This was our fourth time staying at the pub and so we knew where we would go to walk etc.
The afternoon we arrived we headed to Truro Cathedral. Surprisingly, Gerry had never been there before, and was quite surprised to find that a quite beautiful Victorian Church building could be constructed with the nave and chancel out of line but this was because of the adjacent old parish church that was incorporated into the Cathedral.
After leaving the Cathedral we headed for the gardens at Trelissick.
The winter storms had caused quite a lot of damage including a large tree that had fallen across our path. A local said that the tree had only come down in the last 24 hours obviously the root system had been severely weakened in the recent very severe storms.
It was quite a sobering thought for us as we continued our walk through the woods.
We saw more tree damage on our walk the next day when we were at Lanhydrock. Four out of a group of large trees had been uprooted.
We also walked along the banks of the Fowey from Lerryn to St Winnow Church (a lovely old church adjacent to the river bank) before heading back to Lerryn over the hills where we encountered incredible mud and water around some of the gates we had to go through. It seemed odd that the muddiest areas were at some of the highest places on our walks.
Our next stop was Penzance where we intended to walk to Newlyn and then on to Mousehole. However, the storm damage to the sea wall meant that we could walk along very little of the only promenade in Cornwall and were constrained to walking on pavements beside quite busy roads (certainly not as enjoyable as we had hoped). The view from Newlyn across the bay to Penzance was good though the picture probably does not do it justice.
Wednesday evening saw us return to Truro cathedral for the Ash Wednesday service of Solemn Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes. The service included the Cathedral Choir singing Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus. It was a lovely service and a fitting end to our time in Cornwall as we left the next morning to return to Fairford.
We have enjoyed 2 great days out this week. The weather was kind to us on both days and we relished the chance to get out in the fresh air.
On Wednesday we set out for Upton House near Banbury. Our intention was to stop off at a couple of places en route. We had a wander around Chipping Norton, Deddington, and then Aynhos Wharf where we had a short walk along side the Canal. Driving towards Banbury we then stopped at the Pickled Ploughman in Adderbury where we had a lovely lunch (If you are in the area and want a decent meal give it a try). We then drove to the National Trust property of Upton House 8 miles north of Banbury.
However, inside was very pleasant reflecting the life of wealthy people in the 1930s.
As you can see the gardens were really pleasant to walk through with lots of spring flowers brightening up the day. A big dark cloud appeared just as we set out on our walk but a short shower did not dampen our spirits or spoil the day.
Thursday morning was nice weather and so we set off for the same area as yesterday to walk the 6.5 mile Deddington Circular Walk.
The ground was quite wet even on high ground but it was a very pleasant walk with only gentle undulations and 2 stiles so Annie was able to cope without too much pain in her knee.Towards the end of the walk, we saw three groups of deer that all took flight as soon as they were aware of us.
Jenny delivered Bethany, Callum and Elsie to spend 3 days and two nights with us at the Nook during their half term holiday from school. We all had a wonderful time. The first afternoon we went to see Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy which was a great hit with the children. The next morning started very cloudy and murky but as the sun started to break through we set off for a visit to Goodrich Castle. The children had never (so they said) been to a castle before and were quite impressed that their mummy had visited some 25 years previously!
They had a great time going down into the dungeon (which was very dark) and along narrow dark passages as well as climbing to the first floor level.
They never hesitated and when they were asked if they wanted to climb right to the top of the tower there was no stopping them. They were brilliant as the stairs are a steep spiral with only a vertical knotted rope to grasp hold of. Elsie found it physically demanding because of the depth of the steps but was not deterred. They enjoyed the view from the top and waving to Annie.
Descending was more difficult but the children made it without any problem. We then set out to walk around the moat and climb on the walls just where their mother had done and where their cousins Alexander, Sienna and Oliver had also climbed on a similar visit last year. I was really impressed with the attitude to safety and the confidence they showed negotiating the sometimes slippery surfaces.
They deserved their snacks and sit down. All three regarded the castle as a great adventure and it was a shame that a second trip around the moat was curtailed when it started to rain. When we got home the children’chilled’ watching TV, playing with grandpa’s trains or playing games and doing activities with grannie.
Our final morning was spent at the park in Fairford. We all had a good time but grandpa had to clean lots of mud from everyone’s shoes when we returned!! The weather was kind to us but the ground is still very wet.
We hope the children enjoyed their stay as much as we enjoyed having them.
On the first of February we visited our friends Carly and Ian and their twin daughters Bree and Freya. The six of us enjoyed a super lunch and an afternoon chatting. The girls are growing up fast (they celebrated their 4th birthdays on 8th February). Since we returned from Malta Carly has sent us the photo below which summed up the happiness of the day.
I feel guilty that whilst most of our family and friends have been suffering terrible weather in the UK, Annie and I have been enjoying ourselves in Malta where the weather was dry and generally warm. Before we left the UK we had decided that we would use the local buses in Malta to get around the island. Even better, when we arrived we found that for 1.5 Euros we could purchase an all day bus ticket and for 6 Euros a ticket for the week. Timetables were displayed at every bus stop and with a map of Malta and its bus routes it was great fun planning our daily trips. Malta is just over 20 miles long and about half as wide so we managed to visit all of the key areas with ease. Many of the seaside towns comprised large hotels and very small flats and houses that were all crammed together (not our scene) However, in the centre of Malta and on the west side of the island it was much more spacious.
We enjoyed a visit to the walled city of Mdina the old capital and known as the silent city (lots of signs telling visitors to be quiet). Mdina is perched high on a hillside and comprises some beautiful old buildings
From Mdina there are also phenomenal views of the rest of the island as the photo with the Mosta Dome in the distance shows.
The proper name for the Mosta Dome is the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, and the actual dome is the third-largest church dome in Europe and the ninth largest in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.2 metres (122 ft). Another church perched high up was the Parish Church of Mellieha where we found a café perched on the edge of a cliff with a great view across Mellieha Bay with the island of Comino in the distance.
Some of the coastal areas were very beautiful and we enjoyed a couple of visits to Golden Bay (lots of sand!) and also to Marsaskala where we enjoyed a fish feast on the harbourside overlooking the brightly coloured boats.
Another day saw us walk along the Dingli Cliffs where we came across some goats and their handler on the side of the road. It was a lovely walk as the weather was really pleasant and there were very few vehicles and people.
Taking 3 buses that just happened to connect with little waiting time, we then headed to Golden Bay and a long lunch overlooking the sea.
Ironically, the last bus we were to use in Malta was late and completely full up before we left the first bus stop! Notwithstanding that fact, we thoroughly enjoyed using the buses. Indeed, if you visit Malta in the winter time, the buses are by far the best way to see the island – they are frequent and you have no parking problems!
On Sunday 26th of January we took part in a singing day at the Colston Hall Bristol. This was our second year having attended last year and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. This year turned out to be even better. We were part of a scratch choir of 270 and were accompanied a scratch orchestra of around 250. (up from 230 last year!!) The photo shows what it was like looking from three quarters of the way back in the choir down to the orchestra – quite a sight. Obviously, I took the photo as people were taking their places but I think it gives the impression of the size of the choir and orchestra.
We rehearsed in the morning and afternoon and then gave a performance at 4pm to an audience of a few hundred. It was a privilege to sing with such a large choir and the orchestra was amazing (it was hard to believe that they had not played together before 9:30am on the day). The day was hard work but great fun and very rewarding especially as the day also seems to have raised over £7500 for Cancer Research.
The weather in January has been terrible with so much rain that the ground has remained saturated for the whole month with many fields still under water and rivers very swollen. Annie’s knee was giving her slightly less pain than usual so we decided to head out on a 6 mile fairly level walk. We started in Stonesfield a small village about 12 miles north west of Oxford. We set off down the hill to the river where we encountered our first problem the bridge over the river was accessible but we had to tread careful through a lot of water to get to and from the bridge. We then walked through a field that was like a water meadow. The weather on the day was cold and dry with the threat of rain – in fact just right for a walk. We had just crossed the railway line when we came across North Leigh Roman Villa (To my shame I had never heard of it). It is an English Heritage site and not surprisingly was unattended. We had a look around before continuing the walk. We eventually crossed another water meadow to reach a stile.
We retraced our steps for about a mile and then used our map to work out a suitable walk. It was lovely to be in the fresh air again and we both realized how much we had missed our walking. The sooner Annie can get a new knee the better!!
We completed our day out by heading to the Country Club for a nice long sit in the steam room and a gentle swim.
We visited Jenny, Mark, Bethany, Callum and Elsie for an early lunch before heading off to the Hexagon Theatre Reading to see “Jack and the Beanstalk” It was a traditional pantomime with lots of audience shouting!
After the pantomime we headed back to Chez Davidson. The children had their supper and eventually headed for bed leaving the adults to enjoy dinner and some nice wine. It was a lovely evening and, as we were staying the night, Gerry was able to enjoy the wine even more. We returned home this morning having really enjoyed ourselves.
The blog has been quiet for the last 6 weeks whilst we have been in California. We started our trip by flying into Palm Springs which, as has been said before on this blog, is probably the nicest airport in the world. Within 15 minutes of landing we had collected our bags and rental car and were driving the 3 miles to our condo. What a surprise when we entered the unit, the living area and kitchen had been redecorated and the kitchen surfaces tiled and the shower had been refurbished. We quickly settled in and enjoyed the beautiful weather for just over a week before we headed up to San Jose to spend Thanksgiving with Jo and the children. We went to see Sienna and her year group give a small open-air concert in celebration of Native American culture. Thanksgiving Day started with a get together of families at a local park. There was a mass American football game followed by a pot-luck lunch/brunch. It was a lovely atmosphere and everyone enjoyed themselves. Later in the day we had a lovely Thanksgiving meal prepared by Annie and Jo. The following day we headed for Capitola. It was supposed to be cold on the coast but it was a lovely day with Oliver and Sienna playing on the beach whilst Alexander and Gerry fished from the pier.
Both had caught a couple of fish up to a foot long when Gerry caught a Steelhead (a member of the trout family) that must have weighed 6 lb. The fish would have made a lovely meal but is a protected species in California and we returned it to the sea.
The catch caused quite a bit of interest because of its rarity and the man who runs fishing on the pier insisted on taking a photograph for the record book.
We returned to Palm Springs and a change in the weather from being 10 degrees above normal the temperature dropped to 10 degrees below normal. Although cool, it did not dampen our spirits!! We managed to have a decent walk and swim nearly every day as well as do Christmas shopping. An attempt to drive to Idyllwild for lunch failed as Annie did not like the thought of us getting caught in the snow. High in the hills as we climbed towards Idyllwild the snow ploughs were positioned and there were signs saying snow chains or winter tyres were required. The sky was certainly very grey and the temperature had fallen to just above freezing when we decided to turn around. The roads are steep and windy enough in dry conditions so Gerry was not too upset at the decision to return to the Valley floor and more sensible temperatures!
After a few days of iffy weather the temperatures climbed back up to the high 70sF. We enjoyed several evenings sitting on the deck above the swimming pool watching the sun set and the pink/red glow in the sky.Palm Springs is made special for us by the many friends we have at Ocotillo Lodge. This visit was no exception and we enjoyed several meals out and evenings sitting chatting with a glass of wine in hand. Perhaps then it is no surprise that we were sad when our time came to leave. The sadness was offset however, by the prospect of Christmas in San Jose with Jo and the children.
The children were very excited at the prospect of Christmas. We took the grandchildren to see Father Christmas at a much decorated house near where Jo lives. The owners of the house decorate their home every year and over the years have raised just over $940,000 dollars for the Make a Wish Charity
Unfortunately, the picture does not do the house justice.
Opening of other presents was to wait until Christmas Day when the children returned from three days staying with their father.
The children were so tired when they returned late on Christmas Day that opening of Christmas presents was postponed until the next day when they could enjoy them.
The day after Christmas was beautiful weather wise so we went to the seaside at Capitola to bask in the fresh air and sunshine!!!!!
Perhaps not surprisingly, Alexander and Gerry spent a couple of hours fishing whilst Sienna and Oliver enjoyed playing on the beach. Apart from one small sea perch and a starfish, Alexander and Gerry had no luck. Looking back at the beach from the pier it was hard to believe it was Boxing Day in the Northern Hemisphere!!! (Gerry heard someone say it was 83F and had no reason to doubt the accuracy of their comment)
A day later and we headed home to a frosty and damp Fairford.