I was given a Sudoku book for my birthday with one to do each day – so I have to keep up!
There was about a month to catch up with first, so I did the right day and then managed to do extra, so within a week or two I was up to date.
They come in various levels of difficulty – Easy, Moderate, Nasty, Cruel, Deadly and X-Deadly. I seem to be able to do all the levels – except the X-Deadly, which usually leaves me stumped at some stage…….
So – is this a good thing? I don’t know, but it keeps me fairly amused. I guess I might have a problem if I go away or get extra busy…….
My oldest nephew, being in England from Spain for 2 weeks and on the way from Bristol to Chichester, asked if he and his family could come to lunch as I am sort of on the way and a good stopping point. I naturally said yes, as I haven’t seen them for a year and then it was with a lot of others.
I spent the morning cooking, doing a bit of cleaning and a lot of tidying up so I was moderately childproof, so long as there was someone around! They were due to arrive between 12 and 1 and they did! My great-niece (who is 5) came in and said hello and things, although she admitted that she didn’t remember me – but daddy was around so it was not too scary! She now has glasses and a patch on one eye (camouflage on the day they came to me) to correct long-sight, a slight squint and a lazy eye. She is quite tall for her age.
Great-nephew, however , was initially not happy – strange house, strange person, mummy went out and back to the car to get warm socks and daddy took his shoes off. This was on top of having a slight cold. Once we got food on the table he was better, but it took a while for the vegetables to cook as I hadn’t wanted to put them on until I saw them.
The children played between courses – great-niece makes a very good and patient horse!
When we found second course was fruit we weren’t hungry – until we found there was cake as well! The fruit has to be eaten first before we have the cake though and we did quite enjoy that too, really. (Kiwis and mandarins.)
After lunch we did some drawing and colouring and my great-nephew found that he could play with me after all. He understands Spanish and that is what he speaks, but he understands what he wants to of English! My great-niece is fluent in both languages with only occasionally having to ask for a word when she only knows it in one language. Very impressive!
They left sometime between 2.30 and 3 and I then washed up and put the house back to normal i.e. got all my junk out again!
So did I enjoy seeing them? Yes, it was lovely – and to catch up with the children and with some of the adults news, too.
As I still have shingles and my 17 year old nephew has not had chicken-pox, it was thought better not to spend Christmas with my brother’s family. Chicken-pox when you are older and working hard for A-levels is no fun! So I stayed at home. This has several advantages, notably that I get to go to my own church at Christmas. They also seem to be having fun with the trains – doing “improvements” to the lines – including in London, which I would have to pass through, so I avoid what is usually a bit of a problem journey at Christmas anyway.
I started by bringing in the Christmas tree – probably a bit early, at the beginning of December. It is last year’s tree which was in a pot and has grown on, as it was kept in the garden (and watered in dry weather). It is perhaps a little too large for the number of decorations that I have, so might not do another year. I decorated it over newspaper, which I then removed – but put back a couple of days later when I discovered the tree was drooping sticky stuff onto the carpet!
For food, I thought about what I liked about Christmas meals and decided that one thing I enjoyed was “pigs-in-blankets”, so I bought a pack of 12! On the 23rd I just had some of them with potatoes and vegetables. Then on Christmas Eve I cooked a chicken and had that with roast potatoes (another favourite) and veg, so that on Christmas day I had cold chicken, pigs-in-blankets, roast potatoes and parsnips and baby corn and mangetout. I followed that with raspberries (frozen from the summer – and I remembered to defrost them!) with ice cream. All very enjoyable.
Christmas Eve was the Nativity service at our church – definitely one of the highlights of the year, with a real donkey and a real baby!
It was, of course, noisy and chaotic – but that adds to the fun.
The main characters are played by adults (except Jesus, who was female and just over 2 weeks old!) and the children are encouraged to come dressed as a character and come and join in at the appropriate times. The worship leader had acquired a beard and was dressed as a shepherd and the keyboard player was an angel in white jeans and t-shirt with wings and a halo.
Even the rector had a robe (angel?) and a halo. The birth of Jesus was explained, with breaks for carols. Jasmine the donkey behaved very well and was led down the aisle, joining Mary and Joseph and stopping to be petted! (One could have a photo taken with her at the end of the service.) The big sister of Jesus was an angel – and sat with Mary and Joseph – pulling off Joseph’s headdress near the end as she got a bit bored.
The Christmas day service was equally noisy and chaotic and very full – extra chairs had to be added. There were the usual carols and a reading and short talks and a video. We also had party poppers which we pulled at the end after singing “Happy birthday” to Jesus. It was then home for lunch and to open presents.
On Boxing day, I had booked a table at the local Harvester – The Old Castle, opposite Old Sarum. I picked up a friend and made her go for a walk in Victoria Park first before we went on for our meal. We had a very pleasant lunch – steak for her and gammon for me followed by ice cream sundaes – before returning home.
The following day, 27th, the same friend and I were invited to another friend’s for a meal. We exchanged presents and then had an excellent meal with pork and dauphinoise potatoes and beans and carrots followed by chocolate log.
On the 29th another friend invited me for what I thought was a cup of tea, but turned out to be afternoon tea, with egg sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches (both with the crusts removed!) and a cream filled Victoria sponge! I had spent the morning finishing the cardigan I was knitting for her as a late Christmas present. She had bought the wool and pattern but got stuck, so I did it for her. She seemed to be pleased with it!
On the 30th, I took down the Christmas tree. I know it was not twelfth night but there seemed to be insects and things coming from it and I was tired of chasing the wildlife. I will leave the cards up until January 6th (or is it the 5th?) though.
So was it a good Christmas? Yes, but now I need a rest and probably to go on a diet!
This year we stayed at the Greetham Valley Golf Club which, as well as 2 and a half golf courses, is a hotel and conference centre in Rutland. I decided it was too far for me to drive, so went by train and was very kindly picked up at Peterborough by a couple who were going.
When we arrived we went to our rooms to unpack etc. The rooms were quite large and had a view over the lake and golf courses.
After a rest, I went down to the bar to join those who were there and have a pot of tea and catch up on the news. Others gradually joined us as they arrived, although some people didn’t arrive until quite late in the evening.
I got quite tired, so eventually went to order a meal from the bar as I needed to go and rest. The others then ordered from one of the staff who came to where we were sitting. They also set out a long table where we could eat and the others came to join me as their meals arrived.
I stayed for a while and then retired to rest and sleep.
After breakfast on Saturday morning most of us gathered near reception and organised ourselves to take cars to Stamford for a “Blue badge” guided walk. There were some problems with parking tickets at the car park – first in finding appropriate change between us and then because the ticket machines were playing up. We found our way to the Arts centre to meet up with our guide.
Apparently quite a lot of the town was built in Georgian times.
Not all of the buildings are from that era, of course.
The “great north road” runs through the town – what was the major route from London to the north (where does “the north” start?).
We then went down and walked a short way along the River Welland and the flooding was discussed.
We went passed what was one of the earliest public bath houses – apparently the water was changed once a week! I don’t think people really believed in baths in those days.
Near the bath house were three arches – all that is left of the original castle/fort in the town.
As Stamford was a wool town, there were lots of rich wool merchants at one time, so they built lots of alms houses, many of which remain. We were shown one quite attractive one where there was room for about 12 men (I think) and 2 women – to look after the men! As part of living there they had to go to the chapel to pray for the soul of the benefactor 5 (I think) times a day.
The guide was good and had quite a lot of interesting information, but she was rather quiet so I didn’t catch all she said, especially when there were other people or traffic around. I thought Stamford was a very pleasant town with character and I can see why one of our group is buying a house there. Wouldn’t much like to drive through some of the streets though.
After the tour, most (but not all) people went on to Burghley House where we started by having some lunch in the Orangery. I think we took up 3 tables with extra chairs on some. Some people then did a tour of the house, others went back to Stamford and I had a bit of a rest! Three of the others then joined me for a pot of tea back in the Orangery, before we went back to the hotel where there was time to rest before getting ready for the evening meal.
We met in the bar ready for the 7.30 meal and were shown to our own room. Instead of the usual long table we had 3 smaller ones, which for some reason meant that we had less interaction with everyone (and were perhaps quieter?). Maybe we should have swapped tables after each course?
I left a bit early (again!) so as to have a rest and sleep – not very successful.
On Sunday morning we saw most people at breakfast and some went off to do various things, whereas I got a lift to Peterborough station and the trains home. Many thanks, as always, to this year’s organisers, who did an excellent job.
Question of the year: what was the most fun thing have you done this year? I think that everyone I asked (and I am afraid I didn’t manage to get round to asking everyone) was able to tell me about something they had enjoyed doing during the year. Many of the things I was told led to some interesting stories – which was at least part of the purpose of asking the question.
I wasn’t sure that all of them were “fun” though. Doesn’t fun include laughter, at the least, and possibly a bit of risk or silliness or exhilaration or excitement as well? I was starting to think that we have forgotten how to have fun and can only watch it in children or grandchildren, but then I changed my mind and was sure that some of us do still know how to have fun (as well as enjoyment).
So which of these were really “fun” and which just enjoyable? Some of the suggestions were: watching tennis – in Birmingham; the French open; going to Greenwich for the day; taking the grandchildren crabbing for the first time and seeing even the 19 year old get excited; going to the Boomtown festival; walking behind a waterfall in the Brecon Beacons and getting soaked (with a daughter); going on a wine tasting trip to France and bringing back the results (fun for months to come?); going to Royal Ascot; white water rafting; a walking holiday – not especially for the walks but for the (fun) company.
Thanks for the other suggestions, too and I hope we all have a fun year. Different question next year – but who is organising the event?
As I can’t do much while I have still got shingles (I get too tired) and I have a friend who also is not too well and can’t do much, we have been having a few pleasant hours together trying to enjoy the (last of?) the warm weather. We get in my car and I drive to one of the local(ish) pubs and have a drink sitting out in their gardens. We have mostly been to the Victoria and Albert in Netherhampton, but have also been to the Fox and Goose at Coombe Bissett.
Mostly my friend has iced water and a lager or two and I have coffee (if we go soon after lunch) or a lime and lemonade. I have even been known to have something to eat if we go in the early part of lunch time and I haven’t yet eaten.
The whole idea is to sit in the garden so we can enjoy a peaceful time and make the most of any fine weather while it is still warm enough to do so. We have a pleasant, gentle chat – not saying anything of great note but just enjoying each other’s company. Well, I enjoy hers and hope she enjoys mine!
So is this a good thing to do? At the moment it feels like it, as it is about all I can manage. I can enjoy it without ending up exhausted.
This started with a pain on my right side on a Monday afternoon/evening which I assumed would go away overnight – as many things do. It didn’t. So I gave it another night then phoned the doctors on the Wednesday and they phoned back. After discussing it they said come in at about 3.30, which I did. A good examination later, there was no firm conclusion, but a possibility of gall stones, so I was to be sent for a scan.
On Thursday a rash/spots appeared, so I phoned the doctor again and after they phoned back I was again called in and shingles were confirmed (and the scan cancelled). I was prescribed some anti-viral tables to take for a week and told to continue with the paracetamol for the pain. Everyone I mentioned it to said I should also take things easy as that should speed up recovery – I hope.
Initially there were shooting pains along the nerves, but that subsided into stabbing pain where the spots were – waist at the front and where the bra strap goes at the back, but only on my right side. This changed into more like a soreness of the skin, most of the time. The skin is also very sensitive and clothing rubs, which is a bit of a pain!
After nearly 4 weeks, it still hurts – but most of the time it is just sore with a few stabbing pains. I also feel really washed out and get tired very quickly. How can I sleep for over an hour in the afternoon and still sleep at night? I am also getting bored, fairly fed up and just want to get better! I have been doing as I was told and taking things easy, too. And I was just starting to get up my fitness at the gym and that has all gone – it will be like starting again. I keep thinking that the spots are fading, but I fear that is wishful thinking…… It is now 4 weeks and I am fed up……
So? Definitely not recommended. I would avoid it at all costs! Not that you can catch it – it just can appear if one has had chickenpox in the past.
One of my newer friends had a 50th birthday and invited me to join her and others for a meal in town to help her celebrate. She had booked a table at Wildwood and we met there at about 7.30.
We were introduced to those we didn’t know, had drinks and……
……and we selected our food from the menu, while……
I think we all chose something different. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals…….
Most people then has desserts.
Even though I only had sorbet for dessert I still was very full!
So was it a good evening? It was very pleasant and I hope the birthday girl enjoyed it. I probably ate too much.
Having failed to get to my great-niece’s birthday – so I still had the present – and as my niece has been talking about bringing her children to Old Sarum for over a year, we eventually planned that. The aim was to have a picnic there, with both of us providing different food. She sent me a text when she left (a bit later than planned) with an eta and surprisingly we arrived within 2 minutes of each other.
It seemed that I had told my niece that it is always windy on Old Sarum (it is!) so she brought 3 kites that she has had for some time and which hadn’t been used. So we found a large grassy area and put the kites together and then (attempted) to fly them.
Great-nephew was quite good, and improved; great-niece had more difficulty as she is smaller and started with the more difficult kite, but she did get the hang of it fairly soon and also improved with practice.
Once we were all tired out and starting to get hungry, we put the kites back in the car and fetched out the picnic. We went to a different part of the hill to eat it. Too busy eating to take photos……
We then went back to flying kites, but on the way the children were playing at being dogs (interesting as they, especially great-niece, are nervous around them). I think it was because there are so many dogs there – a very popular dog walking area. They were also…..
Boys always seem to show friendship by fighting and the boy is the oldest…..
The kites were flying very well by this time and the…..
I had a chance to fly the…..
The third kite was the small yellow, blue and red one in the corner above, but it didn’t seem to want to go very high and tended to spin and dance in circles and then go down.
When it was time to leave I passed the birthday present to my niece so it could be opened at home – LEGO on Old Sarum would not have been a good move! The present was apparently a success.
I had to be sent photos of the first things that had been built!
So was it a success? I think so! I enjoyed the kite flying – never having done it successfully before and the present seems to have gone down well, too.
This was the holiday I booked when ‘hf booking’ said that none of the ones I wanted were available! They didn’t tell me then, or in any of the information that was sent, that that the hotel – Moorlands – had been sold and hf would be using it but with different management and ideas about food.
I arrived on the Monday and we did get the cream tea promised, although rather later than planned. This enabled us to meet the leaders and the other people who arrived on Monday. I didn’t do the walk up to Haytor, though, as I have done it several times before. The meal in the evening was OK, but there weren’t enough vegetables and it was a bit “fancy”. That was true of all the evening meals during the week.
The next day we had to be ready for the coach at 9.15 which took those of us on the easier walk to the village of Easton from where we walked through….
……. set up in Tudor times. We then passed…..
……and through woods and down into the Teign Gorge. We crossed the river….
……. where we played “Pooh sticks” – before continuing beside the river in woodland. The day being sunny and hot this was a lovely walk with……
……and sound of the river.
…….and stopped at the pub there for long, cool drinks – well, that is what I had anyway. From there we climbed up an initially steep path……
……and stopped at…..
…..to have a look at…..
…..and then continued on to…..
This was built in the 1930s, I think, but I can’t say I was impressed as it is under repair and had scaffolding round it. We had lunch there and more drinks – but I didn’t pay to go in. This seems to have been a sensible move as those with National Trust cards said there wasn’t much to see as so much of it was under repair.
After lunch our route took us back down to the Teign Gorge, along this and then…..
……and eventually to…..
……..which had some interesting buildings, including…..
We had drinks in a pub there before the coach picked us up and took us back to Moorlands.
In the evening we did some origami – starting with making a jumping frog from a train ticket. The idea then was to try to get it to jump into a glass or cup!
We were then given a sheet of newspaper and were shown how to make it first into a GI cap, the adapt it into a printer’s hat, change this into a mortar board and finally into a bishop’s mitre.
While I could probably make another frog, I doubt if I could do the hats.
The following day the easier walk was dropped at Wembury, where we had a quick look at the church before going onto the coastal path. Near the star we passed this field….
…..which didn’t seem to have any agricultural purpose. Maybe it was conserving something? The path continued by the coast (!) and after passing…..
…there was very little view, except of the hedges with a few gaps where we could see…..
…and eventually a view…..
……not the nicest of views. We did see one or two warships going into or out of Plymouth and passed a few places with coastal “cottages” and cafes and such like, but it wasn’t a terribly interesting walk.
When we reached Plymouth sound we just missed the ferry across, so had a drink in the hotel there and caught…..
We then had time to admire the steps where the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from, have an ice-cream and other such things until the coach collected us.
In the evening it was the hf quiz. The team I was in came 2nd out of 3, so respectable!
On the following day the coach dropped the easier group near Dartmeet, although we didn’t actually go and look at it. We followed the East Dart river passed…..
…….which was lovely. There were…..
….near part of it. After a while we followed a smaller stream which had a…..
……and headed up onto the moor. The last part was through bracken and was a bit of….
……up to Yar Tor, where we had….
We continued on passed a…..
…..(not quite up to Stonehenge!) and this…..
We continued across the moor, doing some road walking, and came to….
…..which was the remains of a deserted medieval settlement. The…..
…was clearly seen and there was a board and map to help us to interpret it. Some people suggested that after it was excavated the stones had been moved to….
…..clearer. I suppose they might have been.
From here we continued across the moor and eventually down to….
There was time for a drink at the pub – where they had ducks and hens (some all yellow and fluffy with fluffy legs) wandering round the garden, where we were sitting.
The coach picked us up and it was only a short drive back to the hotel, for dinner and to pack ready to leave the next day.
So was it a good holiday? Yes; the weather was good and on the very hot day we were mostly in shade and stopped at 2 pubs and a cafe. The walks were pleasant and parts of two of them, beside the rivers, were lovely. The hotel lunches were not up to standard, but were just about OK, so we didn’t starve! The company was also good, but I suspect that was partly because there were not too many people, so everyone mixed in.
From the Tuesday until Thursday I was (supposed to be) on the walking holiday from the same location – Abingworth Hall in Sussex.
The walk on Tuesday took us first to the viewpoint at the Devil’s Dyke…….
……where we enjoyed the (slightly misty) views.
Those of us on the easier walk then got back on the coach, which took us to the “Jack and Jill Inn” in Clayton village. Here we first admired the railway tunnel where there was apparently a train accident in the 19th Century.
I am not sure that I would fancy a house above the line like that, but apparently someone does!
We then went to look at……
….because it had wall paintings on three walls inside. These were rather unusual as they were painted in a style with men wearing a fez, which we could just about make out in some of the pictures. They were not in very good condition, but it was possible to make out some details.
From the church we walked up to the Jack and Jill windmills (Jill is white and in good condition, Jack is black and has no top) where we had elevenses.
The walk continued…..
……which we left after passing Ditchling Beacon. We stopped for lunch on a bank beside the downwards path which had……
………and was full of flowers, including orchids.
The walk continued down to the roads and……
…..into Ditchling, where there was time for a pot of tea and a toasted tea cake before we got the coach back to Abingworth Hall.
On Wednesday’s walk the easier group were dropped at the wrong place and had a fairly long road walk to reach the place where we headed into some woods. We were fortunate enough to see a fallow deer run off as we went along the path. We then found the route along a field edge, with difficulty and followed a not very clear path through very long, wet grass. This was quite hard for some people, especially as part of it was down a quite steep hill. We did eventually reach the village of Singleton, which was quite attractive.
We had drinks in a cafe and then had lunch by the church.
As we were supposed to be visiting some gardens at the end and had been very slow through the previous part of the walk, our leader suggested a “short cut”, which turned out to be mostly road walking and I don’t think was much shorter. It led us up to a point where we had views over the Goodwood Estate.
From there we walked down to the Lavant valley and followed the Lavant stream for a bit.
We then headed for the West Dean gardens, which turned out to be much further than described and involved more road walking. Having got there we then had to pay if we wanted to go in – and that was quite expensive for about an hour, even with the reduced rates organised by our leader.
We were also not happy to find the middle group had got there first, especially the people who had chosen the easier walk so they would have more time in the gardens! I went to have a look round the walled garden…..
……and the Victorian glass houses, which were quite pleasant.
Being tired and also longing for a cup of tea I made for the cafe and sat down and had a pot of tea. I decided there was just time to have a look at the sunken garden and pergola, if I hurried. On reaching the sunken garden the first thing I heard and then saw was…..
……singing it’s heart out. The sunken garden was also attractive…..
…….as was the pergola.
I walked through the pergola……
……which had a good variety of climbing plants on the pillars. I think the gardens would have been enjoyable if we had half a day there to explore them. It was then time to go and get the coach, which took longer than expected, as I got a bit lost. I need not have worried – we had to wait 20 minutes before it arrived.
In the evening it was the hf quiz, and though our group didn’t win we weren’t last either.
The next day was the Seven Sisters walk, which I have done before. The Seven Sisters bit is quite nice, but the part at the end wasn’t and as the weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunder later, I opted out and decided to go to the Amberley Museum instead.
The museum contains buildings rescued from the local area and is really about the local industry and work. There are apparently some craftsmen there each day, but the ones who were there were packing up by the time I found them, except the printers, who I found near the start. A volunteer there explained the old ways of printing newspapers and showed the machines used.
There were various buildings, including lime kilns with explanations of their working, one about electricity including a fascinating display of electrical appliances through the decades, one on road building, one on communication and several others.
Other exhibits included an…..
…..and a bus garage with old buses some of which gave rides.
There was also a village garage and cycle shop with petrol pump and old cars inside, a cafe moved from elsewhere (but only used when the museum was busy), a fire station, a wheelwrights’ yard and other fascinating places.
I took a ride on the narrow gauge railway.
One gets issued with a real ticket…….
…….although it is actually free (but there was a box for donations). This was similar for the bus ride which I took…..
It was an interesting place to go and there was a lot to see and do. An added advantage was that there were very few children there, except for one school party, so I got a chance to press all the buttons and try the telephones etc. myself, instead of watching children play! I left about 3.30 or thereabouts, when it started to rain quite heavily.
The walkers had only got wet at the end, but there had been problems as the cafe and information centre both shut before their coach came.
So did I enjoy this part of the holiday? The first walk was quite good, but the second was terrible (except for seeing the deer and the wren) and the museum was fascinating. That makes it a bit of a mixed bag!