Not much of a summer (so far………)

After checking my calendar I noticed that the last blog was posted on the 8th of June, which just happened to be the Queen’s birthday. I was born the year that she became Queen (1953), however that is the only thing we have in common, I am not much of a royalist though I do acknowledge the benefits to this country of having a head of state who is largely respected by a great deal of the rest of the world. Today, we discovered that the British tax-payer had renovated Prince Harry and Megan’s home to the tune of £2.3M, now that to my mind is just plain wrong, the Queen has in excess of $500M, Prince Charles $100M, Prince Philip $30M and Megan is worth $5M, so I think the citizens of the UK need an explanation as to why the royals are not dipping into their very deep pockets and lending Harry a coin or two if he is financially compromised. Sue and I dipped (as no doubt many others do) into our savings to help out our three children with their first homes, so why can’t the Windsors do likewise? It does their reputation no good and just highlights yet again that those that have wealth and privilege prefer to drink deeply from the community trough provided by and for those that pay UK taxes, rather than rely on their own resources. Sadly, after the tax-payer has already  footed £30M of the £32M for their wedding bill I have no confidence that our Parliamentary representatives will address this unjust and ill-preferential situation as they have proved to have equally long snouts. It’s what the Honour System is all about.

Another unpleasant system this country seems to be presently locked into appears to bear more than a semblance to our political plight, the atmosphere above is determined to recycle the same cold, damp air ad infinitum. Good for lawns, farmers, the Water Companies and my potato plants! Usually, I try to add to the blog each month, preferably on a wet, inside day, but we have had so many of those. Today, it is raining (heavily), Sue was going orienteering in East Carlton Park but that got cancelled and I was taking Harry (the dog) out for a longish walk and lunch at a pub, while Charlotte spent a few hours in a new client’s garden in Great Bowden. Despite the inclemency, Charlotte braved the elements and the decided possibility of drowning, the pub did not get a visit by the dog and yours truly as Harry doesn’t like getting wet and preferred the comfort and dryness of the lounge sofa. Me too.

And now to catch up with the family news:

Sarah returned from Cyprus with a healthy tan and looked quite refreshed, though in the aftermath of the burglary the villa door locks had been changed which the following night resulted in them locking themselves out after another party night on the town. They had to burgle themselves back into the property, using the same method as the professionals of the night before. More locks needed to be replaced! Lee was relieved to see her back home and provided flowers and chocolates on her return, ‘Taken’ is a Liam Neeson film that he and I always think of when Sarah goes off on one of her jaunts!

On the 13th, I undertook my annual waitering duties at a Ladies’ charity lunch in nearby Marston Trussell Hall. The weather was awful, the women dressed accordingly, instead of the usual summer frilly outfits, it was trouser suits and fleeces. We volunteer waiters still had to wear our DJ’s to keep the formal atmosphere. Because of the weather the tables had to be accommodated inside the orangery and adjoined marquee, though those inside the marquee had to be sited strategically away from dripping holes, which made for rather cramped positioning. A jazz band played during the 5 course meal and a huge amount of wine and champagne was consumed to alleviate the inclemency, it made for a very happy bunch of women who were willing to part with a large amount of cash to support the charity. It was nice to meet a few ladies from my past, as well as a few parents I chatted to Branwin who was the secretary at Farndon Fields Primary School and Helen Campbell who taught at the school. On a sad note, I have since discovered that  Helen’s husband died in a hospice that very same day. He had suffered from a heart attack two years ago and had been in a vegetative state, so I guess you could call it a blessing for the family that he has passed away as I knew that they had been finding it very difficult to get on with their lives.

Charlotte and family attended the annual Rothwell Rowell Trinity Fair, it is an event that has been happening in the town for over 800 years. Sue and I have never been, but the history behind it is fascinating. Ellis persuaded Charlotte to have a go on some of the Fair rides and I don’t think she will make the same mistake again. A similar past experience taught Sue and I that when you reach a certain age, being whizzed around in tight circles has a detrimental effect on the contents of your inner workings. She had a difficult night.

Tragically, last month the fox got into to Charlotte’s hen house and killed all but one of her hens, but the lucky one that wasn’t fox food survived because she was laying an egg in the brood box. Some time later, fertilised eggs were acquired and given to the hen to hatch and she proved what a good mother she is.

On the 15th, Charlotte, Jamie and Sarah were due to attend a midnight Ghost Hunt at a stately home near Loughborough but this had to be postponed until the 29th as there weren’t enough brave stalkers to make the hunt viable. It was a shame as on the 16th it is traditional that we travel up to Caergwrle Castle in North Wales to visit the site where we scattered Nan’s ashes as it is her birthday. If the hunt had taken place it may have been an opportunity for Nan to have made an appearance? I wouldn’t put it past her! I and Peter cycled to Marston Trussell and enjoyed an afternoon sampling the brews available in the annual Beer festival.

I recently bought a wildlife camera and have been siting at various points around the garden and seeing what creatures are visiting our little oasis in the middle of Harborough. By far the most productive spot is the scots pine in front of the lounge window from which the bird feeders hang.

The 16th also happened to be Father’s Day. I spent part of it helping Jamie to dig out some holes in his front garden in readiness for some fencing. It soon became obvious that the task required more than the hammer and chisels that we had to break the concrete base of the nearby footpath to create a hole large and deep enough to support the posts. After sourcing a jack-hammer from a friend we retired to a Nepalese restaurant for a meal, the concrete would have to wait for another time.

Jamie and I have booked a few days away in the Ukraine to visit the nuclear accident site in Chernobyl, at the end of July. It should be an interesting trip. Charlotte and Sarah were desperate to join us but it proved too difficult to organise in the time required so perhaps they may visit at a later date after/if Jamie and I return.

Ashton and Jamie seem to be getting about quite a bit, they spent a rainy evening at a roof top cinema in London and a attended a rather smart wedding at the Ettingdon Park Hotel.

Sue continues to be very busy, supplementing her weekly walks, cinema visits, history talks/visits, and adventure activities she has now added Pilates and much to my dismay, Bridge! A game that I associate with a cadre of prickly, grumpy old card players that are short on patience and long on superiority. Or, perhaps that only applies (in my limited experience) to those characters that play the game on  board cruise ships? Eeeeeeek!

On the 22nd Susan, Charlotte, Sarah and I travelled up to seen Nan at Caergwrle Castle. Sarah stayed with us the night before and then drove us all to North Wales when Charlotte arrived, early the following morning. For once the weather was kind and it was a lovely warm day and we broke our journey with a visit to a garden centre, where Charlotte purchased a pot plant to be left on the castle. First, we called in to see Aunty Doreen before climbing the castle for a picnic, she was on her own as her grandson Andrew who lives with her was on holiday in Thailand. She seemed quiet but was looking forward to her next holiday to Croatia. She hasn’t seen or talked to her sister Josie since last Christmas as they have fallen out with each other whilst on a cruise in the Mediterranean (I bet they played Bridge!) It is sad that the sisters don’t talk, but I have to agree with Josie that Doreen is not the easiest person in the world to get on with. My mother had fallen out with her too, many years ago.

Charlotte borrowed a small spade from Doreen with the aim of digging a hole somewhere on the castle to put her plant into as a birthday present for Nan, but in the end, after our picnic on the ruined castle walls under a lovely blue sky and warm sun (hard to remember what that yellow ball was) it was planted into a tub inside the War Memorial garden just over the wall behind Nan’s bench. It was a lovely thought that I am sure Nan would appreciate.

After returning the spade we drove up to Brymbo and spent a pleasant hour with Aunty Josie, David and Lesley. Since I last saw her she has had a pace-maker fitted and is suffering quite a bit from arthritis, despite considerable difficulties she always has a smile and is very easy to talk to. I like my Aunty Josie, a lot.

Next we travelled to Mold. It had been our intention to visit Noel and Gaye who lived just outside the town but as is often the case when we travel to Wales, they are away either on holiday or on parental duties. This time they were baby sitting in Burton on Trent at their daughters’. We had booked a hotel for the night so we checked into the Beaufort Hotel, in New Brighton. Charlotte was recovering from a bout of water infection, she had been in Kettering hospital the night before and been given antibiotics so was feeling quite worn. We left her sleeping in the room while we went into Mold to visit the street market and have a look around the town. It is quite an attractive place and it looks as if there is quite a lot of things to do in and around the town, well worth an extended visit I think.

Later that evening, with a refreshed Charlotte we had our evening meal at The Griffin. The three ladies in the party had a dish called Cambodian Street Food, I stuck to a traditional pie on the assumption that you can never be too sure with foreign food. I have been to Cambodia and the streets are none too clean!

After breakfast we drove to Upton, near Chester and paid a visit to Jan and Ray Bengree, who are Sue’s cousins. We only stayed and hour or so as they are both very theatrical and had a play rehearsal to go to that afternoon. They live just a few hundred metres from Chester Zoo and each time we go we always say we should visit the zoo. We didn’t do it this time either. Perhaps one day. We drove back to Harborough without incident, where Charlotte and Sarah went their separate ways, keen no doubt to see how the menfolk had got on without them for a day.

 

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