Sunday 29 November 2015

Down to earth with a bump

After what seems like a summer of gallivanting around the world we are back home and have been for a few weeks. So for now there are no more views of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the Acropolis in Athens. Just the country lane up which we live, which looked pretty good a few weeks ago when the photograph, below, was taken. Here in the north west of England we had a bit of an Indian Summer and a mild Autumn after a dismal (proper)Summer. The colours were as good as any in New England and this was little Olde England.

But after the winds and rain of recent weeks the trees are now bare and the lane itself is a sea of mud. Some days we have had a moat at the end of our drive and we have only been able to get out into the lane in a car or wellington boots.

When we returned from the wedding, which was the subject of my last post, it seemed strange not to be getting ready to rush off somewhere, as we had been doing for most of the Summer and I have to admit that inertia set in.  However, after all that time away there was quite a bit of catching up to do, as well as finalising the itinerary for a trip Down Under next February/March, which will give husband a chance to meet up with some of his distant relatives, living in New Zealand. It is going to be an awfully big adventure and like nothing we have ever done before. We have been hoping to make this trip for some time now, but it was not feasible while we were working. Yes, I know that we have been away a lot recently. This is our post retirement gap year, but we are not doing it as 52 successive weeks. We are pacing ourselves, as we have a long list of countries around the world that we would like to visit.

Last week  husband's oldest school friend and his wife came for lunch. Working out a menu was a bit of a challenge as he can not eat nuts and his wife is lactose intolerant. The main course was not a problem but the majority of deserts contain some form of dairy products and I was determined to make use of our harvest of cooking apples. After rummaging through my collection of recipes I eventually found a couple of suitable deserts and we had a good day catching up with them.

You could be forgiven for thinking that life at the moment is pretty rosy, but it has not all been a bed of roses. A few weeks ago my Mini Bluebell was reversed into in the car park of a local shopping centre, denting the driver's door and badly damaging the panel behind it. I was stationary at the time and the other driver admitted liability. Neither of us was injured which was the most important thing. My shopping trip was cut short and I spent the next few days fielding telephone calls to and from my insurance company, the other driver's insurance company and insurance company car body repair shops. I reluctantly decided to allow the bodyshop, of the other driver's insurance company, to get my car repaired because they appeared to be able to do so sooner than my insurance company's bodyshop. It may have been a mistake as the nine working days that it took to do the repair was far longer than I had expected. Okay, I had a courtesy car, but it was awful and I only drove it when I really had to. It was a Vauxhall Corsa, which is not a suitable replacement for a Mini. Apart from the fact that it was black with white go faster strips and looked like a zebra - it drove like a tank. Even with the driver's seat in its' highest position I was not able to see any of the bonnet and neither could I see some of the dashboard. That week and a half without wheels seemed to be a long time. On the tenth working day my six and a half year old Bluebell was returned to me looking sparkly and as good as new. It is great to have her back. If you are wondering why I can not walk - I can, but the nearest bus stop is a mile from where we live and there are no pavements or street lights. Consequently it is essential to have transport.

Then we come to our broadband situation, which has been a sore point in this cottage since the beginning of the year, when we theoretically should have been able to have superfast broadband installed. After two failed attempts to have it installed we had to accept that for us it could not be done. We were too far away from the cabinet serving our location. By chance a few weeks ago husband found out that one of our neighbours had managed to get superfast broadband installed. Work has been done to improve the line out to where we live. So now we also have it and husband is happy!

Monday 9 November 2015

Another knot tied

Another month and another wedding. This time we did not have to travel as far as California, but it was far enough for us to need to spend two nights away. This time the wedding was in the very attractive Cotswold village of Bibury, which is about a three hour drive from where we live.

We could have driven down on the day of the wedding, but the last time that we did that for a wedding we were late and ended up following the bride into the church. Had we been late for this particular wedding we would probably have missed the whole ceremony, as it was a civil service at an hotel. So we drove down the afternoon before the wedding, arriving late afternoon.

After a quick unpack we had a walk around Bibury and made the use of the last of the day's sun to take some photographs. The wedding was at the Swan Hotel, which is where we were staying.

I had previously spent a night there as a teenager, returning to Yorkshire from a family holiday in Devon. Bibury did not seem to have changed much in the intervening years. It is pretty unforgettable with the stream running through the middle of the village.

That evening we enjoyed dinner in the hotel restaurant, followed by a good night's sleep.

Unusually for England the weather was warm and sunny and the hotel decided that wedding would be held outside in their garden, which was lovely and very unexpected. However, the was one problem. Most of the ladies were wearing heels, which kept sinking into the damp grass! The ceremony was very brief and we then had celebratory drinks in the garden before moving inside for the wedding breakfast and party. And another member of the family is no longer young, free and single.