Monday, August 31, 2015

Things are still happening

Is it really just a week since we were working in Aaron and Marcele's garden?

Linda and I see me to have fitted so much into this week but Aaron and Marcele have sent us images to let us know that the work in the garden continues:-

This is how we left it

Just a week later there has been so much growth in the garden and hanging baskets have been installed, adding a great touch to the surroundings.

The shed at the back looks like it has had a bit of a scrub down and, with a bit of determination, Marcele has now painted the shed:-

We look forward to more updates.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving right along

Friends of ours are visiting England at the moment and the other day they blogged about their visit to Canterbury and the cathedral. 

Upon completing our house sitting assignment on Monday we have set out to travel across the south of England and one of the first places we visited was Canterbury Cathedral.

Well worth going to see.  

The intricate detail of the icons on the front of the cathedral, I found fascinating.

Indoors was extremely interesting with many areas set aside to honour the dead.

I was not able to get any good photos of the many stained glass panels.  Linda and I spent a considerable time indoors looking at the many facets of this wonderful place steeped in history. 

I wonder how many stories this door within the cathedral walls could tell?:-

After the Cathedral we did a bit of window shopping. We continue to see so many interesting buildings from a bygone era:-

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An eventful weekend

Even though we had moved to Dartford for a house sitting assignment, Linda was still keen to go back to Epsom to help finish the work she had started in the garden.

It turned out to be a very hot (30+) London day but work must go on.

My youngest, Rick and girlfriend, Hannah, came as well so there was quite a bit of activity happening.

I volunteered to look after Caleb the baby so that Marcele could join in with the planting:-

Lots of action resulted in over 100 plants finding a new home:-

Although Aaron and Rick played their part we thought the 'girl team' did very well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our visit to Tonbridge

Whilst looking for the elusive Lullingstone Çastle the other day we took a little side trip to Tonbridge just to see what it was like.

When we drove into town we spot some rather grand buildings with nicely kept gardens that appealed to us:-

We decided that once we had looked at the shops we would pop in to take more of a look.

There was no signage to indicate what the property was used for and so we drove in and Linda parked the car behind another in the grounds.

We hadn't been there more than a few moments when an elegantly dressed woman appeared from through these doorways wanting to know why we were there.

We told her of our interest in the place as passers by and this appeared all very well but apparently we had parked outside the headmaster's residence and would we kindly move the car to the guest area:-

I talked with her for a few moments and was told the school housed 790 male pupils, 500 boarders and 290 day students.  An Internet search later revealed that to attend as a boarder costs over GBP12,000 per term.

We had happened upon a rather nice British private school.

After a bit of a wander we were on our way again.  A very pleasant interlude in our travels.

Just some of the lovely flowers in their front garden.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Meandering the Kent countryside

We relocated to our second house sit on Wednesday, so we had an at home day yesterday.

When I say 'at home', we did pop into Dartford for a morning coffee and coming home we went around the ring road three times before managing the correct exit to get us home.  Such are the joys of travel. 

Today we thought we would have a look at the Kent countryside and chose Lullingstone Çastle as a destination.

The first part of our journey was quite successful but we actually got to our destination far too early and so set off for Sevenoaks, a nearby town in search of morning coffee.

Good chance to look at the countryside and Sevenoaks was a pleasant stop.  We were still too early for a visit to the castle so we picked another destination, Tonbridge, and again enjoyed traveling through more of the pleasant Kent countryside, some of it very similar to parts of New Zealand. 

From Tonbridge we decided to look for a pub to have lunch and very much enjoyed what was on offer. Most of the customers at The Chasers Inn had opted to eat out in the garden area to take advantage of a hot summer's day, but we preferred the quietness and coolness of indoors.

Lullingstone Çastle was still on the agenda so I keyed it into our GPS and we set off once again.  It did not take us long but the GPS destination took us to the small town of Swanly and when we reached our destination:-

We had arrived at Lullingstone Çastle pub - not the real thing we had been looking for.

We laughed and laughed.  Apparently I had not picked up on the GPS that the little icon next to it indicated it was a drinking house, not a Çastle!

Back to the GPS and destination Eynsford where we had been in the morning.  It was close to the Çastle.  The journey did not take long and we at last pulled up at the Çastle at about 2.30pm.

We were about to pay the seniors rate of GBP6.50 when the attendant advised that the Çastle was only open to one guided tour per day and we had just missed it.  Although we had done our online research, nowhere had this been indicated so we did not pay and we never got to see inside Lullingstone Çastle.  Never mind, Linda said she didn't think it looked grand enough to be called a Çastle and we did have a lovely day out in the Kent countryside.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Aaron, the gardener

We are having a really good time with Aaron and Marcele and their children at the moment.

Linda said she would help Aaron to get his back yard spruced up and so there has been lots of activity.

Although Aaron has never really done much in the gardening world he is a willing learner and Linda has been able to give him some good tips.

Linda has painted the wall behind (with help from Marcele) and Aaron is preparing the garden bed so planting can happen.

Aaron went to the markets on Sarturday and bought a lovely selection of plants.

We only have one more full day here so it will be a busy one.  There is still more painting to be done before the plants can go in.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Taking the opportunity to celebrate

My latest grandchild, Caleb, reached the six month milestone this week.

My daughter-in-law, Marcele, said the celebrated when he was three months old and wanted to celebrate again so she bought this lovely cake:-

We sang happy half birthday and Dad, Aaron, blew out the candle.

It was good to be here for this milestone in Caleb's life:-

Saturday, August 15, 2015

House Sitting

Apart from being with family, part of the reason for our return to London was to fulfill a commitment to do house sitting for people who want to go away but leave their pets with a carer at home.

At the moment we are looking after two rescue cats, Bianca and Sasha.  So nice to have some cats in our lives again.

However, they are missing 'Mum' and spend a lot of time on the window sill watching and waiting:-

This is Sasha in her spot at the window sill.

Back in London Town

Before we came away Linda and I sent a package on ahead for my grand daughter, Anna-Clara.

It contained a quilt, a couple of books and some finger puppets.  As it turned out, the finger puppets were the hit of the day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making the most of the English summer

Since leaving New Zealand at the end of June we have been very fortunate to have had very little rain.

We did have a memorable day when we went to see Richard II enacted in London and it rained and rained and rained that day.

This last Wednesday Linda and I left Eccleshall early and our destination was London.  It was a beautiful summer day, and, dare I say, at times it felt too hot.

However, it was lovely for us as we travelled through Staffordshire and south to Stratford Upon Avon.  After a coffe stop we took time out to go and look at Anne Hathaway's Cottage.  Quite a significant spot for lovers of Shakespearean history:-

Set in ten acres, there are lots of lovely garden plots to walk through:-

We continued on down through the Cotswolds, noticing how the cottages changed from the grey of the north to the warm cream of the midlands.  We saw more delightful cottages en route than we could possible record.

Our time on the road was about ten hours but it was worth it as we headed to my son, Aaron's home in Epsom where family were waiting to greet us.

Then the next day it rained again.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Life in Eccleshall

Linda and I have been very privileged to have had the use of a one bedroom bungalow during our time in Staffordshire.

Eccleshall, our local village is a delightful example of an historic English village.

As is the case with many of these villages there is usually a grand old church somewhere in the midst and the Holy Trinity is no exception:-

Home to a number of Bishops of Lichfield, there is even a tomb of one of them, William Overton, near the altar:-

The lighting was not right for me to capture the many beautiful stained glass windows in this building.

Like many of its kind the church has fallen into disrepair and been restored.  

There is a record in the church of the many grave stones and for those researching family history, it could be very useful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thatched Cottage

Today we spent a quiet day in Eccleshall.

On one of the quiet roads that leads in/out of Eccleshall was a sign tucked away in the hedge growth:-

Was there really a thatched cottage in the vicinity?

Yes, beyond the hedge a nice neat cottage and an excellent example of a thatched roof:-

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Birmingham Quilt Show

In planning our extended holiday we were fortunate to be able to visit The Sisters Quilt Show in Oregon.

The same happened for us here in England with the biggest quilt show in England being hosted at the National Exhibiton Centre in Birmingham.

We travelled by car to Stafford and then caught the train to Birmingham International Railway Station which is attached to the Exhibiton centre.

The quilt show did not disappoint.  The hall was extra large, light and airy and the quilts were well hung with plenty of room in the aisles for viewing:-

The prize winning quilts were hung separately from the rest and such was the interest it was very hard to take a photo without someone being in the way.  I really loved the prize winning pictorial quilt which was a seascape but others like it too so they have been captured in my image:-

This stunning quilt is made up from miniature log cabin blocks and has 40,000 pieces.  I was not able to capture an image of the whole quilt:-

The quilt of the show got my attention as well.  The machine quilting really set it off. Again a photo of just a section of the quilt:-

All in all a great show.  I was so pleased we were able to take time out to be there.

Something longed for has become reality

Linda and I have often talked about being able to travel around the back roads of England.

For us to be able to take in the scenery, rolling green countryside, stone fences, cottage and country manors hundreds of years old is a real delight.

One country cottage takes our attention and then another and another.  Real picture book country we are living in at the moment in this part of the world:-

Sunday, August 09, 2015

A visit to Burano

For our last full day together as a family group in Venice we went to the islands of Murano and Burano.

Lisa loves glass making and so Murano was the place to go to see a glass making demonstration and to take home a souvenir of this beautiful work.

Afterwards we went to Burano which was the highlight of the trip for Linda and me.

The colourful houses made quite a splash and we could only admire all the wonderful creations from Venetian lace.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this in a side window of one of the shops.  The shop owner spotted me and beckoned me inside where she proceeded to do a hard sell of her many wares but we were there to look not buy.

The following morning we said goodbye to Rick, David, Lisa and Jackson as they were headed for a few days in Rome and we were due to fly out to Birmingham.

Linda and I left the apartment by 7.30am in an attempt to escape the heat.  That was never going to happen until we finally reached Marco Polo airport and air conditioning.  This is where we stayed until our 4.30pm flight to the cooler and welcome climate of England.

Although Venice was very hot

We did try to make the most of our time there.  It was 30 degrees Celsius plus most of the time so no sooner had you showered and dressed you felt like having another shower.

Window shopping in the streets leading to St Marks Square -

Cool refreshments were required as well -

Fresh strawberries with whipped cream.

Time in St Marks Square listening to a musical quartet -

People watching was also a big part of our time there.  Certainly brings you in touch with people from all walks of life and all countries.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

All day for a 90 minute plane flight

From the streets of Paris to Venice - how could it be that a 90 minute plane flight would mean a day long trip but that is how it went for us.

Because we flew Ryan Air we had to leave our apartment early for a one hour drive to Beauvais Airport to be there two hours ahead of flight time.  The 90 minute flight went well, but then we had to deal with an extended bus ride from Treviso Airport to down town Venice where we then had to get a water taxi to take us to Celestia where we had an apartment.

When we finally settled into the apartment we found there was no hot running water - all in all it seemed like a very long day for a ninety minute flight. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

A Safe Haven For Us

From London to Paris by train and on to our apartment in Montmartre which was to be our home for the next three nights.

Jackson was keen to be our doorman

A round of sightseeing was required -

People watching in side walk cafes with a Blue Lagoon to help -

Window shopping was very interesting - 

Fabric anklets to make your shoes look like boots.

A special moment for Jackson.  A friend of David's visited with us in Paris and after lunch he played video games with Jackson back at the apartment -