Spring has sprung

It has been nice to see the sun again, especially now that it has started to radiate a bit of warmth. Lulu (next door’s cat) has now started to make a regular appearance in the garden. As soon as the back door opens there is the sound of a ‘thump’ on the fence as she leaps over, runs in front o f you and then throws herself onto her back , waiting for the inevitable scratch and fondle. She still has her winter coat and scratching releases a lot of white fur into atmosphere that is probably not good for ‘global warming’. We have a pheasant living in the garden. It is quite nice to watch him strut around, inspecting the plants and pecking the grass, but now that Lulu is around he is less than impressed. Though she doesn’t attack him (he is too big) she does stalk him and that forces him eventually to fly off. No doubt, after reading this, Sarah will complain that I write more about Lulu than her!

On Wednesday I went to the allotment and planted 4 rows of potatoes as they had sprouted and had started to get wrinkly, I put in some broad beans and red onions at the same time. As usual, I spent most of the time talking to some of the other allotment holders, who I am sure only have one so that they can spend their days talking. So far, no-one has offered any advice as to how to grow anything, that must mean I am doing it right or they have decided I am beyond help.

On Thursday evening I had a meeting (appropriately in the Sugar Loaf), concerned withe organisation of a Beer Festival at the Rugby Club (31st April – 1st May). We had met to choose the beers for the event and discuss the organisational issues. We decided to meet again next week (at the Sugar Loaf). Afterwards, Sarah and I drove up to Nan’s. Sarah had an interview  at the Sheffield College the following morning and we thought best to be there and avoid any travelling problems. We didn’t arrive until 10.30pm and Nan was rather tired as it was well past her bedtime. The following morning we drove into Sheffield using Sue’s SatNav which last had its maps updated in 2005. We got lost as the City Centre is now completely changed. The solution was to stop using the SatNav and the human driver took over and used the road signs and Yorkshire Nowse to get us there. Sarah checked in at reception half an hour early and I drove back to Nan’s. Sarah sent a text saying to pick her up at 4pm.

When I arrived back in Thurcroft, David was there. I had to apologise as he had come to pick up his 500Gb hard drive and in the rush to leave on Thursday night I had forgotten to bring it. Suraj had filled the drive with films and TV series in readiness for this return to Bulgaria, so that he and Genya could while away the evenings. I promised to get it to him before he returned to BG  in about 5 weeks time. While he was there, he and I set about trying to fix Nan’s washing machine. It wouldn’t pump out the water. We upended it and David took the pipes underneath apart. We found various coins, clips and a lot of grit. When it was put back together, it still didn’t work.  A repair man had been booked for Saturday morning, so we decided to leave it to him (it turned out to be a 5p stuck in the pipe). David left to do some proper work, he gives drumming lessons in local schools. Nan and I went to the pub for lunch.

Later, I drove into Sheffield to pick Sarah up and got lost again. This time I used the SatNav on my phone and it had the latest Google Maps. However, the City Centre is all a one way system and if you are not in the right lane you are bu#&$d!! I resorted to road signs and nowse and picked her up only 10 minutes late. What I didn’t know was that Lee had also had an interview there, so she had company. She was very impressed with the course as quite a bit of it included experience out of College and the exams were not until the final year. She was very impressed with this novel approach. But wasn’t that they it used to be? I can understand how you thoroughly get fed up with continuous testing and the pressure that brings. It takes away all the fun and motivation to learn. We stayed at Nan’s until 7pm and drove home, the motorway was very busy and with petrol now at over £6 a gallon I had the car computer monitoring my mpg and I managed 47 mpg all the way.

The following morning Sue and I had a leisurely drive  up to North Wales. We had decided to visit our relatives there and had booked a Hotel in a place called Ewloe as it was central to the visits we had planned to make. On the way there we stopped in Cefn y Bedd and had  a super lunch at the Holly Bush. Afterwards we drove up to Brymbo to see Aunt Josie. Her son, David was there. He is a carpet fitter, but work is slack at the moment and he had time in his hands to see us. We stayed a couple of hours and chatted about family and events before driving down to Caergwrle to see Aunt Doreen. We stayed about an hour before leaving to find the hotel, which we did with no problems (even though we used Sue’s  SatNav).

Village St David's nr Chester, Ewloe, United Kingdomholly bushWeir on the River Alyn - Afon Alun - geograph.org.uk - 1721449.jpgEwloe Castle.JPG

Hotel                Pub                     Brymbo                                              Caergwrle                                                Ewloe Castle

The hotel was in the De Vere chain and was very acceptable. We explored the facilities, watched a bit of TV then drove back to Caergwrle and had our evening meal at the ‘The Bridge’ which is a pub and also serves Chinese food. It was an excellent meal.

The following morning it was lovely and sunny while we had breakfast in the hotel. Unfortunately our plan for the day had gone awry. We we planning to visit Sue’s relatives near Chester but they had succumbed to a stomach bug and were too ill and the friends we were visiting in Mold were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in Paris. We decided to see nearby Ewloe Castle. It was a bit of a walk across some field to get to it, but it certainly was worth it. We spent an hour and a half wandering a round the surrounding parkland and then returned to the car. We set off home.

Luckily, we happened to be passing Harborough Rugby Club at exactly 2pm. The First team were playing in a County Cup semi-final (ko @ 2pm) so Sue dropped me off and I watched the game. Unfortunately, despite leading all through the game, they lost in the final seconds as the opposition scored a try. I stayed on to watch England lose to Ireland on the TV before walking home. That evening we had a phone call from some people we met in Shanghai. They lived in Newcastle and were visiting their daughter who was living in Desborough. We arranged for them to come over the following day at 11am for coffee. I couldn’t remember them, so refreshed my memory by watching our video of the holiday.

Sarah had decided to stay at Charlotte’s, so the following morning we had a surprise visit from Charlotte and Ellis. She had taken Sarah to work at Savers and was dropping off Sarah’s bag, Suraj and Lucas had gone swimming. Ellis has started to crawl so we encouraged him to demonstrate. They left just before our guests arrived.

We had a nice time chatting about what had happened to each other during our ‘Ash Cloud’ stay in Shanghai. We had spent a day with them exploring the Nanjing Road and of course had also changed hotels to the Ibis. Neither of us knew how each other had returned or when, as it had been so quick and unexpected. But they had flown home a couple of days after us. We watched a bit of the video I had made. They had been on another cruise through the Panama Canal since and were planning another one to Chile. They left inviting us to visit them in the North East.

Jamie came for Sunday lunch. While we were away he had booked a holiday to Spain with Harley and wanted me to check the details. I printed out the booking, checked the passport and flights and promised to take them to the airport (East midlands) , I then noticed he was flying at 6am!

That afternoon I went to the allotment, planted some more red onions and finished off a row of potatoes and beans. Sarah arrived home. Though we didn’t need to,  in the evening we made a fire, just because we have got into the habit of it. It did get too warm. It was the Spring Solstice after all!

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