It is quite a while since I last turned my mind to writing the family blog (7th April), it is only because the rain falling onto the patio outside the dining room window is preventing me from doing anything more productive. I did try though, I spent an unpleasant half an hour in the greenhouse potting on some tomato plants and then sowed some cabbage and lettuce seeds in my propagator before giving in to the miserable, cold and damp conditions. As of this moment Sue has braved the weather to do some shopping in town, Sarah and Lee are in the lounge playing on the Wii, Nan is preparing to scoot into town to have her face done (her words), Jamie is having a lie in and Charlotte and family are suffering 40 degree heat under blue skies and terrorist threats in Egypt.
Well what of the last 6 weeks (or so)? Undoubtedly, it saw the end of an era for our (once little) Sarah, who technically completed her degree course with her final exam last week and next week will be entering the world of work as she starts her first ‘real job’ supporting the ‘Homeless and Mental Health’ in Shepshed. There are still interviews for the police service and the prison service to come over the next few weeks, so her career path still appears quite flexible and only time will tell, though for the time being she has returned home and will be commuting daily up the M1.
Jamie works for a small company based in Brixworth that delivers meat products to outlets around the Midlands. He was originally employed to manage the warehouse, but he also spent much of his time in the office and on deliveries as the company shared the cold-store warehousing with other businesses. Over the last few weeks, as the company has grown, he has spent most his time at the main offices in Sutton Basset organising the building and stocking of their own cold storage facilities there. In June, the move takes place and Jamie will then officially be managing the warehouse.
Charlotte, has started a little therapeutic venture with a friend. They are involved in garden design and maintenance and it seems to fit in well with family commitments such as schools runs. They seem to have found a little niche in the local area and are quite busy, often turning down projects that require too much input. Some of the photographs of their work is very impressive. How she finds the time to maintain her own (perfect) garden, (productive) allotment and hen-house, as well as feed, school and maintain a family is beyond me.
The title of this blog refers to what Sue and I have been up to since the last entry, so with reference to our on-line calendar I shall attempt to detail our activities over the past few weeks.
On the 9th of April we drove to Coventry and stayed in a rather large and imposing (Benidorm style) hotel on the outskirts of the city in a village called Allesley. We had planned a walk for that afternoon, and though I wasn’t expecting the route to be scenic, I was proved wrong. The day was warm with clear blue skies complimenting the many blue bells we passed by. We had a picnic lunch on a bench by a picturesque country cross roads and noted that of what little traffic that passed by, they all seemed to be 4X4’s driven by youngish females which we surmised were either on their way to exercise their nags or were returning from such. We walked around 9 miles on our circuitous route passing through some lovely villages and many fields stocked with thorough bred horses. At no time were we out of sight of our hotel, which from all angles seemed a most inappropriate silhouette on the landscape. Only a planning committee from the 60’s could have thought that a construction straight out of the Costa Del Sol would blend into and add a degree of sophistication to the environment.
On return to the hotel we checked into our room and then still feeling energetic decided to discover Allesley. We walked into Allesley Park in search of a ruined castle, failing to find it in the grounds of a rather elegant retirement home, we set about looking for it inside a refurbished walled garden. After consulting one of the gardeners we were pleased to learn that it was only a few hundred metres away, but on arriving there discovered that ‘ruined’ was a little off target. It was disappointingly just an overgrown motte, buried under a copse with most of the rest of any structures having been built on long ago (no doubt those 60’s planners again!) .
The evening meal at the hotel was surprisingly very good, though we did have to share the dining room with two coach loads of tourists from Glasgow which added a little accent to the buffet queue. Afterwards we drove a few miles into Coventry and watched Russell Crowe in the film ‘Noah’. Biblically inaccurate, stunningly filmed, fairly well acted, totally unbelievable, it just about passed as an evening’s entertainment and probably contributes to the increase in conversions to the Islamic faith.
Breakfast was substantial and after checking out of the hotel we again drove into Coventry. Having been forewarned (by many) that it is an uninspiring city to visit, we steeled ourselves for a depressing bit of sightseeing. Not so, we found the two hours touring the Cathedral quite enlightening, more-so than last night’s film and certainly considerably more historically accurate than Mr. Crowe. We thought the Charter house was magnificent (had hot chocolate there), Lady Godiva’s statue quite revealing and Spon Street absolutely brilliant and a must on any visit to this surprising metropolis. There is a Medieval pub there called The Old Windmill and if I lived in Coventry it would be my local! I had a superb half of stout in this beautifully restored/preserved hostelry while Sue visited a Teddy Bear shop. Afterwards we drove home.
The following day my friend Andy Sullivan arrived to replace the leaking garage roof. Over the week he stripped off the old roof, re-boarded it with marine ply and then laid down the first layer of asphalt. Towards the end of the week he had help to lay down the final layers and seal them with heat. He did an excellent job (no leaks so far), though according to Sue he was rather messy. The following week he stripped off the top layer of gravel from the driveway with a mini-digger and took it away. I (through a contact of Charlotte’s) had 20 tonne of 20mm gravel delivered and in one full and exhausting day, covered the drive to a depth of 5cm. Next, the gravel from the rear garden was barrowed around to the alley at the side of the garden and laid in the muddy pools that I found irritating to cycle through on my morning rides. Three tonne of 10mm gravel was then delivered and I laid that down in replacement. Spreading gravel is a peaceful pastime, but tiring, for anyone who suffers from insomnia I can recommend it.
That week Charlotte and Sue went to see a thoroughly enjoyable production of Grease at Welland Park college. We also had a visit from Mrs Meads. She had been the cleaner in my classroom when I was at the Meadows School in Wigston (20+ years ago) and I had taught her son, Carl. She is a very talented seamstress and while I was teaching there she made quite a few jumpers/tops etc. for Charlotte, Sue and myself. Over the years she has visited us on a few occasions, but not for quite a time. She stayed for a couple of hours and we chatted about people I knew at the school, many of which are still there, though I am afraid that I only vaguely remember them now.
On the 16th of April I had a mornings walk around Glaston with John Lee. Another lovely spring day. The following day Sue took Lucas and Ellis to a new farm park in Husbands Bosworth and I painted the inside of the garage roof. The following Saturday Jamie celebrated his 25th birthday. He had organised a four days away over the Easter weekend to a caravan in Mablethorpe with a few of his friends, they had reasonable weather and from the photographs on Facebook appeared to have a good time.
On the 26th of April Sue and I travelled up to Bradgate Park on a Council Walk. A lovely walk through woods full of blue-bells. We had a brief stop to watch a steam train pass by and took a few photos. A rather disappointing lunch was had at the pub where we met, I had the ploughman’s, what it lacked in cheese it gained in lettuce, great for rabbits! Unusually it did have a very interesting and reasonable antiques shop attached to it.
On the 29th of April John and I travelled to the Wrekin in Shropshire. I had booked a couple of nights at the Buckatree Hall Hotel for a couple of days walking. We arrived around lunchtime and after putting our boots on set off up the Wrekin, Sue and I had done this walk earlier in the year and the conditions were similar, though this time instead of returning from the summit the way we had come, John and I continued onto the next hill before returning on a route along the base. We stopped briefly to find a geocache near the car park. After checking into the hotel we then put our boots on again and walked over and around Ercall Hill, it was getting dark by the time we returned. After our evening meal in the restaurant we settled down in the bar for the rest of the evening to watch some European Football on the lounge TV.
After breakfast the following morning we drove to the Stiperstones Inn, parked the car and set off to climb the Stiperstones. Spectacular scenery all round and no other walkers to enjoy it. We had a splendid late lunch at the Inn. I can recommend the ploughman’s and the beer. On return to the hotel we had a short walk around the lake at the side of the hotel. That evening we ate in the hotel bar and chatted until bedtime.
The following morning we woke to rain. Despite the rain still lashing down after breakfast we drove to the setting off point for our morning walk from the Kynerton Arms in Leighton. Though we enjoyed rain for the entire trek, the low cloud didn’t obscure the scenery and our water proofs shed most of the water. It was lambing time and we did come across quite a few dead lambs that we thought the rain may have contributed to. However, we were glad to return to the pub before the incessant rain had a similar effect on ourselves. Refreshed after a rustic pint we set off back to Harborough. John stopped to talk to Sue for around an hour before making his way back to Bourne.
That Sunday Nan, Sue, Sarah and I drove over to Wadenhoe House for Sunday Lunch. It is a lovely Jacobean Manor House and specialises in Sunday lunches. It was lovely. As the sun was out, we had a walk around the grounds to give the rather substantial meal we had just eaten space to settle down. That evening I went to watch the Tigers v Saracens match at Welford Road. A good win for Tigers, though they nearly contrived to lose the game at the death.
The following Friday (May 9th) I met up with John in Whissendine and we had a pleasant morning walk followed by lunch at the pub. That evening I attended the Rugby Club Annual Dinner. The guest speaker was Graham Rownetree (ex. England and Tigers player). An enjoyable evening ………… from what I remember.
On May 16th Charlotte and family travelled down to Gatwick Airport to start their two-week holiday to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The day before Charlotte had visited with a sickly hen that she was concerned about. She wanted us to look after it while she was away as she thought the other hens would peck it. We promised to give it our best care. Her name was spider and she recovered after just a few days of our special efforts, so we returned her to the hen-house.
On the day the Rothwells flew I had a ticket for the Saints v Tigers Aviva semi-final. I gave Andy Spencer and a couple of his friends a lift to the match. We had a pre-match curry in an Indian restaurant opposite the ground. The match was a poorly refereed, fast and brutish affair that had a fantastic atmosphere generated by two great sets of fans. Unfortunately when Saints scored a try in the last two minutes of the game to snatch victory a perfect evening was not to be had. Sitting among a throng of Saints fans during the last-minute of the game was not a pleasant experience. Oh well, there is always next year.
On Thursday 22nd May Lee brought Sarah back from University with a car full of her stuff. This week I had MOT’d, taxed and insured her car for her in readiness for her birthday. That night they went to the cinema to see ‘Bad Neighbours’. The following morning, after opening her birthday presents Sarah and Lee drove down to Alton Towers for the day. That evening we had booked a family meal at the Turkish restaurant in Rothwell to celebrate Sarah’s 21st birthday. Sue, Nan, Jamie and I made our way their first as on the return from Alton Tower, Lee and Sarah had been delayed by heavy traffic. The meal was very enjoyable and we finished the evening off at home with a glass of my very own white wine.
And ………………………………… now we are up to date.