Wednesday, 30 July 2014

'A real birds-eye-view of the roaring twenties.'

I didn't sleep wonderfully well at Mum In law's. The bedrooom is cooler than ours. At home I had put on cotton sheets,and as we found the blanket uncomfortable, had found a thin cotton bedspread at Dunelm Mill, which would give a bit of warmth and weight if needed. Mum in law and I made up her spare bed with a sheet to go over us and a cellular blanket. This was adequate for hot weather.
On the Saturday morning husband and I went for a walk round the village, bought the newspaper, then found a couple of things in the hardware store. I stocked up on Bar Keepers friend as I can no longer buy it in our supermarket,  husband bought a small funnel, and I got him a pizza wheel, as ours has gone missing. It will probably turn up now.
We debated whether to go into Bexhill or Eastbourne, there was something happening in Bexhill, but the other 2 voted for Eastbourne, so Eastbourne it was. Husband suggested we got sandwiches to eat on the  seafront. I had just helped Mum in Law open her packet of sandwiches, when a huge gull swooped down, and snatched the packet in his beak. He dropped the packet and I tried to scare him off, but before I could, he and another gull had grabbed more than half of the sandwich and flown off with it. I retrieved the rest, husband offered to go and buy her another one but she declined saying she probably couldn't have eaten the whole packet anyway. We noticed that there was a family feeding the gulls. They were the indirect cause, as once they stopped there was not a gull to be seen. After we had finished our fruit treats, husband said he was off to do his tour of the charity shops and junk/antique shops. Mum in Law and I found the ladies' rooms, then I asked if she knew whether you had to pay to go on the pier, she said she would sit whilst  found out. So I parked her on a seat. You don't have to pay, and I found there are shops. There is also a glass blowers with some lovely stuff,and I treated myself to a small flower vase with glass flowers. I bought one in St Ives a few years ago, but bits have broken off and they retired, so I couldn't get it fixed.
Unbeknown to me my camera was set on monochrome. This is the bandstand in Eastbourne
Mum in law by bandstand

promenade garden

looking over to tower

Eastbourne Pier

Sea front from pier

Beachy head in distance

 I hastily went back to collect Mum in law, and we did a little tour of the shops. We didn't buy much, but I found some lovely cotton fabric in C&H,and bought a dress length. I must organise myself and get sewing.
Mum in law wanted to try a salt pipe for her catarrh. I have often thought I would like to try one,and we had discovered that H&B do them. However they were not in stock in Eastbourne, but Bexhill had some. So I called husband and he met us and we drove to Bexhill. As we parked the car, we heard the sound of aircraft. Part of the 1920s themed event was old biplanes doing aerobatics with wing walking. Soon husband was nowhere to be seen as he had rushed off camera in hand. After we came out of H&B, we headed for the seafront, but the display was almost over. There were people around in '20s dress, and a band, so we wandered for a while, then met husband, and went back to the car.
I just managed to catch the planes

1920s dress

and more

naval band

Vintage cars

I had brought stuffed chicken breasts with me for the Saturday evening meal, so we had cooked those and had them with vegetables.
Sunday morning Mum in law went off to the 9.30 Anglican service, but was back before we left for the 11am service at St Paul's. She said she would come with us, it had been parade service at the Anglican
church where she goes, so I suspect a short sermon. She nodded off during the sermon at St Paul's, which was probably just as well as the Pastor said something quite uncomplimentary about the Fountain Trust. She and her husband had belonged to the Fountain Trust at one time.
After the service we chatted to the Pastor's wife for a while, then moved on to the door, where we chatted to the Pastor, As I looked back at his wife, I realised that the hat that she as wearing was identical to the one I had bought in Swanage, as a sunhat, even down to the colour, cream. We had seen them on sale in Eastbourne the previous day. She obviously has impeccable taste.
We went back to the bungalow, I had booked a table at the Wheatsheaf for Sunday lunch. They now do a carvery. We debated whether to walk or use the car. There is a car park, but I was worried that if it did rain we would get soaked on the way back. I borrowed a folding brolly,and husband had found one in the car, however, we decided to take the car. Just as well, as we were driving through the village it began to rain. We reached the car park,and it was torrential. we parked as close as we could, waited for the rain to subside a bit then brollies aloft, made a quick dash for it.
My previous memory of lunch there was of lots of tables crowded in, lots of people, but under the new ownership that has changed. there are fewer tables, it was not so busy, but they do serve the carvery 'till it's gone'. It was all very pleasant. You have to pay before you eat, Mum in Law paid for the carvery, as she was insistent it was her turn. There were 3 meats, lamb, gammon and turkey. They also did a vegetarian option. the veg's were plentiful, self service.
Everything was really good, I reckon they could give the big hotel down the road a run for their money. The big hotel also does a carvery, but it is always noisy and  crowded. There was a choice of about four desserts, husband had summer fruits with pancake, Mum in law had summer fruits, by request, as pancakes have milk in, they gave her extra fruit and I had a divine lavender panna cotta, beautifully served with a rosette of cream and a small lavender sprig.
We skipped coffee, and had it back at the bungalow. It had stopped raining, but I couldn't stir myself for an afternoon walk, my back was complaining about the bed! We all three dozed off, and slept for varying lengths of time. We had decided not to travel home on the Sunday, as we used to, so  Mum in law made a few sandwiches,and we each had a little low cal chocolate treat I had bought n M&S.
On the Monday morning , we spent time trying to locate a massage mattress. Father in law had bought one for her, and paid a lot for it. It was supposed to have a 10 year warranty, but had 'died' after seven and a half years. the company appeared to have gone out of business. Mum in Law couldn't remember how they had originally found the company, but from snippets on the Internet, I suspect it was a doorstep salesman.
There was no manufacturer'e name on the label, so I went for the name on the massage controller,and we discovered we could get one through a company who deal on ebay, with 100% satisfaction factor, at around  a quarter of the price of the original. She was desperate to replace it, didn't want to buy a whole new bed, so we ordered one, and got a call to say it could be delivered the next day. She gave us a cheque to cover it, and I walked to the village, picked up a Telegraph, and deposited the cheque in the building society, which handily for us has a branch in the village.
Back at the bungalow we loaded everything into the car, said our goodbyes, and left. We stopped at Pease Pottage for lunch, but got sandwiches, ate them sitting in the car, then we drove on, arriving home at around 4.30pm. We unpacked the car, and then I drove to the supermarket to buy something for dinner.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Stormy weather

The rest of that week was not as exciting.  Our Daughter was unwell on the Wednesday, so her husband worked from home.  We collected Lydia earlier than normally so he could work uninterrupted,  I did the Sainsbury's run whilst she napped. Then husband collected Nathaniel from nursery. We let them use their new little chairs in the garden. Lydia still managed to topple hers over, but I don't think she understands the concept yet, of just sitting still.
Nathaniel on his new chair

W took them home to Daddy later than usual. Daughter was up, she had some sort of flu by the sound of it. However where she works was due to be involved in the local government strike the next day, so she needed a note from the Dr.
The next day was rather cloudy and dull, it wasn't exactly sitting in the garden weather, so the children stayed indoors for most of the time. At one point Nathaniel picked up a nursery rhyme book and was 'reading' to his sister as they shared a chair. It was quite sweet for a while till the pushing and shoving started, then Lydia managed to end up on the floor. Later Nat was playing happily with his trains, but Lydia would sneak up and run off with one of his engines, laughing as she did so. Things were getting pretty fraught, so we were glad when it was time to take them home. Daughter had managed to get a telephone consultation, so her husband had collected the needed sick note. That evening we were late eating and late going to bed.
The next morning we were up late and had a lazy morning, it had rained overnight. I was getting ready to attend the nursery sports day, but Daughter rand to say it had been cancelled. I don't know how well I have been sleeping, but I dozed off,and slept for 2 hours after lunch, then we went over to the garden centre, Husband needed  something, and I was tempted to buy to fill the gap where he had turned the soil over, the selection is much reduced, so it was 2 red and white dahlias and some red and white verbena, it wasn't the garden centre with the cafe, the road to that one isn't as straightforward, and we would have been tempted.
The Saturday was our church Anniversary. We didn't have a special speaker, just a simple worship service, then at teatime quite a few more people arrived. I think a few had just got back from holiday, others had heard about the after tea speakers. This time I made Eton mess, a huge bowl of it, which all went. After the washing up was done, we had an interesting time when Missionaries who belong to the church family told us of their work, and we had a question and answer session.
On the Sunday we had a minister from another church, whom we hadn't heard before and we had two very challenging sermons. In between we had roast beef and our usual  Sunday afternoon doze. The day started dull but then brightened up.
On the Monday we were back to the heatwave, I just about managed to stay in the garden long enough to hang out washing, and plant the stuff I had bought. I wore a hat for my walk that day. On The Tuesday we walked into town as we needed to stock up on stuff from the health food shop. Again it was very hot. We got the bus back up the hill.
I had to check what time to pick up Lydia on the Wednesday morning, as we had only just started the new routine before we went on holiday, and things hadn't been normal since we got back. I managed to fit in the Sainsbury's run. Lydia was napping when we arrived, so I took my laptop and the local paper. Husband collected Nat from nursery, and Lydia woke up, so we brought them home and gave her lunch. It was a hot day and we spent some time sitting in the garden. When we took them home Daughter was anxious to get dinner under way so we supervised them whilst she did so.

There's no one quite like Mummy

On the Thursday my neighbour had her Granddaughter there, so she had a small paddling pool out and asked if Lydia would like to join Grace. Nathaniel followed us but the neighbour didn't mind. He wouldn't paddle but the girls sat in the water and eventually began to interact with each other.
When we eventually returned to our garden, husband had taken advantage of the hiatus and enjoyed a doze. It was just as well, because we had a disturbed night, with a terrific thunderstorm between 2.25 and 3.10 am. We hadn't seen the like in years.
There was another storm early on the Friday morning, as we were packing and tidying. I broke off to post some birthday cards, then at 1.15 pm we set off for the South Coast. The traffic was not good, it was the day when the local schools began their summer holidays. It was awful, we crawled along past Heathrow. Then it was bad up to the M4 junction. We stopped for lunch at about  3 pm. We got to Mum In Law's at around 6 pm.
We went for a walk around the village to stretch our legs. I had taken a fish pie, but instead of my usual cheese sauce I had substituted a tomato one in view of her milk intolerance. We had left some choc ices there after her Birthday, so we all had one of those, Sometimes it seems she can't resist dairy. During that evening we had really bad thunderstorms again. Mum in Law was glad as her lawn was suffering from lack of rain.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Things can only get better.

This is the hat I bought on holiday, washable foldable and made of paper
So, to borrow a phrase from Flanders and Swan: ''Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call', he came and he stayed for a few hours, he had permission to seal the leak on the meter and not charge us, and he changed a part on the boiler which needed replacing, he also said my cooker had as good as had a servicing, and he would not leave till he was confident that we were all safe. There have been a few times when I have wondered if we were doing right in continuing to pay the monthly fee for the maintenance contract, but having had at least 7 hours labour, which would have  been £70 a hour, plus the parts supplied, suddenly the monthly fee didn't seem too bad at all. Plus the fact that without the insurance we would have had to shop around for a Gas safe engineer who was free to do the work. So I won't be cancelling the agreement.
I had asked a friend from church if he knew of a plumber who didn't charge the earth, and he had asked what we needed doing. I said, 'fitting a shower, like for like'. He said he could do it for us,and called in on his way home.  He didn't charge us a lot, I had  the chicken in the oven which I had planned for Sunday, and life was beginning to feel more normal.
Tuesday, I got up and had a shower, bliss! There had been a shower in the cottage we rented, but the water pressure in the bathroom had been poor, so it was good to have a decent shower again. I went out to the paper shop and got the Telegraph, then we got changed, got in the car and drove to the station. I had asked husband what he thought the likelihood of rain was, and he didn't seem to be expecting any, but after the Brownsea episode, I decided to take a small folding brolly with me. I have a small UPVC bag which I picked up in the British Museum shop when we went up to London 2 years ago. This is ideal for a small bottle of water, brolly etc, so I took it with me.
We bought tickets for Euston, and duly boarded the train. Husband suggested we got sandwiches, and then eat them in a park. He had a particular park in mind. So we got sandwiches in Pret a Manger,  waited ages for a bus, which then crawled along. I said to husband 'I'm sick of this start stop, how far is this park?' he said 'Not to far from here', so I said 'Right, I'm getting off at the next stop and we can walk there'. So we did,and we beat the bus, the park turned out to be Lincolns' Inn Fields. so we found a bench and enjoyed our lunch.
For my Birthday I had received quite a lot of money, which was still unspent, so I had decided to buy myself a good leather bound bible. We went to the Protestant Truth society bookshop, where they didn't have one, and we had a discussion with the manager on the merits or otherwise of leather bound bibles He said that the NKJV was not a popular translation, but as we use it in church it seems logical to continue to use it. I'm all for supporting Christian bookshops, but it is frustrating when they don't have what you want. He did however point me to the best publisher.
Lincoln's Inn fields
I always used to go to CLC in Holborn years ago, when I taught Sunday School, to buy books as Christmas presents/class prizes for my class, but I had read that they had moved. Husband has the internet on his phone, so he checked and found them. For anyone who is interested, they are now in Ave Maria Lane, near St Paul's. We found the shop quite easily, it was uncanny, apart from the door being in a different place, the layout is almost exactly the same, with little offices at either side, but there is no downstairs. They didn't have what we wanted, so we decided to go for a coffee.
Royal Courts of Justice

St Paul's

It is many years since we had coffee in St Pauls' Square, the place is in fact unrecognisable. We wanted to avoid Starbucks for personal reasons, and instead found a cafe Nero, where we had coffee. We then went into the nearby underground station, to get a train to Oxford Street, which was nearer to our ultimate destination.
Oxford Street was pretty crowded as usual, but as we approached John Lewis, I asked if we could go in so that I could find haberdashery, and look at the materials. husband said 'I suppose so', so in we went. Haberdashery is no longer on the ground floor, they have had at least one revamp,and it is now on the 4th floor. Husband found that technology was on the 5th floor, so he said I could meet him there. There was a disappointing array of dress fabrics, I wandered around, spotted a delightful Minnie Mouse style dress, but it would have been too small for a certain young lady. I looked at the children's dressing up costumes, but didn't buy, as I didn't want to be carrying lots of shopping. Then I got the escalator up to the next floor to look for husband. I was astounded at the size and price of some of the TV sets on display, huge things, on stands, up to £3,000. One would need an enormous room to accommodate one, but then I guess not everyone lives in a rabbit hutch, or doll's house as one friend once referred to mine.
I found him, and we found the little boys and girls rooms, then got the lift back to the ground floor. 'Oh dear,' he said, 'I've just seen people with brollies going past', so he bought himself a brolly so as not to get his lightweight summer suit wet. I used the fold up one I had brought. We ventured out,and made our way to Selfridges, to dodge the rain. It was incredibly noisy in there loud pop music blasting out. I complained that I needed to sit, but shops rarely provide seats these days for customers. We made our way to the technology dept again, and I was threatening to sit on some furniture on display, however one piece was an ancient chaise longue, at a ridiculous price, with tatty covers, obviously in need of tlc.
I was wearing my 'best' sandals, which I normally wear for church, but even though they are comfortable, hot London pavements made my feet sore.
There were some small  sofas in front of demonstration TVs, so I plonked myself on one of those,and watched the pretty nature pictures for a while, but when the football pics came on, I decided I was rested enough to go and find husband. We made our way back to Bond Street, then his personal GPS directed us to the Ritz.
We were early, but I said I was sure they wouldn't mind, and we went in. There were people outside being photographed by the concierge, but husband took my picture. We found the Palm Court quite easily, and a waiter approached, and said that they wouldn't be too long. I was quite happy 'people watching', and soon the waiter came back, and we were the first to be seated for the 5.30 afternoon tea. He took my voucher, sadly it also had the greeting on from our family who had bought it for my Birthday.
As we sat waiting we decided for once in our lives to be silly, and husband took a 'selfie' to send to our Daughter. I tried to be discreet  with some photography, but there were flashes going off all over, and people using various tablet devices to take pics. I rarely use flash, as it can be so disrupting.
The finger sandwiches were lovely, except cucumber which we both dislike. There was an interesting combination of egg and spring onion, and other various fillings. I had Assam and husband had some sort of green tea. The waiter brought more finger sandwiches, then later they came with the scones. The jam and cream were in pots on the table. I was beginning to feel full, when we saw a trolley coming around with lemon drizzle cake and what looked like a chocolate cake. Husband had the chocolatey one, but I had to refuse as there were still some dainties sitting on the stand.
We divided those up, with husband having the chocolate one, and another, and leaving me to finish off the mini maccaroons after my dainty cream slice, and another which I can't recall We had drunk lots of tea, and been given fresh pots, and eventually, we laid down our napkins and felt it was time to leave. a pianist had been playing songs from the musicals, and there were other ensemble members arriving, so presumably the 7.30 sitting would have the full ensemble.
Glass sculpture Berkely Square

Outside The Ritz

Husband in palm court

Tea for two

me leaving palm court

palm court
We thanked the waiters and left, no bill to pay. We had to use our brollies, but Green Park isn't too far, and soon we were on a Euston bound train. There was a seat, which I was about to take, but another lady seemed to want it so I stood back, then she insisted I have it so in the end neither of us sat; too much British pride I think.
Husband used his knowledge to bring us out by the ticket barriers, but I explained I needed some mints, so had to turn up the slope to get to Smith's. I was back in plenty of time,and husband insisted on walking right to the front carriages. It was after 7 pm, but there were still commuters on the train, I feel sorry for them, they must see so little of their families. When husband used to commute, I used to keep the children up in their pyjamas till he got home,at around 7.15, and it was his job to do their bible story or catechism, and prayers and put the to bed.
The first stop was Watford Junction, so the journey was a bit quicker, and the newer train made it smoother. It was nice to be home, I can only take London in small doses.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

That was the week that was!

The Monday of our first week home was not too eventful, we decided in the afternoon to go out and try and replace our broken shower. We toured the DIY stores, and eventually agreed on one the same make as the old one, but a slightly lower wattage, and a push button to start and stop it, as sometimes I struggled to turn the knob on the old one.
We noticed that  our boiler was beginning to play up, it kept on going to overheat, and the domestic water supply seemed extremely hot. In the post, we had had a reminder that the  boiler needed servicing, so I rang up and booked an engineer to call. This was arranged for the Wednesday morning.
On the Tuesday, I had an appointment with the Osteopath. I also phoned our old friends, but the wife was sleeping and I was unable to visit, as she had an appointment that afternoon. So I spent some time going through holiday pictures with a view to uploading some on facebook.
I was late to bed that evening, and I noticed some water on the kitchen floor near the sink. I soaked it up with a cloth, but it kept coming. I got everything out of the cupboard, checked all the connections etc, all was dry. The water still kept coming so I attempted to turn off the stop cock. It wouldn't budge so I tried pliers, WD 40, but nothing would make it budge. I woke husband and he came down, he said he was too tired to think straight and as it wasn't a complete flood to leave it till the morning. So I left my super absorbent cloth down by the sink.
On the Wednesday Our Daughter had had to rearrange her hours so that she could take Nat to his new school for a visit, which she had to attend, so we collected Lydia, brought here here, and she obligingly went up for a nap. I went out to Sainsbury's, the engineer came and was sorting out the boiler.
When I got home he explained why he thought the boiler was overheating, a switch in the airing cupboard had somehow had been switched. Whilst he was outside checking the flue, I went out to the bin, and commented I thought there was a faint smell of gas, to which he replied, 'oh that's normal'.
He declared everything safe and usable, and went on his way. Husband collected Nat, and we looked after the children, but it was an early finish for their Mum
The water was still coming onto the floor, so I rang the water company Insurers and they agreed to send someone out, but it would be evening. I pulled out the washing machine, and checked the connections, and then could get my hand behind the plinth under the sink unit,on the floor, it was incredibly wet under there. To be on the safe side I disconnected the washing machine taps at the wall.  Everything came out of the cupboards and was piled into plastic boxes from the loft. Fortunately I hadn't returned them to the loft after their previous usage. In my hurry to get dinner over before the water engineer came, I managed to burn my mouth on hot  shepherd's pie, and that resulted in blisters.
The water engineer came, said the leak was under the sink unit, and he would have to take the plinth off to access it. He said the plinth would have absorbed water anyway, and it came off so easily in pieces, and husband was hit in the chest by a spurt of water. Unable to turn the stop cock, the plumber had to do it outside. He showed husband how to turn it off outside. He said it was the supply pipe, and not really covered under the terms of our insurance, but he was prepared to fix it. I was ready to argue that as it was inside the house it should be covered.
The pipe was duly fixed, the water turned back on, and I put some clothes in the washing machine to wash. I couldn't understand why the programme went for a few minutes then returned to the beginning, then it suddenly dawned on me that  I had turned off the water taps at the wall. I dived into the cupboard, turned them back on and Presto! the washing machine worked. Phew!
Earlier I had tried getting quotes for fitting of the new shower, and one company had been very pushy, they had rung me back and said it would cost £64, but when they rang back to say the plumber was on his way, I was told £64 per hour. I was furious, as I'd had a quote for a total of £75 elsewhere. They were adamant they had not told me £64, and they then said it was plus VAT. So I cancelled the visit. I had enough stress without that!
The next morning, just after 6, husband came back into the bedroom and said, 'I'm paddling down there'.
I groaned, and dragged myself out of bed, found a pair of flip flops, down into the kitchen, and I could see what he meant, 'water water everywhere'. Husband was wielding the mop, to not much avail. He went outside and turned the water off as the engineer had shown him. I bought a 'miracle cloth' a few years ago, from a demonstrator in Homebase. I fished that out, and all the microfibre cloths I could find, and in about an hour, between us we had mopped/soaked up all the water.
I washed, got dressed, had my breakfast, then contacted the water board. I went alone to pick up Lydia.
The water board rang back, to say the engineer was busy, but he would come as soon as he could. Husband reiterated that we had young children in the house. Lydia went up quite happily for a nap, I took a large bottle of bleach upstairs for emergency use, if we could not flush the toilet, then went off to the supermarket and bought some very large bottles of water, for use for drinking and filling the kettle. Husband collected Nathaniel from his session at his new school, and I gave both of the children lunch.
The engineer duly arrived, we explained the problem to him, and he set about investigating. He  eventually fixed the leak, and said that he thought the previous chap had fitted a wrong valve. We were just grateful to have the water back on, but when I thought of those in the world who have no regular supply of clean water, my inconvenience seemed trivial. We spent so much time reading to the children that day, some days they seem to prefer being read to to playing.
On the Friday morning  I went for a much needed haircut. Afterwards I went into town, and whilst I was there, was looking at little folding garden chairs. Both children have  a habit of toppling ours over, as the lawn slopes. I thought if they had smaller ones they might be more stable, or at least they wouldn't have as far to fall. I rang husband and he said he had been planning to join me in town. Eventually we chose some from a shop called Trespass, as they were patterned and not character, we chose two the same colour to avoid 'She's got my chair' etc.
Some time in the afternoon our new neighbours knocked and said that they could smell gas, could we smell it? They were thinking of ringing the emergency number. I said we'd had our boiler repaired and serviced, but yes I could smell gas outside the house. When I checked, it was definitely coming from our boiler flue, so I said I would deal with it. I phoned and was told to turn the gas off at the meter, and as I opened the cupboard,  thought I got a faint whiff of gas. The engineer came within a short while from The National Grid and tested the supply, he found that the boiler flue was putting out pure gas. He capped everything off, and as I said to him, as I had to the person in the office, 'We only had it serviced 3 days ago'. I got the same reply, 'Yes but they can go at any moment'. I had to ring British gas to rebook an engineer, for the next morning,  and rethink dinner. It all had to go in the microwave. Fortunately, we still have a hot water storage tank in our airing cupboard, and that has an immersion heater, so we would be ok for hot water.
Next morning the Gas Engineer arrived. He was there for ages, checking everything, phoning for advice, but he could not contact his boss. He was pretty sure we had a leak on the actual meter,as well as in the boiler, but as the meter is not covered by the insurance, wasn't 100% sure they would agree to fix it. Again I was prepared to argue that is their meter, fitted by them. Whist he was there in my kitchen, I said to husband, 'I can't be out there making lunch whilst he is there', so we agreed I would go to the M&S simply food at the petrol station on the dual carriageway,and get sandwiches and rethink dinner, as I would have no cooker except my combi microwave. I also rang up and cadged Sunday lunch from our Daughter. At the petrol station, I was tempted by double chunky Kit Kats, and after my sandwich scoffed mine, husband is usually very good with chocolate, and as he started on the second finger, he commented he didn't usually just scoff them. I said 'Welcome to the world of comfort eating.'
The engineer made everything safe again, he had asked a colleague to do the next job on his list, and then said he had to go and see an old lady who had no gas at all. I said to husband, 'I'm surprised he didn't think I was an old lady.' He said he would return on the Monday morning.
So we had lasagne and salad for dinner, I cooked the lasagne on combi, and on Sunday after the morning service at church, we went off to our Daughter's for Sunday lunch. We were pretty exhausted after an emotionally stressful week, but couldn't manage to doze off for an after lunch nap.We declined their invitation to go to the park, and came home instead, where we both managed to doze off and sleep so deeply that we awoke too late to make the evening service.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Just walking in the rain, getting soaking wet

Well I'm getting towards the end of the holiday now, on the Thursday,we had decided we would go over to Brownsea Island, and do some walking. Husband's toe was a little less  tender. Up until we departed, no one had been from the council, but we didn't have to be there. We took cameras, and walking boots, I had forgotten to take a day pack, so took my small bag. Husband was adamant it wasn't going to rain, so I chanced leaving my waterproof behind. It was a bit cloudy that day and quite windy. I don't know what husband was thinking of, but he refused to accept my directions to Studland,and set off on a convoluted route. At one point we were quite high up,and passed a viewpoint which gave wonderful views over Poole harbour, but it was spotted too late for him to stop. Eventually we reached Studland and Shell Bay, where we could park free.
We changed into our walking boots,and set off for the ferry. It wasn't too long coming, as we waited we watched the waves being whipped up by the wind, and the yachts almost bending over. Once on Board there was no one to take our money, but at the other end we found a kiosk and got return tickets.
We found the place for tickets for Brownsea, and bought them. The ferry arrived quickly and we boarded. As we sat waiting for departure time I felt a tad queasy as it was rocking from side to side. However once the boat started I felt fine. We were at Brownsea in minutes,and disembarked, clutching our N T cards to ensure free admission.

this was our favourite beach when we stayed in Boscombe, years ago

wind whipping up the waves
Arrival of the ferry

We went into the  NT shop, and fed up with juggling camera, bag and bottle of water, I decided it would be easier to buy a small pack, then we headed for the cafe, I had a lovely quiche and salad, but can't remember what husband had. We shared a cup of wedges, but they were not as hot as they could have been and the person in the queue behind us was demanding fresh ones.
Lunch over, we set off for the visitor centre, and a lady from N T, chatted to us and I asked what the likelihood of seeing a red squirrel was. She didn't sound too hopeful, said it was the wrong time of day,etc, but who knows. She told us the best way to go around the island, and said if we got tired and she was passing 'in the buggy' we could ask for a lift. We went round the visitor centre, saw lots of peacocks,and some ordinary hens strutting around outside.
Then we set off up the path to visit the various viewpoints. A couple of times I sent up silent prayers, 'Lord, would you please let us see a red squirrel?' We found all of the viewpoints, took lots of photos, visited the Scout camping area, the Baden Powell stone, then just as I was giving up hope, there he was, sitting on a pile of logs, I grabbed husband's arm and hissed at him to look. Before we could even focus our cameras, he was off at speed, a flash of red fur and bushy tail, up over the logs and straight up into a Scots pine.
So you'll have to take my word for it. We found the ruined village, not much to see there, then made our way down a path which led to a small beach, possibly the only time I really went on a beach in the whole two weeks.
yacht in the wind

Studland and the old Harrys seen from Brownsea

Another island seen from viewpoint

The ferry seen from viewpoint

One of the many peacocks we saw

Scout camp area

Baden Powell stone
Poloe from Brownsea beach
Driftwood on the Beach
Feeling a little bit tired we set off, down the main road back to the harbour area, exchanging views on the likelihood of rain, from the ever darkening sky, with a fellow walker. About a quarter of the way along, I felt a drop of rain, suddenly, the heavens opened, there was a torrential downpour, we didn't see much point in sheltering under trees, just dumped the cameras in my new pack, and strode out for our destination. It was pretty much like the downpour we experienced a couple of summers ago in Sennen, only this time we weren't dressed for it, Eventually, like two drowned rats we made it to the N T shop, there had been no sign of the lady in the buggy.
The assistant felt sorry for us and shared her chocolates with us, and seemed sorry that they didn't sell towels. Others came into the shop, most of whom had some sort of wetwear on, but they didn't seem to have fared much better. On visiting the ladies room, I was tempted to use the hand dryer as a hairdryer, but I couldn't bend down that far.
Eventually the ferry for Sandbanks arrived, at least we were undercover. Then the Studland chain ferry arrived and we boarded. The windows were all open and it was freezing. Husband sympathised with a chap clad only in a thin shirt and trousers. Although the chap seemed dressed respectably enough, there was something of a wild look in his eyes, and he was giving me odd looks. There was a certain slightly unkempt look about him. He really made me feel uneasy, so when we disembarked, and husband unintentionally strode off without me, I kept my distance. As we changed out of our boots, the wild looking chap was circling the car park. I was hoping he wouldn't ask us for a lift, so kept my head down. Suddenly he disappeared down the path to the beach, of all places. It wasn't beach weather.
As we drove off husband confessed he had been a little bit unsettled too. We drove back, car heater on and I made sure he took the quick route back to Swanage.
Back at the bungalow we got out of our wet things, had hot drinks, put the central heating on, and sat in our dressing gowns till it was time to get dressed for our meal out. This time, we managed to park at the small car park nearer to the restaurant, the extended car park was almost ready, and the day before the contractors had said if stuck we could use one of the road spaces, as long as we paid. We were both tempted by the scallops again, he had goujons of plaice, I had the bream, then this time I had the tiramisu, and he had an Italian cheesecake. We had coffee, then were glad we didn't have to walk too far to the car.
When we had first arrived back from Brownsea, we had been unable to tell whether the wasps' nest had been dealt with, as it was still there. however on close inspection, I saw a white powder on both the nest and the garage,and one or two very sick looking wasps lying around.
On the Friday, the weather didn't start off too good. It was cloudy and windy, I had been trying to get as much washing done as possible, so that we didn't have too many dirty clothes to take home with us. As we went into town it began to rain, but soon stopped. we wandered around looking for gifts to bring back for the family and Grandchildren. Eventually I chose,and then we met up and had lunch at the little outdoor cafe. It had turned into a very pleasant day. We wandered some more, then sat for a while, as we sat two of the red arrows put in a couple of appearances over the bay. The sun was hot but it was still windy, and was perfect clothes drying weather. Eventually we caught the Number 5 back to the bungalow for the last time. We started our packing and then after dinner, drove out to a place called Kingston, which actually looks down on Corfe Castle. Eventually we found somewhere to stop, and got some pretty decent sunset pictures.


Corfe  Castle,and Poole harbour at sunset

Next morning we were up early, after breakfast I began packing food, emptying the contents of the fridge freezer, packing it all into our large coolbag. We collected our stuff together, tidied, I cleaned the bath, washbasin and toilet, then the small second loo, made sure everything was back in its place and the cooker and work surfaces clean, husband started packing up the car, and by 10.00 am I had done the final room check, and deposited the front door key back in its keybox.
The journey home was  a little slow at first. The satnav did odd little diversions. We stopped on the M3 for lunch, there were parts if the journey that were slow due to congestion, and parts when it rained heavily. We arrived home at around 2.30, unpacked the car, picked up the piles of mail, deleted the 'junk messages' from the answering machine, informed family we were home, then I did the Sainsbury's run, began picking the fruit which was dragging the canes down. Son in Law had watered a couple of times, for which we were grateful, but there had been more rain at home than we had had. The garden was in reasonable shape, nothing had died, but the lawn was a tad long.
Sunday was spent in church, resting and trying to tidy up odd bits and pieces. Little did we know what was in store for us in the week to come.

Monday, 14 July 2014

These pictures were put in the wrong place by blogger, repeatedly, so I'm uploading them separately

On the pier

Swanage from the pier

supports for the old pier, and Wellington clock building

After sunset

Those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer

 On the second Monday of our holiday, I showed husband my new route for walking into the centre of Swanage, and he agreed it was much better. He had take a slightly different route himself on the Friday, which had involved walking through a a park. After a while we went our separate ways, as I was ready for lunch and he wasn't. I had become increasingly annoyed by my hat blowing away with the breeze, and as I walked past a shop which sold mainly outdoor things, I spotted a neat little pile of hats, which seemed to be crocheted or hand knotted The did rather put me in mind of the type of hat worn in Downton Abbey. They had grey and cream. I tried one on, it seemed to fit better than the other one, and felt as if it would stay on. I duly paid for it and wore it, although it probably completely flattened my hair.
I decided that I would explore the Northern half of the promenade, as so far I had only been less than halfway, to the part where the sea defences were being strengthened. Again it was a hot day and I had chosen a sleeveless t shirt for a change. I had also liberally applied factor 20. I eventually reached the far end, and walked a little way up the road, but there was not much to see. It was the road which led inland and was the route which the bus had taken to Bournemouth. I walked back to the corner, and looked at a restaurant/cafe, The Bull and Boat, which I had seen online. I think it has a bar as well. I checked the little beach hut, but they did not do decaff
I made my way in to the Bull and Boat and found that they did decaffeinated coffee, and bought one to sit outside and drink. It was quite pleasant in the shade watching what was going on on the beach. All attempts to phone husband failed, the signal wasn't too good, or he may have had his phone on silent.
Swanage pier from the other side

start of northern beach

long lens view across to lookout
I began to walk back, and eventually managed to contact husband, so he came along to meet me. I said I thought my back felt a bit sore, I hadn't realised that the sleeveless T shirt was lower cut at the back. he said yes it did look red, so one of my purchases that day was after sun cream. I had searched for a post box for postcards earlier, but couldn't find one. I went into a shop to ask, and found out there was one yards away!
Over the weekend, we had noticed there seemed to be too many wasps coming into the kitchen. They all seemed rather angry. When I stepped outside, I spotted the biggest wasps' nest I had ever seen, attached to the eaves of the bungalow. They also seemed to be flying across to the garage, and crawling in through a crack in the wall. There was no garage key, so we could not check for another nest.
Husband said that as we were planning to go to Corfe Castle the next day, and that is where the cottage agency is, we could report it. In the meantime I kept the kitchen window firmly shut. Not easy,as I had to also shut the door to minimise the risk of anything setting the smoke alarm off, whilst cooking sausages from the local butcher, or breakfast bacon.

wasps nest
wasps on garage wall
When we returned form our trip to town that Monday, I examined my back and found it quite red, with a diagonal white mark where my bag strap had been. Despite the soreness I thought it funny, I never get an even suntan these days.
So the next day off to Corfe Castle we went. We found the car park, free to N T members, then had a little look in the shop/information room. As we left I looked at the looming hill, and thought, I'l never make it to the top. The advised route is a sort of nature walk around the back of the castle, which also passes an old mill. There was yet another party of schoolchildren there. Eventually we arrived at the castle entrance, off the town square, and I was glad to see that the castle didn't seem anywhere near as high, as we had done some sort of gradual climb on the way round.
We produced our N T cards, and were soon in the grounds, exploring, reading about the history etc, and hearing many more school groups receiving instruction. We eventually climbed up to where the keep is. I wanted to go higher, but a lot of the ground was uneven, husband's toe was still sore, neither of us is keen on heights, but I decided I would brave it further and went as high as I could. Most of the stones remain in the position where they landed when Cromwell's men blew it up, and have stayed there for over 300 years, but there are parts which are tricky, and there are notices everywhere about slips trips and falls. Occasionally, if I looked down I felt a bit queasy, but the views were fantastic. There was a great view of the steam railway.
Eventually I rejoined husband, who had been resting in a lovely green space,and we gradually made our way back down.

Coming round the back

Front entrance

looking down

Entrance and village from above

Just where they fell
good view of Poole harbour

and of the Swanage railway

Hungry sparrow in the cafe garden

We decided lunch in the tea room garden was in order, it was quite hot still, but pleasant. we ordered a Coronation chicken sandwich and a ham sandwich,and shared them. As I went through to the ladies' room at one point, I spotted a first response paramedic car at the entrance to the castle. I told husband and he said 'Yes it has driven through'. Later we saw the big ambulance, but apparently, it could not get across the bridge and through the further gates. As we strolled around the town square we heard a loud noise, and the air ambulance came into view. He circled the village a few times, the went in, landing on the green area where husband and I had been about half an hour earlier.
The air ambulance flies in

He lands near the keep

Taking off backwards
Wareham Quayside

We popped into the little local church to have a look, then found a stone seat to sit on. A gentleman came along, who told us he was from Holland but had lived in the village for 30 years and had never ever seen the air ambulance land at the castle. We all hoped that the casualty would be OK.
Later, we did discover that a woman had fallen, how far we don't know, but she had sustained leg injuries, a suspected dislocated ankle, which also can mean a bad fracture. Husband couldn't understand why the land ambulance paramedics couldn't just carry her down, but I explained that they use trolleys, and the ground would have been far too uneven.
Much later after husband had gone off in search of a comfort stop, the air ambulance took off backwards. It was fascinating to watch. Husband actually managed to get  shot of it taking off, and later e-mailed it to the local paper, who used it on their webpage. So now we are even, both having had photo's published.
We drove over to Wareham to explore a bit. We had actually called in on the way back from Durdle Door the previous week, and found a lovely tearoom.
We wandered down the quay, then round some of the streets, and husband spotted a barber's shop so went in for a a haircut. I said he would find me in the tea room. I explored another couple of streets, but the sun was so hot I thought I would melt, so I headed for the tea room. I asked for tea, yes it sounds crazy, but the tearoom was fairy cool and I resisted the urge to sit in the garden area.
Husband eventually came to join me. I said I would have liked to have found the remains of the town walls, but just couldn't cope with the heat.
We called in at the supermarket,bought enough stuff to last till the and of the week,and more ice cubes to keep it all cool. Then we drove back to Swanage having forgotten to report the wasps nests.
Sunset over nine barrow down
Next morning, I rang the cottage agency, and they said that they would get in touch with the owner. We had actually discovered that the owner lives in a town about 12 miles away from our home. later they rang me back to say that someone, presumably from the local council, would be round the next day to deal with it.
That morning, as we set off, we decided to walk right down to Peveril point and the lookout. As we approached the lookout the watchkeeper held up a sign,saying open to visitors, pointing at us and the sign. We laughed and made our way round to the door. The lookouts these days are all manned by volunteers, and the very nice chap talked about the work they do, what they see, and pondered why the inshore rescue dinghy was pootling around the bay. He said that conditions were quite unusual, in that the whole of the Isle of Wight could be seen, in fact we could see right along to the power station by Southampton. We bought some of his notecards, then as his colleague arrived for a chat, and the phone began to ring more, we decided it was time to thank him and leave.
We had a good wander, then headed off for the Trattoria, to book a table for the Thursday evening. We read the lunch menu,and decided to stay for lunch, husband had a frittata, and I had crab salad. We had decided that we would go on the pier that day, so duly paid up. We went into a little museum, which had a cafe, and they had Dorset apple cake on sale, I hadn't seen any so far, so we bought some for later. We walked right to the end of the pier, there are hundreds of tiny plaques nailed to the planks with messages engraved, some romantic, some happy memories, others in memory of loved ones who loved Swanage.
We walked round Swanage a bit more, then had coffee at Earthlights.
Late that evening we walked back to the cliff  path for the sunset, but it was too late and too cloudy. We had attempted to find a sunset the previous evening, but hadn't been too successful. The watchman had told us one of the better places to go, so we said we would bear it in mind.
We could see all of the Isle of Wight

Sea looking a bit choppy

the lookout

Poole ferry