Thursday, 14 March 2019

Visiting Family And Family Visiting

When I last blogged we were about to leave Scotland for the long trek back to Suffolk. This time the journey was even longer than usual as we detoured to Southport to collect my mum for a few days stay with us.

Our last few trips to Scotland have been blighted with bad luck carwise and we were hoping that this journey might be uneventful after two punctures in January.  

Our hopes were not to be and we returned to Framlingham with a huge windscreen chip from a stone that flew up at us on the A14.

We're missing these two who we joined at the Dundee Ice Rink before heading home. (I've never been to an ice rink before and had no idea how cold it would be - duh!).

We also had two visitors to see us off from the caravan site as we left at the crack of dawn.

The political situation is impossible at the moment. I thought I'd got a good score on Words With Friends with "BREXIT"

But, as WWF clearly (and rightly) tells me. BREXIT is not a valid word.

I spotted this amongst Sarah and the girls' huge collection of children's books. What happened to The Gruffallo?

Mum has been enjoying her ten days with us. She's heading back to Southport on the train tomorrow but we've tried to keep her entertained.

She has certainly kept us entertained.

The PPP on the CLS Shooting Brake ran out and it has gone back to Mercedes. I was sad to see this go as it's probably the nicest car we've owned. Sadly the model has been discontinued and we've got to try something new. The new car is scheduled for April (Brexit permitting that is).

We bought Mum a jigsaw puzzle to keep her occupied on rainy days. It was a daunting task for her but eventually, with a bit of team effort, we made it.

We took Mum to a couple of films while she was with us. 

Instant Family was pretty lightweight and a bit corny but its heart is in the right place and it is indeed, as the poster says, a feel-good movie for everyone.

Coincidentally, the other film we saw also has "Family" in the title. Fighting with My Family, the true story of a wrestling family from Norwich, is a lot of fun and a fascinating story too. Stephen Merchant's directorial debut is very well done and, judging by the old home videos in the end credits, it seems to be very close to the real story. It was also good to see Norwich take a leading role in the film.

I mentioned in a recent blog that I'd been doing a bit more antiquing. This pearlware jug in perfect condition c1840 is my favourite buy. I found it in a Dundee antiques centre. It's a shape that I've never seen before and in perfect condition. It's up for sale on eBay and I'm hopeful of it realising a decent price.

This rare Spode cup and saucer c1815 is also in perfect condition. It turned up on eBay and is a very collectable item.

Another eBay buy was not such a success when the seller of this ornate cup and saucer thought it was a good idea to post it without using a box. I must confess though that a recent parcel I sent out turned up in Japan in pieces. That's only my third delivery failure in twenty years on eBay. I packed it well but had to keep to weight limit so not well enough.

Finally, this fabulous hand made and hand decorated porcelain vase from the 1990s arrived today. This is one to keep and not for selling and shows what amazing bargains can be picked up on eBay.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Back In St Andrews

With the Carribbean fast fading to a distant memory we've been keeping busy with more usual winter pursuits. I enjoy occasional visits to watch Framlingham Town (The Castlemen) who play just five minutes away from our house. I would love to go more often but I don't want to overdose on football and only go during weekends when Liverpool are not on TV. I enjoy trying to take photos of the matches and it's easy to get very close to the action. My last visit was to the 1-1 draw with Wroxham. I missed both goals due to the phone going onto screensaver (duh) but got a few nice shots.

Goal-line clearance

The day after the match it was time to head up to St Andrews where we had promised Sarah that we would do a spot of babysitting while Duncan was on a course. We had a good (though foggy) drive and settled into a four day stay at the Premier Inn as the caravan site closes for February every year.

The fog was still about when we reached St Andrews

Not wanting to hang about in the Premier Inn all day we went on plenty of walks into town and enjoyed coffees in the Cafe above the Golf Museum. Their cappuccino coffee is way too milky but the cafe serves great home baked scones and the views in the sunshine are the best in town.

Over the past seven years I've taken so many photos of St Andrews there's nothing left to photograph so I've been trying to spot some different angles and viewpoints. I liked the shadow in this one although I should have avoided the people.

Experimenting with the phone's portrait mode.

I never tire of the cathedral.

Portrait lens experiment again.

The lobster pot was far more popular on Instagram but this is my favourite photo of the harbour.

Sarah managed some time away from her busy yoga and parenting schedule and we had a lovely few hours at the Botanical Gardens.

We also found time to visit the Dundee University Botanical Gardens. Both gardens are well worth a visit.

We got to see Rose and Melody after school.

We had a game of Junior Scrabble with them and I couldn't help noticing this similarity in both colour and style to the hotel logo. As the Junior Scrabble dates to the 1990's perhaps a young designer grew up with it. 

Sarah and Duncan have been reading Swallows And Amazons to the girls for their bedtime story. I was so pleased to hear that they share my love for this classic. They are so into the novel that they recreated Wild Cat Island in Lego.

We've managed two visits to the excellent Dundee Contemporary Arts  where we had an nice lunch and watched two poignant films.

If Beale St Could Talk is another look at the inequality experienced by black Americans. It is beautifully filmed and acted.

Capernaum is an amazing tale of refugee life. It's both heartbreaking and (at times) funny with unknown child actors completely stealing the show. If you think Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen had it bad you would not believe the incredible hardship endured by these kids. Although it is fiction it has an air of absolute reality.

I've also managed time to do a bit of antique hunting. I think I may have made some good buys but there's no telling until I've put them on eBay. I'll let you know in my next blog.

Off back to Suffolk now. We're collecting my mum en route to give her a few days break.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Back In The Old Routine

It's only two weeks since we flew back from Bequia but it seems like a lifetime away now. That's not to say that the benefits of the holiday have worn off - I think we're both as relaxed as we've ever been.

So it's been back to the old retirement routine of cramming as much as possible into every day while we still can.

We were delighted to see that Ipswich's Christchurch Mansion is holding an exhibition "Kiss And Tell" centred around Rodin's masterpiece - The Kiss. After six years in Suffolk it was our first visit to this museum and we were extremely impressed by both the mansion and "Kiss And Tell." It's running until 29th April. Catch it if you can.  

We followed the exhibition with a film at Empire Cinema. Green Book is a very good movie based upon a true story about a New York Italian night club bouncer hired by a black American virtuoso pianist as chauffeur for his trip to the deep south of America. It is a road movie with a brilliant performance by Mahershali Ali as Dr Don Shirley. It's been criticised in some quarters as racist but I found its story of a vile racist going on a journey to redemption quite uplifting even if the truth was embellished to create a moving and entertaining film.

Last week was time for our second trip of 2019 to London and the National Theatre.

It was a glorious day and we enjoyed our walk from Liverpool St through The City and the South Bank.

The play was When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other starring Cate Blanchett. Tickets are like gold dust and we were lucky to come up trumps in the National Members' ballot. The play itself has been badly received by the critics The Times review opened with the following (not for the faint hearted) words "Cate Blanchett live on stage, wearing black stockings and a strap-on dildo, giving her husband one up the bum... and it’s still really tedious. That’s how bad this new Martin Crimp play is." 

I have absolutely no idea at all what was going on but have to say that I found the whole avant garde production mesmerising.

We walked back along the same route and treated ourselves to a peak hour train journey to get home early for a Valentines' meal. The train was delayed and we were home no earlier than we would have been on a cheap off peak ticket. 

Framlingham is looking good in the late winter sunshine and on Saturday we enjoyed a good lunch at The Crown with great company.

I was pleased to see a few of these in town.I've got one but, as we're set back off the road there's little point in putting it up (who are you calling a coward?).

On Sunday we had a fabulous circular walk from Walberswick to Southwold and back. I loved this newly re-thatched house in Walberswick. It's been beautifully done.  

I've been back on eBay looking for hidden treasures. I found this very finely hand painted Georgian coffee cup for a few pounds. It won't make my fortune but it's a nice find. 

In other news. We've just taken the car to Bury St Edmunds to have the alloy wheels refurbished before return to Mercedes when the payment plan expires next month. We were as careful as possible but it's virtually impossible nowadays with the state of our roads and the volume of traffic to drive for three years without kerbing the wheels. There was only minor damage to each but without the repairs we could be in for quite hefty penalties.

It's been a fabulous car and we would have ordered another but they don't make this model any more. So we've ordered something else. It should be with us in April.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Another Postcard From Bequia

We always said that life is too short and there are too many places to visit in the world to go on holiday to the same place twice but in January 2017 we discovered the Caribbean island of Bequia and our philosophy changed. In January 2018 we went back and in January 2019 here we were again at the brilliant Tropical Hideaway. 

I'm not going to write much about what was the most wonderful holiday - I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

If I got a bit carried away using the new iPhone camera (the place is so photogenic), forgive me and just scroll through or hit the back button when you get bored.

A stay at Gatwick Sofitel is the very best start to a holiday.
Tropical Hideaway - as beautiful as ever
Breakfast on the balcony

Princes Margaret Beach on a normal day

We loved our regular walks through the forest

Bequia landscape

Evening terrace view

The beautiful Plantation Hotel

Typical Bequia gradients certainly keep you fit

Our little cottage.

The wonderful Fay's shop and beach bar

Worth the climb for views like these

Tropical Hideaway's home cooked pizza

A local resident

More climbs
Friendship Bay

Bequia Music Festival


Lunch at Firefly Plantation

Princess Margaret beach on a (thankfully rare) cruise day

The culprit
Dive Bequia

Walkway View

Firefly View

Managing to catch up with Liverpool

Bequia Walkway

The fabulous infinity pool

Selfie at Hibiscus Cottage

Standing on the dock of the bay

Tropical Hideaway Terrace

At the end of a six mile hike (with six to go back), the views at Bullet Point were worth it.

Hibiscus Cottage

Another climb to Peggy's Mount rewarded us with spectacular views.

Plantation Hotel Beach

Marion's James Bond moment

Friendly local.

Princess Margaret Again

The lovely Fay (top) invited us to her birthday barbeque

Caribbean pilosophy

If there's no snow, you can improvise

It did rain once or twice (for an hour)

Jack's Bar jetty

Double rainbow

A lovely meal at Pirate View

Caribbean lobster dinner 

Great name for a boat

Lunch at Jack's

Bequia Beach Hotel

Local flora

Friends Mark and Nita sailed into nearby St Vincent so we caught a ferry to visit them (this is not the ferry)

This is.
With friends Mark and Nita in St Vincent

Selfie time

If you're going to St Vincent. Be sure to wear a flower in your hair.

Where's Mark and Nita? (clue - above the right hand lifeboat)

Tropical Hideaway residents

Sign him up Jurgen

Getting a taste for Rum Punch

Just chilling

An island of flowers

Now that's what you call a boat

Marion, Marion and Marion

I was there too

Heading home
Flying in style from Bequia
Finishing where we started with a glass of fizz