Rain day

Today we watched an episode of Silent Witness which featured a character in the final scene leaving Britain via the Queen’s Terminal. The character walked along the same walkway that I did with mum yesterday. It was quite bizarre given I hadn’t heard of it before.

It wasn’t the nicest of days today. Apart from the almost constant drizzle which occasionally developed into proper rain, it was also really windy.

Actually this is the longest bout of strong winds I can remember since we moved to the UK. It’s very annoying because just as we have a few windless days, I stand the obelisks back up only to find them once more lying on the ground the next day.

So, basically, it was a day for chilling with Mirinda working on her DBA and me printing stuff for her.

The poor puppies didn’t get a walk.

The only photo I took today was of the construction at Deers Leap. There appears to be a new retaining wall going in as well as an extension.

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Stay tuned for future updates.

Sleep depravity and stress

I was sat in Costa, having left mum with the special assistance people at Heathrow and overheard (not exactly overheard given she was speaking loud enough for everyone in the airport to hear) an Essex woman (judging from her accent) announce she was sleep depraved and stressed. I’m fairly certain she meant deprived but it does make an excellent title.

Mind you, I rather know what she means…or meant, anyway. We were up at 5am this morning getting ready for Carol to pick us up at 6 for the drive to Heathrow. And she did the unthinkable. She forgot us! Actually, she’d put the date down wrong and thought we didn’t want her until next week. Anyway, I rang at 6:15 and she raced around to get us, all apologies and a-frazzle.

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Not that it mattered. We were there in plenty of time. I checked mum’s bag in at the wonderfully renovated and redesigned Terminal 2, then took her over to the Special Assistance counter where she sat in a wheelchair, waiting for the driver. While we waited we were entertained by the two girls at the counter who were rather over friendly with each other. Making mum ‘tut’ and me to wonder.

And so, finally, after a little over three months, mum was wheeled away, through security and to her gate while I slowly drifted off to work. I spent most of the day wondering how she was going. As it turns out, she went really well. On the first leg, the plane must have been a bit empty because they moved her to an empty row so she had all three seats to herself. It was also just behind the business class seats so she had more legroom.

As for me, I did the usual fun research at work. I was surprised that Nick was at work given he was supposed to be on holidays. (It seems he was sick at the beginning of the week and didn’t go.) At lunchtime I went and checked out the wonderful Alec Soth photographic exhibition. Some amazing photographs and an incredible eye for the unusual.

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Then, finally, home. Very tired. Finally I heard from mum to say she’d arrived at Singapore and then I went to bed.

Packing

Well, mum’s three month adventure is almost over and today was the dreaded packing day

Now, I pride myself on leaving packing till the last minute but it’s not so easy when you’ve been away so long and visited so many gift shops.

Needless to say, mum took quite a few hours at getting as much as possible into her suitcase. The remainder will have to go by boat.

Of course, before starting the packing, mum walked into Farnham with me for a final Starbucks and visit to Waitrose (sadly Janet wasn’t working so mum could say bye).

After lunch, I left mum to her stuffing while I took the girls up to the park. It wasn’t as gorgeous as the other day but at least it wasn’t raining.

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Emma managed to wear herself out, chasing her ball. At point I couldn’t find her…or her ball. I asked Freya but she was confused. I asked Day-z but she didn’t hear me. Finally I found Emma resting under a handy bench.

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On the way back to the house, I realised that I’ve been remiss in photographs of Farnham Park Trees of Interest. In an attempt to rectify my slackness in this regard…here’s the Squirrel Tree.

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Back at home we prepared for Mirinda’s arrival and then we headed up to Cote for our last meal together. We’d decided on Cote because it’s Mirinda’s favourite Farnham restaurant but also because mum liked it so much after going there for lunch with Jackie.

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It was then home to bed. We have a very early start tomorrow.

Too much disco

I’m not sure what’s worse, a train full of commuters or kids. Both in groups are unpleasant. I really wish they’d travel together and leave the daily trains to normal people.

We could have been spared the latter unpleasantness by not going anywhere today.

To be fair, there was a bit of doubt about whether we’d be going to Portsmouth again today. Mum wasn’t feeling the best yesterday. Or her knees weren’t.

There was also some little doubt about the weather.

As it turned out, the day was lovely and we did go to Portsmouth and mum proclaimed it a wonderful day, even better than the first.

After a badly served latte at Costa, we headed for the museum on the dock to find out all about Nelson.

The museum is in three parts. The first is the Nelson shrine, the second and third are about the Royal Navy.

We only managed to see the Nelson part because we had to be at the pier to catch the harbour tour boat.

Apparently shortness runs in the family
Apparently shortness runs in the family

Above is what Nelson more than likely looked like just before Trafalgar. He was average height for a man in the early 1800’s. Mum reckons it’s proof that he was her father. Given he died in 1805, that makes mum at least 210 years old. I think it’s remarkable that her knees are working at all.

The highlight of the day was not finding out that Horatio Nelson was my maternal grandfather, it was the harbour tour.

Highly recommended and included on the all inclusive entrance ticket, the harbour tour chugs around Portsmouth harbour with the crew pointing out various facts pertaining, mostly, to the ships in dock – dry and wet.

The talk was great while the woman was giving it. She was clear and bright and understandable. The talk was not so good when the man took over. He was muffled and crackly and not easily understandable. A shame, really. Still…

HMS Diamond (D34) launched in 2007
HMS Diamond (D34) launched in 2007

And it was a lovely day for it. It was so cold in the wind that I almost had the open deck to myself. So I was free to snap away without dodging tourist heads and errant selfie sticks.

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The two ships above were in for repairs. The round thing on top of the pyramidal towers can spot a golf ball travelling at mach 3! And, presumably bigger things going a lot slower. They are also stealthy and appear smaller than they are on radar so they can be mistaken for fishing boats. Or maybe kayaks.

It was a splendid way to spend almost an hour. Though mum preferred the temperature inside the cabin, I stayed outside for the whole glorious thing.

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It was on the tour that I discovered that when she died, Queen Victoria paused in her trip to London and was stored overnight in the butcher’s freezer in one of the buildings below…

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I also discovered that she died from too much disco. Or at least that’s what this young Canadian boy’s grandfather told him. So it must be true. Surely.

Anyway, the whole day was a great treat for us both, even the stop at the Fossil Shop (mum asked what they sold there…I told her ‘fossils’). In fact, everything was jolly marvellous except for the very long wait for the bus at Haslemere station.

For some reason it was very late, laving us very cold in the little, noisy bus stop opposite the Metro Cafe for far too long.

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Still, it was a minor quibble and we were soon home with the manic puppies.

Rest day

Today the weather was supposed to be awful. Wind, cold, rain, you name it. Everything that could possibly be called awful was supposed to be flung at us.

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Okay, when we walked, slowly, into Farnham first thing, the wind was pretty strong and chilly, the clouds were a bit grey and there were about four dribbles of rain. None of it lasted.

By the time we’d finished shopping and were ready to head home, any clouds were scudding away and the sun was smiling, shyly; almost apologetically. The wind was still blowing it large and the temperature was still quite low but, basically, the day was progressively turning beautiful.

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And that’s how it remained. All day. And I spent it doing housework. This included giving Max a jolly good scrub.

After lunch the dogs were overjoyed at going for a walk up the park. So overjoyed that Emma continuously wrestled with Freya all the way round to the extent that on our return home, Freya collapsed onto a cushion, where she remained for quite a while. Emma, obviously, was not tired.

And that, basically, was that.

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Hamasfunt

Who knew there was a natural spring at Havant which almost single handedly, created the parchment industry so important to the town. I daresay we’d never have known if not for the chap in St Faith’s who, rather than tell us about the church, insisted we visit the spring.

So we did. Of course.

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You have to stand very still and stare into the pond and then you’ll see the water bubbling up in various places. The water filters through the chalk of the South Downs; millions of gallons a day, so the chap in the church informed us. I think it’s probably not quite that much.

We were in Havant (originally Hamasfunt meaning Hama’s spring) in order to meet Beryl, Peter, Sherrie and Gary. Actually, Sherrie and Gary were a surprise, albeit a nice one.

We were meeting at the Spring arts and crafts centre and museum. For lunch, although they had lunch before they left home, so it was just mum and me eating while they sat round and watched.

The Spring is a lovely spot. Very much like the Maltings with the addition of the museum. Peter was quite taken with it and claims he’ll be back.

We managed to sit and talk there for a number of hours – Beryl was concerned everyone had gone home, leaving us locked in. However, a kind young man with a beard and a woman’s voice was working at the box office and the doors weren’t locked.

Actually, it was Sherrie who noticed he had a woman’s voice. Being blind gives her amazing hearing. I was leading her out when Peter started talking to the young man behind the counter.

Sherrie asked me who the woman was. Fortunately she asked quietly. I told her I didn’t know but that she had a pretty full beard. Sherrie went into hysterics.

Which reminds me. On the way down to The Spring, we walked by the Havant talking newsletter office.

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I asked Sherrie if she received it. She said yes but only once every two weeks. When I told her we delivered an edition every week she was a bit jealous.

We had a lovely, if loud, visit before heading back to Farnham by train. Sadly that included a crowded commuter train where mum sat beside a man who grunted and fidgetted and opposite one who picked his nose.

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Puppy tangle

Today, weather permitting, we decided would be an excellent opportunity to visit the Rural Life Museum in Tilford. And, I’m glad to say, the weather did indeed permit it.

We’d also decided, it being her last Sunday with us, to spare her my cooking for a change and have a proper English Sunday pub lunch at the Holly Bush.

Both of these activities were puppy friendly so the girls didn’t have to stay home alone.

Speaking of the girls, today marked Freya’s first day with a real collar. Yes, we’ve finally ditched the harness and replaced it with a proper, grown up purple collar. She was a bit confused but I think quite pleased to be the same as the other two. And I’m not sure if this was the reason why we had so many Puppy Tangle Moments…or as I like to call them PTMs.

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We had a rather exclusive wander around the museum given we were almost the only paying visitors. There were a few museum volunteers working on the railway and the cafe was open but that was about it.

Mum rather enjoyed (if that’s the right word) seeing the prefab which reminded her of days gone by and aunty Mol and uncle Arthur who lived in one. (I can never think about aunty Mol and uncle Arthur without remembering those insane nights at Rooty Hill with the wine and cards, playing Kalooki. They were some crazy nights.)

We popped into the Polish refuge hut, which we’d never seen before, checked out the chapel and the cricket pavilion and generally saw most of the place. Sadly the train wasn’t running so mum missed out on that particular highlight.

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We then visited the shop. Of course. Sadly, there was no bag but there was a jar of marmalade which was handy given mum had finished hers and was wondering what she’d have to resort to having on her toast for the next five days.

We then set off for the Holly Bush, via the Frensham Garden Centre for critical Borders Biscuit supplies. And I found a new flavour! Danish salted caramel! Magic.

Speaking of Danish…we’ve been watching The Bridge on Netflix. We’re up to series two and are trying to finish before mum leaves. While nothing like salted caramel, it’s still very tasty…particularly Saga.

Anyway, we settled ourselves down in the Holly Bush for a delicious Sunday roast and drinks. They always do good food and tend to have children who adore puppies so our three are always welcome. In fact, there was a baby there today who lit up with a massive grin every time he saw Freya.

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And the rain held off all day!

First game

Today was the first time that Rafi went to a football game. It was his Christmas present – a football experience with Gary – and he’s really been looking forward to it.

Of course, it was to be an Aldershot game so I’d warned him to have no expectations.

Before we left for the game, we had lunch – Almost a Lamb Pie followed by Better-late-than-never Christmas Cake. Both were delicious and fortified us against the cold wind to come.

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Finally we left the house for the bus into Aldershot while Mirinda and Susanne took mum on a walking tour of Winchester.

The stroll down from the Wellington Centre to the Rec was as grim as usual but the delightfully positive Rafi saw only bright spots, wondering why I thought it was so rough. Such a lovely boy.

The first stop was the club shop in order to buy him a scarf – mum insisted – then, Rafi having requested seats, we headed for the south stand, programme clutched in his hand.

The first half was pretty abysmal with the Shots paying as badly as Kidderminster who are at the bottom of the league. There seemed to be no plan or strategy to the Aldershot team. A few times it looked like the Kidderminster team was going to score but largely owing to our goalie, it remained 0-0 at half time.

Of course a full football experience wouldn’t be complete without a hotdog so we joined the queue for the burger van. It was a very long queue and we spent all of half time and a chunk of the second half waiting. Actually I did. I sent Rafi onto the Slab so at least he’d see the game… and I could still see him. And would you believe it? It was while he was standing there waiting for me that Aldershot scored. I’d love to describe it in the glowing terms it no doubt deserves but the only bit I actually saw was the ball hitting the back of the net. At least Rafi saw it.

The rest of the game was a lot better as both teams searched for more goals only to be disappointed either by inadequate shooting boots or good goal keeping. Actually the best chance in the game came late in the second half to the only Kidderminster player wearing gloves. He found himself in front of goal, the ball at his feet and kicked it well wide and into the Community Stand much to the delight of the Shots fans.

It was all too soon over and we left the ground in a state of elation, a rare thing for an Aldershot fan, and headed for the bus station for a short wait and the trip home.

The Aldershot Boys
The Aldershot Boys

Rafi thoroughly enjoyed himself and can’t wait to go again! Apparently Susanne thoroughly enjoyed herself too.

A concert for mum

It seems, rightly or wrongly, that mum doesn’t like classical guitar.

A while ago we bought tickets to see two guitarists perform a selection of pieces for the Tilford Bach Society. Naturally we included mum.

Then Jackie was going to pick mum up and take her to stay the night at her place while we went to the concert without her. I thought this was an excellent idea.

It was very windy today and Jackie had an earache so, regrettably, she had to cancel mum’s visit. So, of course, mum decided to come to the guitar concert with us.

And it would be fair to say that mum hated it. It didn’t help that she couldn’t hear what was being said between pieces but, even so…

The other bit of the evening she wasn’t keen on was going for dinner after the concert. It was late. It was also raining. And windy.

Basically, mum was regretting ever leaving the house. Even having Freya jumping on her head would have been preferable.

And she’d had such a lovely day. Mirinda had been working from home and decided, after hearing about Jackie, to have the afternoon off and take mum on a somewhat circuitous route to visit Gilbert White’s house. Apart from getting lost and holding up all the traffic entering Selborne it would appear that they had a lovely day. Then we went to the concert.

Ignoring mum, we thought it was fantastic though Mirinda more than me, particularly the third piece which is atonal which means there’s nothing you can latch onto. Apparently music isn’t just for entertainment. That may be so but I rather like my music to entertain me. When I mentioned that to Mirinda she countered by saying a lot of people would have been left confused and definitely not entertained after seeing some of the pieces I directed back in the day. I have to admit she is right. There’ll be no more about atonal music from me!

The guitarists, by the way, were the wonderful Sean Shibe and Petra Polackova. Not only did they play beautifully on their own, they also made magic together. As a bit of a bonus, Sean was also very funny.

Not all having fun
Not all having fun

Afterwards, we wandered in the rain up to Pizza Express for a very late dinner which also vexed mum. But, finally, it was all over and we returned home to three very excited dogs who were quickly very sound asleep.

End of the day
End of the day

A real grandchild

Today Michael came out to Farnham for a visit. Mum wanted to see him before she goes back to Oz.

Okay, she literally saw him from the bus yesterday as we drove passed the bar he works in but she was hoping to talk to him as well.

Originally we’d thought he could come out to the house and I’d cook something nutritional like ham, egg and chips but, mainly because it’s a bit of a phaff, we thought it would be easier to meet him at the station then go to a pub for lunch. Which is what we did.

Of course, mum was quite keen to revisit the Wheatsheaf so that’s where we headed and took the first seats of their lunch sitting.

In a clear demonstration of the pubs popularity, it didn’t take long before a steady stream of diners started wandering through. We arrived at just gone 12. An hour later you’d have been hard pressed to find a table.

Actually that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Suffice it to say there were others there apart from us.

Mum decided to have the giant plate of peas and bacon again, half of which she was forced to leave. I had a delicious house burger and Michael went for a pulled pork chiabatta.

We had a jolly good natter before heading out for a wander to help our meals go down. Half, in mum’s case.

Mum wanted to print off some photos which meant visiting Boots after which we sort of wandered aimlessly before reaching St Andrews church where I forced them both to admire the Pugin window.

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It was a lovely day improved only by the appearance of Mirinda, home early in her new, super bright, funky, self designed Nikes.