Nearly a month since I sat down and attempted the Family Blog. I know I won’t remember everything and that I will have to re-edit when the family get around to reading it and put things in or put things right! Only once have I had to take anything out, puzzling isn’t it?
Walk: Sue and I went on a Council walk along the southern shore of Rutland Water. A lovely warm day. We did the long walk to the East in the morning (5.5 miles). It was a circular route and the return journey was along country lanes, which I don’t like. The rest of our party set off at a cracking pace, but by and by the tortoise and his partner ambled along sniffing the daisies, smiling at the ducks and slowly caught the hares up, and at the finish line we were several furlongs out in front. The local RAF base was getting ready for the summer air-shows as we had the company of a Vulcan bomber for about half an hour, a fly past of Red Arrows and a bombing run along the reservoir by a Lancaster. We had sandwiches for lunch before starting our shorter, afternoon walk to the west (4.5 miles). I was a little concerned that the bus might be late leaving for Harborough as some of the walkers looked more than a little decrepit, and at one stage I thought I might have to get a shovel out and do a spot of digging. However, appearances can be deceptive and the bus left on time.
Woe1: As soon as the coach arrived back in Harborough, Suraj picked us up and took us home. Suraj, Jim, Paul and I were the guests of JP Morgan Asset Management for the rest of the evening at a 7’s competition held at Northampton Saints RUFC. I had been a guest of theirs last year and circumstances construed themselves to create a considerable amount of memory loss. I was determined not to repeat the episode and had invited Suraj along. The logic being that as he had no affinity with rugby he would be a steadying influence on the ship. Sue drove us all to Northampton and then left us to our fate. At first, things went well. Somehow, we were mistaken for retired international players and got escorted to the Director’s Box. Suspecting that a mistake had been made, we non-the-less decided to ride the wave and see where it took us. Several beers later, served by some very charming ladies, we decided to get the wrist band that we knew we should be wearing from the hospitality tent downstairs. As we left the room we met Mr Allan Robson (Director and owner of the Saints). After a brief discussion we discovered that we were indeed in the wrong place. We left for the hospitality tent and some more free beer and food. We got into conversation with a gentleman from JP Morgan, he was later joined by another gentleman who we discovered was the Headman of the UK Company. He stayed with us and chatted for quite a while until he had to go and make a presentation. The matches then began, but we decided to stay in the hospitality tent and watch the games on the big screens. When the semi-finals began it was decided to go inside the stadium to watch it live. However, we all got separated in the ground, but somehow managed to join Suraj, who had found his way back into the Director’s Box (remember I said he was the steadying influence?). After part-taking of more of the hospitality (I don’t think we looked out-of-place among the celebrities), things got a little tricky when during half-time in the final, we were questioned by a stern man in a suite. I think he said he was going to look for some security. When he left, we decided to seek the security of the hospitality tent once more. There we watched the final, the presentations and enjoyed the hospitality. A little later the we were joined for drinks with the Headman from JP Morgan. He invited us to the Final in London and then chatted about rugby, refereeing and coaching, he seemed very interested. As I looked at the big screen I noticed that we were being video’d talking to him. I remember holding a glass of brandy……. It was 10.30am the following morning when I eventually could get out of bed.
Wedding & Woe2: Though feeling a little unwell (It must have been some of the pork I had eaten in the tent, it looked a little off), I dressed and had a gentle coffee. The Rothwells had slept over as Suraj was with me and I had wisely predicted that he possibly may not be able to drive home afterwards, plus we were going to a wedding that afternoon. Feeling a little delicate we left around noon for the wedding in the centre of Leicester. Sarah drove as she needed the practise and for some reason I was having trouble with my balance (possibly the start of an inner ear infection). Jim’s daughter Sarah was getting wed. You may remember Jim from the night before. It was a Catholic wedding, so there was lots of bits that we C of E’s couldn’t fathom, but when Sarah came down the aisle on the arm of her dad, Jim was thoughtfully wearing a very white complexion to match his daughter’s dress. The actual wedding ceremony proceeded in much the same way as they do in other churches, except during the giving of the vows the bride’s father has to leave by the side door for 10 minutes before returning looking a little whiter. It is strange custom and I am not sure what the purpose of it is. The reception was held at a pub near Victoria Park. I used to visit there every Thursday when I was at DeMontfort Uni’, but it has changed quite a lot since then, which may account why I mistook the ladies for the gents. Another strange custom at Catholic weddings is that the bride’s father and friend can only drink strong black coffee at the reception. We left at around 8pm, before the disco started, as I felt sure that the loudness of the music may have affected my inner ear problem.
Woe3: Sue and I had a funeral to go to. The father of the page-boy at our wedding had died (Richard Crosbie). The funeral was to be in Upminster, just outside London, near the M25, at noon on a Friday 29th July (busiest day on the roads in the year). As I had won a photo competition a couple of months ago we decided to use the hotel voucher and stay nearby. We travelled down early on the Thursday, so that we would have time to look around the area after checking into the hotel. The 2 hour journey ended up being in excess of 4 hours due to an accident on the M1. However, we had a nice walk around the extensive grounds and watched the TV in our VIP room.
We had a lovely 3 course evening meal. Chatted to a couple on the table next to ours, that week they had been testing out the London venues for the 2012 Olympics and they had been stewarding the Canoeing, which was just down the road. There was a large group of German students staying there, so much of the banter was in German. It made a change from the Polish that you usually hear in Harborough. The following morning we had an early breakfast and as Sue was eager to get to the crematorium, we set off around 9.30am. We were expecting hold-ups, but there was none and we were there at 10am for a noon funeral. We had just decided to wander around the extensive gardens for a couple of hours when I spotted Uncle Stanley sitting outside the crematorium cafe. Yes, it may be a dying trade they cater for but it did appear to be very popular and had a reputation for its hot mince pies. We sat and chatted with Stan for 2 hours. He is partially sighted and partially deaf, yet at 90 yrs old he got the bus from Bolton to London, then a taxi to a hotel in Westminster and a taxi out to the crematorium this morning. We offered to take him home and he seemed pleased to accept. We were standing outside the chapel with what looked about 140 mourners when the hearse arrived. Things started to go a little wrong. Earlier in the week, Sue had thought it strange when she had tried to contact Stanley, but couldn’t get through. When the widow and son spotted Stanley in the crowd, they made a bee line for him. They had spent many hours trying to contact him. They had arranged to fetch him from Bolton and wanted him to stay with them for a few days. They conversation was quite awkward as Stan was having nothing of it. The other mourners were getting fidgety, the pall bearers were creaking under the strain of holding the coffin up for such a long time and I wished that Stan was not standing between Sue and me. The son Russell realised the proceedings had been on hold for long enough and they moved on into the Chapel. Not everybody could fit inside, but Sue got a firm grip of Stan and sat him in one of the pews. I was glad I didn’t make it through the door and stayed in the entrance and listened with the other half of the congregation. I didn’t know much about Richard, but having listened to the eulogies and witnessed how many people turned up to say goodbye, he certainly was a person worth knowing better. After the service, I took Sue and Stan to see the flowers he had sent, they were all arranged nicely on the lawn outside. As relatives began to chat to Sue, we discovered that Stan was missing. Russel wanted to speak to him, so I promised to find him. I discovered him back at the cafe, but I couldn’t persuade him to return to the see Russell. Even when I fetched Russell he couldn’t be persuaded to go for tea and stay a few days. When Russell fetched his mother and she tried to persuade him, we were still at an impasse. As everyone was waiting to depart for the tea, they left extracting a promise from Stan to come and see them in the future. We had a cup of coffee, explained to Stan that he was coming with us, but we couldn’t take him home until Monday. Thankfully there was no argument. The drive home was a mare. It took 5 hours, 2 detours and a lot of petrol. Stan slept most of the way.
Weekend: I couldn’t take Stanley back to Bolton that Friday, that would have been madness trying to drive that distance and then home. Sunday was Ellis’s FIRST birthday and he was having a party and on Monday I was planning to go to Yorkshire to see Nan. To save petrol (£1.38 a litre), I decided to divert to Lancashire on my way to Yorkshire and drop Stan off. On Saturday morning I went to the allotments to water them and took Stanley. I have a chair at each of them and he was quite content sitting, smoking his pipe and watching as I spent around 1/2 an hour watering each. I picked some carrots, beetroot and potatoes at one and raspberries at the other, it was nice and sunny. Later that afternoon Sue and Sarah walked with Stan into town and I cleaned the pool. Charlotte came around in the evening to pick Sarah up, they were both helping out at the Rugby Club at a wedding. After drinking a bottle of beer, Stan had an early night. On Sunday I showed Stan his house on Google Earth , he was quite impressed as I projected it onto the big screen so that he could see it clearly, we had a little tour around his locality. In the afternoon we all went to Rothwell. Quite a few of the neighbours had been invited (with their children). Suraj was cooking on the BBQ, Lucas and the other children played in the tree-house, the adults sipped drinks and chatted and Ellis wasn’t sure as to what was happening but liked the attention. Stanley sat in the back garden watching the children play and chatted to Peter (our next door neighbour, who also had been invited with his wife Doreen). Stan managed to get through 4 bottles of beer and looked quite contented, though a little more unsteady than usual. Suraj made a the mistake of giving out some water pistols and Lucas and I had a battle. I got quite wet and Lucas got quite soaked. Pass the parcel, find the sweets, pin the tail on the donkey were played and ‘happy birthday’ was sung. Ellis looked unsure as to what was happening but obviously was enjoying himself. We left around 8pm.
Way back: Monday saw me drive Stan back home. I used the Satnav and it got me there without any fuss. I carried his things in for him, but he was tired and I left him making a cup of tea and looking forward to a doze on the settee. The journey over the moors was pleasant but too many lorries on a windy road. Nan was watching the cricket England v India when I arrived. We were stuffing then so we settled down and watched the game. Later we drove over to Ulley, we had a drink in the pub, had a lovely walk around the reservoir and finished the evening off with a chinese take-away.
The following day I weeded the garden, trimmed the bushes, re-concreted the path, picked the beans and re-built the ramp into the shed for her batmobile. For lunch we went to Dinnington for a carvery. That evening I drove over to Roche Abbey and we had a walk along the river that runs through it. The cobnuts were dropping off the trees, though they tasted nice they weren’t very big ( it has been a dry year). On Wednesday I helped clean the kitchen and then did a few more jobs in the garden while Nan went up into the village to have her hair done. I met her there as I was buying tomato sausages and minty burgers from the butcher, we had a race back home. My 1.6 Fiat easily beat her 12v Ferrari. For lunch I drove over to the Red Lion at Firbeck and had the best steak and ale pie I have ever had (and I have had a lot!), the pastry was to die for and you could taste the beer in the meat. After dropping Nan off at home I then sett off back to Harborough.