Catching up with old friends

 A wonderful lunch with Candy and friends

We have been travelling for the past week and consequently I have fallen behind with my blog. So this one will be rather long, but will enable me to catch up.

Saturday 25th August
We joined the pre-Bank Holiday traffic and drove down to Devon to stay with an old friend, Candy, who lives in Hoarstone near Frithlestock. Wonderful old names! Apparently, a hoarstone is white boundary stone and this particular one demarcated the line between three farms. Candy lives in a farm cottage and cares for 2 dogs, a horse, 2 Shetland ponies, a family of ducks, another of chickens and a flight of doves. The journey took us nine hours, but it was willingly undertaken to gain the sanctuary of Candy’s idyllic existence.

Sunday 26th August
After a wonderful breakfast of duck eggs, mushrooms and bacon, David and I were sent out to gather blackberries from the field behind Candy’s house, ready for the alfresco lunch for nine in the garden next to the paddock. I had thought that dock leaves were somehow symbiotic with nettles until I plunged both hands into a bed of nettles whilst trying to retrieve some particularly succulent blackberries. There wasn’t a dock leaf to be seen! I do remember reading, however, that nettle stings are good for rheumatism, so my hands should be good for a few years yet!

The lunch was delicious – Coronation Chicken, rice, freshly picked salad greens and tomatoes from Candy’s greenhouse and home made pickled beetroot followed by the blackberries, melon and, of course, Devonshire cream. The lunch was for, mainly, members of a choir onto which I had been co-opted for the day, so that we could have a quick run through after lunch.

This was going to be the inaugural performance for the choir and we were to sing at the Songs of Praise service at the fourteenth century church of St Michael, Bulkworthy. 

The church is tiny, but the service was well attended and we were all invited back to tea at the farmhouse belonging to the Churchwarden, whose family have held this position for centuries. The tea was a quintessentially English high tea with delicious sandwiches, sausage rolls fresh from the aga and a mouth-watering array of home baked cakes. The farm at Hankworth has been in the family for many generations and originally belonged Henry IV’s Lord Chancellor, Lord Hankford. After such a day we slept soundly!

Monday 27th August
We spent the morning in the garden reading the papers and in the afternoon went to tea with Sue and Simon and their daughter Jo in their beautiful house with the stunning view over the Torridge estuary and out to sea. We were waiting for the tide to come in so that we could go out in Malcolm’s yacht. We spent the evening on the yacht, drinking Malcolm’s homemade wine and eating our picnic supper. As we were returning to the mooring, the keel became tangled in some buoy ropes and Candy and Malcolm dangled precariously over the edge to free us while David and I provided ballast on the other side so that we didn’t capsize! We all thought that either someone was going to have to go over the edge or we would have to sit it out until the tide went out and we could wade to the shore! Fortunately, they managed to free us with a final valiant effort and we safely disembarked.

We stopped off at Malcolm’s very fine old Rectory on the way home and followed him round while he bedded the animals. Malcolm owns 1 highland cow, 2 Dexters, 4 goats, 2 horses, 3 sheep, 2 Kunekune pigs, 2 peacocks, 2 geese, 3 guineafowl, numerous chickens, a flight of white doves and a dog. (He’s thinking of buying a ferret!)

Tuesday 28th – Thursday 29th August
We left Candy’s – dropping into Hatherleigh Market on the way – and drove to Windsor to stay with Patricia, an old friend from school. We dined at The Viceroy, a splendid Indian restaurant, and caught up with all Patricia’s news. The following day Patricia took us on a whistle-stop tour of Windsor, Eton, Ascot and Runneymede while keeping up a stream of interesting information. Thank you, Patricia, for such a well-informed tour and for looking after us so well.

Leaving Windsor, we drove to Camberwell to have lunch with Victor and Clare, who have recently retired from teaching in Malaysia. We had great fun catching up with all their news over lunch before leaving for Horley, Surrey to stay with our nephew Kevin and family. Shayna looked after us really well and we were so pleased to see them and their son, Kyran. I have taken lots of photos of Kyran to take to his Ouma in South Africa.

Finally, we are back staying with Clare and trying to get ourselves into gear for our departure on the 10th September. I also need to restrict my food intake. After all that delicious food, I have managed to put on two-and-a-half kg in weight!!


The wait is over!

Our baggage has arrived at last – or at least, most of it! We are missing our carpet, a hammock, and one other box, the contents of which we have yet to identify. Fortunately, everything fits into the shed with room to spare; which is such a relief! We can now gradually repack into our plastic bins and recycle all the packing materials (although I did read that much of the recycling done in the UK ends up in landfill sites anyway!).

Last night, John and Clare treated us to a wonderful meal at Prezzo’s in Norwich, courtesy of Baracuda’s where John has worked for the past four weeks. We all ate far too much, but the food was delicious and the service was excellent.

Today, Clare and David ran in the Reepham Summer Sunday Run. This 10 km run went out through country lanes and back along a disused railway track. The weather was very kind and they only had one small shower of rain the whole morning (unlike now when it is coming down in torrents). Clare and David ran together and covered the course very comfortably in 53 min 10 sec and were placed 54th and 55th (David was placed 4th in the over 60s race). Every competitor received a souvenir paperweight and David was awarded a spot prize of complementary family tickets for the North Norfolk railway. Evidence of their run can be seen at http://www.reephamrunners.co.uk/rrssr.htm


Still Waiting!

We had a great time staying with Margy and Bernard – many, many thanks by the way! David’s mother is very fit – she walked along the pier in Cleethorpes and then along a long stretch of the promenade – and now, at eighty-seven, is seriously thinking about going on holiday to South Africa where there is one new great-grandchild (Louise’s first) and another on the way (Jane’s second).

We, meanwhile, are back to waiting around for our baggage to arrive. We believe that it has now reached customs here, or should have, given the latest information, so now we wait to hear exactly when it will be delivered. Unfortunately it looks like we are in for a spell of rain, which is exactly what we don’t need, given that we have to take off the packaging and shoehorn everything into the shed!

Talking of packaging leads me to my latest gripe. How does one know which type of plastic can be recycled and which type cannot? We are continually being exhorted to recycle and to ensure that we put the correct materials in the appropriate bins (and they are even threatening to send bin-police round to make sure we do!). Fortunately we have Clare who is able to differentiate between the various plastics, so now we leave all plastic in a pile on the draining board for Clare to inspect and distribute accordingly. Imagine being arrested for not being able to sort plastic into recyclable and non-recyclable piles!!!!

It would be much easier if the retail companies limited their use of plastic all together. Clare was in the checkout of a supermarket behind a man who removed all the packaging from the various products he had bought and discarded it at the till. Perhaps if we all did that the supermarkets would be forced to demand that their suppliers cut down on unnecessary packaging. Can you imagine the piles of rubbish that would be left behind on a busy Saturday morning!



The bandstand in Ely, England

It appears that we have been waiting in vain for our baggage as, contrary to what we were led to believe, it hasn’t even left the depot of the shipping company in Istanbul! At least we know now that we are free to go visiting for the foreseeable future. Today we are off to New Waltham, Humberside, to see David’s mother and sister and family. I am sure New Waltham used to be in Lincolnshire, but it appears to have been rezoned for some reason.

Clare playing the horn

David relaxing in the shade

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to Ely with Clare as her band was playing in The Maltings, on the banks of the Great River Ouse. The day was glorious and we found a spot in the shade to read the Sunday papers and listen to the band – bliss! We then attended sung evensong at the cathedral and stayed to listen to an organ recital by Matthew Carlton, a brilliant young organist from Durham University. The acoustics in the cathedral are magnificent and the voices of the visiting choir (Hatfield College, Durham) soared to the very roof of this magnificent building. For us, it was a very fulfilling and typically English Sunday.

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