Usually, after returning from holiday one of the first tasks is to sort out the many photos I have taken; deleting the rubbish and repeats, saving the rest into a file on a removable drive. From these, I create a lasting memory by producing a video to show the other members of the family. Sometimes this can take several weeks to complete, this one was finished in a day: Azorean Road Trip.
It seems that the Thursday night ‘Saga’ meetings have moved on from chilly gardens to the more pleasant interior venue of the Admiral Nelson. On returning from the Azores I met the guys to sink a few refreshments and to continue putting the world to rights. With Covid infections still rife in the town, I was mildly surprised to find the pub well used with no one wearing a mask when moving around. Very different from the bars in Ponta Delgada.
Whilst I was away with Jamie, Sue had continued her participation in a plethora of U3A activities and during one of the rambles she had become concerned that unlike many of its other members, we hadn’t been called for our annual Flu jab. Soon afterwards, on return from yet another hike through the Leicestershire countryside she announced that she was so annoyed the Surgery hadn’t been in contact she had booked us both into one of the town pharmacies for a vaccination. Ironically, a few hours later she received a text from the Surgery inviting her to be jabbed next week. I received my text the following day. We were jabbed on Friday afternoon by the pharmacist. That evening we watched a film at Harborough Theatre, it was a ‘gentle’ story of an elderly couple meeting and finding romance whilst walking their dogs. What’s not to like about that?
During the following week back I pressed the red grapes which had been fermenting on the must for a fortnight (Sue had been stirring the barrels daily) and racked the juice into demijohns. I also made time to pick the white grapes and pressed those before also racking into demijohns, I was particularly pleased with the high sugar c0ntent and decided to blend the batch with peach juice. This year’s crop should make around 50 litres of wine, not as high as some in the past, but certainly acceptable after last years frosty disaster.
Sadly, when Sue returned from a Sunday morning car boot she reported that one of our five badgers had been run-over and was laying at the side of the road just a little way from the house. It looked like one of the parents, probably the male. Their sett is next to the bridge and across the road, he was probably on his way to, or back from feeding on the titbits, we leave out each night for the little family. Our heart goes out to these beautiful creatures. As the town expands, this little oasis of nature we are fortunate to live in is rapidly becoming a dangerous place to live for our badgers, muntjac, fox and little water rat who come each day to feed.
As the days begin to turn into winter, Sue and I took Lucas and Ellis on the bus to Leicester. The boys were on half term, so to help out Charlotte and Suraj we thought the boys would appreciate a visit to the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery on New Walk. We anticipated they would enjoy the dinosaur collection and Sue was particularly interested to see the Egyptian section and the Attenborough Picasso ceramics collection. We caught the 10.18 am bus from Harborough and I was again surprised to find that it seems that wearing masks on the bus is now down to personal choice, with most people not bothering. By 11 am we were perusing the museum exhibits along with a noisy class of primary school children (Leicestershire schools are not yet on half-term). We spent just over an hour examining the displays before heading into town for a spot of lunch at a convenient MacDonalds.
Charlotte had provided us with three, free tickets for the indoor Treetop Adventure Golf in Highcross and that is where we spent much of the afternoon. Sue and I have been there once before, but that was before the pandemic struck and it was much busier. We could take our time on each hole, with no pressure from an impatient queue of people behind, and that helped Lucas’s game as with several ‘holes-in-one’ he won the game.
Before returning to Harborough we deviated by way of the outdoor market to buy some fruit. Sue purchased oranges and Sharon fruit while I was intrigued by and bought a single custard apple (does it taste of custard?). Yes, they do and are very tasty, but at £1 a fruit the Yorkshire in me has vetoed any future purchases!
On the 13th of Oct, I treated the male members of the clan to a magnificent pie. Unfortunately, for Lee, it was too far to travel, but Suraj, Jamie, Lucas and Ellis joined me at the Bull’s Head in Clipston for their very popular Wednesday Pie Night. I had heard favourable reviews from friends, though was not expecting to be greeted with such an enormous pie which easily defeated my usually voluminous digestive system. Foolishly, in false bravado, I followed the lead of the youngest of our troupe by ordering dessert. Where does Ellis put it all? He must surely have a worm!
The following day I caught the bus into Leicester to the Royal’s Eye Clinic. I had become concerned about the vision in my left eye and thought it wise that I got it checked out. A scan revealed that I would be needing another injection of Lucentis to stabilise the retina. I now wait for an appointment.
Later that evening two dogs and two rabbits arrived. Their owners, Jamie, Ruth and Joey flew out to St. Lucia from Gatwick on the Friday, Sue and I are looking after their animals while they are away for the week. Maddy and Wilma will be taking up residence in the recently emptied greenhouse, while Rocky and Nala will be keeping us company in the house. Unfortunately, as Joey isn’t vaccinated, Covid restrictions mean they won’t be able to roam freely around this beautiful Caribbean island and will be restricted to the grounds of the resort. However, they will be able to see some of the islands if they choose to join an organised tour.
Poor Alice is not well again, this time she has a viral infection which the doctor described as hand, foot and mouth, which is exactly where it has manifested itself.
On a day when thunderstorms rolled across the Midlands, Sarah, Alice and Mia came to visit the grandparents. Luckily, they arrived mid-morning after morning storms and left before the late afternoon downpours appeared, continuing their journey with a brief visit to see Charlotte. In St. Lucia, the weather couldn’t have been more different as Jamie and the clan spent the day mostly underwater.
After a rather indifferent summer, it was time to preserve what little sunshine we had stored away in our garden produce in readiness for those dark and miserable days of a British winter. Over the last few weeks, the grapes had been picked, pressed, fermented and were now on their second racking, the red having been blended with apple and the white with peach to add a little interest and hide any faults (if any) in my wine-making. Onions and potatoes have all been bagged up and the shallots have been pickled for winter salads. The Cape Gooseberries have proved to be a ‘big hit’ and have produced in abundance and are fabulously delicious, they will continue to produce delight for another month yet (I hope). We have been picking leeks for quite a while and they will continue to provide greenery on the plate and soup in the bowl for the rest of the winter. My two pumpkin plants produced 11 fruits of some enormity. So far, one has been ‘souped’ and a couple despatched to Rothwell to be made into lanterns. I will no doubt sell the rest at the end of the driveway.
On the evening of the 22nd Oct. Philippa and Paul arrived, they had spent the day visiting Bosworth Battlefield and Richard III’s grave in Leicester Cathedral. They are staying with us to attend Alice’s christening.
The following morning Jamie and the clan returned from their holiday to St. Lucia and collected the dogs. They had been fortunate by being upgraded to a much better hotel. It seems they had originally been booked into accommodation that was now being used as an isolation base for Covid positive cases. They had booked with TUI and I am surprised that such a large travel company could have made such a glaring error. They came back obviously refreshed and very sun-tanned.
On Saturday (23rd) Pip and Paul amused themselves with a morning walk around the town and a visit to the Harborough museum, collecting geocaches as they went. During the afternoon Sue took them to Foxton Locks and some more geocache finds. That evening we ordered a Chinese takeaway and watched the film ‘Robert the Bruce‘.
Alice’s Christening. We travelled up to Newbold Verdon on Sunday morning for little Alice’s special day. Doreen was to accompany us, but like quite a few of the guests, she wasn’t well and wisely chose not to spread the heavy cold she was suffering from. We arrived half an hour early at the church and while Sue and I waited in the car, Pip and Paul opted to collect a few more geocaches from around the village to add to their already burgeoning collection. Simon (Pip & Paul’s son), arrived shortly before the service after having driven down from Manchester.
A very excited Alice arrived dressed in a very pretty christening dress with mum and dad in tow just before 2 pm, by then most of the guests had taken their seats in the Church of Saint James. The Rev’d Hazel took what turned out to be a very sweet, and chaotic family orientated service with lots of involvement from the children and parents. Afterwards, we had a short drive to the next village to have a buffet tea in the local soccer club. Lee and Sarah had been up very early that morning to provide us with a large table of very substantial and tasty nibbles and snacks. The children had a bouncy castle for their amusement and of course the adults had the bar for their distraction. It was close to 6 pm before guests began to leave and we too left for home. It was a lovely family get together, with only Suraj being unable to attend as he was called out late to tackle an ongoing Ransome cyber attack on the NHS systems.
Pip and Paul left us the following day to spend a few days in the Peak District before staying for a few more days with Simon in Manchester.