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May 20 / Administrator

May 2015 – North Wales

We spent 4 days based in Bala North Wales last week.  We travelled with our neighbours Glenda and Keith and enjoyed good weather and some great train journeys as well as visits to Chirk and Powis Castles.  Our first visit was to Chirk and its beautiful gardens. 269-20150511a.JPG269-20150511b.JPG

We then moved on to Llangollen where we travelled on the Heritage Railway to Corwen and back by diesel multiple unit. The views of the Dee Valley were outstanding and the train uncrowded and very relaxing!

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We then arrived at our hotel – The White Lion Royal Hotel in Bala. This was where Annie and Gerry had spent a few days last September. The hotel is really quite quaint but deserves the refurbishment that has just started!

269-20150511e.JPG The next day the weather was good as we drove to Machynlleth to catch the Cambrian coast train to Porthmadog and back.

We had a short time in Porthmadog and visited the terminus of both the FFestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.

Our last full day was spent visiting Snowdon and ascending to the summit on the train.The weather was brilliant and the views absolutely fantastic.

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We meandered back to Bala via Caernarvon and Beddgelert where two of the sheep near Gellert’s tomb seemed to pose for us.

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Our journey back to Fairford was via Powis Castle. 269-20150511j.JPGIt was our first visit to the castle and we were all impressed by the beauty of the house and the gardens.

It was a shame that the weather had broken and the rain was quite heavy such that we could not fully explore the gardens. Another visit will be required!

It was a relaxing and enjoyable few days.

May 3 / Administrator

April 2015 – Jenny’s Birthday and a Visit from Martin

What a wonderful week we have just had.  It started with Bethany, Callum and Elsie coming to stay at The Nook. We had a lovely time with lots of activities including a very enjoyable shopping trip to the 99p store.  On Saturday Jenny and Mark came for lunch and to collect the children.  Bethany  enjoyed showing her mum and siblings a doll dressing programme she had found on the internet.

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On Sunday, Martin flew in from Singapore and went to Jenny and Mark’s home at Caversham.  Annie and Gerry went across to Caversham and the 5 adults and 3 children went out for a buffet lunch at an Indian Restaurant. We had a lovely meal I was impressed with the children who were prepared to try most of the dishes and all cleared their plates!!!

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After lunch we went back to Jen and Mark’s where we celebrated Jenny’s birthday with a cake and then went to play cricket in the local park.269-20150426c.JPG

The next day after lunch Martin came to The Nook to stay for 4 nights.  On the Tuesday (after Martin had been for a 22 mile run!)  we went to Bristol to visit Jess, Jon and baby Oscar as well as popping in to see Lucy and James before heading back to Cricklade where we had a lovely pub supper.

Martin had chartered a fishing boat for 6 hours on the Solent for Wednesday but the weather forecast the night before was so bad that the boat company

269-20150428a.JPG269-20150428b.JPG decided that they were not prepared to go to sea.  Instead, we went carp fishing with our friend Barry Kilgariff. Barry very kindly took Gerry to buy a rod and reel etc before fishing and lent Martin some tackle so that we could all fish.

We had a great time with all of us catching some lovely fish.

269-20150429.JPGThe following day, after Martin had been for a long cycle ride, we went to the National Trust property at Tyntesfield a few miles the other side of Bristol. It was a pleasant day out and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

All too soon it was Friday morning and Martin left us to go and visit Jenny before spending the night with friends and returning to Singapore on Saturday.

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It had been a lovely week all the more special because we were able to celebrate Jenny’s birthday with Martin.

 

Apr 20 / Administrator

April 2015 – Yorkshire

We enjoyed four nights in Yorkshire last week.  We spent the first night, Sunday, with friends David and Bridget Lindley. Their son Chris (Annie’s Godson) and his baby son, Henry, were at the house when we arrived.  Henry is nearly one year old and a really happy child.  He seemed to smile all the time and take an interest in everything going on. There was not a murmur or tear during our visit nor subsequently at Raja’s curry house where we enjoyed a lovely meal having been joined by Chris’s wife Lindsey.

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The next morning we set off to visit Kirkham Priory.  The riverside ruins of the priory are set in the beautiful Derwent valley between York and Malton.  Unfortunately, the priory was closed but we were able to look through the magnificent entrance.  Undaunted, we set off for Lastingham where we visited the Norman church and its magnificent crypt before having a cup of coffee in adjacent pub.  Suitably fortified, we set then out on a lovely circular walk to the lovely village of Hutton Le Hole.  The walk was just over 4 miles and included some steep ascents and descents but we thoroughly enjoyed it – the good weather also helped.

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We then drove to Pickering and the Eden House Bed and Breakfast.  Eden house was absolutely perfect, the room was recently refurbished and the public rooms were immaculate.  The next morning, fortified by an excellent breakfast, we set out for Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.  En route to Whitby we came across the iconic blue LNER A4 Class locomotive Sir Nigel Gresley number 60007. By the time I had got my camera out we had nearly passed it!

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Arriving at Whitby we strolled along the front to The Magpie restaurant. We ate there last autumn and, once again, we were not disappointed.  The food, wine, and service were brilliant. Despite a big lunch we set off to visit Whitby Abbey climbing the 199 steps on the way. Gerry was fascinated that there was a little disc on every 10th step giving the number of the step in Roman Numerals – to see CXCIX 0n the last step was much more interesting than seeing 199.

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Our final day in Yorkshire was again blessed by good walking weather and we enjoyed a walk from Goatland (Heartbeat country for TV fans).  Part of the walk took us along one and a half miles of bridleway over the moor. Unfortunately, the bridleway lacked any definition and we had to follow the general direction over the moor until we hit a defined path that was on our map.  Cutting our losses we simply followed that path emerging exactly where we wanted to be.

We arrived home on Thursday afternoon refreshed and then on Friday set off for lunch with Jess, Jon and Oscar in Bristol.

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A great week.

 

Apr 19 / Administrator

16 March 2015 – New Grandson

James and Hannah’s son, Ptolemy Wolf James Henderson arrived safely on 16 April 2015. Weighing in at 6lb 15oz, Ptolemy and his mum are doing fine and are now back home.

Congratulations to Hannah, James and big sister Rosie on the addition to their family.

Mar 27 / Administrator

March 2015 – Montreuil- Sur-Mer

We have just returned from our first trip abroad since Malta early last year.  It was quite big step for us given Gerry’s health concerns over the last 8 months.

 

We 271-20150323.JPG visited one of our favourite towns in France – Montreuil sur Mer.  We stayed at L’Hermitage a lovely, spacious and very pleasant hotel in the centre of the walled town. We enjoyed several walks in the area around the town as well as walking the ramparts twice.  On both of those occasions it was a prelude to a delightful hour or so spent sitting in easy chairs in front of a log fire at another hotel (Les Hauts de Montreuil). There we enjoyed a glass or two of wine or, in Annie’s case, Kir.

 

Our walks were not particularly arduous but very pleasant and repeats of walks we have we done on previous visits.  We did come across a lot of mistletoe in one small copse – quite a sight really, as was the avenue of trees we came across on a little lane.

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291-20150324c.JPGOur final walk was targeted at reaching the Chateau D’Eau which was visible for most of the walk but its magnitude only apparent as one stood beside it.

We enjoyed some wonderful meals although one was somewhat spoiled by a group of middle aged British men (golfers) who were unable to converse quietly.  They succeeded in destroying the atmosphere in what was really a lovely restaurant.  However, the other meals, in different restaurants,  were absolutely brilliant evenings with good food and wine.

We were away for three nights and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Montreuil and the surrounding area. Travel to and from Montreuil went without a hitch and our ferry crossings were made so much better by P&O putting us on earlier ferries both times!

Mar 8 / Administrator

1st to 7th March 2015 – Devon

A spring week on Dartmoor and in Cornwall is hard to beat when the weather is good.  We have just returned from 6 days in a holiday home on our favourite campsite at Harford Bridge just outside Tavistock.  It was the same caravan that we rented last June so held no surprises.  271-20150302b.JPGOur holiday started off with a trip into Cornwall to Mevagissey where we enjoyed a bracing walk out along the sea wall.  The next day saw us climb to the church on Brentor.  271-20150302c.JPGThe church stands 1,110 feet above sea level on an ancient, extinct, volcanic cone.  We arrived in a shower of hailstones and bitter wind.  However, the weather improved dramatically as we left the church to continue our walk.  We were so pleased with our progress that we decided to tackle one of our favourite walks the next day. The walk starts with a section of Dr Blackall’s Drive and is not particularly long (5.6 miles) 271-20150302d.JPGbut includes 3 long and very steep ascents.  The descents are much more gradual and not a problem apart from boggy ground in paces. We took a little longer than we have in the past but we both felt good at the end. We had really pleasant weather for the rest of the week and enjoyed a walk around Lanhydrock House near Bodmin (Cornwall) and then undertook a walk from Fernworthy Reservoir.  It was the first time we had been to the area and was slightly disconcerting when we drove 5 miles down a no through road to the reservoir car park.  The walk took us along the edge of the reservoir up a long climb through Fernworthy Forest to emerge on the High Moor.  Our instructions said walk to the gate in the dry stone wall running along the sky line (quite a way away).  It was a good job that the weather was fine and clear as the gate was quite difficult to see. 271-20150302e.JPGWe made it and then started to return via a different route that took us across the Moor and through the lower forest back to the reservoir.  A great walk, which added to our sense of achievement.  The picture of the gate shows the sort of gradient I was talking about earlier but was actually on the Lanhydrock walk.

Once again we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Harford Bridge.

Feb 22 / Administrator

21st February – Isle of Wight and Gerry’s Health Update

So far February has been a good month.  We enjoyed a long weekend on the Isle of Wight and managed to see most of the Island as well as the English Heritage sites of Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle.  We managed a couple of walks including one to the battery at the Needles which was closed (we did know that before we set out on the walk).  The walk was bracing and with some lovely views particularly of Alum Bay.  Unfortunately, the camera (or more likely the photographer) could not capture the variations in colour well enough. We made two visits to Osborne house; the first was a delightful walk and then a mini bus ride to the beach where Queen Victoria and her family used to bathe.  We had a lovely cup of coffee sitting on the veranda of the cafe looking out onto the Solent.  Wrapped up warm we found it idyllic.  Returning to the house we booked a guided tour for the following morning rather than wait around for an hour or so.

271-20150214a.JPG271-20150214b.JPGWe then headed to Carisbrooke Castle (where King Charles 1 was imprisoned) and enjoyed over an hour walking around the site and the ramparts including the very beautiful chapel.

We also learned about how donkeys operate a ‘hamster wheel’ to draw water  – impressive.

271-20150215b.JPGWe then visited some of the coastal towns, and found most to be disappointing with the exception of Ventnor.  Ventnor’s esplanade was pleasant, clean and the shops generally bright.

The following day we enjoyed a brilliant guided tour of Osborne House seeing some rooms that were not generally open to the public and then wandered through the gardens.  It seemed odd looking at Queen Victoria’s private rooms but at least one could appreciate what life was like for Royalty in the Victorian era.  We were both amazed at Prince Albert’s talents for design and detail – he must have been some special person.

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After the visit we headed to the other side of the Island to Freshwater and the (well recommended) Red Lion Pub where we hoped to get lunch.  Unfortunately, we could not get into the car park and there was absolutely no parking anywhere near the pub. Cutting our losses we walked along a bridleway beside the Yar Estuary all the way to Yarmouth.  The walk there and back was about 6km and we managed it quite easily although Gerry was tired at the end.

On our return from the island we diverted to visit Jenny and Mark’s home where we met Mark’s parents for the first time in about three years.  A long and busy but very enjoyable weekend.

 

HEALTH UPDATE  On Tuesday Gerry saw his consultant and heard the results of his latest scan.  They were much better than our wildest expectations. The chemo had zapped the lymphoma such that there was nothing to see.  As a result Gerry did not have to have chemos 7 and 8 and moves on to a maintenance regime.  This involves ‘nicer’ chemotherapy every eight weeks for the next 2 years.  The consultant was perfectly happy for us to start travelling again and so Gerry has begun the process of trying to get travel insurance.  Fingers crossed it looks like he has found something suitable.

Jan 24 / Administrator

21 to 23 January 2015 – Devon

We have just spent a couple of nights at The Royal Hotel in Bideford Devon with our good friends and neighbours Glenda and Keith.  The weather was very kind to us and we managed some nice walks.  Gerry suffered greatly from fatigue (a function of the chemotherapy) and was limited as to how much he could do before he needed to rest (sleep!). However, the other three managed very well without him for one walk.

The first photo is a view from Fremington Quay and was quite beautiful in the winter sunshine  The second photo is a view from the Tarka Trail near Torrington where we also found the wooden man sitting beside a decapitated wooden woman!

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271-20150122c.JPGThe bridge (shown below) is the long bridge at Bideford and was the focus of our attention for some time around dusk.

We were surprised that a murmuration of starlings appeared and eventually went to roost below the bridge.

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It was quite a sight as the birds flew over the river wheeling, turning and swooping in unison constantly growing in numbers over at least a quarter of an hour.

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The hotel’s winter break was great value and the food tasty with very generous portions! I think the four of us really enjoyed the food but may have eaten too much!

 

Jan 20 / Administrator

16 January 2015 – Visits

We visited Jess, Jon and Oscar last Sunday and had a super afternoon – Annie managed to cuddle Oscar for 2 hours continuously whist he slept (his sleeping had not been good for the previous couple of days).  The visit was made even better when Lucy and James also dropped in for a visit. It was nice to catch up with the children and the newest grandchild.

On Friday we visited James and Hannah’s home for lunch.  Their house is coming along well they have done so much and yet still have a lot to do but it will be beautiful once completed.  Rosie was on good form.  She enjoyed opening some presents including one from Auntie Jo in California and she also enjoyed wearing some wellington boots that we had taken. Once she had mastered how to walk in them she did not want to take them off.  Lunch was wonderful and Gerry had a nap before we headed home (Gerry having naps is the order of the day at the moment).

 

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Jan 6 / Administrator

6th January 2015 – Gerry Health Update

Gerry had an appointment with his consultant today to review chemotherapy progress.  A scan last week has revealed that the lymphoma are all getting smaller or gone and so the plan is to have just 2 more chemo sessions and then another scan.  If the scan shows no further reduction then they won’t bother with the 7th and 8th chemos but will move me to a maintenance regime.  If the lymphoma are continuing to decrease then they will carry on chemo in an attempt to really zap them.  As  you can imagine, Gerry is relieved and pleased – it could not have been better news.
To make matters even better Annie returned today from a week with Jo in San Jose.