The crayfish trap arrived. Eager to dine on Wok loads of succulent American immigrants I purchased the recommended cat food, loaded the rap and set it in a deep pool just a few yards up river from the little garden bridge over the Welland, secured to the bank by a tether (in case of flash flooding). Returning the following day I was disappointed to discover the larder was bare. Undeterred, I set the trap down stream just before the road bridge, this time in shallower water. Again, returning the following morning I at first thought the trap had failed, but on lifting the contraption from the water I found I had caught a small catfish! What was I to expect using cat food? I did, once again set the trap to no avail a few days later with a disappointed Lucas and Ellis. I am beginning to suspect that I am using the wrong bait. I shall lay the trap once more in the spot I saw the crayfish and see (watch this space).
On the 16th of July I had my 6 monthly dentist appointment scheduled for 11am, I decided to forgo my usual morning bike ride and occupied myself with tidying round the garden. After a little light hoeing in the strawberry bed I bent down to pick up the few weeds I had unearthed and ricked my lower back. A painful return of an old rugby injury. How I wish I had got on my bike instead. It took quite a few days of paracetamol before I could start to move freely, but oddly I had not pain when I cycled.
That Saturday Sue and I went to Joules to watch a band from Cornwall called ‘Lexis Green and the Indigo Blue’, a pleasant evening’s entertainment.
The following Tuesday Sue drove to Bradgate Park with Lucas and Ellis, they were accompanied by Sarah and Mia. They had a picnic and the boys spent most of the day playing in the river. I had a walk to the ‘Wheel and Compass’ in Weston-by-Welland with Peter. I had promised to buy him lunch for looking after the greenhouse and garden while Sue and I were away in Vietnam and this was the day he had chosen. We walked around 12 miles in all and by the end poor Peter could hardly stand as he had a very nasty blister on his heel. He took a taxi back to Lubenham.
On the way back to Harborough with Peter I discovered a group of Cherry trees that were laden with fruit and the following day Sue, Charlotte, Lucas, Ellis and I went and picked them, we filled three carrier bags. Sue and I spent the following evenings munching them while watching TV.
The 24th was our wedding anniversary. Sue had a hospital appointment in Leicester for a bone scan. We have now reached the age where the NHS wants to see us on a regular basis to test, scan and photograph us. That afternoon I flew from Birmingham Airport with Jim H, Jim C, Sean and Paul to the Isle of Man for the weekend. The following day Sue, Charlotte and the boys drove over to Tenbury Wells to stay with Sheila and visit friends an relatives over the weekend.
Isle of Man: From Ronaldsway Airport we caught the bus into Douglas and soon found our way to the Trevalyn Hotel. That evening we had a fish and chip supper and played darts in one of the town bars. The following morning after a rather good breakfast we bought a ticket that gave us access to all the popular modes of travel on the island. We first travelled on the Electric tram to Laxey, there we visited the huge water wheel that in times gone by powered the nearby lead mine. After climbing to the top of it, we boarded the train that would take us to the summit of Snaefel. The day was lovely and sunny and we could clearly see Ireland, Scotland and England from the Trig point. We decided to walk down the mountain to the station called ‘Bungalow’ whose claim to fame is that the TT race course passes through it. Paul and Sean were slow and missed the train and had to wait for the next one some 15 minutes later. By then the rest of us were comfortable ensconced in the pub next to the Wheel. Returning to Douglas by way of the tram we dressed in our glad rags and set off to the rather impressive Gaeity Theatre just a little way down the promenade from our hotel, stopping off at a Chinese restaurant for a rather good feast. We were booked into see ABBA (Tribute Band). Our tables were in front of the stage with great views of the performance. The Theatre was packed with ABBA fans, some of the outfits were pretty cool and authentic. It appears that there are not many male ABBA fans on the Isle of Man as 90% of the audience were female and obviously out for fun. Appropriately the women who we shared our table were Care Assistants from Peel and were used to being among old gits like ourselves. What a brilliant and entertaining evening. We woke the following morning to rain and it remained with us all day. We had planned to travel to Peel, visit the Castle and have lunch at the Creek Inn. Undeterred by the cold driving rain we caught the bus for Peel from the Harbour Terminus. It was drizzling when we arrived and our first port of call was in a cafe for a warm coffee. Prior to visiting the castle, Jim C and Sean stopped to have a hot mackerel bap at a harbour side stall, they would regret their impulsiveness later. Circumnavigating the castle we walked along the river road to the pub for lunch. Jim H and I had earlier trotted to the pub while the rest of the party had been having coffee, to reserve a table. The restaurant was fully booked but the owner was swayed by our cajoling and promised us a table at 1.30pm. And indeed she did so, the meal was superb and the subject of much banter throughout the following days. As the rain had not ‘given in’ we visited the ‘TT’ museum next to the pub before catching a bus to Ramsey. Here we stayed approximately 8 minutes, just enough time to walk to the Harbour, get wet and catch a tram back to Douglas. We spent the rest of the evening in the hotel bar playing pool and occasionally gazing at the white-topped waves in the bay and the rivers of water rushing into the gutters down the street. The following morning the hotel gave us an early breakfast before we caught our taxi to the airport. The flight left on time and some 45 minutes later we were in a dry but chilly Birmingham. Paul drove us back to Harborough but unfortunately he had to return back to the airport for 5pm that evening to catch a flight to Milan to attend a business meeting. Sue was pleased with the stick of rock that she had requested.
On the 31st it was Ellis’s birthday. Sarah dropped Mia off with us and then accompanied the Rothwells to Birmingham Sea Life Centre for Ellis’s treat. Sue and I took Mia to the pub in Lubenham for lunch. Fortunately it was a lovely warm day as we had to sit out side to eat, Mia had found the most disgusting pile of poo to roll in on our rout there and it only seemed polite to sit at a quiet, windy table away from other diners. On return home, one little puppy got a very thorough bath! Sarah and Mia stopped over that night. When it came to bedtime Mia refused to accompany Sarah to her room and insisted on taking up position on our bed and despite Sue carrying her back to Sarah, she managed to sneak back (probably aided by Sarah, methinks).
The following day Sarah, Sue and I went with the Rothwells to Kettering for Ellis’s party at an activity centre. The activities involved clambering over a wide selection of gym equipment and playing games such as ‘find the sweet’ and ‘hide and seek’. All the tots seemed to have great fun. Afterwards we all decamped to the Tollemache arms in Harrington for refreshments. That evening Sue and I met Jim and Brigitte and Jim and Kate at Joules to watch Govannon. The other two couples hadn’t booked their tickets for the BBQ so had to sit outside and listen while we ate inside. To be polite, after finishing our food we joined them and despite wrapping coats tightly around ourselves the chill did rather take the edge off the music.
On the 4th of August Sue travelled down to Rothwell to look after Lucas and Ellis for the day. I travelled to Countesthorpe Crematorium to pay my last respects to Maureen Meads. Maureen had been my classroom cleaner 30 years ago when I taught at the Meadows School in Wigston. I used to chat to her at school while marking books at my desk at the end of the day while she tidied up. She was a part-time seamstress and over the six years that I taught there she made some lovely clothes for Charlotte and sweat shirts for Sue and I. In later years she kept in touch and occasionally would visit us in Harborough. We visited her last Easter and were sad to learn that she had cancer and the prognosis wasn’t great. Even so, it was still a shock to learn of her passing and I wanted to pass on my regrets to her husband and Carl her son, who I once taught. A lovely and kind lady. During the afternoon we took Lucas and Ellis to Harborough at the Seaside.
The day after Sue and I went to the Silver Cinema to see ‘A Little Chaos’. A period drama about the creation of the gardens at Versailles. Despite not getting free coffee and biscuits (due to the summer holidays) we enjoyed the film, though Sue did complain bitterly to the staff behind the refreshments counter and did manage to squeeze a free tea out of them. After all, we are pensioners! On the way back to Harborough we called in to see Roger. We were surprised to learn that his mother was in Kettering Hospital, on the day before he was to return them to Bristol she took a turn for the worse and the ambulance was called out and she has been there for the last 3 weeks. Roger’s father has returned to Bristol, making the journey back to Harborough at the weekends with Roger’s sister, who looks after them. She is having a scan in a few days and Roger is hopeful that afterwards they will transfer her to Bristol.
I awoke early the following day and drove to Seaton to met John Lee for another walk. We hadn’t met for over a month so had quite a lot of family news to catch up on and of course the world needed to be put right again. The 8.5 mile walk was pleasant but lunch at the George and Dragon was exceptional. For starters we both had black pudding and Stilton, something we thought would be fantastic or wouldn’t work at all, it proved to be the former. The following steak pie was also special and most memorable. I am resolved to take Sue there to sample the delights, though we won’t walk quite so far.
That Sunday we had lunch at Charlotte’s. During the week they had attempted to deliver a new three-piece suite but the stairs had defeated the delivery men. The solution is to remove the bannister on the stairs to the 2nd floor lounge. Lunch gave me an opportunity to plan a course of action that would rectify the problem. I shall return on Tuesday with saw and chisels to remove the offending bits of wood.
News Snippets: Charlotte’ hens are suffering from a bad attack of red-mites. Despite chemicals and lots of cleaning, nothing so far seems to affect them. I have offered to spray with my pool chemical (sodium hypochlorite) as that kills every thing and then turns it white. Charlotte took the boys to Rutland reservoir for a ‘beach’ day.
Jamie drove up to Liverpool last weekend and enjoyed a free open air concert in one of the parks. He has also managed to visit Santa Pod on several occasions as well as attend a few Car Cruising events. He came with Harley the other night to see if I had any fishing hooks as he was going fishing with one of his mates.
Sarah has been busy in her garden, planting flowers and herbs as well as creating rather unusual bird feeders. She is quite chuffed with herself as she has finished her seat building project from wooden pallets of several months now. She and Lee managed a visit to Stanford Fireworks Display at the beginning of August while Sue and I looked after Mia. They also managed a day at the seaside to give Mia her first taste of the beach. Oh, and she discovered several baby crocodiles in the back garden.