Well, Spring is here or so they say, but we've had snow, hail, rain and wind this last week. Temperatures have dropped and we've had to wrap up warm to step outside. This hasn't stopped us gardening and getting some jobs done, including more planting, cleaning off patios, and refurbishing garden furniture (see photo below). We met up with friends in Ludlow and wandered round the quaint old town, the market and then had lunch in Pizza Express.
10 deg C outside today and feels quite warm. Have just had the last large hedge taken out and a new fence to replace it, so went out to local garden centre for some plants, which we planted today. Still need a few tonnes of topsoil before we can plant the remainder of a new border. At least with trellis on top of the new fence, I can now see down the valley.
Since Christmas, we haven't done much. The weather has not been so good, dark miserable days, wet and windy, but I suppose we should be fortunate not to have had snow to keep us in, and just a flurry here and there. We've been to the cinema to see "Lion", a film I thoroughly recommend. If you're interested in where you come from (as I do my family tree this appealed to me), this film is a true story and follows the life of an Indian child parted from his family by thousands of miles across India, adopted by a family in Tasmania, and only when he's about 25 he gets the urge to find his birth mother.
A very busy one this year.
We decided to go to Warners, Sinah Warren, Hayling Island for four nights over the Christmas period. There was something to do (if you wanted it) all day every day, including archery, bowls, swimming (indoor), bingo, dancing, bell-ringing, carol-singing along with nightly entertainment including tributes to "The Rat Pack" and "Tom Jones". Food and service were excellent (unfortunately this means a strict diet for the New Year) and being Christmas, we had visits by Mary and Joseph with two donkeys and Santa Clause in a veteran car, along with artifical snow. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience although must admit we were probably the youngest couple there and had to dodge zimmer frames and mobility scooters wherever we went.
On our departure, we travelled along the coast to Brighton to stay with our son and his wife, to celebrate their summer wedding with an evening of disco music, and meeting up with their friends and newly-acquired family members.
It was lovely to come home after such a busy week and sleep in our own bed, but entertaining hasn't finished, with family joining us for New Year.
Since we have put the clocks back an hour at the end of October, it brings shorter and colder days, so thought it would be a nice break to go away for hubby's birthday. We chose the Majestic Hotel, Bournemouth, having been there before for a Shearings weekend. Unfortunately we both went down with a chest infection, cough, runny nose etc, and really should have stayed at home. It didn't stop us exploring the area, visiting Muddiford, Poole and Bournemouth itself where there was a Christmas market.
Not a great deal done this month, except pottering around the garden to keep it tidy; Grandson's 7th birthday "do", and a trip to Cribbs Causeway to finish off buying Christmas presents and to the Vue cinema to see "Bridget Jones' Baby" (a good film), and locally to see "Jack Reacher" (also a good film as are the books of Lee Child).
We arranged to visit our friends of 50 years in Sweden for five days, and took the National Express coach from Chepstow to London Gatwick (a four-hour journey). Once at Gatwick, we had given ourselves plenty of time to have a good meal before flying out at 7.30 in the evening (a less than two hour flight). Once we had had a meal, we sat watching the Departures Board to find out what Gate we had to walk to; only to find our flight was delayed, and as the evening wore on, more and more delayed till we didn't leave Gatwick till 12.45am Saturday morning. We were the last group of people in the airport and the last flight out. So, keeping in touch with our friends every half hour or so, as the Board changed its updating on information (or lack of it), they eventually met us at Goteborg Airport at 2.45am. An hour's drive to their house, and a whisky (or two) before bed.
Later Saturday we had a family party to go to, their eldest grandchild had reached 18, and it was so nice to see everyone again. Sunday we rested; Monday we visited a local garden; Tuesday we went into Goteborg by train to meet up with more "old" friends for a restaurant meal to celebrate our anniversary.
Up early (4.30am) on Wednesday to travel to the airport for a return flight which fortunately was on time, and coach home via Chepstow.
Whenever we see our friends we take them whisky, tea, cheese, as Sweden is a very expensive country. What do we bring back? Aquavit, Vodka, Swedish cheese, and pickled herring.
We've just had a fantastic weekend in London, somewhere we haven't been for at least 25 years. Tony follows Mike Masse and Jeff Hall on the Net, guitarists who "cover" many well-known songs we can all sing to. They were invited over to perform at a wedding so decided to put on a one-night show at the Venue in Great Portland Street, London. We got our tickets early on, booked our accommodation and planned our weekend around it. The show was very very good, Mike and Jeff singing/playing for three hours, after joining us for a meal at our favourite Pizza Express right next to the Venue. Needless to say, it was well past our usual bedtime when we got back to our hotel.
The next day we decided we would use our bus passes and take the bus immediately outside our hotel to the centre of the city. We wandered Oxford Street, Regent Street, and theatre-land, and found a fantastic French patisserie where we had to try their wonderful cakes, along with hot chocolate. We had tickets to see "Sunny Afternoon" (the story of the Kinks) produced by Ray Davis and once at the theatre were invited to upgrade to a box with free drinks and nibbles. It would have been unkind to refuse, don't you think. The show was very very good, and only then did we realise the number of songs they had created in the 60s, and the story behind their success. After the show, we got caught in a real downpour before taking the bus back to our hotel on the North Circular, preceded by a Chinese buffet.
Our next day we took the bus to the Imperial War Museum on the south bank and wandered their WW1 exhibition before having our lunch at a local Wetherspoons. A short rest before going out to North Finchley for tea (again at another Wetherspoons).
Monday saw us returning home via visiting our close friends in Lincolnshire, taking them out to lunch and then tackling the commuter traffic on M42!
I can honestly say although we enjoyed our weekend away, we really looked forward to getting back to the peace and quiet of the Forest.
(Photos can be seen on the Photo Gallery).
Another trip to the cinema, this time at Cribbs Causeway, to see "Dad's Army". Although I never cared for the television series years ago, nor its repeats, but thoroughly enjoyed the film. Ian Lavender, from the original series, made an appearance as an Army Officer, and there were some good laughs throughout.
Having suffered with my spine since Christmas, I decided to go to a local chiropractor and can honestly say I've not felt better for months. Just keeping my fingers crossed now!
Have been out with the "girls" for three lunches so far this year.
Waiting for the weather to improve to get to do some gardening, although we had a surprise snow blizzard earlier this week, fortunately it didn't settle.
A quiet start to the year, with my mother again in hospital for a short period of time due to pneumonia. A mild January until the last few days when we have had some very hard frosts and temperatures down into minus 6 C. We managed to get to the local cinema to see "The Revenant" recently, so look out for my write-up on "Books that I've read" as I've bought the paperback to see whether the film followed it.
Approximately a month ago we had the rear hedge taken out (you'll see some photos of before and after on my Photo Gallery). It stood seven feet high and five feet thick with lots of prickly stuff in it, so was too difficult to manage. Now we have a new wooden fence, which looks very smart and gives us some more garden, so we'll probably make a narrow border and put some plants in for the spring. We've also replaced three fence panels opposite the kitchen window as the old ones were rotten and falling apart.
Now we've got "the bug", we decided we'd go and see "Bridge of Spies" at the cinema (Tom Hanks) based on the capture of Gary Powers in the late 50s by the Russians, and his eventual exchange for a Russian spy. We went out early to Cribbs Causeway and had a wander round before having lunch at Pizza Express before going to the Vue Cinema.
We used to go to the cinema a lot, but since we've moved to South Gloucestershire haven't done so, always having found other things take over. However, we broke the ice last week by going to see "The Lady in the Van" at Cinderford. Maggie Smith was the draw, and the main character, although the storyline was based on Alan Bennett's memoirs. A touching and very thought-provoking film of an educated lady who resorts to living in a van on the street in an affluent part of London, moving her van when residents complained, and eventually parking temporarily on Alan Bennett's driveway. This becomes a permanent fixture, lasting for over 15 years, and brings together the residents in the street, who would otherwise have ignored one another.
Over the last four months, my mother has been hospitalised for four periods, the latest currently due to a fall and a stroke, as were the others, which has meant we have had to travel several times to the Midlands. She's surprised everybody though, having thought she wouldn't survive overnight on Tuesday of this week, she's now sitting up, eating, drinking, and what paralysis there was at the outset seems to have disappeared. She's very alert although her vocabulary seems to have been affected.
Since my last blog on the subject, she has been given a place in a care home, which she seemed to have enjoyed, although her times in hospital means she hasn't been there too long.
I know that at any time she could have another stroke, but hoping more time will pass to give her chance to recuperate.
Months ago, the opportunity came about to attend a genealogical conference in Ireland this September. My 3 x gt.grandfather comes from Ballynure, but I knew little of his parents and relatives and hoped to find out more. The Conference was a week of research and/or visiting places of interest, talks and information. Our days were full and hectic, but I spent a couple of days at PRONI (Public Records Office - Northern Ireland) in Belfast, and the remainder of the time visiting places I'd not been before, as well as a whole day in Dublin. (Photos will be added to the Photo Gallery in due course) Meals and entrance fees were included and we could not criticise the quality of the planning for our every need. I was able to find the birth and baptism of my 3 x gt.grandfather's sister, and the possible plots of land some of the names in my family tenanted around Ballynure. I brought home lots of information which still has to be gone through thoroughly.
We've had a very hectic few weeks, spending a lot of time at my sister's due to my mother ending up in hospital. She's in her 90th year, has dementia, and is not mobile. We are just keeping all fingers crossed that she is found a place in residential care, as it appears she is no longer able to live independently.
On the way home, I was able to do some family history research at the Warwick Regimental Museum, which has helped point me to further openings. A never-ending hobby.
We had a lovely freebie trip to Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday with all the "oldies" of our village, which included £10 each for lunch. Saturday was a lovely hot sunny day, and once we arrived at Weston (around 10.30am) we were left to our own devices until 4.15pm, so we walked the promenade, went on the new pier, had fish and chips for lunch, a gelato ice cream and coffees later in the afternoon and were ready to come home by 4.15pm. On our way home we stopped for an hour at Tintern Abbey so were able to partake of coffee and walnut cake, arriving home around 7pm. A really good day, so much so, we slept for 11 hours on Saturday night!
Retired, grandmother who enjoys cardmaking, gardening and genealogy with not enough hours in the day. Married to Tony who enjoys my gardening (!), and is an amateur radio operator with his own website.