On the 18th Nov. Jamie had kindly invited Sue and I over for another meal at his apartment. Yet again he displayed his culinary skills and produced a very fine meal with the highlight being a lovely sweet potato mash, however this time the dessert was absent. Harley dined with us, though she prepared her own vegetarian delight.
The following Friday Sue and I treated Sarah and Mia to lunch at Foxton Locks. She had the day off work and came to see her parents, how nice.
The weather during the following week was warm, but awful. It rained most days so there was little choice but to find jobs to do inside to occupy ourselves. The two (now) spare double bedrooms were painted, carpeted and had new curtains hung. The adjoining corridor and landing also got the same treatment. The following weeks saw new beds ordered, delivered and placed in situ. Charlotte sold the old single beds on Facebook.
By the time we got to Sunday we were both ready for a rest and luckily we had booked a night at the Last Drop Inn on the moors outside Bolton. We had planned to visit Uncle Stanley as we had promised to visit in the autumn but failed to do so. We had stayed at the hotel on a prior occasion and enjoyed the experience. The journey to the hotel went surprisingly without problem, despite a horrendous forecast. We had arrived early as we planned a circuitous walk for that afternoon. As we ate our sandwiches in the car park, the monsoon arrived! We watched in disappointment as the deluge bounced off the bonnet and windscreen and my little Fiesta rocked violently in the huge gusts that raced up the hillside. The lovely views of the surrounding moorland disappeared and the inside slowly steamed up as we took our time over thermos coffee.
Magically, as we completed our repast the rain stopped and the surrounding countryside once again appeared. Despite the access road in front of the car now giving a good impression of the Welland in flood, we exited the car and donned our waterproof walking gear. Setting off, we squelched though the hotel grounds and guided by my trusty GPS, made our way onto the moors. The path we followed suffered from the previous nights heavy down pour and the more recent one we had just witnessed, therefore was largely underwater with no sanctuary to be had by walking off route as you risked disappearing up to your knees in the bog. To add to our woes the predicted storm arrived and though we could see where we were going the wind meant we were fighting our way through the maelstrom. I had been in similar conditions on the moors in my younger days, but I doubted whether Sue had suffered such inclement conditions on her Worcestershire rambles, but she manfully stuck at it. Nearing the top of the moor that we were to circumnavigate, I watched a particularly vicious squall make it ways across the valley towards us. Noting that this one contained snow/hail we found refuge behind a stonewall until it passed. Even so, the little bullets of ice bouncing off us, stung considerably. We managed probably another half mile, slipping over rain-soaked bog before the next squall caused us to again take shelter behind a stone wall. This time, when the worst had passed we decided to head down to the road in the valley and make our way back to the hotel, beaten but not cowed.
It was still pouring down when we checked in and made our way to a warm room and a hot coffee. A little later we had a rather filling carvery in the pub in the Hotel village. Fully sated we made our way back to our room and watched TV until 8pm then drove into Bolton and watched ‘Bridge of Spies’ in the local cinema, it was based on true events during the Cold War. Worth a look.
The following morning it was still raining and blowing a gale. The TV announcing that most of the North East was under water and that a greater part of Wales was without electricity. After a satisfying breakfast we drove through the rain to Uncle Stanley’s. He seemed in good health and as sharp as ever, keen to talk about politics and the recent terrorism in Paris. We mostly listened for the next 3 hours. When we left, the weather was still poor and I was wasn’t looking forward to the return journey, but luckily as we set wheels on the motorway, the rain clouds parted and I guess the rest of the motoring population were stuck in floods as there was surprisingly little traffic. It was a quick and uneventful journey.
The next day I had lunch with Charlotte at the Sondes Arms in Rockingham, a fine menu and superb food. Sue was enjoying some much better weather and walking with the U3A in Maidwell, she had lunch at the Stags Head.
A few days later Sarah came with Mia and Sue and I walked along the canal with them to Foxton. We had lunch there then walked home.
The following Saturday Sue was due to travel to Tenbury Wells, meet up with her sister and stay with Sheila, an old family friend. However, a couple of days before her excursion she tripped on exiting the back door, cut her knee and hurt her foot and ankle. Obviously shocked at her fall and in pain, it wasn’t until the following morning when I noticing a swelling on the side of her foot that should have coloured up if it had been just bruising. I took her to the Cottage Hospital for an x-ray and they confirmed that she had broken a bone in her foot.
Plans for her visit to Worcestershire had to be altered as driving was out of the question. Instead of staying the night at Sheila’s with Philippa, they met up on the Sunday, as lunch had been booked at the The Fountain, a place we had been to regularly when courting. Jamie volunteered to drive her as he was keen to see where his mother came from. On returning, he was quite impressed with Tenbury and expressed a wish to visit further, though at a warmer time of year.
During the following days there was no respite from miserably wet and windy days, though uncharacteristically for the time of year, it was warm, the temperature rarely dropping below 12 degrees and often reaching 19 degrees (even at night). Some jobs were attempted outside, mostly sweeping leaves and digging up vegetables from a medium that was once soil and now gave a good impression of Quatermass ooze! One advantage was that the beetroot, kohl rabbi, parsnips and leeks had continued to grow and so a series of pies with a combination of these and chicken or ham, often both (and always with cheese) were made and consumed. No one was poisoned and all wisely professed that they tasted lovely!
On the 10th Lucas had yet another birthday. That makes it 9 in all. Sue and I wisely didn’t attend any celebrations. They had some friends from Newark to stay over night.
The Rothwells met the Braunstones in Leicester on the 17th Nov. to watch the Christmas lights being switched on.
The Rothwells have been suffering more than their fair share of winter bugs this last month, with sickness and diarrhoea being top of the list. To cheer Charlotte up I popped over to install a shelf under her oven and it seemed to do the job. I am afraid I can’t get so excited at having a another space to store jars and containers! The shelf obviously didn’t impress Lucas as a few days later he was sent home from school for throwing up over his class teacher (been there!) and then threw up over the dashboard of Charlotte’s car, destructing the £1200 stereo and control system (I kid you not). Kids eh. Who would have them? On the bright side, Lucas was granted one of three achievement awards for exceptional work at school. No doubt decided on, before he emptied the contents of his stomach over a staff member.
On the 10th Dec. Sarah dropped Mia off for some R&R. She and Lee were off to Venice, Milan and Lake Garda for a winter break. I had been looking forward to Mia coming for the last few weeks, not so sure Sue was. However, for the next week, each morning I forsook my bike and took my new four-legged friend for a walk, lasting around 5-6 hours, covering between 9-12 miles and always incorporating a stop at midday for lunch and a beer. We would arrive back home in the late afternoon, before the dark descended. Each day I departed with a clean and sparkly puppy and returned with a tired, hairy mud-ball, that required a good half an hour in the downstairs bath to scrub clean. Luckily she enjoyed her baths and after a madcap race around the house, shaking herself to bits, we would settle down together and have a nap. On the Friday Mia and I drove over to Asfordby near Melton to walk 11 miles with John and had lunch at The Crown. John was very impressed with Mia and how well-behaved she was, it was only when we came to dog unfriendly stiles that we had to pay any attention to her. The rest of the time her nose never strayed more that a centimetre from the ground as she sniffed the hedgerows and ditches along our route.
As each day I used my GPS I sent Sarah and Lee a screen shot via Messenger of the routes we had walked to reassure them that she was getting sufficient exercise.
The afternoon the Braunstones returned to pick her up, I was attending a Christmas VP’s luncheon at the Rugby Club, but I made sure that she had her ‘Walkies’ that morning, just a short 6 mile sprint just to keep her ‘in tone’. They had left for home by the time I arrived back, earlier that evening.
A few days later Sarah, Mia and Charlotte came to Harborough and we drove over to Foxton and we had a walk and lunch.
On the 17th Sue and I drove to Kettering to see ‘The Honourable Rebel’, the life story of a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Montague. Afterwards, we visited Charlotte for coffee and then Roger in Braybrooke for another. He had just returned from Cyprus and looked a lot better than he did before he left. He is going through the the same distressing times as we did this time last year and coincidentally also my friends Jim and Sean whose mothers are also in respite care and not expected to be with us much longer.
The family is at present busy planning their Christmas surprises for each other and no doubt all will be revealed on the 25th. It has been difficult working out who will be where over the festive period , now that they are all in one form of work or another. However, we shall still visit the pantomime, go greyhound racing and gather for a family meal. And who knows what else?