Published: June 3rd 2012June 3rd 2012
Our first visit to Bromsgrove has drawn to a close and we are on the move again. It has been a wonderful stay with Kate and Al and their hospitality cannot be faulted. It has become quite the routine for me to pour Kate and Narelle a Pimms at 5pm to begin “sun downer” drinks and I think Kate may actually miss it. There is still a large bottle left so when we next visit we can continue to assist in its disposal. I am not sure how much Pimms will be consumed in the UK this summer but I would expect a great deal as everywhere you look it is being advertised. It being a very British summer drink its presence at Jubilee functions, Wimbledon and the Olympics is expected and often welcomed. I am sure there will be the odd jug on the Arcadiawhen we board on Sunday.
Our time in Bromsgrove has also allowed us to see Alex and Adam and share in their days. We have attended class assemblies, musical lessons and watched a few DVDs after bath time. They have certainly kept us entertained and we look forward to
seeing them again in the next few weeks and on our trip to France when they join us in the Loire for a week in August. Anyway, with all this wonderful and kind hospitality I thought it only right that I mow Al’s lawns. I psyched myself up for this, got the mower out of the garage, plugged it in, check it was working and blow me down what happens – it starts pouring. I mowed about an inch square. I will do them next time Al but you may want to run over them before I get back.
Just a quick trip from Bromsgrove is the beautiful city of Worcester. We spent half a day here shopping and sightseeing around the cathedral. It really is a pretty place to explore and the streets seem to wind themselves in such a way that you never feel that far from the cathedral. It does loom large over one end and as such it is hard to miss. We spent a good while wandering around the interior and went down within the crypt – that being the oldest part of the building. The stained glass windows are incredible and
you can lose track of time looking up at the ceiling; a strategic mirror allows you a great view by the altar. We enjoyed our time in the city so much that we have promised ourselves another trip across later in the month. The shops in Worcester also allowed me to add to my every growing suitcase – the whole buy one item chuck one out idea is long dead – so I now own a very English Jack Wills blazer and a new suit. Both will come in handy for the cruise, the end of term at Ellesmere and the wedding we have been invited to on July 7. They will then be packaged up and sent back to Australia as the thought of lugging them around a hot France makes me cold.
On our way down to Beaconsfield we made a stop at Winston Churchill’s birthplace Blenheim Palace. The ancestral home of the Duke of Marlborough this would rate as one of the largest and grandest of the British stately homes. The grounds of the palace are exceptional and the gardens have been awarded numerous awards. Winston Churchill’s early life was in and
around the palace being brought up by his grandmother. It must have been an exciting life for a young boy with the forests to explore and lakes to fish in. They have on display much of his life including letters he wrote home from Sandhurst to his parents – I enjoyed him asking for £1 to be sent to the man who had served him tea and toast in the morning. His life is remarkable and obviously very well documented. He had a pampered upbringing but his dedication to the service of his country could never be faulted. He was awarded a State Funeral by the Queen and crowds of people lined the streets of London as the procession went by. The photos on the wall showed how fitting occasion it was for such a national figure. Blenheim Palace is worth the stop – try the maze out too (we failed) and visit the butterfly house.
My old cricketing mate Paul lives with his beautiful wife Julia and family in Beaconsfield near London. We have had two wonderful nights with them and it has been great to catch up – and especially to see the girls growing
up. Cecilia was 8 months old when we saw her in London in 2005 and now Alice and Imogen have arrived to really make Paul feel outnumbered. Paul was a wicket keeper back in our cricketing days and was often the reason I did not go for more runs – he was pretty good at stopping some of my wayward deliveries and also caught a few when I surprised a batsman. Nowadays he is back playing squash and to a pretty good standard. I travelled into London with him to watch him play in the final of the Cumberland Cup for the Lansdowne Club. What a great night. Firstly the squash played was very good and secondly the hospitality I received was brilliant – even as a hanger on. I had a seemingly endless supply of Coronas and was ushered to the table when the after match pizzas arrived. Paul’s team defended the Cup in fine style and even though he may have lost his match the set he took off his opponent helped them win the overall title in the count back. The Cumberland Racquets club is not that bad either – it has six squash courts, grass tennis
courts, hard courts and clay courts; one could certainly not complain at the AGM that a surface was not to their liking. You could play your own grand slam there.
Paul took delivery of his new bike while we were there; all bright and shiny his first challenge was to avoid the toy tea set on the patio, which he nearly did. In the UK there is a desire to get more people to ride to work and in that respect bikes have become easier to buy. It is quite a bike and should make the 8 mile commute a breeze through the back lanes. I am so looking forward to the reports of the first commute. It became quite a bike weekend as Alice was bought a new bike too – sadly the weekend weather may curtail the first few days of riding.
Beaconsfield sits within a lovely area and is just the right distance from London to enable you to travel there if you need to but completely forget about it if you want to. There is a road that leads down to the “new town” that is known as the CEO
strip. The houses are enormous and all built of a certain style. They are mostly gated and set back from the road with a fleet of cars parked outside. The trees in the yards appear to have pound notes hanging from them. Who knows who lives in these places but whoever it is has serious cash reserves – a place here could set you back between UK£2 million – 20 million depending on the size of house and property. That’s some serious coin.
The old part of Beaconsfield is quite quaint with a completely different feel to it. There are your old English pubs, the parish church and shops with a more village feel to them. We let ourselves into the church (they should always be open) and had a good look round. On the main road we found the village wine shop and tucked away in the corner was a few bottles of Waiheke wine – in fact a Cable Bay Sauvignon Blanc. We grabbed a bottle and toasted my old place of work later that night while discussing getting Paul and Julia to join us at the island later in the year when we have
a few weeks at home. I think it is possible!
We left Beaconsfield with the street adorned with bunting and Paul up a ladder helping the neighbour affix more to the hedge row. The Diamond Jubilee Weekend has arrived and sadly so has the bad weather. It is quite cruel to think that much of the hard work by communities and streets may be undone by the weather – it is certainly a fairly lousy reward for QEII’s 6o years of diligent service on the throne. What the UK economy would do without the Royal Family is anyone’s guess but in my opinion they would miss the financial return. Sales of everything British must be going through the roof and the country has a good vibe to it this week; it all kicked off with the Queen’s arrival at Epsom for the Derby. I read this week that the Queen begins some day with a Turf Digest delivered to get her up-to-date with the latest racing news as she chomps her cornflakes – not a bad start to a day. Over the next few days the Thames will come alive with a flotilla of boats
the size of which is staggering and unseen in a modern world. Over 1000 boats will join the seven mile long procession, which will be a spectacle not witnessed on the Thames for 350 years.
The next stage of the trip is the exciting two week cruise to the Baltics on the Arcadia. We sail to Oslo first and then visit Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Bruges. It will be my first cruise so I am looking forward to it and I have my suit and Dinner Jacket all ready to go for the formal nights. Narelle forced herself to buy a new cocktail dress yesterday so I think we should look the part at least when they let us up from the depths. I will try to stop her doing a Titanic moment at the bow but am not that confident as when we went to Wellington earlier in the year she attempted one on a naval frigate. We have also met up with Ron and Judy who will join us on the ship – they have arrived in Southampton after time in KL, Singapore, Alicante and the UK. We caught up with them briefly in Bromsgrove on their way to the Owens in Droitwich, with whom they enjoyed a day at the cricket at New Road Worcester. So our next challenge is to check in and board the boat – thankfully Mum and Dad have a better cabin than us so we will be able to board with them and get on the boat earlier. Apparently steerage is usually just plonked on the boat just before it sets off so we will beat the crowds to our lower deck.
It is all set up for a great two weeks.