A long dry spell.

These blogs usually get written on wet days, meaning that it is over 5 weeks since we returned from the Arctic Circle and I now have to check the on-line diary to aid my failing brain cells as to what we have been up to. Sad to say, after watching a dismal Tigers performance at the Angel on Saturday and whilst cycling home I recollected that I had taken a raincoat with me. Returning to the hostelry, I was relieved to see it was still draped over my vacant seat and to my joy the All Blacks were playing the South Africans in what appeared to be a fantastically skilled and motivated match. Sitting down again I watched the 2nd half and was pleased to witness the determined South Africans win in great fashion. Shortly after, an inevitable sense of Deja-vu descended on me as I pedalled my way down our driveway when I realised that my raincoat had yet again managed to elude my frontal lobe and was still perched on the back of my seat at the Angel. Luckily Sarah had returned from work and volunteered to drive me back. It had been noticed that my coat was lacking its owner and had been placed behind the bar by one of my past pupil’s mothers who managed the Angel. Thankyou Mrs Hahessy.

September the 2nd was Charlotte’s birthday. Conveniently, the 3rd was her and Suraj’s wedding anniversary and the 4th is Suraj’s own birthday. The family gathered together for a BBQ as a celebration. During that week I managed a cobnut collecting bike ride to Arthingworth with Peter and walk with John around Langham in Rutland, followed by another excellent lunch at the Wheatsheaf. A few days later Sue and I picked quite a few buckets full of cobnuts from the hedge separating my allotment from the playing field behind. Luckily the present generation of adults don’t appear to realise that the round nuts they keep treading on whilst watching their children play are very, very delicious to eat.WP_20141006_001[1]

The weekend turned out to be exceptionally busy. On Saturday morning the Rothwells came over and together with Sue and Sarah we visited the celebrated Lubenham Scarecrow Festival. The weather was lovely and encouraged us to do more of the village scarecrows than we have ever done before. There seemed a lot more stalls and attractions on the two fields set aside for our entertainment. It seemed that the weather had encouraged everyone else in the district to make an early start and we had to queue to park the car. By the time lunch time arrived there were so many visitors that at times it was getting difficult to move around some of the activities.

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That evening Sue and I joined Jim and Kate for a night of comedy at the Harborough Theatre. We were surprised to see that Jim and Brigitte had also decide to attend and were already sat down and holding our seats for us. For once all three acts were very amusing and of course the female head liner was squirmingly observant.A good night.

The following day was Harborough’s Art Fresco. As Nan hadn’t accompanied us to the Scarecrows I had arranged to accompany her to witness the various acts that were performing around the town. Things didn’t get off to too good a start when she ran into me on my bike with her mobility scooter. However, no harm done. When we arrived in the Square a friend collared me for a chat. After a couple of minutes I looked around to check on Nan and not surprisingly she had disappeared. Over an hour later and two transects of the High Street I eventually found her watching a uni-cyclist on a ridiculously tall machine. How difficult is it to lose an 86yr old sitting on a mobility scooter in straight road, all be-it within a large crowd? The answer is: No problem if they are Welsh, come from Yorkshire and have a minuscule attention span. By all accounts she had a great time and saw most of the acts on show and waxed lyrical about all she saw on the journey back to Willow Bank. I was glad of the description as I would have hated to think I had wasted an afternoon.

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The following day was so lovely that I rang Charlotte and offered to take Ellis to Wicksteed Park for the afternoon while Sue spent her time enjoying herself by freezing carrots and pickling beetroot. The schools had started back, so the park itself was empty, bar a few mothers with young toddlers. All the rides except the Carousel (which we went on) and the train (we didn’t have time) were shut. We did have a go on all the activities in the play park (several times) and I was surprised when he refused a bag of chips as he wanted to continue playing. It was a tired little boy that I took back to Rothwell.

The red grapes were ready so I spent the morning picking them. This year I had bought a ‘proper’ press to squish them. Last year I had used a potato masher to extract the juice and it was hard work with a lot of wastage. I had practised the week before on making apple juice from the ‘windfalls’ and it had proved very popular with the family and I was looking forward to producing ‘the juice’! This year the picking took longer than the squishing and I soon had bottles and bottles of red grape juice that over the past week has all but disappeared down gullets. Next are the white grapes.

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The next day, Sue and I drove up to Loughborough to meet Sarah and look at a house that she and Lee were thinking of buying. It was being used as student accommodation and the two remaining students were busy packing cases when we arrived. It was a terraced property that had quite a modern feel inside, the layout was very similar to that of Charlotte’s old house in Newark. We spotted a damp problem in one of the bedrooms that I suspected came from poor flashing around the chimney and some more in the bathroom that I guessed was poor ventilation. They were sensibly having a survey done which would highlight any issues and give an indication of costs to put right. We left Sarah in Loughborough as she was working later that afternoon and was going to do a bit of shopping.

On Sunday Sue, Charlotte, Sarah and I went on a Council walk along the Caudles. A lovely hot day that was finished off with an Indian buffet at ‘Little India’ in Arnesby. I am afraid we all made pigs of ourselves and our tummies took a bit of a stuffing!

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That night we had a burglar. Jamie had a problem with his car and I had been giving him a lift to work and back the previous few days. He had decided that it would be quite healthy to cycle to work, so around midnight(?) he came to get his bike out of the shed. However,a few days before I had moved ‘things’ around in there and his bike was under the pool covers and couldn’t be seen in the dark, so he sent me a text and took mine. That night I had left my mobile on charge in the lounge so thankfully wasn’t woken by the offending message. The following morning, in a panic, Sue burst into the bedroom informing me that we had burglars. After checking the shed I then checked my mobile and discovered the text from Jamie. Oh how we laughed! He fixed his car the following day as he discovered cycling can be quite strenuous.

The brakes on my car had started to squeak so that day (as I had no bike) I had them checked out at Kwikfit. There was nothing wrong with them, but I had the brake fluid changed and front wheels tracked while it was up on the ramp.

On the Friday Lee came to stay over night and early on the Saturday (20th) morning he drove Sarah down to London. She was spending a week crewing on the MS Tenacious (Tall ship), the ship was moored next to Tower Bridge. They parked on the outskirts of London and travelled in by tube. After lunch nearby with Lee she boarded the boat and began her adventure.

The Tenacious’s journey down the Thames didn’t go smoothly as a fishing net caught around one of her propellers and they had to put in near Gravesend with a diver having to free it the following day. I gather that crewing her was quite hard, but exhilarating fun. She saw the sun go down and rise on her watches, she climbed the mast, unfurled the sails and took them back in again, helped in the galley, took the helm and I think probably swabbed the decks as well, though that hasn’t been mentioned. She made new friends, one being the creator of Bagpuss who treated their watch to a slap up meal in Dieppe.

While Sarah was sailing the ocean blue, Sue and I travelled down to Bournemouth for a few days R&R. We broke the journey in Winchester and visited the Cathedral before having a walk around the town.
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In Bournemouth we stayed at the Carrington House Hotel which was a 15 minute walk from the beach. After our evening meal in the hotel we drove over to the Lighthouse Theatre in Poole and watched a superb show detailing the lives of Simon and Garfunkel in music and video. The two singers sang and looked like the real thing. It was a lovely way to spend an evening and we knew ALL the songs.
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The following day I had planned a walk around Hengistbury Head, starting in Christchurch. We drove there after breakfast and parked the car next to the marina.The walk took nearly 4 hours, passing some rather nice houses and a line of very pretty beach huts on the spit itself. Afterwards we returned the car back to the hotel car-park and then ventured down to the beach, wandering along Boscombe Pier before walking along the beach to the main pier near the centre. We had lunch next to the pier and then stretched our legs on a walk to the Lower gardens in the town. A very strange place. As a park is is full of beautiful plants and rockeries, but there was an Arts Festival being prepared and strange structures and displays were being erected. Weirdest of all was the 100’s of white vests hanging in the trees.

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That evening, after dinner at the hotel we drove into the centre and watched a film called Lucy. well worth going to see.

After breakfast the following day we checked out and then walked along Boscombe Chine looking for a geocache, which we suspected after a fruitless 20 minutes of searching had been muggled. Returning to the car we drove to Lyndhurst in the New Forest and had a walk around the town. Very posh. From there we continued on to Southampton to meet the MS Tenacious and Sarah. The ship had already docked by the time we arrived and she was being made ship-shape for he next trip. Sarah had taken the helm on the last leg of the journey and was busy coiling ropes and other nautical activities while we stood on the quay taking photos.

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The crew were given lunch before they were allowed to disembark, which was nice for us as we took the opportunity to go on board and look around. We gave a lift to one of her new friends to Southampton railway station before setting off on a return journey from hell. Friday afternoon is not the time to set off on such a journey, we lost count of the number of shut roads (accidents, mostly lorries) that faced us or how many times Mr TotTom re-routed us. Having done the same journey a few weeks prior and taken just under 3 hours, this tortuous journey lasted just over 5 hours!

Sue had a late birthday present.  Charlotte and Sarah had booked her in for afternoon tea at the Kilworth House Hotel as a birthday treat and a few days after returning from Southampton all three got dressed in their glad rags and spent a luxurious afternoon mixing with the upper-crusts (sandwiches).

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On the 27th Sept. Suraj and I went with Jim to Hothorpe Hall for Pie Night. We went in Suraj’s BMW and stuffed ourselves with various varieties of pie. It was a pleasant evening, though I think the surroundings were a little too refined for my perception of a proper crusty affair. I think a Pie Night deserves a more pub-like atmosphere. However it was interesting top see the inside of the Hall and we did play several games of pool in the bar afterwards.

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The following day, as my car had passed its MOT with flying colours (with squeaky brakes) and Nan had undergone her annual flu injection (without a squeak) I took her for lunch at the Oathouse in Little Bowden to celebrate.

Last Sunday evening I went to watch Jamie play soccer. Despite being the better team, his side lost 1:0. He did play well and having hit the post twice and crossbar once, shown that he has some skill as a striker. He certainly was the quickest on the pitch.

This term Lucas started Junior school and much to Charlotte’s  dismay Ellis started full time in the Reception Class after having had a few weeks of just mornings.

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The 5th Oct. saw Sue, Charlotte and I on a Council walk to Peatling Parva. It turned out to be the last dry day of the long hot spell of September. It was a short four and a half mile walk that was punctuated with many stiles that due to such a large elderly group became protracted as people took ages to surmount these minor obstacles. It was a relief to reach the pub and a pint of cider followed by an exceptional Sunday roast carvery that I am afraid same me off to the land of nod on our return to Harborough and I missed Jamie’s next match which they won 3:1. Typical.

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Sarah’s Cruise Photos

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