With August rapidly running out (28th), Sue and I thought we would make a rare visit to Jamie in Waltham on the Wolds, but unfortunately, chose a day on which he was attending a supercar rally in Derbyshire. Undeterred, we arranged to take Ruth and Joey out for Sunday lunch.
We arrived a little early and knowing that Ruth had taken Joey to have his hair cut in readiness for the new school term we waited in the garden with the two dogs, Rocky and Nala for them to return. After coffees and a chat, we drove into Melton Mowbray to the oldest pub in the town, the Anne of Cleves. The building was originally built in 1384 as a dwelling for Parsons in Melton Mowbray and now takes its name from the fourth wife of Henry VIII, at the time it was known as the Manor of Lewes, continuing to be linked to the Church until the mid-1500s as a Chantry Priest’s house. In 1539 the house became the property of the crown during Henry’s dissolution of the Monasteries. Thomas Cromwell was gifted the house by the King in recognition of his role in reclaiming church properties and he took up residence here briefly in the spring of 1540 before he met his gruesome end on Tower Hill. The house was gifted to Anne as part of her divorce settlement after a brief visit from Henry.
Being a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday the pub was very busy, but Ruth had reserved us a table and we enjoyed an excellent lunch in very pleasant and historic surroundings, before returning to Waltham for a further natter and drinks.
On the last day of the month, Sue drove down to Devon to stay with her sister Philippa for a few days in Buckfastleigh. Paul was away at a music festival, giving the two sisters a great opportunity to spend time with each other.
On the same day, Mikhail Gorbachev died. He attempted to reform the USSR upon assuming leadership of the Soviet Union in 1985 and oversaw its dissolution in 1991. He sought to modernize the economy and liberalize Russian society through his policies of perestroika and glasnost. He also improved relations with the West and signed arms control agreements with the U.S. for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. Though deeply unpopular in his native country, he was undoubtedly the most humane, least egocentric and sober of any of Russia’s past or present leaders. Not surprisingly, the present and one of the most despicable leaders of that nation refused to attend the funeral.
On the morning of the first day of the month, I took charge of an injured Harry the greyhound. The dog had somehow managed to rip off his Dew Claw and also gash underneath his eye, Charlotte left me with swabs, bandages, antiseptic and strict instructions, before returning home to finish packing. Earlier that day, on his way to work, Jamie had dropped presents off for Charlotte and Suraj as they would be away for their birthdays. They flew to Tenerife to celebrate their significant 40th and 50ths, also taking Lucas and Ellis with them. Somehow on the way to the Canary Islands, Ellis, the budding pilot in the family managed to be invited into the cockpit.
They are staying at an ‘all-inclusive’ hotel, just perfect to allow Charlotte and Suraj to ‘chill out’ after the hectic year they have just had.
The following day, while the Rothwells were relaxing by the pool, sipping their refreshments, I drove to Manton near Rutland Water with Harry and friend Sean. We met John and his daughter’s little fluffy dog Barney in the carpark of the dog-friendly Horse and Jockey, for a 5-mile walk through the pleasant countryside of Rutland. It was raining when we set off on our two-hour ramble, but thankfully it soon relented and raincoats could be consigned to the inside of rucksacks. The walking was easy, but in places, the grass was very tall and wet making for sodden shoes and bedraggled dogs. The halfway point was the very pretty hamlet of Brooke, once the location of a small priory established by Austin Canons in the 12th century, but now just visible as earth mounds next to the church. The return leg was memorable for the apples and blackberries we picked from the hedgerows and an agreement that blackberry and apple pie is THE most delicious fruit pie ever. As usual, we had lunch in the pub, all of us opting for beef and gravy pie, before returning home.
During the evening Harry managed to knock off the scab covering the wound below his eye, it bled quite profusely. After swabbing and cleaning the cut, then after wiping away the blood he allowed me to dress the wound and place a patch over his eye. Expecting him to pull it off, I wagged my finger and warned him to leave it on, and bless him, he did! That evening I had a one-eyed hound following me around the house until I took it off just before bedtime. Satisfyingly, I discovered the wound was clean and had scabbed over again. Who’s a clever dog?
Sue and Philippa managed to keep themselves busy in Devon as the forecast torrential rain failed to materialise, besides enjoying each other’s company they visited stately homes, a food market and summer fayre in the nearby village of Ashburton, even managing to picnic up on Dartmoor.
Sadly, after a lengthy morning walk with Harry, as I was finishing lunch I had a phone call from Jim asking for help. His car was being repaired in the garage and one of his dogs was desperately ill and needed to go to the vet. I picked up poor Shoby and with Bridget drove them to the animal clinic in town. It was obvious that the animal was gravely ill, she couldn’t stand and looked in a pitiable state. The vet’s diagnosis was that there was severe internal bleeding and that an operation was unlikely to achieve any satisfactory result and it would be kinder to put her to sleep. Shoby is my favourite of their two dogs, always wanting cuddles and to play ball whenever I visited, saying goodbye to a friend is very hard, along with Bridget, we stroked Shoby and told her what a ‘good girl’ she is, until the very end. It was desperately sad, but such a privilege to be there with my doggy pal.
On Sunday afternoon, Sue returned home after a long and tortuous drive through heavy holiday traffic. Harry and I had been out for a 4-hour ramble, returning in time for lunch. I had made myself lunch and underestimated how many chips are made out of three large potatoes and was feeling very full after scoffing the lot. Equally, Harry had been served up with a large portion of dog food backed up with one of his chicken claw treats and was also feeling quite lethargic. Not surprisingly, we were both sound asleep in the lounge when Sue made an appearance!
Over the last couple of weeks, I decided to revisit past blogs and edit them appropriately. Until recently, wherever in the world I am the blogs have usually been written late at night (often when Sue has gone to sleep) and the words spew onto the page as they appear in my mind. Through tiredness and or laziness I publish them without any revision, glad to have them over and done with what sometimes feels like a chore. A while ago, out of curiosity, I re-read a past blog that had been perused by someone elsewhere in the world and not only did it bring back cherished and forgotten memories, it didn’t read very well, containing several, spelling and grammatical errors. I have made the decision to undo this negligence and review and edit past blogs whenever I have spare time.