Monday, 30 May 2016

Framlingham Castle - Sunday 29th May 2016

We didn't feel much like housework today, although some was inevitable. I did some work on the front garden whilst Pauline took Rita to church, then I did the garden pool whilst Pauline worked on clearing the weeds and such until her back wouldn't let her do more.

It was nice enough to sit outside for most of the day, but we did need an extra layer from mid afternoon.

Framlingham Castle

Back to our tour of Suffolk. The original Framlingham Castle was a motte and bailey Norman castle built on the Framlingham site by 1148. However, it only lasted 25 years before it was destroyed following the revolt of 1173-74. There were attempts over the next few centuries to build a proper castle, but King John had a go at destroying it, and by the end of the 16th century the castle fell into disrepair and was eventually sold off.

During World War II Framlingham Castle was used by the British military as part of the regional defences against a potential German invasion. Today, Framlingham Castle is now owned by English Heritage.

Framlingham Castle. Picture by English Heritage

Home, eventually - Saturday 28th May 2016

So we had to leave.

This has been a lovely, relaxing holiday. One to savour.

There are people who feel I'm a little strange on the days of flights. I like to get to the airport in plenty good time and I like to go through to the Departure Lounge. There are reasons for this. It isn't panic, it's simple experience.

For a long time I was an automotive journalist, and that meant many flights, sometimes more than one a week. There are some journalists who feel a baggy pair of jeans are their badge of office, but I respected that sometimes the auto company was paying hundreds for my trips and overnight stays, so I always took a suit for the receptions.

Because life was very full and hectic in those days I kept most things that I would need in a bag, including my passport. That paid off one day when I made the 150 minute journey to Stansted Airport for an early flight, only to find my passport missing from my bag.  I thought about the previous trip and realised we'd come straight from the reception to the airport. I opened my case and found my passport in the pocket of my suit.

I know of at least a dozen other occasions when other journalists haven't been so lucky, and have missed the flight as a consequence. I know people who ignored the calls to board to the point they missed the flight (thinking the plane wouldn't leave without them). I saw total panic when someone couldn't find the passport they'd used to get through security. It was on top of the X Ray machine.

I see the panic and I don't take the chances. So we drove gently but early to the airport, checked the car in and made our way through to the Departure Lounge. The plane hadn't arrived by the time we were due to take off, but then thumped down on the runway and discharged a full load of new arrivals. We got on board, eventually, to be told that there would be a further 90 minute delay because of the strike at French Air Traffic Control, but I didn't care. We were through and on the plane.

Finally we took off and the journey home took just over 7 hours, but the only thing that bothered me was that it was ten degrees cooler than we'd become accustomed to.

The journey back from East Midlands was lovely. We may not have the sun but we do have the greenery. We don't have the oleander but we did have the whites of cow parsley and hawthorn, the yellows of the buttercups, the gold of the rape, and the joy of a field full of poppies. Back on Boley Park and there were the ornamental trees, and our own garden (neatly mowed by our neighbours) with the whole range of colours that Pauline teases from the trees, bushes and flowers in our back garden in particular.
a lovely sight

Friday, 27 May 2016

The last lunch - Friday 27th May 2016

Wall to wall sunshine. I don't think I'd ever get fed up. We had breakfast and then Barry and I walked over to Sector A for a coffee. We were joined by Barry's friend (and briefly by his wife) and it was nice to have another sociable laze.

Late morning we drove back down to the beach at Puerto de Mazarron. They had closed part of the road for some upcoming event, but as we wouldn't be around I didn't press for details. It was hot in the sun, but only 25 degrees in the shade. We went for lunch at the sea front, at La Bretenita, and it was very tasty. We have certainly enjoyed good food wherever we have been in Spain.

Back to Camposol mid afternoon to write blogs, catch Zeds or just chill out for the last time for the foreseeable future.

We sat on the terrace, looking inland towards the Sierra Espuna, which today was barely visible in the heat haze. Seven lengthy months I've longed for days like these, and here we were on the last day already. It's a good job I've got my blog to keep the memories alive.

I shall miss this

Gently does it - Thursday 26th May 2016

Another day of sunshine. If we had planned things differently we would have stayed in Denia a little longer. Maybe we'll be able to come back sometime. We wanted to spend another full day with Barry, which wouldn't have happened if we stayed longer.

Having taken five and a half hours to get to Denia (because we took the scenic route - plus we stopped briefly now and then) I didn't want to do that to Pauline again, so we took the toll road back. This reduced the 150 mile journey to two and a quarter hours. The plus side was it was totally trouble free driving. The downside was we only got the odd glimpse of the sea.

The landscape changes about three times over the journey. The first part is quite green, then it turns pink as the massed oleander ranks line the motorway, and finally it is the sandy area around Mazarron, which varies from the light sandy colour to a deep red in places.

We didn't do much for the rest of the day. Sat, chatted, ate, had the odd drink. We were on holiday.

more of Denia

our hotel

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Denia - Wednesday 25th May 2016

Parts of the hotel La Pasada del Mar are over 700 years old, but that is mainly in the reception  area. The rooms are large, airy and well appointed. We rose gently, took breakfast and then a walk around the town and castle before returning to the harbour for a long walk in the sun, and a refreshing coffee on the sea side of the harbour, where schools of fishes play amongst the moored boats.

The castle ruins are quite imposing and provide great views of the area. Denia itself can trace a population going back more than 2000 years, but the castle (mainly Moorish) was built about 1000 years ago. Most of the damage done to the castle was around 300 years ago, during the Spanish Civil War. Today it provides beautiful views and houses the area's most important museum.

At 2pm precisely Mike and Mary Knight collected us and took us back to their villa, on a nice secluded urbanisation. An hour later we were joined by Bob and Sandra Dickinson, and yet an hour after that by David Hibbard and his new lady Pat. Mike is a Lichfield Lion and Bob and David are both retired past Presidents, and we have known them all for more than 30 years.

We sat on the veranda and emptied a variety of bottles.

Bob and Sandra had other arrangements but the rest of us walked to a new restaurant(the Hostal Café Soles) where Mike knew the owner. We were served a tasty, fulsome meal, and it cost less than the two of us eating at the hotel. It's good to be able to benefit from local knowledge.


Denia Castle

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A long drive - Tuesday 24th May 2016

We didn't race. I watched the sun come up, I watched the morning grow, and I watched Pauline wake up. Then we had a substantial breakfast and then got on the road heading north. We could have gone to Denia by motorway,but who needs that when there is a prettier route?

Except there wasn't, at first at least.

It seemed as though the route from Los Alcazares to Alicante was through one great big urbanisation. You saw the place name change but you were never in the country.

It changed when we got passed Benidorm. Altea was very pretty, Pueblo Mascarat was enticing, but quiet. Calp was big and lively, but it did have the Parc Natural d'Ifach, Horaira was very nice, and boasted lovely views as you climbed out up the winding road.

But then we were in Denia and the previous hours were forgotten. We booked in to La Posada del Mar, and this was genuine 4 star, with prices to match. It didn't matter, the room was worth the cost. We settled in, went for a walk along what must be a millionaire's playground because the boats were so big, and then we went back to the hotel for our evening meal, which turned out to be first class.


to the ridiculous

Monday, 23 May 2016

La Zenia - Monday 23rd May 2016

Breakfast was plentiful and tasty. We set ourselves up expecting not to eat again until dinner. Pauline contacted Andrew and we arranged to meet at the far end of the promenade at 11am. It was a good long hike and we had almost expended the benefits of breakfast by the time we found them.

Tony and Andrew are friends of Gary and Daniel and moved to live in Los Alcazares 11 weeks ago. They have four properties here that they are managing and look set for an interesting life, once they have settled in properly.

We enjoyed a pleasant coffee on the edge of the gorgeous Mar Menor. I love this location. It must be the safest place in Europe for kids to swim. Separated from the Mediterranean by a very long spit of land, the waters vary from mill pond stillness to fairly fresh waves, but you can wade out seemingly forever without getting more than your knees wet.

We walked back across town and looked at one of the apartments, and then Andrew suggested a trip up to La Zenia. First we went to a brilliant shopping complex. The atmosphere was lovely. It was Monday but the place was buzzing, music blaring, people dancing, colours and sounds everywhere.

Next it was to the beach and a lively, airy restaurant overlooking all of the activities, including beach volleyball. We all elected for a light lunch, so I played safe and ordered a 'Combo' salad, expecting tapas. My plate turned out to have the most Food on, including that of Andrew with his fish and chips (which was shown on the Spanish side of the menu as 'Fish and chips." Some things are just too English to translate.

The beach was lovely and you could sense the joy, but it is the only stretch of sand for a few miles in either direction, whereas at Mar Menor you are spoiled for choice.

Back at the hotel we settled down for a nice cup of tea, followed by a rum and Coke, followed by a spruce up and shave (me, not Pauline) and then it was time for dinner. This again proved to be a challenge. There is so much food on offer and it is all good, so the decision to only fill your plate to inside the rim is questionable, yet, despite the bloated feeling afterwards, it is achievable. However, judging by the many guests around us, we were the only ones thinking of our waistlines.

The apartments
There's a dragon boat out there


Sunday, 22 May 2016

La Manga - Sunday 22nd May 2016

It was time to give Barry some space. We had a gentle breakfast, packed the car and set off to explore a little. We drove down to the coast and followed the road up past Isla Plana and over the pass. I spotted the road to the battery that I had missed, but I'd viewed it on Google Earth, so didn't think a detour was necessary.

Cross the pass and the colours change yet again. There is more greenery, a lot more agriculture, but the colour that caught the eye was pink, from roadside poppies.

We made our way to Cartagena, drove around and inspected the town centre, and then went looking for a major shopping centre We saw it, from several different angles but couldn't find the way in, so we took that as fate and drove north to La Manga.

At La Manga you have the best of two worlds. There's a long two lane dual-carriageway that slices through the whole length of the town. This area seems a little more upmarket. Several of the hotels have been designed with a castle effect, crenulations on every balcony. As you drive into La Manga you have the Mediterranean Sea on your right and the Mar Menor on your left.

We stopped for a walk in the sun and a coffee on the beach, then made our way back round to Los Alcazares. When we approached Velez Rubio we were greeted by a triple arch and friendly, excited water fountains. Driving into Los Alcazares we were greeted by two separate arches, but no fountains. Nevertheless we felt pleased to find the hotel Costa Narejos without much trouble.

We stayed here once before, for one night two years ago. It is a pleasant hotel, probably four star if judged back home, but the costs are much lower than that and there are no rip offs, especially in the bar.  I found myself paying about a third of what I expected.

Meal time tonight was faultless. The food was excellent and I opted for the most expensive 
rosé on the wine list. Eleven Euros.

That far out and knee deep

Mar Menor from Google Earth

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Velez Rubio - Saturday 21st May 2016

First we have to say Happy Birthday to Barry. Seventy two today and not looking a day younger.

He celebrated by going off for a long game of golf. We had to decide where we would go. First we shopped for a few extras for tonight and then decided against trying to find the market in Mazarron. We drove through the town yesterday, up through the Main Street to the old mining area. Mazarron was renowned for centuries for its mineral wealth and the hills above the town bear testament to the type of mining that when on, particularly the iron mines, which were the last ones to be exhausted.

Over several hundred years the sierras around Mazarron yielded zinc, silver, iron, alum and red ochre, but throughout the 19th and 20th centuries it was almost exclusively iron, and the evidence is clear with the dark red spillages of the slag heaps.

Instead we went to Velez Rubio. We made our way to Totana, turned south for a little while and then turned west again onto the A91. You quickly find yourself in Andalusia, and everything changes. The oleander gives way to golden gorse, packed thickly down the central reservation and occasionally on both roadsides too. The hilsl become greener thanks to the serried ranks of olive trees, interspersed with ramrod straight cypress trees. Velez Rubio is in the heart of the Parc Nationale de la Sierra Maria and proved to be an interesting visit.

We parked just below the impressive Church of the Virgin of the Incarnation, had a respectful inspection and then found the market place by following the reverse route that people laden with carrier bags had taken. There were stalls everywhere, in every little square, round every corner. It was nicely hot and there was a lovely buzz to the place.

We got back before Barry finished his labours (which he ensured us they were) and then I cooked a sea-food soup, prawn and mushroom risotto, and we finished it off with a miniature birthday cake for Barry.

Then we endured the cup final.

Church of the Virgin of the Incarnation


Paella - Friday 20th May 2016

Normally we only get a week at a time of holiday, and it's never enough. This time we have eleven days and because of the early start on Wednesday, and the non-stop warmth, the days have gone slowly and I can feel the benefit. The peace is bliss.

We walked across to the shops for a coffee and some people watching, bought some fruit, lazed on Barry's terrace, which was all very strange, having nothing to do. Then we went back down to the port.

Mazarron itself is about three miles inland. Puerto de Mazarron spreads across a good chunk of the 20 mile wide bay. On our first trip down we parked in the central area. Yesterday we approached from the north and today it was from the southern end.

You are not really aware of the business part of the port. There is a fish market, but it is stocked from shallow water fishing boats, not the chunkier trawlers of other regions. As you walk along the edge of the promenade you can see shoals of fish, coming in to be fed by excited children.

Our venue today was another good restaurant where Barry ordered sizzling prawns and a paella that could have fed a family. I was thinking I could get used to this lifestyle when Pauline said she felt strange with nothing to do.

We drove from there to Bolnuevo with the intention of a coffee, but although the beach was relatively quiet, the preferred coffee shop was very busy, so we simply looked again at the remarkable wind sculptures, admired the view of the bay from a cliff top, and went back to Sector A for the coffee.

I heard tonight that Mike Hayhurst died in hospital at 4pm. He was a long term member of Lichfield Lions, but has been ill and declining since well before Christmas. May he now rest in peace.


Friday, 20 May 2016

Isla Plana - Thursday 19th May 2016

I haven't seen my brother for two years and so it's good to have some quality time with him. Faced with another day of wall to wall sunshine, we broke ourselves gently into it. Camposol is made up of four sectors and we walked up to Sector A for the weekly market. Barry says this will get bigger as the summer progresses, but it was big enough for us and I bought four belts for the price of one back home.

A little later we went up to Barry's golf club for a coffee and a relax on the patio. After lunch the idea was to go to the Bateria de Castallitos but it proved too hard to find. We drove to Isla Plana and then drove up a pass into the Sierra up twisting hairpin bends, which apparently is the right way, but I didn't notice the turn off we needed, so we made our way back to Puerto de Mazarron, from a different direction, and walked along the promenade until we found an ice cream shop.

On the way back we also called at Bolnuevo to look at the wind sculptures.


Wind sculptures

The rest of the day was spent lounging, enjoying Barry's cooking and the odd sip of wine.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Puerto de Mazarron - Wednesday 18th May 2016

We woke every hour until 3am, then every 10 minutes until 3.30, then we got up. The birds were well in to the chorus of the dawn. We had a cup of tea and a yogurt and then set off for the East Midlands Airport. This place is still growing and was very busy.

We progressed through the various hurdles and into the departure lounge. Ryan Air don't give generous leg room but we were at the front of the aircraft and enjoyed a trouble free trip. I did notice the snow that sti8ll covers the Pyrenees. The car rental desk was in the luggage retrieval area and we had the car before the cases.

Out of Murcia airport onto empty roads that changed from murky to sunny half way to Camposol. Barry met us with a cup of tea and then we went down to the beach area of Puerto de Mazarron for a very enjoyable three course lunch.

Back to Barry's and a couple of hours in the lovely heat on his veranda. We were both quite tired and threatened to nod off, so tonight was just about relaxing and catching up.

The Pyrenees

The beach

Next door

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Ickworth House - Tuesday 17th May 2016

Daylight arrived at 4.15am, and I let it. I caught up again about two hours later. This was a busy day. First came a public meeting hosted by the Staffordshire Neurological Alliance at Mansfield House in Rugeley. Prior to today I'd only seen one meeting room at this venue but today we had the main hall, with stage and enough room for about 250 people. There was also a large bowling green just outside.

We had just over 50 people there. John Morgan opened the event with an introduction about the SNA and its progress to date. This was followed up by comprehensive presentations by Healthwatch and the CCG. I know I learned quite a lot and I think those around the table I was on did so as well.

There was a fulsome lunch (for at least 100!) and then we had our monthly committee meeting. This was shorter than normal because we would only have been going over what we had just heard. Then it was back home to get ready for an early start tomorrow, process details for two more listeners, take a stick round to Caterina at Beacon Park Village, and one final trip to the studio with more items to be posted.

Ickworth House

The National Trust describes Ickworth House as "One man's passion and vision of an Italianate palace in the heart of Suffolk. Ickworth house with its classical Rotunda, East and West Wings forms the centrepiece of the Ickworth estate. It reflects its former owners, the Hervey Family’s tenacious spirit and has been preserved by the custodianship and influence of unconventional men and women over successive generations. "

The house was part built between 1795 and 1829. Frederick Hervey commissioned the Italian architect Asprucci to design for him a classical villa, but he didn't live to see it completed. The National Trust took over in 1956. There was some dispute over ownership that rambled on a while, but the West Wing was in need of completion and this was achieved in 2006 as a result of a joint partnership between the National Trust and Sodexo Prestige.

Ickworth House

Dunwich Heath Reserve - Monday 16th May 2016

The pre4ssure was on to clear the decks for a few days off. There must be a trigger somewhere that says 'send it to him now' because in all, six new listeners details were received. All were duly processed and the media players were despatched. I took them all to the Sorting Office, then went into the studio to leave everything that will be needed whilst I'm away, and I even found time to go to a new listener who wants to receive library books on USB sticks.

This afternoon it was into the garden to try to make it look presentable to the passers by. I worked on 'my' patch round the front and only stopped when my back wouldn't take any more.

Dunwich Heath Reserve

If you are a nature lover, this is a lovely place to visit, especially if you time it to coincide with the gorse and heathers in their prime. This is maintained by the National Trust and it is one of their more visitor-friendly sites, especially for the younger people. All manner of walks are encouraged (beach or cliff top) and tracking and recording wildlife is also a priority.

This is the kind of site it would be good to live close to, because it is a constantly changing vista.

Dunwich Heath

Luck is my middle name. Which would be great if Bad wasn't my first name.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Orford Castle - Sunday 15th May 2016

We got up when we woke up, had breakfast with Helen, wer4e joined by Dave for a cup of tea, loaded the car and were on the road back to Lichfield just before 9am. The skies were blue, the roads were clear and the sun burned away the early moisture and the trip home was the quickest I have ever achieved, and it was all done on cruise control.

What did strike me was the way that Britain changes colour as the year unfolds. At the start of the year the main colour is white (I don't mean snow) with snowdrops the flower in fashion. Next come the yellow daffodils. They give way to the blues of the hyacinths and the bluebells, and now we are in the golden/yellow phase. The journey home was matching the sun with gorse and oil seed rape, dandelions and buttercups, and the motorway was lined with the yellow cowslip, especially in Oxfordshire.

cowslips at Tamworth

Back home, Pauline collected Rita for the day, taking her to church and then bringing her back for lunch and dinner. I went to see a listener who was having trouble. I sorted that and then we chatted about common experiences and the things that make us happy. I bought a chicken for dinner on the way back, and then all I really did for the rest of the day was clean the garden pool, and research some data that has been niggling at me to do.

Orford Castle

The bit that is left is in remarkably good shape. The castle was built between 1165 and 1173 by King Henry II, because the local area (controlled by four other castles) was in the hands of non-royalists. Henry stamped on the resistance, took over the castles of Suffolk, and so the influence of Orford waned.

Left relatively unattended, the castle was captured by the French in 1216, spurred on by the English barons who were objecting to King John. When the King was brought to heel at Runnymede, the importance of the castle faded even more and as the harbour and seaward approaches silted up, Orford had no importance any more.

Most of the castle fell into disrepair and the stones were taken away to become part of other building, but the unique polygonal keep still stood standing 90 feet tall. Eventually it was bought by a local family and some restoration work was carried out. Now run by English Heritage, the castle is a museum of mainly medieval and Roman artefacts, but is mostly intact and worth a visit, if only for the views.

Orford Castle

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Christchurch Mansion - Saturday 14th May 2016

This was a day about family, except that Megan eventually left us for a sleep over with friends. Dave went off to work (but was home by 2pm) and we all went down into Wycombe because the ladies could hear the call of the shops.

Megan went for an educational session at Sainsbury's. I'd not come across this before but they have a separate room, manned by tutors, where young scholars can go and revise subjects that are approaching exam time. Megan was there for 90 minutes and did sessions of English and Maths. It is all directed by set programmes but the tutors are there if any pupil hits a stumbling block.

There was a bit more shopping in the afternoon, then another of Helen's lovely meals, the odd glass of wine, and an earlyish night because of the need to depart early.

Christchurch Mansion

This impressive Tudor brick mansion was built by Sir Edmund Withipoll in 1548-1550. There followed 120 years of peace and prosperity, and then a fire destroyed much of the upper floor. This was rebuilt in 1670, but the lower floor is much as it was from the outset.

There was a danger in the late 1800s of the building falling into disrepair, but it was recued, renovated and eventually handed over to the care of the Ipswich Town Corporation (together with £2 million in today's money) with the provision that the 28 hectares of surrounding parkland should be open to the public, and the money gifted should be spent on art exhibitions, particularly by Constable and Gainsborough. Today there is an impressive art exhibition, plus collections of pottery and glass in particular.

Christchurch Mansion

Salisbury Cathedral by John Constable

Lovely weekend in High Wycombe, and I only got one GRANDDAD!!!!! Mind you, that was from everyone present.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Countryside - Friday 13th May 2016

For most of my 52 years of work it was under pressure. Long hours, lots of stressful situations and tons of responsibility. I thrived on it, but Pauline always found the first two days of a holiday difficult because I would be restless or very sleepy. When I retired seven years ago I promised to learn to unwind. It didn't exactly work out that way. There was the Lions, Talking News, SNA, Rocklands and involvements with Special Olympics and the EFDS.

I have pulled back from some of those but the Talking News has grown beyond all expectations and Wednesday and Thursday are both full on, so I usually just loiter on a Friday. Not so today.

I processed yet another new listener and wrapped five more media players for despatch. I went and checked the tyre pressures, took six mailbags to the Sorting Office and then went to the tip. Next it was the studio to leave instructions for next week, and then I drove to Hoar Cross to see another new listener.

If anyone has heard of the hamlet 12 miles north of Lichfield it would be because of Hoar Cross Hall, an upmarket health spa. My lady lived half a mile past the hall in a delightful country cottage with an Aga stove and oak beamed ceilings. She was graceful and gracious and belied her 92 years. I spent some time with her and then made my way back past bluebell woods and a glorious display of rhododendrons.

Back home I mowed both lawns. The self set primroses were finished and in their place was dandelions, buttercups, daisies, speedwell and forget-me-nots. They all went.

A quick lunch and then we were on the road down to High Wycombe. I dropped Pauline off with Helen and went to collect the girls from school. Jessica was excited because her boyfriend was coming for dinner. Megan was on good form. Dave got home early, and Alfie turned out to be a bright, articulate and very pleasant young man.

We had a lovely, well packed Friday.
bluebells near Kings Bromley
rhododendrons near Lichfield

Friday, 13 May 2016

Listeners - Thursday 12th May 2016

The pressure is on. Such a lot to get finished before we go away, so I got up when we woke. I tidied up the magazine downloads and then processed two new listeners. Breakfast had hardly settled and I was on to the recording of the Stevenage Talking News. My cold is easing and the recording went well.

I'd three new Lichfield listeners to see and planned that for tomorrow, but two couldn't comply, so I fitted them in today.

First I went to see Betty, 86 years old, recovering from cancer treatment, dicky heart and now losing her eyesight. Marian Tague was already there. Marian is the Rehabilitation Officer for the Blind and she was equipping Betty with safety devices and memory aids. You would think with all her problems that life would be a chore, but she was so positive, and excited about everything that was arriving all at once.

She rang later, still very moved.

I did the Live at Home Scheme run, but this time they were having lunch at the Turnpike. I was able to get the Lichfield Mercury, so that saved some time later. I went to the studio and made 60 copies of the Stevenage TN, one for Scotland and 200+ for Wales.

Next I went to see a 93 year old war veteran. Marian had organised this visit too. He told me he had been sceptical about the Talking news, but by the time I left he was quite enthused. We talked about many things, mostly his memories, especially his war time experiences on motor torpedo boats. He was a service man through and through but had been discharged due to battle wounds. His list of friends and acquaintances was long and he was planning a trip to St Dunstans (now called Blind Veterans) and I was able to reassure him about the trip and the reception he will receive.

All of this was such a privilege.

Tonight there were only three of us at the Talking News. Ben came for a while to handle the wallets but the reading was done by David, Keith and myself. Peter arrived to help us at the duplicating stage.

The day was packed, with no room left for meandering memories. Before I settled down I wrote a must do list for the morning. Nine Musts and two Would-be-nices.

Something to look forward to.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Lavenham Guildhall - Wednesday 11th May 2016

The whole day was run at breakneck speed. Having succumbed yesterday, there was no time for self indulgence today, especially as it was Pauline's turn to be off colour.

I started by processing two new listeners, then packaged media players for two more who have seen their old machines die, then I sorted out Calibre subscriptions for two more listeners. Pauline took Rita over to Tamworth and I collected 6 sacks of returns, which I processed in the garage because the rain didn't stop all day. I also cleared 76 e-mails that needed action.

I went to the studio and made arrangements for the next two weeks and got back to find Pauline ready for bed. My thought was that our holiday would not be taking place, though she has been given a course of treatment and today was only day one.

Lavenham Guildhall

Much of the village of Lavenham is medieval and the guildhall is a great example of a Tudor timber framed building. During the 15th century, Lavenham became very important in the wool trade and the guildhall became the centre of operations. The lime-washed, spacious building was the centre of all activities until the wool trade collapsed. It then followed a chequered career and finished as a workhouse throughout Victorian times.

Falling into disrepair, it was rescued and restored in 1911. It passed into the keeping of the National Trust in 1951 and they have established a museum and hold exhibitions concerning the wool trade, plus there is a pleasant walled garden. There is also the garden to explore and a popular woodland walk.

Lavenham Guildhall

The label said it was foolproof. Hah, I soon proved them wrong!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Flatford Mill - Tuesday 10th May 2016

First on the agenda was our monthly meeting between the Staffordshire Neurological Alliance and the University Hospital North Midlands. For the SNA there was John Morgan and me and for the UHNM there was Hayley. John had come loaded with questions for the one person that didn't turn up, but he declared himself satisfied that we came away with more than we went with.

The journey up to Stoke on Trent had been reasonable and the return trip was actually pleasant. Half way home I thought that if the weather stayed as it was, I could get into the garden. By the time I was back in Lichfield the rain had settled in. It wasn't constant. Sometimes it was only drizzle whilst occasionally it was a genuine downpour.

Day two of my cold. I don't feel sorry for myself but I did lack motivation. So I did nothing for the rest of the day, except almost reconstruct two toilet seats. One was fitted as required and the second kits was minus two essential parts (not the lid and the seat!).

Flatford Mill

No visit to Suffolk is complete without a visit to Flatford Mill. Although much has obviously changed since it was built in 1733, nevertheless there is still plenty there to show what John Constable would have seen as he grew to maturity and used the local scene for the basis of many of his most popular paintings.

The cottage, run by the National Trust, that is part of the heritage hosts exhibitions of John Constable and his art. It is also possible to enrol for instructions hosted by the Field Studies Council. I think we should turn to Constable himself for views of the site.

Flatford Mill

If wine can't think, how come it knows when my glass is empty? I'm sure t's not me that fills it so regularly.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

St Edmundsbury Cathedral - Monday 9th May 2016

I am rare3ly unwell. True I get blisters if I am unwary enough to eat wheat, and I did once have cancer, but they thought it was gall stones. When they found the mistake they took my kidney away and didn't even give me an aspirin afterwards. Today I felt dreadful, and all I've got is a cold.

I was up fairly early because today was the Lichfield Lions Golf Day in support of St Giles Hospice. I arrived and offered my services, folded a few raffle tickets, and that was basically it. Mike Knight did all the organising and had everything covered, so I went home to straighten out a few messes.

Tonight I was at the Alrewas Women's Institute as their guest speaker. I do quite a few WI meetings around the south of the county. You know that they will give you £30 for turning up, and if you make an impact they will arrange a function in your support. I'm hopeful after tonight. Not only did I get my cheque, a lot of the ladies came up after my talk and pressed money into my hands. When I got home I found it was another £90!

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Now we look at Suffolk, starting with St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It was a silly schoolboy joke that got me interested. "I came to Bury St Albans, not to praise him."

They built the first church on the site starting around 1065. St Anselm of Canterbury was a devout man and wanted to embark on a pilgrimage, but felt the need to stay and defend the church. Instead of the pilgrimage he instead embarked on building a church at Bury St Edmunds. This stood fairly untouched for 450 years.

Starting in 1503 the church was largely rebuilt, and although it was further extended over the next couple of hundred years, it remained a church. Now there are churches across Britain that suddenly became cathedrals, because for most of English history at least you couldn't be a city if you didn't have a cathedral, but although this magnificent building was declared to be a cathedral in 1914, Bury St Edmunds is still just a town.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Monday, 9 May 2016

Sunshine - Sunday 8th May 2016

Days like this aren't doing me any good. They are making me want to retire. The sun was there from the outset and we decided that a BBQ on the beach would be more than OK. Our first BBQ of 2016 and three days sunshine on the trot. Get a hot day in Britain and the papers are full of "Hotter than Benidorm". What they fail to note is that when it drops ten degrees here, it stays where is was on the Continent.

We stacked the portable larder with everything BBQ and then walked the 0.4 mile down to the beach at Hove Actually. We found a nice level spot as the sun gained influence and we all let Dan get on with it. Particularly Jackson who found sitting on Gary's head was much nicer that all those pebbles.

I like watching the antics of people on days like these. There were two parties close by, one of young teenage lads and the other of girls. There was a lot of posturing and showing off, mostly ignored. The sign clearly said No Diving Off The Groyne (on penalty of groyne strain) but one young lad kept climbing on the groyne, uttering a 'look at me!" yell and then doing a back flip onto the pebbles. No one appeared to be taking any notice, until he got it wrong and ended on his backside.

That's when they all laughed.

We knew it could be a nightmare journey home because half the world had gone to the beach, so we set off at 5.10pm. We got to Gatwick and crawled the next 20 miles to the M25. Thinking we were on for a six hour journey home (it's happened before) we were delighted to find it was mainly restricted to the M23 and we made it back to Lichfield for 8.35pm.  What was noticeable was the change in temperature as we drove north. It dropped 1 degree every thirty miles. It was 27 in Brighton and 20 in Lichfield. We are in the same country!


soft seat

Groyne strain

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Confirmation - Saturday 7th May 2016

I woke early and watched the daylight creep through the skylight. I heard no sound other than Roan. Dan and Gary had gone to a party last night and I knew they would have been late. My car was trapped behind Gary's. I didn't want to disturb anybody and so I took it as fate and didn't make an early start down to Eastbourne and the Lions MD Convention. I was only planning to go to be sociable.

Reece went off to a morning birthday party, Dan took Jackson and Roan off to the east end of Brighton, and the rest of us followed a little later. We parked well passed the Brighton Eye and pier and met up with the others for a coffee on the beach. Then we walked into Marine Drive to see the finish of the Brighton parade for schools. Sixty seven primary schools took part and the whole area was swarming with people, lively with laughter and very inclusive. It was a lovely atmosphere and the businesses along the seafront must have been stocking up on ice creams and rock for weeks.

Abba were there

Confirmation - Hove Actually

a friendly crowd

legless in Brighton

This afternoon I did something I haven't done for a very long time. I sat in the sun and read a book. It is seven long months since we were last this warm and somehow I intend to take advantage of the good days as much as we can

Tonight we had a dinner party. Dan and Gary invited four friends from (the boys) school acquaintance and we enjoyed the odd glass of champagne, or wine, or port, or wine. There was lots of friendly banter and a very, very good meal.

Must do this more often.