1st October 2016 - 7th April 2017
We are well settled now and almost feel at home. We have our regular shops and have developed a few habits like Ross’s walk for the newspaper every morning, I sometimes go with him, (rarely being a lazy person at heart) I went this morning so I could say I go.
We had a lovely lunch, not long after we got here, at one of my relatives Susan’s. Susan and Billy put on a wonderful meal for her mother (my cousin) and Clive, Philip (another Cousin), Paul and Andrew as well as us quite a crowd. They had a minor carrot catastrophe, when the carrot took a while to cook. When we sat down at the table we piled carrots on to our plate only to find we were eating the children’s carrots not the specially cooked ones so we had to put them back!! Families we are all a problem. We did have a fabulous meal and a lovely time catching up with everyone. We have all promised to see each other again soon. Billy is a guitarist and a very good one having played with some of Ross’s hero’s, including John Entwistle from the Who, so Ross and Billy had a great chat and we have promised to try and see Billy perform. He has just published a book on how to play the guitar you can find a link on my Facebook page all you budding guitarists.
Winter is definitely here, we have seen the birds fly off for the winter and have had flocks of honking geese fly overhead, I am not sure if they are coming or going but there are lots of them. The grass is sometimes frosty and we have had the local pond frozen on a couple of mornings not for long but enough to annoy the ducks. The heating here is good and we get the sun in the windows all day (sometimes hidden by cloud) because we face south. I was a little confused as to East and West as the sun rises at one side of the windows and seems to set on the other, the sun is so low in the sky.
A few weeks ago we went to a locally produce play called “Pull The Other One”. We lowered the average age of the audience when we arrived and lifted the percentage of males by a bit. The play was a comedy (farce) with a lot of running around etc. One of the older actors kept forgetting his lines and another kept calling everyone by the wrong name. More funny than the play. At one stage an actor who is in the nude apart from a lace table cloth, got the cloth caught on one of the other props and the audience got to see a little more than anyone expected, including the cast who also all had a laugh before continuing, table cloth now very well attached!!! It was a great night out. Oh, at half time we got free cups of tea and biscuits very English.
We have had a three-day trip to London. My friend Pam was in town from Australia for her son’s wedding so we decided to catch up for lunch. Lovely Ros came over from Derry and so the three of us and Ross had a great get together. We had a lovely meal in between talking and left lunch at about 4:30. I think Ross said about 15 words during the 4 hours (a record considering who he was lunching with).
We stayed in a lovely old hotel in Paddington which was very close to everything. The second day we got Big Bus tickets and did the tourist thing. We had to sit on the top level of the bus so we had the best view; but this was a very cold area and I felt like I was freezing to death, lucky the traffic was extremely bad and so we only got wind when the bus managed to get up a little speed which was not often. It was a great tour hitting all the top spots. We got off at Buckingham Palace and the first thing we did was have a couple of Irish coffees to warm us up. They did not know how to make Irish Coffee so we had latte with a shot of whiskey. A short walk to the Palace, the Queen was home but did not invite us in probably worried about drunk Aussies (only one coffee ma’am!). They also did not have a changing of the guards that day. I thought they did that every day, I mean they have to change shifts don’t they or perhaps the guards were naughty ones and had double shift in the cold. They seemed to be marching around a lot to keep warm. I was very excited about the whole experience having not been to Buckingham Palace before. We then walked up to Leicester Square where after a couple of drinks we met my cousin Stephen and his wife Sharon. We all get on very well so there was lots of laughter and catching up and then off to a great degustation meal at an Indian restaurant, it was lovely and Ross and I were quite merry when we made our way through the Christmas decorated streets down into the underground and back to our hotel.
Day three “No Hot Water” not a happy camper!!! We complained and have a free day at the hotel when next in London. I hope the water is hot. We got back on the Big Bus and the weather was lovely. The tour came with a trip on the river so after walking down Regents street, checking out Selfridges (much to hot and stuffy). We did the trip up the Thames from Tower bridge to Westminster. We heard Big Ben toll the mid-day which was fabulous. Big Ben is the name of the Bell in Westminster Abbey tower so you do not “see” Big Ben only tourist say that!! Then it was onto the train and home to Bracklesham.
A day after London saw us visiting Stephen and Monica some old friends from our Dulux days, they live in a village called Speen. We had a great time with them. The first day we went to Wycombe to see the Hell Fire caves. It was a miserable day wet and drizzling perfect for caves and the occult. Unfortunately, the fine print had not been read and they were not open. So, that make Stephen and I one all as I took them to the Butterfly farm which was closed when they came to stay with us. We had a nice walk around Wycombe and of course ended up in the Pub.
The next day the weather was nice so we went on a walking tour around Oxford. It was a great tour with just enough information to be interesting and not boring. We stood in the College Hall where the students gather before their graduation and where Harry Potter was in Hospital when he lost the bones in his arm. We wandered around the Bodleian Library quadrangle and also saw the Corpus Christi College Cathedral and grounds. We walked down a lane known as Narnia land as one of the lintels has a Mr Titmuss on it and there is a lone lamp post so it is though CS Lewis got his ideas from there. After the walk, we went to the Eagle and Child (commonly known as the Bird and Babe) to walk in the footsteps of CS Lewis, Lewis Carol and many other well-known writers, Philip Pullman the writer of the Golden Compass for instance. I was so excited I loved the Narnia books as a child. More excited when the mulled wine eventually arrived not being hot when we first ordered it.
Ross and I went to London the next day without Stephen and Monica as they had things to do. I rugged up very warm expecting it to be as cold as it was the week before and ended up carrying my coat around most of the day!! We wandered around the Winter Wonderland, which I enjoyed a lot (Ross put up with it) and could have purchased lots of Christmas decorations, but didn’t. Another Hot Toffee Cider to warm up and the off to the Portrait Gallery. It is much bigger than I expected and I walked for miles looking at portraits of famous people some I recognised and some I didn’t. We seemed to walk forever, in fact so far I got blisters on the soles of my feet (big softy) but it was great. I can go back and see more. We then joined Stephen at Ronnie Scott’s the famous Jazz club to see a fellow called Joe Stilgoe perform, he was great and quite funny, a real entertainer. Thanks to Stephen who is a member for organising a great night out. We had a lovely few days with Stephen and Monica and are looking forward to seeing them again.
It is strange when I read this and see we are so busy and have so many friends and family that we have seen and must see (including my friend Charlotte, who we have not seen yet), I wonder how it is I have found time to miss you all and yet I do. The hardest part about being over here is missing everyone in Australia (and the weather!!). Seeing a few people from home has been so good, so any of you thinking about it just get here!!