A week in Italy and more.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2017 by David Palmer

On the 26th of Aug. we had Paul and Louise, Jim and Brigitte and Sean for a BBQ. The occasion was the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final. I unveiled my quarter pounder beef burgers and satisfyingly they seemed to go down rather well, though unfortunately our girls were out beefed on the field of play and lost to New Zealand. Oddly, it was the men in the party who watched the game on TV with customary beers at hand, while the ladies in the party preferred to sit outside and chat. After the match we all relocated to the beer house in town and toasted a brave and valiant effort by our girls against the ‘dark-side’.

Early in September, Charlotte and family took themselves off to France for 5 days. The 2nd was Charlotte’s birthday, the 3rd was their wedding anniversary and the 4th was Suraj’s birthday. Very convenient. The weather was reasonable and they managed to to see quite a bit of the local countryside sampling the local cuisine at every opportunity. Bread and ice-cream seemed very popular and appeared in many Face-book photos.

It had become a daily routine taking Mia for long walks through the Leicestershire countryside stopping off at lunchtime in a variety of hostelries and restaurants for refreshments. Occasionally, we would be accompanied with Jim and his dogs, Harby and Showby. They get on well with Mia, are very obedient and a good influence on her. Late each evening, we would take a last walk in the park and meet up with other doggy friends and play ball until the light failed us. While her owners were having fun seeing the sights of South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand on their honeymoon, she was equally having fun, sniffing her way around Market Harborough and discovering many new spots to linger awhile and savour the odours of I know not what (thankfully!)

On the 9th Sept, Sue, Charlotte and I went to see an ABBA tribute band at the Three Swans in Harborough. Paul, Louise and Sean also went but were on different tables. The concert was as expected, great fun, thoroughly enjoyable and the excellent three course meal served prior to the performance, added to a brilliant night out. Sean’s wife passed away a few years ago and it was pleasing to see that he hit it off well with one of the women diners at his table. Such is the power of Abba that this has developed into quite a relationship.

On the 15th I picked up Sarah and Lee from Heathrow. They were very tired after flying back from Thailand and were eager to see Mia again. They didn’t stay long before heading home to Braunstone. I followed a couple of days later with my mower to hack down the forest of a lawn that had grown whilst they were away.

The following day, Sue and I went to see a Genesis tribute band in Kettering. We were accompanied with Jim, Brigitte, Paul and Louise. Another enjoyable evening, though on the journey back to Harborough there was a very thick fog, making driving quite treacherous.

Ebay can a great way to grab a bargain, but you do have to be careful. Looking on local ebay (pick-up only) I spotted a quantity of picture framing wood for sale, I bid on it and £7 won the auction. Details said the lot was in excess of 3000m, but I thought that this was a typo error and should have been 3000mm, just right for the few paintings I was going to frame. The lot was just half a mile away. When I went to collect I found it was no typo! My little Fiesta could not carry that amount of wood. Luckily Jamie had a friend with a vehicle that could and that weekend and 7 runs it was delivered into my garage. I have since relocated it onto my woodpile behind the garden shed. This winter we shall be warm! Such a shame as it is mostly Italian picture framing wood and very elegant.

On the 21st, Uncle Stanley was due to have a much-needed cataract operation. I rang him the day before to check that he had remembered, but everything seemed to be organised. However, I knew he was very nervous about the operation and hates hospitals with a vengeance, I guess I wasn’t surprised to learn a few days later that he changed his mind at the last moment prior to entering the operating theatre. There had been a half an hour delay and I am afraid he had lost his nerve. It’s a shame, but he’s 96 years of age and I guess he has earned the right to live the rest of his life the way he wants to. But, I wish I had been there to reassure him and he might have gone ahead with it. We will never know.

We had booked our flights to see Joan and Phil on Ryanair many months ago, so on the 23rd  I got up early (6am) to check-in and print our boarding passes, this was the earliest opportunity. Checking my emails, I was greeted by one notifying us that our flight in three days time was cancelled and that we had the options of accepting a refund or rebooking at a later date.

Switching on the radio I discovered that we were one of many thousands that had their flights cancelled due to a major cock-up with timetabling and pilot holidays. Luckily, I was up bright and early and discovered all this before most others that were affected. It proved futile to contact Ryanair, so I opted for a full refund then made another booking for the following week (after first checking that this was okay with Joan and Phil).

A full refund appeared in my bank just 24 hours later. Well done Ryanair. I have since claimed the difference in price and also compensation. Though this has been acknowledged, I am not holding my breath. I seem to have been one of the fortunate, unfortunate ones.

We flew to Italy from Stansted after staying the night at the Days Inn, just a few minutes away from the long stay car-park. It was a very early flight (6.20am), but it left on time and though we had been ticketed  into separate middle seats on the aircraft, this turned out to be an advantage. We both had seats that were vacant on either side so could lay out and get some sleep. On booking the flights I had rejected the option to pay extra and select my seats, leaving it up to the system. Not surprisingly we were allocated rows 11 and 26, at either end of the plane and given centre seats. Again, not surprisingly a pop-up noticed we were not sat together and offered to change this, at a price. Well Ryanair, it is underhand to deliberately do this in order to squeeze a little extra cash out of your passengers. I guess most people on the flight were couples and by deliberately programming Sue and  I to centre seats, many couples would have paid not to be split, thus leaving the seats next to us vacant.

At Ancona airport we were met by Joan and Phil on a lovely warm and sunny day. An hour and a half drive later we arrived in Santa Vittoria. Joan explained that they had just gone through an excruciatingly hot summer with the temperature well into the 40’s and that they had not been able to spend much time in the garden and the plants had suffered in the heat. However, they had managed to keep a lovely display of flowers in pots around the house.

Joan, as always, demonstrated what a good cook she is, and also this time I discovered that pasta and tomato sauce are Phil’s forte. We ate very well during the week and my trouser belt soon needed to be loosened!

As this was Sue’s first visit they took us on morning visits to the lovely Medieval hilltop towns that I had visited years ago with Roger. I think Sue particularly like mooching about in the local markets. Disappointingly, despite looking hard she failed to find a Christmas decoration for the tree as a memento of our visit.

We were very fortunate with the weather so in the afternoons I took Sue for several walks into the valley and up into the town of Santa Vittoria. Annoyingly on one particular expedition, we were chased by a couple of small dogs who raced out of a house and Sue suffered a nip on the back of the leg, before the owner came out and took them away. There was no apology.

Many of the buildings in Marche have been affected by the many earthquakes last spring and are either condemned or supported and awaiting repair, thankfully Phil and Joan’s house, set below the hill top town of Santa Vittoria suffered hardly any damage compared to those just a few hundred metres above.

We did have a couple of excellent evening meals up in the town with Phil and Joan and on one day, lunch down at the lake where we met a friend of theirs. He was an American who had Italian roots. I think he had been living locally for around 16 years and he certainly didn’t look his age.

We would spend the evening eating, chatting and listening to Phil’s vast music collection (which I now have on a hard drive). Thank you Phil.

We slept very well in Italy and since returning we have ordered a new mattress and I guess blackout curtains will soon appear!

Sadly, after a week we rose at the crack of a spectacular dawn and after being driven back to a foggy Ancona, said good-bye to Joan and Phil. We shall see them again on their Christmas visit to the UK.

Since returning from Italy Jamie and I have booked  a mini road trip to Mallorca in November. Ryanair have apologised for cancelling our flights and provided us both with a £80 flight voucher, so Sue and I have booked to got to Thessaloniki in Greece next March. Thank-you Ryanair, again.

On the 10th Oct I had a scheduled Aortic Abdominal screening at our brand new St.Lukes Hospital. As I expected, the scan was clear.

Other news:

During the last couple of weeks, Mia has been quite poorly. After a visit to the vets, tablets and injections she seemed to recover, but she has regressed the last few days.

The Rothwells are soon to be off to Thailand for a couple of weeks over half term.

Sarah has booked to go to Ibiza in June with some girlfriends and in January She and Lee are off to Berlin in January, brrrrrrrrr!

Ashton is on holiday in Mallorca with her family.

Lucas is in year 6 so will be moving schools next year. The last couple of weeks he has been visiting schools in the area to hopefully find one that he likes. It seems a worrying time for Charlotte, but only time will tell where he is allocated.

Since returning from their travels, Sarah and Lee have spent a day on their yacht. They have gutted the inside of it , cleaning/sorting/discovering all sorts of nautical things. I guess they are keen to put it into the water, but the season seems against them.

Sue’s sister and husband Paul, have finished with the USA and have moved into Canada. They are due to visit aunt Gwenda before returning to the UK in November.

The white grapes have all been picked. It is a bumper crop this year, and it took three full days to separate the grapes from the stalks!!! Very, very, very boring task. The juice is now glooping away merrily in many containers in the kitchen.

Breaking news: Today, Ryanair have compensated me with 500 euros. Well done, Ryanair. I shall fly with you again.

 

 

Sarah and Lee’s Wedding

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2017 by David Palmer

During the build up to Sarah and Lee’s wedding the big concern was what the weather was going to do? The long-term forecast predicted the week of the ceremony to be very damp, but indicated that Wednesday may be the best day. And so it turned out to be. Monday and Tuesday saw heavy showers throughout the day and so was Thursday and Friday, but wonderful Wednesday was perfect! Sunshine, blue sky and puffy white clouds, great for photos and a reception in a marquee.

Saturday: Charlotte stayed over at Sarah’s and helped prepare things.

Sunday: Sue drove over to Tenbury Wells to collect Sheila. She was staying with us for the wedding. Charlotte and Sarah spent the day at Eden Hall on a Pamper day. I took the opportunity of a reasonable weather forecast to paint the balcony decking.

Monday:  Sue and Sheila take Ellis and Lucas to Corby to enjoy Muddy Mondays (play scheme).

Tuesday: Sarah dropped Mia off for us to look after until she came back from honeymoon, Charlotte arrived and they both set off to The Blue Bell, Easton on the Hill to prepare the marquee with Lee. They stayed that night with the bridesmaids at a lovely cottage in Braunston in Rutland . Lee had separate accommodation with the best man and friends.

Wedding Day: I took Mia to a neighbour of Charlotte’ s as they were looking after her until Thursday. I then drove back to Harborough followed by Suraj and two very smart page boys, Lucas and Ellis.

After changing into my suit, Suraj drove me over to the cottage in Braunston  while Sue took Sheila and the boys to Normanton Church on Rutland Water. On arriving at the cottage we were met by the photographer and waited while Sarah got dressed in readiness for the coming ceremony. The girls had been attended to by a hairdresser and stylist earlier that morning and the they all looked stunning, but when Sarah revealed herself in her wedding dress I was lost for words. I felt so proud that I was going to walk up the aisle with a very beautiful young lady.

The photographer took a lot photos of the girls in what was quite an idyllic rural scene.

Suraj left with the bridesmaids for the church and Sarah and I had a short wait before the wedding limousine arrived to take the proud father and bride to the church.

Most of the guests were already seated when our car swept down along the south shore of the lake and stopped a discrete 100m away. Things have changed since Sue and I exchanged vows. We had to wait for the registrar to interview Sarah, this has to be done just prior to entering the church and it was done inside the car. I believe that it is to confirm that the person on the previously submitted paperwork IS the person actually here today. I guess this is to prevent illegal immigration. The minor delay was useful as it gave an opportunity for a few late comers to enter the church.

As we stood outside the church on the promontory reaching out into the lake, I couldn’t help think that there was a theme going on here between my daughters. Both had chosen to be married just a few steps away from water! The Tenbury Wells church where Sue and I married, is next to the river Teme, I do wonder.

Though listening intently to the words of the ceremony I couldn’t help be distracted by the little white-sailed yachts, scudding past our windows, framed as in a scene  painted by Enrique Simonet. 

With the formalities completed, we all came under the direction of the photographer, who arranged our quite substantial party into a variety of groups and poses with the very picturesque church in the back ground. With every possible combination of family and friends exhausted, supplemented by even more natural, ‘I didn’t know I was being photographed’  being taken, we left for the reception.

The party from Nottingham had arrived at the church by coach, Sue, Sheila and I passed this on the way to the reception, beating it to one of the last parking spaces in the pub car park. We were presented with drinks on arrival and  no sooner had we sat down to chat to friends and  relations when savoury chicken on a stick was offered. A variety of games had been made available in the adjoining field for the children and these proved popular, keeping them occupied and quiet. After half an hour of mingling, thankful that the cover of the marquee was not needed on a lovely warm and sunny afternoon, we took our seats inside at the behest of the Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in his red outfit.

As usual the top table attended to the buffet first followed by each table as instructed by the MC. At the appropriate time the father of the bride was invited to address the wedding guests. I had prepared a few brief points to cover before the usual toast to the bride and groom however, the  speech contrived to around 25 minutes, supplemented with quite a few additions that popped into my head. I am afraid I have to blame the demon drink, it is well-known for lubricating the tongue! Following an excellent (and appropriate length) response by the groom we were then entertained by the best man.

The cutting of the cake was unusual in that it was made entirely of differing layers of cheese and the knife was sabre, provided by the MC. Highly novel and very good fun.

With the formalities completed, the mixing and entertainment began. All, no matter what age, visited the Photo-booth and left their inhibitions outside as they dressed up and took up a variety of risky body positions. No doubt the earlier toasts contributed to many of these public displays of hilarity. Other entertainment was a singer/musician with a fine voice who had appeared on the X Factor and one of Sarah’s work colleagues who did a spot as a stand-up comic. The evening continued with the arrival of the obligatory DJ. The joining of two families can sometimes be a fraught with difficulty, but thanks to Sarah and Lee, this wedding had been planned down to the finest of detail, they had created a lovely atmosphere that just put a smile on everyone’s lips and the only tears shed were for those that could no longer be with us and who had thoughtfully been remembered in small but appropriate ways.

Late in the evening, Ashton made a couple of journeys to the William Cecil Hotel in nearby Stamford to take the Rothwells, Sheila, Sue, Jamie and I to rooms for the night. Glowing with a mixture of pride and alcohol I slept well.

Married Life: Lee and Sarah Price spent their first night in wedlock at the cottage in Braunston that Sarah and the bridesmaids had used the night before. They spent most of the next day in something called a ‘Duvet’ day?

At the William Cecil we all, except Jamie and Ashton who had left very early as they had to go to work, met for breakfast. Afterwards Suraj and I took a taxi back to the Bluebell to help clear up and collect the unused food items, while the rest of our party went window shopping in Stamford. Packing everything we could into Suraj’s car, he followed me in Sue’s car, back to Stamford to pick up the rest of our party and travel back to Harborough. I picked up Mia later in the day. I think she was glad to see me.

At 6am the following day Lee and Sarah arrived at Willow Bank in time for me drive them to Manchester Airport in time to meet one of her bridesmaids (Abby) who just happened to be flying to the USA with her family. I believe they met up in the departure lounge for breakfast. I travelled on to Salford and spent a pleasant three and a half hours with Uncle Stan. For a 95yr old his mind is still very sharp, though his eyesight is now poor. He is having a cataract operation to hopefully improve his vision on August 28th. On my return journey I was caught stationary on the motorway in a thunderstorm. Coincidentally, Sarah and Lee’s plane was also stranded on the runway by the same storm for an hour.

The rest of the week was spent entertaining Sheila, Ellis and Lucas, thankfully the weather was reasonable and allowed the boys be outside as much as inside on their ipads. Sue took Sheila back to Tenbury Wells on Sunday and on the Tuesday we (including Mia) and the boys returned Sarah’s wedding dress hoop to the bridal shop in Sileby and then checked on the house in Braunston, everything seemed fine. On our return to Harborough we stopped for ice-creams and a walk in Knighton Park.

It was Sue’s birthday on the 23rd. She went to see a film at the Odeon Kettering in the afternoon and in the evening we had a meal at Casa Nostra, a new Italian restaurant in Harborough.

Other News

The Rothwells have booked a week away in Normandy next week.

Sarah and Lee had a great time in South Korea (avoided starting any wars) and have now moved on to Vietnam.

At the weekend Jamie is  hosting his first training seminar at the Hilton Hotel Liverpool on how to use his Binary Destroyer software. Next week he is purchasing an Aston Martin.

 

A very changeable July

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by David Palmer

While Jamie was enjoying the sun and heat of Tenerife with his friend Bill, back in the UK we were being treated to a typical British summer. A few promising days somehow got mixed into a miserable cavalcade of showers, cool temperatures and wind. At least the garden and allotments enjoyed the regular dousing and responded with rapidly maturing vegetables and fruit well before their usual time. Sue took charge of picking the raspberries, goose berries and currants and then had to move on to bottling beetroot in readiness for the winter. The greenhouse kicked into overdrive and the tomatoes and cucumbers joined the throng. It is lucky that Charlotte and Ellis love cucumber and devour them like bags of sweets!

On the 18th Sue took a day off from picking and bottling to attend Lucas’s and Ellis’s sports day. It was a rare hot and sunny day, just right for children to run around and have fun. I find the non-competitive sports days favoured by Rothwell school as rather pointless and quite annoying, so did not attend.

The following day, Pip (Sue’s sister) arrived by train from Buckfastleigh in Devon. Unfortunately, she brought the rain with her! First, Sue took her to visit Sarah, Mia and Lee and they managed a delightful excursion to Bradgate Park where they managed a tour of the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s house.

On the 20th July they caught the bus into Leicester and visited the Richard 3rd exhibition, the Cathedral and the Guildhall. They followed this up with a visit to Charlotte’s on the 21st.

Pip returned home on the 22nd. Jamie arrived back with a heavy sun tan and a spare tyre from his ‘All Inclusive’ jaunt.

It was our wedding anniversary on the 24th and we celebrated it with Lucas and Ellis with a lunch of fish and chips in Stamford. We did a trial run to Normanton Church on Rutland water to check out times and parking in readiness for Sarah’s wedding. Next, we visited the reception venue before checking out the hotel in Stamford where we will be staying after the celebrations. On the way back to Harborough we detoured to the marina and found the yacht that Sarah and Lee have recently bought. The boys loved climbing all over it and can’t wait for their first sail on her.

boat

The next day Sue took the boys on an organised coach trip to Knebworth. Again, the weather smiled on them and they had lovely day, visiting the house, dinosaur trail, maze and sculpture trail. It was a very full day and they were all exhausted when they returned. They all slept well that night!

After lunch the following day, Sue and I drove to North Wales and checked into the Bryn Howel Hotel near Llangollen. It is the place where we first met each other in 1972 and I guess it was quite appropriate that we stayed there near to the date of our wedding anniversary. It was a sunny but windy day and late in the afternoon we stretched our legs on a walk to the ruined castle above the town. We ate that night in the hotel.

castle

After a late breakfast we drove to the Crematorium just outside Wrexham. We attended the funeral of my cousin, Jeff Vaughan. We are the same age and often when the Palmers visited our Welsh relatives he was the one I used to play with as a little boy. He owned his own building company and for many years lived in Spain. I last saw him when he attended my mother’s funeral. He lost his battle with brain tumours.

After the funeral and tea we returned to Harborough. It was nice to see my Welsh relatives once again, but I guess it is the only on sad occasions such as this that they now gather together, and that in itself is also regrettable.

On a lighter note, the following Saturday Lee and Sarah came with Mia. It is their custom to visit the fireworks competition held at nearby Stanford Hall. Sue and I looked after Mia while they watched the displays in atrocious conditions. The rain hammered it down all night, I am surprised they managed to see anything at all! In the past they have camped overnight, but wisely this time they came back around midnight and took a disappointed Mia home.

The start of August was no different to July. Optimistically I bought an awning for the back patio (well, it is summer!), I mounted it on the wall above the dining room window and extends  by way of a winder. Jim came to give me a hand to mount it on its brackets as it is far too heavy for one person. Annoyingly it was far to windy to open it and give it a test. That had to wait for another four days!

On the 5th Jim and I attended the Foxton Cider and Sausage Festival. Though we were planning to cycle there, Sue had to take drive us in a thunderstorm.  The event obviously didn’t do as well as it would have done if the weather had been better, but everything has a silver lining. We got chatting to the guitarist/singer who had been booked to entertain the throng, but had to make do with us two and a few others. It turned out that he had once played with Deep Purple, though he we couldn’t cajole him into playing ‘Smoke on the Water’! We later got chatting to an Aussie, who turned out to be a professional house sitter. He and his wife travel the world. He is presently in nearby Welford. So far this year he has been to France Belgium, Greece and Italy. Now there is a thought.

On the 10th I was picked up at 6am and travelled with Sean, David Tomlinson and Rick to Snowdon. Rick had flown over from Texas (where he lives) to attend the funeral of his father. He was staying with Sean and they had decided to climb Snowdon and invited myself and Dave to accompany them. We had just had two days of rain, but the 10th was a gorgeously warm day.

We stopped in Llangollen for breakfast before driving to Pen-y-pass. As expected the parking at the start of our walking route was full and we had to drive on to a carpark in the village which was 3 miles away. There we caught a bus back. Under clear blue skies we set off along the Pyg Track, joining the human conveyor belt winding its way upwards.  We chatted to fellow walkers that we passed, cracking jokes and generally larking about until the steepness and rugged terrain silenced our antics. With many stops along this most difficult of routes up the mountain, we eventually reached the top of the zig-zags to find ourselves in cloud. Carrying on to the summit station and Trig point we took photos before visiting the centre for much-needed water and toilets.

m1

m2

The return journey was by way of the Miners Track. A longer but much easier route than our way up to the summit. We descended again in sunshine. Rather strangely, on our descent we passed 100’s (yes, 100’s) of Muslims. The men dressed in sensible shorts and T-shirts, but the women in full Burkas, with their eyes peeping out of slits. Weird.

Then, even more stranger we started coming across 100’s (yes, 100’s) of Jews. The men and boys sporting skull caps and ringlets, dressed in black coats, white shirts, black trousers and shiny shoes. The women were dressed in frocks with purple turban like hats. Weird. Both sects seemed to be having fun on their steep hike, but I do wonder if this was planned? Neither group seem to react/respond to the other and suppose that was a good thing? Many of those that we passed on their way up were never going to make it to the summit as their dress was inappropriate for the final stages. We came across large numbers of them sitting in their ethnic groups half way up alongside the path near the lakes. I guess these were the sensible ones.

It took us 6 hours to reach the summit and return.  We stopped for a very pleasant meal at a pub around an hour into our journey, before eventually reaching Harborough at 11.30pm.

A batch of home-brew beer that I had started 3 weeks ago was ready on the following day. It tasted quite pleasant, but nothing exceptional.

On Saturday I painted the balcony decking with some exorbitantly expensive paint before walking with Jim and his dogs to the pub in Harrington to recover.

On Sunday, Sue drove over Tenbury Wells to pick-up Sheila. She is staying with us for a few days and is also attending Sarah’s wedding on Wednesday.  I carried on painting the balcony.

The next blog will be all about Sarah and Lee’s wedding.

 

A Busy June

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2017 by David Palmer

We have had a very dry June. I can only remember the one day when we had some really worthwhile rain to give the garden and allotments a necessary dousing. Rain water always seems to bring a growth spurt to the vegetables. There has been a few very hot days and on those occasions Charlotte brought the boys over (after school) to take advantage of the pool and of course I have used the excuse of hoovering out the debris that inevitably makes its way in under the cover, to cool down after a hard day at the allotments. Both the vegetable and fruit seem to be about a month ahead of normal. The broad beans have been picked and replaced by kale and shallots, cucumbers are in abundance in the greenhouse and we have been picking and eating the raspberries, gooseberries and currants for a month!

A couple of days after returning from Peru, Sue and I travelled up to Braunstone to meet with the in-laws. Sarah and Lee had organised a BBQ to ‘break the ice’ and it proved very successful. I found Diane and Ian quite amiable, both Ian and I share a love of all sports and he was quite knowledgeable on rugby too, so the topic for discussion and finding common ground wasn’t difficult. Sue and I made a couple of new friends.

On the 16th Charlotte came over early and with Sue we drove over to Caergwrle after first picking up Sarah (she had a poorly car) on the way. It was Nan’s birthday and it has become tradition that we have a picnic in the castle grounds and check on her memorial seat. As usual it was a splendid day, sun shine and warmth. We checked on the honeysuckle that was planted when we scattered Nan’s ashes (still surviving), and dug in  a few Lily of the Valley (Nan’s favourite spring plant) around the ruin to bloom next year. Afterwards we visited Aunty Doreen and the Aunty Josie. (her sisters). We stayed at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel in Wrexham for a couple of nights. We had a two lovely meals while we were there, Chinese and Indian (quintessentially English!).

llangllen

On the second day we visited Llangollen. On the way we stopped off at the hotel that Sue and I first met at a college ball in the seventies to show the girls. We then drove on up to World’s End, to one of my favourite places of all, the girls were suitably impressed, but we had to forego the walk I had planned as the day turned out to be the hottest so far of the year. We spent the rest of the day in the town, paddling in the river, exploring the train station, eating ice-creams and sitting in the beer garden alongside the river  enjoying refreshments. A lovely day.

On the 22nd I gathered along with a few friends to perform table duties a Ladies Charity lunch at Marston Trussell Hall. It had been excruciatingly hot the previous day and I had not been looking forward to wearing my DJ, but luckily the day turned out to be pleasantly warm with an irregular refreshing breeze to keep the workers cool. A good time was had by all and as usual the food was first class, which we benefitted from after our duties had been completed.

lunch

The following Saturday, Suraj, Jamie and I drive over to a go-carting track near Nottingham to meet up with Lee and three of his friends. It had been arranged as part of his Stag Night which was to continue later on that night in Birmingham. An endurance race had been booked, which entailed 10 minutes practise then a 50 minutes race. Afterwards I could see why it was so named, very draining on the senses and body and disappointingly I only came third, Jamie was first with Suraj second. There is always next time!

gocart

On the 26th I travelled to Somersby to meet up with John. I had plotted what turned out to be a very scenic walk around the Leicestershire countryside before having a splendid lunch at the Stilton Cheese Inn. After a great deal of consideration, we managed to turn around the 1st Test loss by the Lions but it still remains to be seen whether we have found the solution to the present world terrorism.

Sue and I have managed to see quite a few excellent films at the Odeon Silver screen, often calling in to see Roger in Braybrook on the way home. On one occasion we  attended a Wednesday evening Comedy Club in Harborough. It had been arranged to give some comedians a chance to practise their routine before next months Edinburgh Fringe, but if what we saw was a gauge of the quality of humour, I don’t think I will travelling north any time soon. Earlier that day Sue had met Sarah near Syston for a fitting for her wedding dress. It is getting close now!

On the 7th July Mia came to stay. She was dropped off by Sarah and picked up be Lee three days later. They were having a few days at a Spa Hotel in Sheffield to celebrate Ian and Diane’s wedding anniversary, it also coincided with Diane’s birthday. I treated Mia to a very long and hot walk to the Langton beer festival along with Jim Hankers and his two collies. But before that I had enjoyed a thoroughly tense and dramatic draw between the Lions and All Blacks in the 3rd Test while enjoying breakfast at the Angel Hotel.

I went for another walk on the 11th with John, this time to Langham, with the aim of having one of the Wheatsheaf’s famous and substantial burgers. It was a good walk, but annoyingly the pub wasn’t opening at lunchtimes anymore and when we walked across the road to the Noel Arms we were greeted by a notice pinned to the door stating ‘Due to technical difficulties we will be closed to day’. Resorting to plan ‘C’ we drove to Whissendine, we had passed by the pub here a couple of hours previous and knew it was open. However, on arrival it had a notice pinned to the door, ‘Due to kitchen refurbishment there is no food today, open this evening’. B******s! I drove home to a tin of soup.

Yesterday (14th),  as well as the Rothwells we had Sarah and Lee over for a family BBQ. Later on in the evening Lucas and Ellis tried on their page-boy outfits, they looked proper little gentlemen and seemed very proud to be wearing their wedding gear.

Brief News:

Sarah and Lee have bought a second home. They have splashed out and bought themselves a yacht. At present it is moored on Rutland Water and goes by the name of Annie. It sleeps two and probably four at a pinch, so is ideal for the weekends and learning to sail. ‘Dad’ has been volunteered to teach them to be mariners and is looking forward to the adventure.

Jamie has started his own Limited Company. His Binary Destroyer business has been doing very well and he has decided to make everything official. He is now a Director. Tomorrow he is off to Tenerife for a week with one of his mates.

company

Sue and I have booked our flights to see Phil and Joan in Italy. We are going in September after Sarah and Lee return from the their honeymoon to the Far East and we return Mia to them.

Lee and Sarah recently camped over at the Melton Mowbray Sausage and Cider Festival, the weather was good as was the company, food and refreshments.

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Charlotte’s gardening business is doing well and she is very busy, with an ongoing problem of trying to fit her clients in. Sue often steps in to look after the boys while she tries to catch up from rainy days.

The Rothwells have new lodgers. Charlotte and the boys have hatched a clutch of eggs to add to their already ravenous flock.

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Ashton moved in with Jamie at the end of June. She has a long drive to work and is looking for something much nearer to Harborough.

We have new fencing. My next door neighbour complained that the fence between us was rotten and wobbly (we get on well). I had to point out that the fence in question, was in fact theirs, oops! They arranged to replace it with 6ft panels which was done pronto by some builders. To foster a good relationship I also changed the 5ft fencing that was mine and borders their garden to 6ft panels. To save money I did it myself and it took exactly a week (among doing other things). I now have 6X5ft perfectly good fence panels that I have no use for. But, I still have a  good relationship with my neighbours, though I no longer can see them.

My cousin Jeff Vaughan passed away this week. He has been very ill with cancer for the last few years and things recently turned for the worse. I shall be going to the funeral.

Ellis lost his first tooth this week. A significant milestone!

BREAKING NEWS

Sarah is on her Hen Night tonight! Yeeeeeee Ha!

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On the Way Home?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 9, 2017 by David Palmer

After stocking up with a full breakfast we finishing packing our bags and then decided to have a wander outside the hotel before check-out at 10am. It was probably a mistake as Cusco is full of markets selling all kinds of goods, principally to the tourists. All very bright and appealing to those who have local currency in pocket and little time left to make use of it. So it was without intention that further items were bought, and on return to the hotel, suitcases had to be opened and repacked!

At 10am exactly we checked out of our room and left our suitcases in the lobby under the watchful eyes of the porters. We headed off to spend the next couple of hours in the Plaza of the night before. On the way we passed the Avianca Cusco office, so we popped in and got them to check us onto our flight, chose our seats and printed out our boarding cards for all three flights. It took less than 10 minutes and would save us a few minutes at  the airport.

Carrying on towards the Plaza we stopped and photographed a worker’s demonstration with patriotic flags waving, flanked on both sides by heavily armed police in riot gear. The Peruvians love a good demonstration and they can occasionally get out of hand. Apparently it is a national pastime.

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Moving on we reached our destination to the sound of drums and loudspeakers, but to our surprise it was a completely different affair. The whole square was full of military, fully armed and in best uniform. Whole sections of the military were represented, including the various forces of the police. All lined up and listening to speeches from the main rostrum situated in front of the Cathedral. We took our time doing a complete circle of  the square (thus proving you can circle a square!) photographing the goings on without understanding anything of what we were looking at. It could have been a special day, a regular thing or just a show of strength, we had no idea. However, by the time we had got to the centre of the proceedings, which was where all the speeches were coming from and the dignitaries were sat under a small canopy, Sue and I worked our way to just a couple of metres behind the obviously most important person of today’s affair. Recognising the start of the Catholic Mass (the sins of doing supply in a Catholic school) as then, I now switched off and my mind began to wander. Where was the security? True, there was plenty of bodies carrying guns of all shapes and sizes but no one challenged or searched us as we entered the Plaza AND we were both carrying very full rucksacks. Perhaps, the terrorists have changed the way we now think? How tragic and sad.

It was as we left the proceedings down a side street, we learned that the person we had got so close to, was the president of Peru himself.

We returned to the hotel and had a cup of coca tea each. Some advice for anybody wishing to visit Peru; if offered the tea or the dry leaves to chew, do so. Altitude is not to be ignored, everything becomes difficult for us softies from sea-level, coca goes some way to alleviating its effect.

Our transfer to the airport arrived half an hour early (as has every transfer on this tour), luckily we were all ready and prepared to leave.

Our flight to Lima, left half an hour late as the aircraft had to change a tyre, with the knock-on effect that our connection time to Bogata had been reduced to just an hour. Not a problem, we caught our flight and it left on time. The same was true for our connection to Heathrow, though we had 2 hours 50 minutes to wait before we flew.

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Avianca feed you quite regularly on their flights, and by now we were getting quite stuffed and were only participating in this routine gorging session to pass the time.

In the light of recent events, security at Heathrow had increased significantly, armed police were there in numbers checking passports as we left the aircraft. Unusually for Heathrow, our suitcases beat us to the baggage reclaim belt so it wasn’t long before we were stood at the bus stop to find we had just missed one and had 40 minutes to wait for the next. It was an omen of things to come!

We had parked at the EasyHotel twenty minutes from the airport and unlike other car parks, on leaving your car, you take your keys with you. The last time I saw my car keys was at Cusco airport and they were in a zipped side pocket of my rucksack. Now to my horror, the zip was open and the keys gone. The rucksack had been placed in the overhead locker of each aircraft we had flown on and I guess as it was pushed in or taken out or moved continuously by other passengers accessing their bags inflight, the zip had been dragged open and the keys fallen out. What to do?

First I rang my car rescue service, they were extremely sorry but they couldn’t help as the car was not broken or the keys weren’t inside the vehicle. Next I rang Jamie to see if he could get the spare key from home and bring it, and like the treasure he is, that is what happened. However, due to an accident on the M1 (typical!!!) this took quite a long time . Enough time for Sue and I to have a meal at a local pub before Jamie swept into the car park with a smile on his face and my spare key. So, instead of arriving home at an expected time of 8pm, we eventually got home after 11pm and therefore too late to vote in the General Election.

Not a satisfying way to finish a wonderful holiday, but looking on the bright side, the cost of replacement keys is covered up to 1000 pounds on my card protection policy. On the dark side, we now have a hung Parliament which will no doubt inflict quite a few years of intensive politicking as self-interest and senseless point scoring will dominate our news and lives. I feel quite a few foreign excursions coming on to escape.

A Day in Cusco

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2017 by David Palmer

Our hotel is situated on the Avenido El Sol, which is a long wide busy road crammed with local and touristy shops all the way to the centre of the city, finishing at the historic Plaza de Armas. We had no plans for today so after breakfast we perused the city map and chose to visit yet another Inca site to the north. The Satnav on my phone plotted the route and indicated around 40 minutes walking time. It didn’t show the elevation along our route, the decrease in oxygen levels and the number of steps we were going to climb!

Yes, my mobile guided us accurately through the narrow winding streets and insanely vertical steps to our destination. We took many rests to pant and suck in vital life-sustaining oxygen. I can understand how John Peel had a heart attack here and died!!! The elevation is 3800m.

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It was 140 sols for the both of us to enter the site and after paying the fee at the entrance gate, very disappointingly we discovered that the ruins were still higher! Again, after many breathless rests we came across the first of the ancient structures. We are experts now, and can tell the importance and purpose of an Inca building by its construction and this one was built for a king.

First we took the opportunity to take photos from a view-point of the city. We sat and panted for quite a while, admiring the sprawling city below. We watched several aircraft land and take-off from the airport we would be taking advantage of tomorrow and used the binoculars to observe dancers in the Plaza De Armas way below. Moving on we meandered around the fairly well-preserved archaeological remains, the Spanish had sacked the site and used much of the stone work for their own building in the city. What remains were those stones too big to move.

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At the highest point we came across a couple from our tour party and dallied awhile chatting about the tour. We met them again at another point in the site where there was a poor copy of ‘Christ the Redeemer’. Afterwards we walked with them to the Plaza before going our separate ways.

What a lovely place this central Plaza is. As expected, thronged with tourists but also many parties of children practising their dances for a winter solstice celebration (21st June) to be held at the site we had just visited. I hoped they know that there isn’t much oxygen up there. We were hungry, so after finding a tiny restaurant just off the square we ordered food and drinks and checked out the internet while we waited.

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Fully satiated we visited the Inca Museum. Deceptively big, we wandered its many rooms looking at the wonderful artifacts on display. The Incas were and still are a clever race, ingenious and artistic. It is shame that the Spanish discovered them.

From the museum we sat awhile and watched the dancers practising their moves to the beat of a drum or the sound of a flute. Absolutely charming to witness. Next visit was to the Cathedral (Templo De La Compania De Jesus) constructed in 1571 and occupying one side of the Plaza. As expected, dripping with gold and famous for having the largest altar in Peru (21m x 12m). Exhausted, after climbing many steps we took photos from an upstairs window of the plaza below, before descending into the bowels of the building where we visited the crypt. The building contains one of the most important Peruvian paintings which depicts the marriage of Sir Martin of Loyola and the last Incan Princess, Lady Beatriz Nusta. A bit of early Spanish propaganda , if you ask me!

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Following a rather circuitous route we returned to the hotel for coffee and a much needed rest.

We ventured out again at around 7pm to visit the Plaza once again. Even more groups were practising their dances at regular spaces all the way around the square. We sat and watched for ages, fascinated by their movements. Each group was obviously telling a story with their dancing and some of the choreography was better in some than others. We guessed there would be a competition to decide who was the best on the day, so focussed were the individual dancers, intent on getting it right. Groups of teenagers practising their dance moves in public view and obviously enjoying every second, we couldn’t see this happening in the UK. Such a shame.

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As the night wore on it got decidedly chilly, so we returned to the hotel, stopping to chat and have drinks with a few of our party before retiring to bed.

Sacred Valley

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 by David Palmer

The Incas haven’t disappeared, they are still living as in Peru’s Sacred Valley, principally in the town of Ollantaytambo and that was to be the focus of today’s tour.

After breakfast our party gathered together in the foyer and left for the start of today’s adventure at 8.00am.

First port of call was difficult one. Chinchero is a small picturesque village containing significant Inca ruins dating from the 15th century as well as an unchanged Catholic church. The problem was that it was at an elevation of 3800m and the lack of oxygen again kicked in making moving around the village a rather breathless affair for all but the locals. However, it was worth it. Great views of the snow topped Andes as a back drop to some superbly preserved Inca terracing. The church was interesting, specifically as it was in the same condition as first built, all the tapestries, paintings and icons were untouched originals. There aren’t any photos as it was not allowed. It was a very dark church, which has contributed to its preservation, but it does have to my mind, a very dark past. It was built on the site of an Inca religious temple, all being destroyed except one small section of wall which can be seen in a side chapel.

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After running the gauntlet of eager local retailers through the village, we returned fatigued to the coach. Sue and I sampled along with some others of our party, a very tasty village cheese with sauce on a maize leaf, for the paltry sum of 1 sol.

Next stop was still at height to the tiny village of Urpi. Here we watched some traditional Andean spinning and weaving techniques. Of course we were given the opportunity to purchase some of the wares.

Carrying on, we stopped briefly at Racchi Point on the mountain pass above the Sacred Valley to take photos and admire the views, before descending into the valley down a twisting road passing numerous shelters and buildings clinging to the mountainside. One could imagine that  one good storm, or even a minor shake would send these pathetically constructed little hovels sliding down to the valley floor.

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We arrived at Ollantaytambo via a short detour due to a local ceremony taking place. The site is one of the most representative building complexes of the Inca Empire. It is where the Spanish Conquistadors suffered one of their rare defeats.  It is noted for its terraced fields, unfinished religious buildings and as an effective fortress. It is a marvelous place, not as large as Machu Picchu but none the less spectacular. Superb examples of the Inca ingenuity in building can be clearly seen in the unfinished temple complex.  Many of the stones had been quarried on a mountain across the valley. You could see from the complex itself, the route the stones had taken down the mountain, where they had crossed the river, the road constructed across the valley and the ramp up to the complex. Amazing.

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We wandered around the site, before dropping down into the ‘only living Inca town’; it is the best surviving example of Inca urban planning.  We were fortunate that the local celebration entered the square as we were there. Very colourful, masked dancers cavorted among us. They were all men or male children. We saw the women, also dressed in ceremonial dress, at another location as we drove out of the town. We would have loved to stay awhile and watch, but the timetable ruled.

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Driving through the valley we stopped at a restaurant for an excellent Peruvian buffet meal. Afterwards, I found two tethered llama and fed them what seemed a meadow full of grass. Llamas do have a huge appetite for the stuff. One of them had large bulging eyes similar to that of Arsenal’s  Mesut Ozil, I couldn’t help but think it may have been him on holiday. Soccer players are known for their love of grass.

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We  returned to Cusco just before the sun dipped below the surrounding mountains. It was a very tiring day.