If the last 2 months have been quiet July has been even more so. All travel plans came to a halt when Gerry was admitted to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon with a recurrence of the acute abdominal pains of a year ago. This time they found a problem and major surgery followed to resection Gerry’s small bowel. Released from hospital after 11 days and the loss of 14 lbs in weight, Gerry is on the slow road to recovery. We await the results of biopsies etc to determine the underlying problem. Annie has played a blinder looking after Gerry when she is herself still recovering from knee surgery.
Gerry was building a summerhouse just before going into hospital. Our very kind neighbours have completed fitting the doors and windows to make it weatherproof. Neighbours and friends have been super and Annie and Gerry are very grateful for their love and support.
June was generally a quiet month as Annie continued her recovery. We did get out and about for short walks and a couple of trips to the Country Club for a steam room and swim. Annie attended an outpatients’ clinic and was told she was making good progress (still not quick enough for Annie). On the strength of that we decided to go to our favourite campsite in Devon at Harford Bridge. Camping was out of the question so we rented a large static caravan that had plenty of space on all mod cons. We were there a week and the weather was generally very kind to us.
We managed quite a few walks building up to 3 miles plus across moorland with some rough ground and gentle slopes. We saw some lovely scenery at Noss Mayo, Dartmouth including Dartmouth Castle as well as the National Trust House at Coleton Fishacre which had belonged to the Doyle Carte Family. The gardens were lovely although we did endure a very heavy shower.
Our first real walk was a circular walk from Chagford and along the river Teign. We started from a del;ightful octagonal building called the pepperpot in the centre of the village and headed downhill to a valley where we walked through trees along the river.
It was so nice to be out in the fresh air away from people and surrounded by such lovely countryside. The fact that it rained so heavily that we had to put on our over-trousers did not spoil it.
The first part of the walk was along a lane by the estuary of the River Avon (The Devon Avon!). The lane was tidal and could be covered at high tide.
The walk then climbed up a path that went by the name of Drunkards Hill and we eventually returned across country and a gentle descent to our starting point where we enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine.
Our next walk was around the Quarry and stone tramway at Haytor. We both thoroughly enjoyed the walk and marveled at the stone tracks including points. It was a real feat of engineering when built in the 19th century. We then came across 2 deep pools well hidden by quarry spoil heaps that were a haven for wild life. Some children on a school trip delighted in showing us leeches, newts and tadpoles at various stages of development.
Annie’s sister Pam and husband Neil joined us for dinner one evening at the Mary Tavy Inn. Again a favourite eating place of ours and well worth a visit if you are in the area – great welcome, great food and great prices – what more could a man want!
Our final day saw us do part of one of our favourite walks to the church at Brentor unusually the weather was fantastic! Annie happily climbed to the church where we enjoyed spectacular views under a cloudless sky. Wondering what we could do for the afternoon we decided to head for Restormel Castle at Lostwithiel in Cornwall. It was a round castle and really worth a visit (no crowds and good weather.
We returned to Fairford via Milborne Port where we had coffee with James and granddaughter Rosie. Unfortunately, Hannah was at work.
A great week away.
May has been a very quiet month with Annie out of action for most of the time. Annie had her right knee replaced at the Great Western Hospital at the beginning of the month. She has made good progress but has suffered excruciating pain for much of the time. The pain was not unexpected but I think the severity was a nasty surprise. Annie is now able to walk a mile without sticks. Gerry has struggled through with the house work, cooking, shopping, washing and ironing. It was a good way of reminding him just how much Annie does for him!!!!!! Annie still has a long recovery period ahead.
Finally our friends, Gene and George Bland from New England spent a couple of days with us prior to their return to the USA.
Gerry took Gene and George for a walk around Fairford and came across one of the swans’ nest.
We decided to have a couple of days in Dorset visiting the National Trust house at Kingston Lacy, enjoying a 3.5 mile circular walk from Tolpuddle and then visiting the English Heritage site at Sherborne Old Castle on the Saturday. Not surprisingly, with Sherborne only a few minutes drive from James, Hannah and Rosie we popped in for a cup of coffee. We then set off to the Fox Inn at Ansty where we had stayed last year. We had a good room and a lovely dinner and a nice breakfast – in fact a very enjoyable stay.
On Sunday morning the weather was not very promising but, as with Saturday, we were lucky – we always seemed to be driving when the heavy showers hit. We visited Portland Castle before visiting our friends Richard and Bonny Shirley in Tollard Royal for lunch and the afternoon.
A really pleasant couple of days!
We had a family gathering a week before Easter. With the exception of Jon, who was working in Florida, all of the UK based children and grandchildren came for lunch. Rosie impressed with her ‘reading’ before we enjoyed a lovely lunch all sitting at the dining table. The weather was good and we enjoyed playing a new garden game called Smite after lunch. Strictly for adults, Smite involves throwing a lump of wood at wooden pins with the guile and viciousness of croquet!
We got the visitors to pose for the usual family photo but Elsie did not want to participate at that moment. Perhaps it was the Easter Egg hunt that excited her. Annie and Gerry had secreted many chocolate eggs around the garden and each adult and grandchild was provided with a small basket to hold any eggs they found. The adults were rather keen and had to be reminded that once the basket was full that was ‘your share’!!
A fun visit and thanks to everyone for coming.
The last 10 days have been quite busy. We had a lovely day out visiting Wells Cathedral and attending a said communion service. The cathedral is truly stunning! We were quite surprised to realise that neither of us had been there for about 40 years! The weather was kind to us as we strolled around the grounds and the Bishop’s Palace including the moat. It was so peaceful. We then went into the town to buy some lunch which we ate sitting in the cathedral grounds.
On Sunday we headed to Canterbury and were disappointed to find that we had missed Evensong as it was at 15:15 not 5:15 (silly Gerry). Nevertheless, we had a lovely walk around old Canterbury and along some footpaths outside of the city walls.
On Monday we went to stay with Gene and George Bland our friends from Maine in the USA. They are in the UK for a few weeks and were spending the first couple of weeks in Kent before heading to the Cotswolds.
We had a lovely couple of days with them including a visit to Dover Castle. Dover Castle is a massive site and would need a couple of days to do it justice however, we took a tour of the wartime tunnels and then an hour later emerged into the sunshine to head for the Keep. The ladies declined to climb to the top but George and Gerry did and were treated to some great views including the church and also within the Keep, the Royal Chapel which was a small austere place of worship.
After Dover Castle we headed for Deal and a lovely lunch followed by a walk on the promenade.
We left Gene and George on Wednesday morning as planned. Originally we had expected to head back to Fairford but because of the good weather and the fact that we did not know Kent very well we decided to spend a couple more days in the area.
We visited various National Trust and English Heritage sites but the undoubted star was Scotney Castle. It is a must if you are ever in the area south east of Lamberhurst in Kent. The old castle was deliberately ‘ruined’ to create a sort of folly when the new castle was built high on the hill above it.
The grounds were delightful to walk around and the new ‘castle’, which was built between 1835 and 1843 and lived in until 2006, great fun as there was much from our childhood and from our grandparents era as well as the older art and furniture. In order to make ends meet, the last owner (before the National Trust) had split the house into flats one of which had been the home for Margaret and Dennis Thatcher (who was granted a baronetcy and took the title 1st Baronet of Scotney).
We also enjoyed a couple of country walks and visits to Sissinghurst Castle, Ightham Mote, and the Roman fort at Richborough before heading back to Fairford.
It was a windy but dry day when we set out to explore Stonehenge. We entered through the new visitor centre and took the shuttle to the site. Despite the cold wind, walking around was enjoyable and made more so by the excellent audio tour. However, it was noticeable how the pleasure diminished slightly as the crowds started to arrive!!
We had a lovely day at The Nook today when Jenny, Mark and children visited for lunch together with Martin and Louise. It was lovely to get them all together especially as Martin and Louise’s visit to the UK was a sad one (Louise’s dad passed away suddenly a week ago). We played in the garden, in the house and with grandpa’s trains before sitting down to a splendid lunch.
Thanks Annie for another brilliant meal.
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.