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 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.
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!
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. Our 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. The 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) but 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. We 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.
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.
We also learned about how donkeys operate a ‘hamster wheel’ to draw water – impressive.
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.
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.
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!
We were surprised that a murmuration of starlings appeared and eventually went to roost below the bridge.
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.
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!
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).
We hope everyone had a very Happy Christmas. We should have been visiting Jenny, Mark and the children for Christmas lunch but unfortunately even the best laid plans can hit problems. Ours was Christmas Eve when Gerry felt unwell and had a temperature. Annie rang the Chemotherapy Help Line (as per the instructions given to Gerry) and was told that we should go to the hospital. Gerry was admitted and stayed until Christmas Day afternoon. Whatever the problem, the medics got it under control quickly and he left with even more tablets to take.
Many thanks to the staff at The Great Western Hospital Swindon for their care and kindness (and the visit from Santa and the turkey lunch).
PS If you are ever unfortunate enough to be admitted to the hospital do not despair the food is brilliant especially the soups!
For a good few months we had been intending a December visit to Putsborough Sands in North Devon and to stay in a block of flats where our neighbours Glenda and Keith have stayed previously. Gerry seemed fit so we decided on a Friday to go and two days later we arrived for a four night stay. It was great that Glenda and Keith were also staying in the flat above us. The nearest village was Georgeham about 1.7 miles away (with one village shop) and, from what we could tell, we were the only occupants of the block! It was absolute heaven to be so quiet. Our flat was brilliant with 2 double bedrooms, a large sitting room (with balcony), a separate dining room and fantastic views. The following two photographs show the views from our balcony
The weather was really quite kind and we had a lovely day exploring to the north of Putsborough Sands with Glenda and Keith. They had lived in the area for many years and were fantastic guides. Our trip included Ilfracombe where we went to Damien Hurst’s gallery and also saw his statue called Verity which looks out over the harbour entrance. The statue is quite controversial but we found it provoked some thought (Look it up on the web and see for yourselves).
We then travelled further north along very narrow coastal roads that the average tourist would never come across eventually deciding to go for a walk beside a stream through a lush wooded river valley down to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth beach. The walk could not have been much more than a mile each way and was delightful but very, very windy at the beach such that we did not venture across the rocks!
The following day we headed south with Glenda and Keith as our guides ending up at Hartland Point. It was extremely windy with short sharp showers but went for a walk towards the lighthouse eventually finding the path was gated and locked! The walk was bracing but not as bracing as our next stop at Hartland Quay. The sea certainly did not look that inviting! We had a great day out and spent the evening at the pub in Georgeham where we all ate heartily! (something to do with the sea air)
Our final full day was spent on our own. We enjoyed walks along Saunton Sands, the cliffs at Woolacombe and along the beach at Putsborough just below our flat. Although it was windy in the morning, we were both wrapped up warm and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Whilst on the beach at Putborough we could see no other people at all on the beach. Bearing in mind that the beach extends 2 miles plus to Woolacombe that was quite something.
Many thanks to Glenda and Keith for their company and guiding skills! But all too soon our time was up and we left them (now the only occupants of the block of flats) and headed home via Bristol where we popped in to see Oscar (and of course Jess and Jon). All three are doing well!
We have had a busy couple of days. On Friday we visited Jess and Jon and our new grandson Oscar James. Home from hospital they are settling in and Jon and Jess are coming to terms with the fact that life has changed (for the better) for ever.
Annie was as besotted as the parents!
On Saturday we visited Hannah and James’s new home in North Cheriton on the Somerset Dorset border. They have had the keys for 4 weeks but have made incredible progress. They have had many walls re-plastered, floors sanded, boiler moved, new back doorways put in and a new bathroom ready to be installed. There is still a lot to do but the top floor should become habitable within the week. The garden has tremendous potential but will require a lot of work over a couple of years no doubt. It will be a wonderful home and has already got Hannah and James stamp on kit!
Oscar James Henderson was born just after 2 am on 25th November in Southmead Hospital Bristol. He weighed in at 3.99kg (8lb 13oz) and mum and son are doing well.
As I write this Jon, Jess and Oscar have returned home. Life has changed for Jon and Jess but I am sure they will cope!
Congratulations to Jess and Jon on the addition to their family and a big and very warm welcome to Oscar.