1st October 2016 - 7th April 2017
We are now in Chichester a long drive south. Clive kindly did some research and found us a nice pub for lunch just off the motorway at about the half way mark. We got there a little late for lunch but no problem, left the motorway and had to eventually go around the worst roundabout I have ever used. First time around a truck was next to me on my left when I wanted to leave the roundabout so I went around again. I then saw a very near miss with someone in the same position as I had been shooting ahead of the person on their left, by this time we had worked out that the lights were letting people in at the wrong times. Then very near our turn off (we had got into the left hand lane) a woman got out of the car in front of us. So we prepared to go around her, with all lights flashing she got in the car and did a sort of right hand u turn in front of all the traffic causing braking and near misses all around, but our way was clear - so we left the roundabout and took a few deep breaths. I do need a drink and lunch. We got to the pub, not quite as nice as on the internet, but we are used to that by now (there are photos and photo’s). In we go no meals they are renovating the kitchen!!! Not Clive’s fault but I want to blame him. We eventually found a nice place and I had a sausage sandwich the bread was an inch and a half thick each side - true I did the thumb measure and it was a thumb and a bit.
We are staying in Seley a very nice town outside Chichester and have spent the day at real estate agents. Not much is rented furnished, so it has been a frustrating morning. We have got onto the winter rentals which are the summer weekly rentals that would be empty in the winter (unless they can get people like us in). We have two of them to look at on Monday and a proper rental that is not available until the end of the month, so is not as practical, but we may be taking whatever is available. We may also have to pay up front and somehow have to prove we are not Russian crime bosses laundering money, how I am not sure. I may need references from everyone I know!!
We have been in Selsey for nearly two weeks and have found a place to live (see previous email). All good bar the pain of paying the rent 6 months in advance!! Ross was a bit disappointed we had not found a place in Manhood lane!!! But I am just glad we have found something.
We are having a great time in Selsey and have met a few of the locals, John and Tristan at the Tapas Bar, John being a local and Tristan the waiter; both gave us advice on where to live. Emily at the Chinese and the family who own and cook there who are half Chinese’s and half Vietnamese, they have promised to make Pho for us when next we come in, if we give them 24 hours’ notice. Then there is the lovely lady at the local baker who is trying to introduce me to Lardy cakes they look delicious and as if they would add about 25 kilos per bite!! The lady at the Co-Op has the same sense of humour as me so we have a giggle every time I go in. The green grocer thinks I am a mad as I told her about leaving apples in Newcastle and then again in Sheffield, she was very careful to ensure I took my apples with me although conceded a few donations would help the business. Last but not least we have played trivia in the pub with the locals, we came third last but as half the questions where very English I feel that’s good and we did win one round!
Today we went back to Arundel, a town we wanted to live in. It’s amazing but no car parking except on the street and the streets are narrow. As you drive into town, from quite a distance the castle and Cathedral appear on the sky line they are both on the highest point for miles around very impressive. The castle is the home of the 18th Duke of Norfolk, he is in charge of organising all royal ceremonies like the one we have just seen for the Queen. He is also a good friend of Prince Charles, they were seen walking in the gardens last week (and we missed them). The Duke got paid 10 pounds a month in the 1300’s when he was in charge of all the royal troops (quite a lot of money), now he gets the huge sum of 30 pounds and has to organise the opening of parliament, the queen’s birthdays etc. quite a job for not much money.
Arundel Castle is the biggest castle I have seen, it is huge, it was built in 1068. We took the gold pass and walked through the gardens, the keep and all the rooms open to the public including the bedrooms slept in by Queen Victoria, they got 2 years notice to be ready for her 3-day visit!! Must have done a lot of cleaning and renovating. The family have lived in the castle for 850 years and live in the East wing. The other wing is open to the public is used for visitors. David Frost was a son in law of the 17th Duke and stayed often. While it is an amazing place the beds look lumpy, there are no showers: just baths and the toilets look like they were last renovated for Queen Victoria’s visit. I would still house sit if they want me to. The Duke of Norfolk is also the head of the Catholic Church in England (secular Head I guess) anyway they lost a lot of land to Henry VIII being Catholics. The Fitzalan Church on the castle land is fascinating. Half of it is the family Catholic church and the other half is the village protestant church. There is just a glass partition between the two.
The castle has only ever fallen in battle once - to the roundheads, it did not actually fall but the Chevaliers had to surrender as the roundheads cut their water supply and the well dried up so they were dying of dehydration.
Then there are the magnificent gardens, not least the stumpery designed in 2013, it has been strategically designed using old tree stumps that have been collected by the Foresters from the surrounding Norfolk Estate. The stumps have been placed to show off their magnificent structures and to form an ecological area to encourage wildlife and insects such as butterflies and stag beetles. The area around the stumps has been planted with woodland plants such as Cowslips, Foxgloves, Ferns, Hellebores, Euphorbias, Primroses and native Bluebells. Other parts of the gardens are planted with agapanthus my least favourite flower. I did not vandalise them but it took great self-control.
We are going to stay in Oxford as from Monday. As we cannot move into the new place for a week, we threw ourselves on to the good will of some friends who are putting us up for the week.
A visit to Hughenden Manor while staying at Stephen and Monica's awaiting our new abode at Chichester. Hughenden became Hillside during the WW11 and they took the photos from planes and made them into maps. Disraeli lived here with his wife Mary-Anne, she mapped out and worked on the gardens.
Disraeli tried five times to get into parliament. He was drowned out when making his maiden speech. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer his budget was so bad no one would vote for it and the government fell.
When he became the prime minister Queen Victoria did not like him, eventually they became very good friends. His other successes were acquiring Cyprus, the Suez Canal. He got rid of Rotten Boroughs.
We enjoyed the walk around the gardens it was a lovely day.
We do not seem to have done so much since we settled into Marineside. We are getting used to the area. I found a hairdresser, not as good as Mario in Drummoyne but at least I am not shaggy any more. I am still having difficulties with Doctor's The nice people at Selsey said I should go to the local Dr at West Wittering’s and they were so difficult, first they needed to see my passport and visa and then ‘cos I was born in England they wanted to register me with the NHS (a no, no, as I do not want to be declared a resident for tax reasons), they also would not give me an appointment until I was in the computer and of course the computer lady, did not come in for a few days. So, I made a scene as only I can. I got an appointment and the Dr just as well. She would not do half the things I wanted like my regular blood test because I was a visitor, the fact I was not going home for ages did not make any difference. Then they told me they could not see me again as they do not take private patients. Lucky the Dr had given me the prescription I wanted already. I will not be going back.
We had visitors in our new home, first Stephen and Monica came for a few days bringing their own bedding which they kindly left for anyone else that comes. We cooked at home the first night, I cooked beef wellingtons made by the local butcher, and trifle made by me. It was all very nice. The next night we had a delightful meal at the crab and lobster a local restaurant. For sightseeing we decided to visit the butterfly farm, we had been told by a taxi driver that it was a unique and unmissable experience, he would not say any more in case he spoilt it for us. So off we went, guess what? It had closed for the winter a few days before. So, we visited Bosham a village near here, where King Canute was said to have tried to turn back the tides. We could not find the place where he was supposed to have sat, but we found the grave of his daughter in the church and decided that was proof enough. Bosham was a nice enough village with a craft shop, but no other shopping for miles so we decide it was not a village we wanted to live in and went home to our local pub - The Pond Barn. We had not been to the pub before and I was prepared to be underwhelmed, it did not let me down a scruffy sort of sports pub with too many TV’s and gambling machines. The clientele was also not very impressive, but the poor man with the tumours all over his nose was probably the best looking of them. I am sure they are all lovely people but I will not be going in that pub alone, that’s for sure.
The following day after a leisurely breakfast we decided to visit another local village, one that Stephen had grown up in. Emsworth, this was a very nice town with lots to see and a large mill pool to walk around. I was delighted to see a public foot path which goes across the water!! How one walks it I do not know, must be only used in very low tides. in the churchyard, here I saw a couple of robin’s they are the loveliest of birds I think they are my favourite English bird.
Stephen and Monica left the next day after a walk down the pebble beach to Billy’s a coffee shop on the sea. They serve wine and beer so may become our local even though they are not a pub. We were sorry to see Stephen and Monica leave but they promised to return.
A few days later Chetan a friend from Hong Kong came for lunch, it is so nice to see people, we did not realise that we would miss all our friends as much as we do. Lucky, we have found that viber works in the upstairs bedroom so we have had a few phone calls from home.
We are starting the winter. The other day I went out to frost all over the grass and car. I of course did the wrong thing and sprayed the windscreen to get the frost off, all that did was give me a sheet of ice to thaw, so it was 10 mins before I had everything defrosted. Another learning exercise
Our only bit of sightseeing has been a trip to Stonehenge, we managed to choose the wettest, windiest day for ages, but off we went. It did not look far on the map but was quite a drive. I nearly ran off the road with excitement as we came around the corner and there it was in the middle of a field just like I imagined. It was then a bit of a drive to the entrance which is so far they have a shuttle bus every 5 mins. Off we went in the bus, in the rain. I was so cold I had my coat on under my raincoat. Shame about the hands and face. Still it was magical walking around the henge seeing it from all sides. And it has been there since 8000 BC that is so long ago. Ross was at Stonehenge in the 70’s when he could walk around inside and touch it. I had to be happy with looking from a distance. It was a great trip even with the cold.
We are not doing as much due to the cold. We did not do anything more interesting than going down the shops or to the local craft show which was a few stalls in the community hall, you know the stuff knitted tissue box covers, sparkly cards and cakes that look a little solid. I was hoping for some Christmas stuff all we found was a spurtle, which Ross is giving me for Christmas.