Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Post Wedding and a come down from the stardom of international travel?

In the garden at Abigail and Sooty the cat's house

A whole week has gone by since the last entry, and all of a sudden, a fortnight today and we’ll be gone! Help!

After the hustle and bustle of the wedding w/end we thought we’d ‘chill’ last Monday, which I successfully did with another jigsaw in the same series as the one I did at Helen and Phil’s when we first arrived, good fun but jolly hard as jigsaws go, while B wrote the wedding blog, which took quite a long time as you can probably imagine! Despite having been into China town with the Sunday Tea club, Monday was a meeting of us with Jo and Mike, and Alex, but no Rob in the Big Wok, our traditional post climb haunt. Chinese two nights running? Oh well, it’s the company that counts! Lovely to catch up as apart from the odd 5 mins at the wall we’ve not spoken to J&M and I haven’t seen Alex since the 10 in 10.

Sooty likes to drink water from a running tap
An impressive double rainbow after a thunderstorm
Tuesday B had the second part of his ‘MOT’ a cystoscopy, which when described makes all the men cringe – it’s a camera inserted to look at the bladder……! All clear from that, fab, so we popped in at Mum’s as she’s having new carpet downstairs, she does need it, but it is going to be a nightmare, there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ downstairs, so we did some sorting, but photos and cards take a lot of time sorting!

Sooty relaxes, watching TV between us
The 'Easy Way Down' at Wintours Leap
We made it back to the climbing wall that evening – it’s only a month since we last made it, and realised that we really need to get some practice in before going climbing with Roger in the States. When did we last do any traditional climbing, involving placing gear? Hmmmm just after Christmas 2013 while staying at John’s near Christchurch! Perhaps we’d better have a day out! So picking the hottest day of the year, we went to Wintour’s Leap, a lovely crag near Chepstow. It’s a beautiful spot overlooking the river Wye, just on a bend, the views are great, if you listen carefully you might be able to hear the bleat of sheep on the far bank and if you are really lucky you might put your hand in a patch of wild thyme while climbing. 
Nearing the bottom of Easy Way Down with a view of the river Wye
A workout for all the senses! So we scrambled down the ‘easy way down’ which is an interesting meander down the rock to the bottom before starting up ‘Central Rib route’ which seemed like a good place to start as there are three different climbs of differing grades all sharing the same belay positions, so you can mix and match depending on how brave you are feeling! B was so confident about where we were that despite not recognising it, and knowing I’d done one of the climbs in 2010 with Alex and Rob, having questioned him once, off he went. Saying I didn’t recognise it is perfectly normal for me, B can talk about a climb he did 10 years ago, with the ‘hidden hold just round the corner’ and the ‘piece of great protection you can put in just before the hard move’! 
Jackie ready to start a climb
While I can’t remember a route I’ve just finished, ‘how did you do that move?’ ‘I have absolutely no idea!’ However, as he struggled up half as far again as he expected to go, and the horizontal tree was nowhere in sight, perhaps we weren’t in the right place! In a way he was quite pleased, as if we had been on the right climb then struggling that much on a v.diff would have been very demoralising, however it did mean we didn’t know which way to go or what lay ahead! I was all for abseiling back down and starting again – the fear of the unknown always causing me to be a wuss, but it looked quite easy ahead, though slightly overgrown, so not often climbed! We continued and fortunately it was easy to the top! As a practice for gear placement though it was a bit of a dead loss – my pitch hadn’t been much more than a scramble, with few places for gear, so rather than the training I was expecting it was more like soloing with a handicap – carrying all the gear I probably weigh a stone and a half more than normal!

The view from halfway up a climb. The River Wye (tidal at this point) sweeps round a bend. The black bits are where I joined three pictures together
Our friend Danielle with Erin
Oh well, back down the ‘easy way down’ to another climb that I did recognise where we both put in so much gear, we were very safe, but probably very slow! Lovely day out though, in my favourite climbing spot.

Friday B had an exciting dental appointment, before going to meet up with an old sales contact for a long chat, which left me free to explore Sparkhill, right on our doorstep. Despite being in the centre of Birmingham, it felt quite exotic, it was still ridiculously hot and Sparkhill is full of Asian people and shops so the smells and voices and produce available in them is not quite ‘the norm’. 
While John (best man at our wedding) cooks dinner
I did the groundwork so when B got home I could take him out to buy a cheap pair of outdoor trousers, badly needed as I noticed the hole he had in the seam at his groin as he was climbing off above me! And I could have a pair of shoes that had my name all over them! Turned out they were reduced to £5.50 so who could argue!

We were meant to be going to a BBQ Saturday night at Dani and John’s (John was best man at our wedding) but due to the torrential rain and very impressive thunderstorms, they’d called that off, cancelled the rest of the family they’d invited round, so it was just us for beef stroganoff. Very good it was too. 
Naimh, Erin and Danielle
We had a lovely evening with D&J and their two little girls Niamh (8) and Erin (5) such great kids. Once they’d gone to bed though the Jevenin
g reverted to type, and suddenly we’d done lots of talking, loads of laughing, it was very late and far too much alcohol had been drunk! I poured B into a taxi, only to be rung half way home – his camera was on the side in the kitchen! Hey Ho, we’ll go to the Sunday BBQ a slightly circuitous route then!

BBQ at Mark and Fiona's. LtoR: Andy, Martin, Mark and Frosty
Jackie forgot to mention the Park Run I went on at Brueton Park in Solihull on Saturday morning. I'd arranged to meet Mark, but couldn't see him amongst the 160 runners, so ran on my own (5km in 28min33sec) and found out later he had been there and we had failed to meet up. "Two old blokes shouldn't be allowed out on their own" was what Fiona (Mark's wife) and Jackie agreed

Lots of old friends: LtoR: Jackie, Andy, Julie, (some children!), Andi, Sue, Martin, Tim, Rob and Frosty
Fiona, Martin, Tim
Sunday morning wasn’t quite as painful as it might have been, just as well really as we were due at Mark and Fiona’s at 14.00. Not sure who to expect we had a lovely time, people from the mountaineering club we hadn’t seen for a long time, in some cases years, and one couple I’d heard loads about over the years but never actually met. They’d all drifted away from the club to form a splinter group as children came along – I have no idea which children belonged to which couple, but they all seemed to know each other and had a great time larking about with the paddling pool and lots of water!

Andi, Andy, Julie & Jackie
Gill & Sue
Paul, Denise, Jackie and Brian in Temple Balsall
Much more sedate today – a very pleasant walk out with Denise and Paul to catch up on all the news of their trip away, how Tony and Tessa were and more surprisingly, that Steph and Sam, despite only being in their house in Chelmsford a year, are moving back to the Solihull area! Wow, would not have seen that coming but it’ll be lovely to have them nearby when we come back next and lovely for D&P.

Lunch in the churchyard near historic Temple Balsall

This headstone bears the date 1689
Lunch and a beer
Gran's dodgy bit of kit
Hi this is Charles Jackie’s and Brian’s nephew. When I heard that they were coming to our little backwater of Edlesborough I instantly decided that vinyl was the way forward; what better way to listen to Iron Maiden ‘6, 66 The number of the beast’; so anyway my singing fantasies aside Jackie and Brian were immediately ordered to bring down Gran’s (Pauline’s) old music centre you know the thing big, chunky and grey. Anyway when they got down we found two problems with Gran’s piece of kit firstly the plug had to be ‘examined’ by Uncle Brian. Then we ran straight into the next brick wall the rubber belt inside that drives the turntable had perished. Disaster!! 

Asserting my dominance over Caroline
In desperation we turned to rubber bands to save the day it worked in a fashion it was so slow it was torture listening to the opening bars of Aces High. But hey vinyl at least has the looks, right? Then in the evening after a bit of messing about I asserted my dominance as the alpha male. 

Caroline looking 'perky' on her last day of the school term
Me, not so perky, even though I had already broken up
Then next morning 23rd July Caroline looked perky about her last day at school I, on the other hand despite having broken up on the Friday, didn’t look too good. 

Uncle Brian finally captures his prize!
Oh well that didn’t  stop a trip off to college lake where Uncle Brian got pictures of elusive butterflies, farm machinery and a needle in a haystack while I got him and Auntie Jackie surveying their hobbit hole. Then we were back off home for a lunch of burgers YUM!!!!!!

This is Caroline, Jackie and Brian’s niece, here to tell you about my last day at school. When I got to school we had free play until the year 6 leaver’s assembly where awards were given out. After the assembly, we went out for early break. After that we had lunch where I had hot dogs and doughnuts for pudding. I did the doughnut challenge. The doughnut challenge is where you have to eat a whole doughnut without licking your lips. It was really hard because of the sugar on my lips. I won it.    YUMMY!!!!!After lunch we had free play until 2 o’clock when we had another assembly. In that time I made a dragon scale loom band and after the assembly I gave it to my mum(Mrs Kent). Thanks for reading! 
Auntie Jackie and Uncle Brian at their hobbit hole

Unimpressed, we look around Uncle Brian's house

My country estate, flourishing as usual!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Ian & Helen’s Wedding 12th July 2014

Ian and Helen in the 'Old Mo'

In fact it was more than a day, but a weekend, starting with a pre-wedding Balti and beer on Friday night for 19 of us, a full wedding day on Saturday for about 90 and a more intimate Sunday Tea Club in the Chinese Quarter of Birmingham for eight. The weather was kind, bright, sunny and hot, the company relaxed, comfortable, reliable and, as usual in top form topped with huge amounts of laughter, and the happy couple? Well… adorable and in their usual way, Helen looking radiant, happy, in love, but also a bit embarrassed to be the centre of attention, Ian looking his own man, very relaxed, happy and proud to be finally getting married. Even on this weekend they were ready to do anything for anyone at any time, even though they should be stepping back and letting others do things for them.

Hilary, Pete and Brian in the 'Old mo'
So, Friday night started as soon as people could arrive from the various parts of the UK (plus one from Canada), Tony and Nicky driving down from near Inverness in Scotland, Phil and Sue from Poole on the South Coast, Ian and Bev from Bristol, Fiona and John from the lovely Cotswolds and the rest of us making the journey of a few miles. After the usual ‘headaches’ of Friday evening traffic, people began to arrive at the Old Moseley Arms pub, for a pint or two. We were already there, having arrived just after Ian and Helen who had settled into a corner of the bar with a pint each, both wearing t-shirts with ‘last night of freedom – nearly married’. 
In Diwans. LtoR Joyce, Mike, Ella, Fiona, John, Bev, Iain, Ian and Helen
And the 2nd table: Manu, Crystal, Hilary, Tony, Nicky and Pete
Always a joy to see them with their energy, enthusiasm and Ian’s dry wit, we were soon chatting, laughing, enjoying the beer and already immersed in the fun of the weekend. It just got better and better as Manu and Crystal arrived with Manu’s infectious hearty, loud laughter, Pete (adding more loud laughter) and Hilary, Mike (adding even more loud laughter) and Ella, Joyce, Nicky and Tony (yes, you’ve guessed it – it’s always the blokes isn’t it although the girls can be just as bad!), all adding to the level of the joy and volume. Already we’ve almost taken over the bar, with constant talking, laughing, it’s great to be all together again, how fabulous is all of this, can life get any better?

And late arrivals Sue and Phil
The second half of the evening continued on the same vein as we moved to Diwans Indian Restaurant (our favourite!) for Birmingham’s, if not the UK’s almost National Dish, a Balti! Jay (part owner of Diwans and waiter to Prime Minister David Cameron when he visited the restaurant in 2012!) looking after us in his usual fabulous way, remembering what each of us eat, despite some of us having not been there for many months. Fabulous although hot night, high summer is proving to be quite sultry, but fans suitably placed helped keep us a bit cooler. In no time it was 11:30pm and time we should go so as not to be too tired for the big day (even though Ian and Helen had woken at about 4:00am and had been up and about since about 5:00am!).

Helen, Saturday at 11:45am!
We had an important duty to perform on Saturday, Jackie and I were to be chauffeurs, in our fairly old car, which I had spent most of Friday washing and (for the first time since we had had it), vacuuming out the inside to within an inch of its life! Even though I say so myself, it looked pretty good, even though there are a few scratches on its bodywork and a couple of marks on the upholstery, it was good and ‘ready to go’. We left the toy tank that I found under the passenger seat, on the kitchen table at Denise’s as we knew it would confuse Steph (my niece) when she arrived there on Saturday (‘why is there a toy tank on the table?’ she asked, right on cue!). After dropping an overnight bag at Stephanie’s house, our ‘airbnb’ accommodation for the night in Kings Heath (will tell you about that later), we attached the white ribbon to the car and set off in the hot morning sunshine for Ian and Helen’s and their date with the Registrar in Birmingham City Centre.

Ian at 11:50am!
‘You’re too early’ Helen said, looking for the first time quite nervous, it was 11:40am, they were in casual clothes and we had arranged to leave just after 12:00 midday! ‘Have I got to get ready in 20 minutes?’ she said and disappeared upstairs. The list of ‘things to do’ on the side had almost everything crossed off, the marquees that Mike and Ella had lent and erected for them were in place, the giant Jenga and Connect Four games were in place as was the kids bouncy castle, plenty of chairs and tables and a shed full of a massive quantity of beer, wine and spirits with coolers and bags of ice. We completed a few jobs with Ian, who was as casual as ever and didn’t wander upstairs to take off his shorts and t shirt and put on his suit until about 10 minutes before we were due to leave – Mr Cool or what! The sky is blue, the sun is beating down and it’s hot, hot, hot – it’s going to be a good day! Even the squirrels and birds seemed to quite like the new things in the garden, exploring round this new environment while it was still quiet.

A local squirrel eyes up the giant Jenga
Final adjustments

Off we go then...
Here we go then, into the car and away, the white ribbons fluttering in the breeze as we went and that inner happy feeling we always get when going to a wedding. We were early, well, it’s better than being late, but we were there while the wedding before them were waiting, and the one before the one before! No problem, it’s warm and sunny, in fact it’s hot and sunny, so we stayed in the car outside the Register Office with the engine running and air conditioning on to keep as cool as possible before stepping outside into the heat. Yes, this is the UK and proof that we do get good summers here! 

Jackie, Helen and Ian at the Register Office
Outside the Register Office
As people arrived for Ian and Helen’s wedding we left the car and started to mingle, some people we knew, many we didn’t, but everyone is so friendly and happy it’s easy to mix and chat. There was no ‘official’ photographer, so we were all snapping away with a view to sharing each others photos. My little compact shockproof, waterproof camera was somewhat dwarfed by others SLR cameras with big lenses, but at least it looked like a camera and not a smart phone!

The greeting outside, that's Bev in the blue dress

Jackie adjusts the best mans buttonhole

Even a photo of me and Jackie
Ian and Helen walk up the aisle
Eventually it was our turn. ‘Well, that’s it, I’ve told them we’re here’ said Ian, ‘there’s no going back now Ian’ we all said and I think there was a moment of nervousness from him, but lots more from Helen! Everyone is so smart, Nicky in a dress, never had most of us ever seen that, Pete in a suit and tie, amazing! Lots of people as we’d never seen them before, all here for a common, happy purpose and now waiting for an event most of us wondered would ever happen. 16 years in the making, that’s the time from their first date to today – no-one could say they’ve rushed things, but it sets the standard: Ian and Bev, what are you thinking? What about you Tony and Nicky, Pete and Hilary and even Manu and Crystal? Who knows, this could become a more regular event!

The moment of truth
We’re in the wedding room, a new, open, airy and nicely decorated room, chairs on either side, facing the front, an aisle down the centre and a table at the front with the registrar waiting and a tv screen behind so we could see the bride and groom. Some music started (can’t remember what it was now, but it was uplifting and non-religious) and in they came to the flash of many cameras, a nice service, more music, this time Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’, they sign the register and Helen’s Grego name is history – it’s the new era of ‘The Harvey’s’!

Phil takes a photo of the happy couple
We’re given enough time for congratulations and photographs in the room and the registrars are very friendly people, but in no time we were being ushered out into the grounds at the back that lead out to the urban canal at the back of the Mailbox. There the previous party were finishing their photos and just dispersing and there is that slight feeling of it being a ‘sausage machine’, but it’s done with grace and dignity and it’s easy to put that feeling out of your mind. Someone said there were to be 24 weddings there on that day, and that was apparently a ‘quiet day’!

The best man and Ian share a joke
Manu became the ‘semi-official’ photographer and got people organised and lined up for the formal pictures, and ‘didn’t he do well’! I don’t think he was too amused when I said that we’ve finally found something that you can organise properly, but Crystal found it amusing! There were many great photo opportunities, it’s city life at its best with the beautifully restored canal system at its centre, backed by the Mailbox building, containing the BBC, where Jackie used to work, and many exclusive shops that don’t show the prices in the window (if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it!) and also The Cube, one of Birmingham’ new icons, offering, by all accounts, spectacular views from the exclusive and expensive restaurant on the top, along with a bar selling very expensive drinks (according to Phil and Sue, his boys Henry and Adam, plus a few others who took a tour up there just after). Birmingham really is a new vibrant city, combining old with new in a seamless and visually appealing way, it’s becoming a great place to visit!

A great photo (taken by someone else) of the best man with Ian and Helen behind

The group photo (I'm not in it, but Jackie is)
Phil and Jackie in front of The Cube
A nice photo alongside the canal
Manu 'supporting' the gymnast statue

Helen looking a very happy girl!
Helen and Ian in 'Just Married' t-shirts
Ian and Helen had many offers of a lift back, but we’d beaten them all to it, so back to H&I’s for their post wedding party! And what a party it was, an afternoon garden party at their great house in Moseley, backing onto Cannon Hill Park, surrounded by trees and other really nice houses filled with the nicest of neighbours. Drinks flowed, an excellent buffet was presented with enough food to feed an army and more cheese than you’d find in a cheese factory (that Stilton really was good!!) I took our car back to our base at Stephanie’s house in Kings Heath and walked the 15 minutes back through Highbury Park, so I could have a beer or two. I managed to chat to many people, a great chat with Lavinia from their ‘next door’ who came in with an empty plate saying she was looking for ‘something sweet’ at the buffet. ‘What about me?’ I said, ‘ooh, you’ll do’ she said and we chatted for half hour or so about all things, including rock climbing! 

Phil’s son Henry happened by and I got up-to-date with his progress on his philosophy Phd, now in it’s ninth of ten years, soon to be Dr. Powell, just like his dad (but his dad will always be just ‘Phil’ to me, ‘cause that’s how I knew him when we were climbing buddies). Adam, Phil’s other son was there, newly single, he was a bit sad about it, but we had a good chat and, I hope, it cheered him up. He’s a good looking bloke with a great personality, so he won’t be single for long! ‘I enjoyed watching his bum wiggle during the dancing’ Jackie said – hang on a minute!! 
Helen and Jackie playing giant Jenga
Talking of Phil, we managed an ‘old guys’ game of giant Jenga, which involved chairs either side with beer nearby. None of this ‘only use one hand’ stuff, we could use both hands, arms and body to support the stack and shuffle the blocks on top to stop it overbalancing! As you’d expect, daring moves were employed, removing improbable, supporting blocks, but moving things on top to balance, leaving it precariously balanced and swaying, defying even the kids, whose attention we had aroused, and their blowing at it and even stamping on the ground nearby hoping it would overbalance. I lost, it was when I held it in my arms to stop it overbalancing and a crucial block fell out leaving it just in my arms. My attempt to lower to the blocks below didn’t work and it collapsed!

Helen and Ian play Connect 4
But it's all a bit too much for Nicky and Tony!

The 'rigged'  bed full of balloons
In no time it was after 7:00pm and time to leave for the evening celebrations at Highbury Hall (, a nineteenth century grade II listed manor house built in 1878 by Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain MP, Statesman, Birmingham manufacturer, mayor of Birmingham and Liberal MP. It was his son, Neville Chamberlain who became Prime Minister and obtained the doomed ‘peace in our time’ agreement with Hitler in 1938. It’s a beautifully restored manor, now owned by Birmingham City Council, with the majority of the extensive grounds accessible by the public. It’s five minute walk from Ian and Helen’s so they set off with most other guests, while Jackie, myself, Manu and Crystal, plus a few others tidied up and made the place a bit more presentable for them to return to. We also took the opportunity to fill their bed with balloons and soft toys (well, it has to be done doesn’t it!).

Highbury Hall

Helen, Nicky, Adam and Crystal
The evening at Highbury was idyllic, a great setting, beautiful warm evening, meaning we could use the outside as well, a great buffet (what, more food!) a barrel of 96 pints of Landlord real ale provided free by Ian and Helen, along with many bottles of wine. Entertainment was a live band of three (drummer, lead guitar and bass guitar), playing popular and rock music of excellent quality. It meant we (our usual group of 18 or so), after the happy couples first dance, were up on the dance floor almost for the whole evening, with ‘dads dancing’ in abundance! Fabulous! 

Time to cut the cake. That's Roddy dog on the bottom layer!
We had a couple of great speeches from Ian and his best man Andy, Ian’s was like a cosy fireside chat. He looked so relaxed and comfortable, leaning on the end of the bannister of the great staircase in the grand hall with beer in one hand and microphone in the other, he gave a great, casual and romantic speech – he really is a happy man! (Remembering to thank Helen for marrying him and saying how beautiful she looked, after being ‘reminded’ by Jackie on Friday that that was meant to be his speech!) His best man did a ‘This is Your Life’ speech with slideshow, something he had prepared with Ian’s mum, much to her delight and had a touching toast to Ian’s dad who died some time ago. Very nice, very thoughtful and with nothing risqué (where did he get that very bad photo of Helen three sheets to the wind?), although we didn’t know him, he’s obviously a lovely guy and someone who’s been Ian’s friend since they were at school together at 11.

First dance
I don’t know how it happened, but it was suddenly after 12:30am and the staff were flashing the lights to signal the band to stop. They had played all evening, except for a 15 minute break, great music and, other than they only looked like they were 12 years old according to Jackie, they were very talented and played fabulous music (the lead guitarist needs to get jeans that fit him, I just can’t go with this saggy bottomed no belt stuff!). ‘Just one more song’ they said, the staff nodding, ‘would you like to sing Helen?’ Yes she would! Grabbing the microphone she sang an impressive rendition of ‘Valerie’ with her strong, great voice, a lot of dance moves and looked really professional. Well done Helen, we are proud of you!

The band. A bit older than twelve I think!
Singer Helen - go for it gal!
Most people had left, but our group of 18 or so remained, we still had drinks on the table and we, but especially Helen, didn’t want it to end, so we extend our stay until close on 1:30am, until the staff were clearly wanting us to vacate, so we made our way outside, said our huggy goodbyes and headed off to our beds, very happy people!

Our walk ‘home’, was back to our ‘airbnb’ house in Station Road. Airbnb is a website allowing you to book a spare room in people’s houses at a fraction of the price of a B&B. This one cost us £15 total for the night with  Stephanie providing our own very clean room, towels and dressing gowns with use of her bathroom, kitchen and lounge. She even provided us with breakfast on Sunday morning at no extra charge and good, friendly conversation to ease us into a fuzzy morning! We can definitely recommend ‘airbnb’ as a great internet site for booking accommodation worldwide (we’ve booked airbnb accommodation for our first few days in the USA next month) and particularly Stephanie’s place in Kings Heath. It’s a modest terraced house in a residential road, very close to Kings Heath centre, but she is the friendliest person you could wish to meet.

Oh dear, it's getting late!
But we don't want to go home! Usual crowd!
Sunday we ‘moved house’, from my sisters, Denise and Paul’s, house in Solihull after house and plant sitting while they were on their Greek holiday visiting my brother Tony and Tessa for Denise’s 60th birthday (how did that happen!). Now we’re in Hall Green, house and cat sitting for Sooty (guess what colour she is), while owner Abigail is away in Cornwall for two weeks. We got this ‘assignment’ from another website ‘’, who advertise for people to look after their house with dogs, cats, fish, plants or whatever, while they are on holiday. It’s an international website that our two ‘sits’ in New Zealand came through. The other housesits we’ve done have been arranged by ourselves, so we’re pretty much ‘old hands’ now and love every minute of it. Abigail’s house is a small terraced house, but is beautifully restored with a long back garden and a very cute cat that we seemed to have befriended very well. We were ‘miaowed’ at and walked over in the night and we woke to find her on the window shelf next to the bed this morning – very cute!

But finally we have to
I’ve gone on a bit, as usual, but wanted to finish with our Sunday Tea Club, which is such a luxury and a great occasional night out we have with a select few. Last night it was Jackie and I, Ian and Helen, Manu and Crystal (the core), plus Pete and Hilary. We always meet in The Dragon, a Weatherspoons pub opposite Birmingham Hippodrome and then head off round the corner to the Chinese Quarter, where Crystal, originally from Hong Kong and a Chinese speaker, takes us into restaurants staffed and frequented by mostly Chinese people. Always the food is fantastic and we all just leave it to Crystal to choose what she knows we like, drinking hot Chinese Tea with it and making every Sunday Tea Club special and something we all look forward to. Last night, of course, was World Cup football night, but we ignored the TV in The Dragon and caught up with the final bit of extra time on the TV in the Fox and Hound pub we went into after the meal for a final pint, just in time to see Germany’s winning goal.

Night-night Ian and Helen, thanks for a great day....
A great end to a fabulous wedding weekend. Something tells me Ian and Helen are going to have a fantastic life together and we hope we can share some of it with them. We love them and all our friends to bits and can’t wait until we can get together again, we have such great fun together – life can’t get any better!