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Jul 18 / Administrator

July 2017 – Gerry’s Health Update

Gerry has now had the results of the 100 day scan. That is, the scan done one hundred days after the stem cell transplant.  We were so pleased to hear that the scan was clear and he is now in remission. It has been a long and often hard three years since emergency stomach surgery revealed his lymphoma.

We will now be transferred back to the care of the original haematology team and begin returning to some sort of normality. So far we have clearance to go swimming, to the theatre and also to book a holiday (by ferry) to France. Childhood inoculations and flying come later.  Apart from that we are back walking reasonable distances, and enjoying the relaxed living regime. The only downer is that Gerry has ‘put his back out’ and it is taking time to get better! Talk about frustration but on the other hand we are so grateful for where we are today.

Thank you to all our friends and relatives for their prayers and support and a special thank you from Gerry to Annie who has been my rock, constant companion and nurse for the last three long years. I could not have done it with out her love and unquestioned devotion to meeting my every need. Words cannot express how much I appreciated everything she has done.

Jul 4 / Administrator

July 2017 – Severe Self Indulgence

We have finally taken delivery of our new cars. A major self indulgence but one that should see us through until we decide to go down to one car.


Jul 2 / Administrator

June 2017 – Devon and Northumberland

Mid June arrived and we decided to book a couple of days at the Woodford Bridge Country Club in Milton Damerel. It was one of those amazing deals that could well have been too good to be true. However, it was brilliant at £42.50 a night for an apartment with full kitchen. Furthermore, it was only a few miles from where Annie’s sister Pam lives. It was a great chance to catch up with Pam and Neil who came over for supper in the Club restaurant on our first night. The next day we set off for Morwenstow and a really pleasant walk along part of the coastal path ending up at the Church.


We then headed for Bude and enjoyed a wander around before meandering back your accommodation.  A great value stay.


Towards the end of the month, we had a week free of appointments and Annie’s new car to run in, so we headed for Northumberland via Bridget and David Lindley’s home in Thorner. We had a lovely meal with Bridget, David and family at a very smart Italian Restaurant.

270-20170626.JPGThe next day we headed north to visit Cragside a wonderful house and garden and a must for anyone with an interest in engineering! Built by Lord William Armstrong, it was the first home in the world powered by hydroelectricity and is still full of many technical innovations introduced by Armstrong. The grounds and the beautiful bridge were a joy to walk around.

270-20170626a.JPGFrom there we travelled to Warkworth Castle. With its origins dating back to the 12th century, the castle has had an interesting history. Including resisting a siege by the Scots in 1327 which earned praise and reward from the English King Edward III. The King granted the castle to Henry Percy, 2nd Baron Percy.  The Percy family continued to use the castle until 1987.

Our home for four nights in Northumberland was a mobile home on a large site at Wooler. The caravan represented great value and was an ideal base for the sites we wanted to visit. Our first day out was to Alnwick Castle and Gardens – a must for anyone visiting the area. Alnwick Castle, as was Warkworth, was connected to the Percy Family and since 1309 has been owned by the family, the Earls and later Dukes of Northumberland ever since. The current occupant is Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland. 588-20170626c.JPG


The Castle is large and in good order with so much to see.  Not surprisingly the location has been used for various films and TV series including Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.  The gardens water features were quite something and very impressive when the fountains ‘performed’ on the half hour.

The following day we travelled to Lindisfarne. Holy Island had long been on Gerry’s to do list (Annie having visited with Bridget some years ago). It is quite a place and I suspect I would have got a lot more of the atmosphere and spirituality if there had not been so many tourists!

270-20170626i.JPG270-20170628.JPGWe were disappointed to find that the castle was closed and covered in scaffolding and even the church attached to the Abbey ruins had scaffolding as well. Nevertheless, a very special place.


We headed back to Wooler via various towns but also the castle at Etal. Built by Robert Manners as a defence against Scots raiders in the mid 14th century, it fell to James IV’s invading Scots army in 1513, immediately before their catastrophic defeat at nearby Flodden.  Whilst at Etal we came upon the Heatherslaw Light Railway and happened to see the train arrive and the engine turned around on a manual turntable. 


We actually travelled on the railway from Heatherslaw the next day. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty grim and there was not a lot to see! But it was still great fun. Earlier in the day we visited Kelso and the ruins of the Abbey. Kelso was a nice place and one to go back to when it is not raining so hard!

We returned to Fairford the next day – a long but uneventful drive with no hold ups.


Jun 6 / Administrator

2017 June – North Wales

With 270-20170601.JPG another few days free of commitments we set off for 4 days in North Wales. Our first stop was Welshpool and a trip on The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway. The 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge railway is about 8.5 miles long and runs westwards from the town of Welshpool to the village of Llanfair Caereinion. The return journey was very pleasant with time at Llanfair for coffee and a sandwich.

270-2017060.JPGWe then carried on to Bala and the Royal White Lion Hotel. This was our third stay at the hotel and the first since it was refurbished (not surprisingly the prices had increased).

The weather was not brilliant but we enjoyed a walk to the northern end of Bala Lake before dinner.

The next day we set off early to drive to Porthmadog and then to take the Welsh Highland Railway to Caernarfon. We had done this trip one way last year and decided to travel both ways by train this year.  As with last year, we decided to upgrade to first class; this time it was in a beautiful observation car rather than a Pullman coach. The extra comfort and outstanding view made the extra expense very well worth it even if on one of the journeys the engine was in front of the coach.


We thoroughly enjoyed the views and the engine hauled the ten coaches effortlessly up the many steep gradients.


The following day we visited Bodnant Gardens near Colwyn Bay. We had previously visited last year but slightly earlier when the rhododendrons were in bloom. However, although the rhododendrons were well past their best, the colours were still vibrant and there were many other plants and trees for us to enjoy, even if we had to intermittently use our umbrellas to keep the drizzle off us.


One of270-20170601f.JPG the high spots of the visit was to walk under the 55 metre-long Laburnum Arch. The arch was created in 1882 and 145 years later, the display of golden flowers at the end of May and beginning of June is possibly the most photographed event of Bodnant Garden’s calendar.  Bodnant gardens is certainly a must  for any tourist in the area.


Having 270-20170601d.JPGenjoyed our visit we headed back to the southern end of Bala Lake and the village of Llanuwchllyn where we very much appreciated a cup of tea and piece of cake at the railway station.270-20170601e.JPG The station was previously a main line station (before Beeching) and now serves the Bala Lake Railway that runs along the eastern side of the lake from Llanuwchllyn to Bala.  

We didn’t travel on the railway on this visit but thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere as a train arrived and was prepared for the journey back to Bala.

We also discovered a brilliant use for a disused phone box.

270-20170601i.JPG We left Bala the next morning and headed north east to Cheshire to visit Martin and Louise in their new home.

En route, we visited Beeston Castle. The Castle must have been very large and imposing with a steep climb to the outer walls and then another long climb to the Inner Keep. We didn’t make it that far as time was against us.

When we next head up to visit Martin and Louise we shall make sure that we leave our selves time to visit the castle properly.

We arrived at Martin and Louise’s home in time for a cup of coffee before Louise’s mum, Lynne, also arrived. The five of us then walked to a pub where we enjoyed a lovely and leisurely lunch together.  

We returned to Fairford later in the afternoon arriving in time to enjoy a glass of wine!





May 25 / Administrator

May 2017 – Travels

Gerry’s recovery is going well and we have been able to get away for a couple of days on two occasions this month.

The first visit was to Norfolk, an area neither of us knew. We had a great time using the George Hotel in Swaffham as our base.  National Trust and English Heritage provided us with some stunning destinations.

First there was Oxburgh Hall surrounded by a wide moat.


Then on to Castle Acre Priory.


Our 270-201705d2.JPGnext port of call was the magnificent Felbrigg Hall and Estate.


The walled garden at Felbrigg is large and we spent an enjoyable hour wandering around the beautifully manicured flower and vegetable beds where the labelling of plants was brilliant.


Between the garden and the Hall there was a statue of Mother Nature.


Visitors were encouraged to bring a branch or some foliage found on their walks and place it as part of Mother Nature’s skirt.


The final destination for the day was Blickling Hall.



Our visit to Norfolk would not have been complete without exploring the Heritage Railways. We travelled on both the Mid Norfolk and North Norfolk Lines. The first was on a two car diesel unit and the second was hauled by a very shiny steam engine.


The mid Norfolk line ran from Dereham to Wymondham where we discovered Wymondham Abbey.  270-201705g.JPG

The Abbey is one of the grandest religious buildings in East Anglia and was established in 1107 as part of a monastic foundation. The building suffered as did many during the dissolution of the monasteries but has recently seen some modern building work.

The blend of old and 21st Century architecture is, in our humble view, fantastic and well worth a visit.


We decided to get the kitchen decorated during the month. The first phase was to have the ceiling replastered and new lights fitted. There was going to be a lot of mess so we elected to go away for a couple of nights to Symonds Yat.

En route we stopped at the National Trust gardens at Westbury on Severn.  Westbury Court Garden is the only restored Dutch style water garden in the country and is magnificent and very peaceful.

The view across the lake to the church was interesting because it looked like the spire was covered in plastic (It probably was as they are clearly doing a lot of work on the building).


We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Tintern Abbey and meandered to Monmouth where we walked to the Monnow Bridge. The bridge is the only remaining fortified river bridge in Great Britain with its gate tower standing on the bridge.



Once at Symonds Yat we wandered down to the river and were amazed how quickly the pleasant area around the Old Court Hotel (our base) changed to a tacky amusement arcade and buildings in need of much TLC adjacent to a massive caravan site. We retreated quickly to the hotel gardens!

The following day we visited Raglan Castle which was truly magnificent and would rival Goodrich Castle as a place to take children to for the opportunities to explore and play hide and seek etc.


We followed Raglan Castle with the White Castle, Skenfrith and Grosmont Castles which were just ruins but very pleasant to walk around. The weather then broke and we went from walking in T shirts to driving through water covered roads as the heavens opened. However, by the time we got back to the hotel we had gone through the rain and were able to sit out in the gardens and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner.

We returned to Fairford to find the plasterer had finished his work and, despite his warnings that it would be dusty for some time to come, were amazed how clean everything was. Well done to the plasterer and electrician.


May 24 / Administrator

April 2017 Back Home

After just over five weeks in hospital, Gerry returned home after his stem cell transplant. The stay in hospital had not been without problems.  Annie spent many hours each day sitting with Gerry including two very difficult weeks when she was with him for up to twelve hours a day.

Recovery is now underway with exercises to try and rebuild strength and stamina.

Many thanks to the brilliant and patient staff at the Dove Unit in Great Western Hospital. The care and attention Gerry received was second to none.

Mar 13 / Administrator

March 2017 – Another Impasse

After several delays, Gerry has been admitted to Great Western Hospital for a stem cell transplant. He is likely to be in hospital for a upto five weeks and then on very limited circulation for a while.

The Blog is therefore likely to be dormant for a couple of months.

Feb 25 / Administrator

18th to 25th February – Devon

Having another week without any medical appointments, we decided to head off to Devon. We rented a mobile home at Harford Bridge on the edge of Dartmoor.  It was the third time as we have rented this particular place and so knew exactly what to expect! The weather was lovely for the journey down and we stopped at the National Trust property at Killerton for a walk and a picnic lunch. Sunday morning was also nice weather and we walked along the road to Peter Tavy and back. At just under 2.5 miles it set us up nicely for lunch with Annie’s sister, Pam and husband Neil at Holsworthy.

On 270-20170224a.JPGMonday morning we headed off to do one of our favourite walks, Dr Blackall’s Drive.The weather was just right for walking on the edge of Dartmoor and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves particularly as we met not one other walker. We were also very pleased to accomplish the walk without problem as there are three steep and long inclines. The scenery was lovely and although we have shown pictures from the walk previously on the blog this one epitomises the peacefulness of the walk.

The next morning was windy, misty and damp as we set off to do another of our favourite walks at Brentor.  The Church of St. Michael de Rupe (St. Michael of the Rock) on top of the hill was shrouded in mist when we started but as we descended after visiting the church the cloud cleared and the wind dropped. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the walk.


After a picnic lunch, including hot cup-a-soup, we drove across the moor to Chagford for a short walk down from the town and along the banks of the River Teign. Returning back to the campsite we decided we deserved a meal at the Mary Tavy Inn. Previously a great favourite of ours we were very disappointed with our supper as certain food was not available and what we had, lacked the special wow factor of previous visits. Wednesday saw us drive to Mevagissey for lunch with Dave and Pam Nelmes our Fairford friends who now live in Cornwall. We had a lovely time with them and enjoyed the drive both ways.

On 270-20170224g.JPG Thursday we headed for Lerryn and another familiar walk to St Winnow. We started off by crossing the stepping stones and then walked through Ethy Woods and along the river bank to the church at St Winnow. The return leg took us across pasture land and over the hills. We are both amazed at the fact that the only place on the walk where we encountered mud (up to our ankles) was going through a gate at the top of a hill. After a picnic lunch at Lerryn, we drove to Fowey and walked along the narrow streets until we found a pasty shop!


On Friday we headed back into Cornwall to do a walk in the grounds of Lanhydrock  House.  We had done the walk a couple of times before but later in the year.  However, we were amazed by the flowers, rhododendron’s, camellias and gorse; the colours made us feel that Spring had arrived.


We were back at Harford Bridge by early afternoon so decided to walk to Mary Tavy over the hills and return via Peter Tavy. It was a lovely walk and our feeling that Spring has arrived was reinforced when we looked inside a lambing shed and saw lambs that were only a couple of hours old.


What a joyous end to a great week of walking.

Feb 15 / Administrator

13 February 2017 – Oscar Visits

Jon and Jess270-201702spec.jpg kindly agreed that we could collect Oscar and bring him back to Fairford for the day. We got back to Fairford at 11 am and Oscar immediately wanted to play with various toys – he knew exactly where they were kept! He then asked to play with grandpa’s trains and had a great time controlling two trains at once270-20170213b.JPG. We had to bribe him away with the prospect of lunch.  After lunch we took him to feed the ducks at the Mill Bridge. Following a nap we played some more and then it was time to head back to Bristol.

We were quite tired when we eventually got back to Fairford but had thoroughly enjoyed the day.


Feb 10 / Administrator

5th to 9th of February 2017 – Yorkshire

Following on from recent trips, we travelled to Thorner near Leeds to spend Sunday with our friends David and Bridget Lindley.   The four of us had a lovely curry meal at Rajas in Leeds in the evening where we were joined by Annie’s godson Chris, his wife Lindsey and son Henry. They are all regulars at Rajas and Henry who is two years old has his own curry made specially for him.

270-20170206.JPGThe next day we headed off into the mist to walk around Fountains Abbey. The walk was bracing but very pleasant although the lakes in the grounds were frozen!  From there, we headed to Pately Bridge, Aysgarth Falls and Aysgarth’s lovely church St Andrews. The graveyard extends to about four acres and is supposedly the largest in England. The church itself preserves a number of fittings including a large rood screen and the abbot’s stall that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the dissolution of the Monastries.

We 270-20170207.JPGbooked into our favourite Bed and Breakfast (Pear Tree House) in Pickering and enjoyed our second curry meal of the trip at Spice4U (as good as ever). Tuesday was the day for the long awaited lunch at The Magpie in Whitby. Normally we would travel to Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway but it was out of season. In order that we could enjoy some wine with our lunch we travelled by bus – a great way to see the countryside especially from the front seat on the top deck.

Our lunch was terrific; Gerry enjoyed a starter of Mussels in wine sauce followed by fish, chips and mushy peas. Annie had a couple of Gerry’s mussels and followed that with fish pie. The streets of Whitby were quite empty really but both floors of The Magpie were full of diners when we left the restaurant.

270-20170208a.JPGThe weather forecasters got it right when they said that the rain would stop at around 9am on Wednesday. We had decided to do our favourite walk at Farndale and so were pleased with the cold but dry weather. Recognising that the walk could be very muddy we asked a Park Ranger (who happened to be in the car park) what he thought. His reply was slightly disconcerting in that the first half of the walk would be fine but that the mud and surface water would be over our ankles in parts of the return leg. We decided to do the first half of the walk along the side of the River Dove from Low Mills to Church Houses and then return walking along roads. The outward leg was really pleasant despite coming across a road works sign where the path was being refurbished. We also came across a delightful small waterfall and enjoyed listening to the sound of the water in the absence of all other sounds except for the birds.  Although the return leg we chose was marginally longer than walking through fields and farm yards, and despite walking on the road, the views were worth it. We came across some sheep who decided to see if they could out stare us. I think we cheated by making a noise!



We spent the afternoon visiting a couple of small towns and villages including the picturesque village of Thornton-le-Dale. We had saved a visit to Pickering Church to see the rather special frescos until last only to find a funeral in progress. Still there is always next time.