The summer really got going on the 1st July when the country sweltered under blue skies and thirty-seven degrees. The day before had been quite hot and Jamie and quite a few of his friends arrived in the afternoon to use the pool to cool off. However, when the serious heat kicked in, Sue and I drove to the cinema in Kettering for an 11am performance of ‘The American Sniper’, (a book I had read on a previous holiday). Oblivious to the increasing temperature outside, we basked in glorious air-con, sat in comfy seats, sucking sweets watching a film that wasn’t half-bad. Three hours later we emerged from the cinema into an oppressive humid cauldron. Memories of exiting Far East airports and looking for our hotel transfer came to mind. We called into see Roger on the way home and found him working out alone in his little gym. It transpires that his relationship with Fran has come to an end. Having spent most of the time in each others company in one place or another, she wanted to take their five-year relationship further, but Roger said no. One of Roger’s friends once described him as ‘one of life’s takers and not one of life’s givers’, so I guess he was just being consistent, but I fear that he will regret that decision one day. They looked made for each other. He looked painfully thin and appeared not very happy, Sad.
With air-con on full we drove home, soon to be joined by Charlotte the boys and a friend with her children. After playing and cooling off in the pool they returned home late in the afternoon, to be replaced soon afterwards by Jamie and some of his pals . I didn’t get my chance to cool off until much later in the evening!
The following day I plotted a walk from Welford into my GPS and during that morning Sure and I had a very pleasant ramble through the Leicestershire countryside, lasting around 3 hours. We were fortunate that unlike the previous day, though the sun shone, the humidity was kept away by a gentle breeze. Arriving back at the Wharf House Inn, we met Charlotte who had driven over for lunch. The place was packed with people off the canal boats; a rambling group and quite a few locals who couldn’t be bothered to make lunch themselves. However, we were served quickly, the meals were substantial and very reasonably priced. We shall return.
Unfortunately, the following days became progressively cooler and wetter, great for the plants and vegetables in the allotments and garden, as proved by the bucket loads of fruit we pick daily. On the 3rd July I picked a carrier bag of elder flowers and spent a pleasant afternoon making 6 litres Elderflower Cordial, a very refreshing drink on hot days.
On American Independence Day, Sue and I drove up to North Wales. We had been invited to my cousin Jeff’s 60th birthday party in Cefn-y-Bedd. We first visited Caergwrle and sat awhile on Nan’s bench and noticed that the flowers we had placed there in June were in a waste-bin at the side. We found out later that Cerys had removed them from the bench the previous day and placed them in the bin. No one had moved them in all that time. After climbing the steep slopes of the castle mound we checked that the Honeysuckle we had planted was till alive, it was so we watered it and then had a picnic in the castle grounds, to our surprise and delight we were joined by a very friendly cat that was content in basking with us in the warmth of the sun, next to one of the rocks that we had scattered Nan’s ashes. I wonder?
Before checking into the B&B that Jeff had suggested we visited Aunty Josie and cousin David in Brymbo.
We were surprised by the quality of our accommodation, Dove Cottage, for the night. It was situated down a quiet little lane, surrounded by a beautiful cottage garden, full of birds and squirrels. Several plaques next to the door proudly declared that they had been awarded 5 stars by the North Wales Tourist board during the last 4 years. We could see why when we entered the property.
That evening we walked around a mile to the venue for the party from the B&B. There was around 200 guests invited and the bar was doing a brisk trade. We sat with David, Beryl and Doreen. Jeff’s wife appropriately served everybody sausages and chips, Jeff is a well-known local butcher and famous for his sausages, for which he has won many awards.
Later on in the evening I took a rather wobbly Aunty Doreen onto the dance floor for a couple of spins.. For an 84-year-old she was surprisingly nimble, however when a smoochy number was played, we sat down. I think I tired her out as she left soon after. It was just after midnight when we returned to Dove Cottage.
After a lovely breakfast, again with two of Jeff’s sausages, we programmed the GPS for Knutsford Market and set off. We were going to see Sue’s nephew, Simon. He had left his job working in management at Waitrose to start-up his own business, supporting artists and providing an outlet for their talents at the many local markets in the area. We found him just after he had finished setting up his stall and spent around half an hour chatting to him, in-between making sales of the displayed artwork. He gives the artists a percentage of the profits made and on average they receive around a £1000 cheque from him each month. After picking up paying for some art work that Sarah had ordered we had a good wander around the rest of the stalls. What a lovely town Knutsford is, very close to Tatton Park, often the venue for one of Sue’s favourite programmes, ‘Antiques Roadshow’ They had a display of vintage American Cars that day.
On our route to the hotel for that night, a DeVere Hotel near Crewe, the heavens opened up and the journey was a nightmare with spray reducing visibility for the entire length of the journey down to just a few metres. After checking-in we remained in our room for most of the afternoon as a planned wander around the substantial grounds and golf course was curtailed by the continuing downpour. Early in the evening the sun came out and we did indeed manage a little explore, before dressing smart and having a 3 course evening meal. Afterwards we visited the bar for refreshments before retiring,
After a hearty breakfast we set off towards Manchester under leaden skies. We were going to visit Uncle Stan. The rain made an appearance as we drove up outside his house in Little Hutton. Stan, at 96 years of age has a remarkably sharp mind and is up to date on all the current news and politics AND has very strong views on most things. Despite being partly deaf and blind he is an amazing guy. We chatted, but mostly listened for just over 4 hours, with the rain pouring down outside preventing us from visiting his garden, which he is very proud of. As we left he worryingly gave Sue a key to the front door, whispering, “In case you need to let yourself in.”
That night we were staying at the Country House Hotel in Didsbury, and made our way there through typical Manchester weather. Again, we mooched in our room after check-in as the continuing downpour prevented us from exploring further. I watched Wimbledon on TV and Sue added to her tapestry.
We ate our evening meal in the hotel and then set the SatNav for the local cinema. Still raining, the usually reliable machine took three attempts to locate the venue for our evenings entertainment. It was only 4km away but we managed to travel 16km before it decided to stop messing around and tell the truth. We watched ‘Amy’, a biography of Amy Winehouse. Not expecting to enjoy the film I wasn’t disappointed, though I have to admit I did find it well constructed and interesting, for a miserable, rainy night, it was better than a hotel room. We visited the hotel bar before retiring.
On the return journey to Harborough we stopped at Jodrell Bank and spent a showery two hours looking at the exhibits before continuing on our way.
Back home Sue and I again busied ourselves in picking fruit and satisfying the many garden tasks awaiting us. That week Jamie invited us over for an evening meal. Harley was due to help him but she turned up juts before we did. Sue and I were amazed and what he had prepared and it was truly a lovely meal.
On the 9th July we drove over to Harbury to visit cousin Andrew and his wife for lunch. She is an ex-teacher and Andrew is an artist. He was presently displaying his artwork for sale and indeed the day we were there he sold at least a couple of paintings. After lunch on the patio under an ancient but virulent grape-vine which provided much-needed shade, we accompanied Andrew while he took us to visit a couple of other artists in the village, Harbury was having a 2 week exhibition of art by the eleven artists who lived there. Without bias, of what we saw, Andrew was the better artist.
We had to leave by 3pm as we were to meet Sarah, Lee and Mia back in Harborough for 4.30pm. They are going for a few days holiday to Scarborough with Lee’s parents and we were taking delivery of Mia. They arrived a little late, stayed long enough for a drink then disappeared without Mia noticing too much.
After taking her for an excited walk through the fields I left Mia with Sue as I went to play pool. When I returned late that evening, both were in bed with Mia pinning Sue’s legs to the mattress. Easing myself into bed I slept well until a a wet nose appeared in front of my face at 3am. Thinking someone wanted to use the loo I rose and had a walk around the garden with a tired, listless dog, who I guess was wondering why I liked to have a 3am canter around the pool. We both returned to bed ans slept soundly until 7am. I shan’t make that mistake again.
The following day was mostly taken up with walking or playing with Mia. During the afternoon Jim and Brigitte arrived on the doorstep and stayed for drinks and a chat,. Brigitte has lost her job and is busy applying for another. Later that evening we met again at Joules for a meal and to listen to a rather good folk/rock band. When we returned back home we found Mia fast asleep in her cage and I took her for a very tired walk before all three of us hit the pillow.
It was raining the following day. At 9am I set off with Mia for our morning loo walk and despite the rain we didn’t return until after 1pm, very muddy and very wet. On route, I did discover that in our river there are crayfish, when I observed a large specimen scampering along the bottom of a shallow section. Hmmm, interesting. Last night I ordered a crayfish trap off the internet (watch this space). After a bath for both of us we looked and smelled much better.After lunch and later during that afternoon we went for another walk (the rain had stopped). Mia had brought one of my sandals from the rack and placed it carefully in front of me and then sat patiently watching me. What could I do? Returning after an hour or so, we mooched around the garden before having tea. Early on in the evening the sandal again appeared in front of me with the same patient dog by its side. It had worked once, and it did this time too.
Passing down the alleyway next to the house I had a chat with our neighbours the Burninghams, they were having a garden party for Zak who was 18yrs old that day. I taught Zak in Year 4. Returning home after a couple more hours and a hopefully weary dog, I diverted via the garage and picked up a bottle of cider and took it around to the neighbours and gave it to Zak. We chatted again for nearly an hour with Mia dozing at my feet. It seems that all is not well at Farndon Fields with all but a couple of staff and all but a couple of ancillaries having left, unhappy with the new Head’s regime. I am glad that I jumped ship when I did. Apparently the paperwork is suffocating.
Today (13th July) Mia is due to be taken back to Leicester. I shall miss the little bundle of joy and poo.