.  I think the crew of nb Cleddau will recognise this rather magnificent outfit from a recent production of Much Ado About Nothing.

This morning we drove out to Droitwich to walk along the canal to witness the sad sight of a boat that had been sunk in a lock.  It is a long story of three boats hired by a Stag Party which ended up with two of the boats being abandoned and the third sunk.  I gather that they were moving after dark and tried to go down a staircase lock around 10pm.  The paddle on the offside is always locked.  They, however, failed to check the other side, assumed they were stuck, so went to bed.  The boat drifted backwards onto the cill, the water leaked out of the lock and the boat sunk.  They woke at an awkward angle and had to be rescued by the fire brigade.  RCR and C&RT were in attendance when we were there.

Re-floated and now above the top lock

Fortunately the only casualty is unlikely to complain, but I hope someone fishes her out before she ends up round someone's prop!  

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Just to say.....

.......... Hello, Happy New Year and we are still in the land of the living!  You would think we have done nothing since November, but that is not the case - I just did not get round to writing a blog!  Can I claim 'winteritis?!!

In early November we escaped for a week in mid Wales.  It was very much a trip to visit Chris's family, but we did escape to the beach a couple of times which Monty loved.  

Mind you he still does not trust those pesky waves!

Looking across from Ynyslas to Aberdovey - another firm favourite of ours and we did get up there for a wander on one of the days.

We took a day out from family visits to meet up with a couple who own four Border Collies who are all related to Monty!  Monty (9.5) is on the far right looking very proud to have so many ladies to look after!  From the left they are Menna (6 months), Gwaun (8), Dot (3) and the grand old lady, Mair who is looking her age, but doing well - she is 15.5. Jane and I had a lovely walk in the woods with Monty, Gwaun and Dot whilst the men sat and chatted and kept an eye on the Menna and Mair.

The 27th November started with a surprise - a walk in the snow for Monty and I!

The family  (our son and daughter, their spouses, the five grandchildren, Chris and I) had gathered for an outing to Stratford.  We had lunch in Fourteas then headed to the RSC to see 'The Magician's Elephant' which was superb.  If any of you saw the stage production of 'Warhorse' - it was the same puppeteers who worked the almost life sized African female elephant.  Just stunning to watch.  Another RSC triumph.  This will probably be the last time we all go as our eldest granddaughter will be off to university next September.  

A gentle stroll back through the town to the car park allowed us time to admire some of the Christmas decorations.

Our son and family came to us for Christmas and our daughter and family joined us for New Year.  It was the first time her sons had made it through to midnight.  A lot of fun and games were enjoyed on both occasions by us all.  

A couple of weeks ago I went up to Derby on the train to see our son and family.  I was shocked at how packed the trains from Birmingham to Derby and return were - standing room only both ways, but I did, thankfully manage to get a seat both ways.  The purpose of my visit was to go to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham with them all to see 'Gangsta Granny' - what a brilliant author David Walliams is and the stage production was amazing.  I also met the newest edition to their family - Coco who was just 10 weeks old at the time.

Life is beginning to get back to some sort of normality, but some things are still not quite there.  Our canal society is still doing zoom meetings, but that is mainly due to the loss of the venue we used to go to.  We did attend the annual lunch last Sunday - it was wonderful to see so many people 'in the flesh'.  We had the privilege of sitting with Heather Wastie (Alarum Theatre which some of you may be aware of) and her husband.  They were very entertaining company.  

I have attended one WI meeting, two WI fun evenings and one WI book club meeting and despite reports that people had subsequently tested positive, I have (so far) escaped catching covid.  There is so much about at present that I fear it is inevitable, but we are both triple jabbed, so we should be okay.  We have taken the decision that we cannot stay locked up for ever.

My knees are not doing too badly, but Chris does struggle with his COPD - however sad the sale of Tentatrice was, it was the right thing for us to do.  She is moored in Kinver and in May she will be re-named 'Rumah Kita', which is Malay for 'Our House'.  I am fairly certain she will retain her distinctive livery, so if anyone spots her out and about (or on her home mooring), please post a picture and let us know!  It is good to know that she has gone to experienced boaters who will care for her and use her.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Three Weekends

We are still here!  Whilst we miss Tentatrice and life afloat, we are both certain that we made the right decision to sell her and move on to other things.  

My knees are better than they were, so we are managing to get out and about a bit.  Some recent highlights are as follows:

Weekend 1

Two friends came to stay for the weekend along with Monty's best pal, Labrador Kiera.  On the Saturday we went across to visit Pakwood House, a NT property in Lapworth.  It is a fine Tudor house that has been owned by the NT since 1941.  We had been before, but it was a first visit for our friends.

The weather was dry with even a bit of late September sun. The first thing to do was to take the two dogs for a walk through the woodland.  There are not many things better than being able to kick your way through fallen leaves!

Kiera was too busy in the undergrowth to pose for a photo.

We came across this sign

Well who resist such a challenge - not us!

A post walk coffee and very large slice of cake was next on the agenda.  Both were really good and the cake so large, that no lunch was required!

After that Chris and I found a bench in the sun and stayed there with the dogs (it was too warm to leave them in the car) whilst our friends went and had a quick look round the house and formal gardens.  The grounds are famous for the avenue of Yews.

Sadly some of them are very sick

What a shame that common sense does not prevail and they have to ask folk not to climb on the sick trees.

The only time we have been in the house was one very wet New Year many years ago when it was full of the most amazing paper Christmas decorations - we must go back again one day.  It was a great day out and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend just chatting, walking the dogs and eating well with the odd libation here and there!

Weekend 2

This time we went to visit friends who moved back from Spain to Melton Mowbray (or just Melton if you are local!) a few months ago.  They have been very busy doing a lot to the house, but they were now ready for visitors.  Our visit was well timed - it was the weekend of the Melton Mowbray food festival.  The weather was wet and pretty miserable.  All the stands were under cover, but open to the chilly elements, so we did not linger long.  Long enough to see a demonstration on how a MM pork pie is made which was fascinating and to buy a few things including, of course, a pork pie!  

Quite close to their house there is a country park which Monty loved.  I am sure I took some photos, but they have disappeared - we will just have to go back to take some more!  
When they bought the house it came complete with a pond including the occupants - coy carp!  Monty was fascinated.

Once again a lot of chatting and good eating (and yes the odd libation or two) was enjoyed by all of us.

Weekend 3

This just involved me - I left Chris and Monty at home whilst I swanned off with our daughter for our first ever mother/daughter weekend away.  We only went to Malvern, so not much travelling, but we had a ball.  Our first stop on the Friday was at Malvern Spa.  To me that name conjured up a rather grand stately home made from beautiful stone at the end of a long tree lined drive.  I was completely wrong - it is a very rectangular ugly building on an industrial estate!  Inside, however, it was wonderful and we enjoyed a day or being pampered and just relaxing.  We left mid afternoon to head to the centre of Malvern to an Airbnb apartment. It was far from grand, but it was clean and had everything we needed including a space to park the car for no extra charge.  

These two views were taken from the entrance to the car park

That evening we had a 7 minute walk (at my pace which is still a little slow) to L'Amuse Bouche at the Cotford House Hotel where we had booked a table for dinner.  It was pricey, but we both agreed it was worth every penny and I aim to go back again with Chris one day.  The food was pretty much Michelin standard.  

Saturday we spent just wandering around Malvern - somewhere neither of us had been before.  Our first stop was The Priory. It certainly dominates the town

 I got this information from Wikipedia:

Great Malvern Priory in Malvern, WorcestershireEngland, was a Benedictine monastery (c. 1075 – 1540) and is now an Anglican parish church. In 1949 it was designated a Grade I listed building. It is a dominant building in the Great Malvern Conservation area. It has the largest display of 15th-century stained glass in England as well as carved miserichords from the 15th and 16th century and the largest collection of medieval floor and wall tiles. In 1860 major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It is also the venue for concerts and civic services.

I should have looked at that before we went as we missed the miserichords.  Mind you there was a service going on so we were not able to get everywhere, but it was definitely worth a visit.  The stained glass windows are magnificent - the photos do not really do them justice.

Outside there was an arts and craft market where we spent quite a while admiring their wares.  We did both leave with our credit cards intact!

After that we headed up the hill to the shops passing an area with the last of the natural gas lamps that used to light up Malvern on the way up.  

Close to the above was more information - now this is something I don't fancy and I am surprised it lasted as long as it did!  I will stick to the modern spa with a comforting massage, a pampering facial, a float around inside and out in warm water with the occasional visit to the steam room!

We had a main meal for our lunch and then spent some time wandering around the many shops.  The amount there is available to buy was extraordinary, but once again we resisted temptation (it wasn't hard - I am sure some people must buy the 'stuff', but it was not for us) - our only purchase was made by Sarah - 3 candles and a pack of Christmas paper napkins.

Then back to the apartment via what must be one of the most scenic Waitrose's in the country where we got a French stick and some cheese to have for our supper before we headed out to 

the theatre which was about 100 yards from the apartment.

To see 
It was wonderful to be in a theatre again for a live performance and it was an interesting version of this play in that it was performed by just three actors (2 male, 1 female).  They did cover the entire story with a lot of costume changes and a great deal of dashing around the stage.  Props were minimal and were well used, but I am not sure I would advise anyone to go out of their way to see it.  At times it descended to a farcical level, which this play most definitely is not.  

As you will have seen from the photos taken on the Saturday, the weather was grey and murky, so no good scenic shots.    This must be fabulous on a clear day.

Typically when it was time to leave on Sunday the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining!  We both had a fantastic time and have decided we need to take ourselves off again next year, so watch this space!  It is a town well worth a visit if you have not been before and I would definitely recommend the Airbnb.  It was not posh, but it did the trick and was so much nicer than being stuck in a hotel room.