Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Off for our holidays – two weeks in England.

Uneventful drive to Coquelles next to the Euro Tunnel. Having Icare with us does mean we have to ensure we stop more often! We spent the night in an Ibis, where dogs are allowed in the room for a few euros. Icare behaved himself perfectly; Jude just says she now has to cope with stereo snoring. The French riot police – the CRS – use the hotel car park as their vehicle area, and also stay in the hotel itself. Really secure parking! 

The train trip was fine, just the normal culture shock to drive in England again – there are so many cars! I am sure the SE of England is full. We had a very nice lunch with my cousin Joyce and her husband Richard, and managed to persuade them to visit us later this year.

We crossed through the Dartford tunnel (having remembered to pay on line first of course) and so on to the cottage in Orford.  We were very pleased with the cottage, it was a perfect size for us and the quay is only a hundred yards away. Plenty of lovely walks for the dog as well, and Orford itself is a very pretty village. Also a pub 100 yards away!

No rest though as the next day we drove to Leigh on Sea to see Nick and family, and it was lovely to see everyone too. The next day was Esme’s 14th birthday and the day we were there she was having a party for 40 + 14 year old girls. Sadly we had to leave before they arrived…..Jake did door duty, and Nick and Lisa retired to their new shed/workroom at the bottom of the garden. Just out of sight….

Back to Orford where the next day we had Sunday lunch with Carol and Terry – great to see them both.

We had some very enjoyable days out from our cottage in the surrounding area. We particularly enjoyed the complex at Snape Maltings, missed the opera but some very nice shops and cafes.  We also visited Aldeburgh and we had a proper seaside day – horizontal rain!

Another good place to visit was the village of Dunwich – or rather looking out to sea, where most of the village disappeared under the waves over 700 years ago.

We caught up with an old friend, Florence Gardener, in Norfolk, and while discussing mutual acquaintances realised that another old RAF chum lived virtually on the route back to Orford, so we descended with very little warning on Adrian and Liz Richardson.

Back in Suffolk we found a lovely old ruined abbey at Leiston, which we pretty much had to ourselves. We went on to Southwold, another very attractive coastal town.

After a week in Suffolk we moved on to Gloucestershire, where we stayed at Fossebridge with the Thompsons. Here we were able to catch up with a lot of old friends – including the  Titcheners, Romney Pargeter, the Ashforth-Smiths and the Wiggles, as well as visiting our old haunts of Filkins, Burford, Stow etc.

We also ventured to Marlborough where we caught up with Dave Lockie. We had lunch by the Kennet and Avon Canal and then Dave took us to the modern long barrow where the ashes of his late and much-missed wife Juliette are. A beautiful place.

 We had another very enjoyable day out in Dorset to see Posy. When we went to the local pub for lunch we were very surprised when someone came in with a Clumber spaniel puppy – probably the only two in Dorset in the same place!

Our last trip was to Newent in Gloucestershire the home of the International Centre for Birds of Prey. It’s a very good day out, with a large number of birds to see, an excellent series of flying demonstrations and a very good cafĂ©! I first went there in 1968 to help out when I slept in the summer house – it has changed a bit!

On our last day we took the cross country route to Folkestone and had lunch in the Crown Inn in Chiddingfold, the village in which Judy lived as a girl. Back through the tunnel, another night at the Ibis and the long drive home.

The weather on the way home was hot and sunny – it has pretty much rained ever since!

Judy’s eyes are still fine after the cataract operation. She has had another check and a got a prescription for new glasses. They seem to be very expensive here – opticians only sell glasses, they don’t do the eye tests. Judy had one lens replaced and it was 140€, of which the state insurance paid just over 4€. Luckily the rest was covered by our top up insurance.

Soon after we got back we had a visit from the McGahans, Malcolm being an old friend from my police days. Sadly because of threatened ATC strikes they had to leave early, so I hope they enjoyed their brief time with us.

We had a nice day out in the Dordogne as I drew up a floorplan of a large house for a friend who acts as a project manager. The place needs a lot of work, but including outbuildings and attics over 13,000 square feet plus a fair bit of land, near a river, for 640,000€ seems like a pretty good deal. Not surprising it was snapped up by a couple of London lawyers!

Back to the normal routine - bowls and lunch out with the Lushes – great!

The English Library had a social evening at the Chateau de Bellefond a couple of days ago - a quiz night with fish and chips. It seemed to go off pretty well – we had 22 keen quizzers. More social events to come as we (hopefully) go into summer.

A brief rest for couple of days, then friends for dinner on Friday and lunch on Sunday, followed by a visit from Judy’s sister Gill and her husband. It’s all a bit like hard work….