Monday, 13 April 2015

Redmarley D'Abitot, goulash soup and other extravaganza

Richard and Judiths splendid house with the upstairs conservatory

The first week went so quickly, full of supermarkets, a chore for everyone else but a pleasure for me, cooking, eating, reading, jigsaw, sitting in the conservatory looking at the view and cat stroking!

We did venture out most days, B for a couple of runs, for a few walks one involving our first taste of proper beer in eight months and a trip to Symonds Yat to do a recce for when Charles (12) and Caroline (10) came to visit this weekend!

And the view from the conservatory
Sunset from the garden
That burst us out of our relaxation bubble, we met about half way between us and my brother and sis – in – law for child exchange and went straight off to Symonds Yat, quick sandwich while pretending stuff wasn’t coming out of the sky! Even that was an eye opener, apparently Charles has never eaten sliced ham (?hmm?), so he had to have the cheese ones we’d done for Caroline while she, good as gold, just ate the ham and English mustard ones we’d done for Charles without a murmur!

Fred gets a bit of fuss
Ginger gets into a tricky spot (top left of the conservatory)
Shall we break them in gently? No, don’t think so, so in order to climb up, we have to abseil over this edge here. Very impressed, with just a quick memory jogger they remembered what they had been taught at the wall two years ago and abseiled themselves over the edge, bouncing gently down the rock, until they got to the ‘interesting’ bit – the rock vanished into a cave so they were lowering themselves in mid-air! “Hurry up UB (Uncle Brian), we want  to climb” I nipped back up on the top rope, so Charles could be on a safety rope while ‘leading’, putting the protection in as he went, though he discovered what is often the case that easy climbs have few gear placements! Not that it slowed him down much, quickly followed by Caroline and UB. Gear back to the car we set off to go and investigate the caves along the bottom of the cliff, though we didn’t have that much time, as it was flying away from us and Gran was on her way down from Alvechurch. Blundered about in the caves a bit, squirming about on the muddy floor by torchlight before scrambling, unroped, back up an easy route to return to the car.

Baking day!
Charlie does like to be involved!
Cake eaten, Gran arrived, cats introduced and dinner eaten we all were pleased to see our beds.

Gentle ish start on Saturday before heading off to the National Bird of Prey Centre, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Then a return to Symonds Yat for more abseiling and climbing. Good to know they still enjoy it and aren’t just doing it to humour us! Have to say Gran coped very well with the kids vanishing over the edge and re-appearing at regular intervals. They were also very good, clipping into the safety gear without a thought, second nature to them now.

Medieval market square building in Newent town centre
English vineyards!
Back for pre-prepared spaghetti Bolognese, better than at home apparently (glow)” because it’s got all these vegetables in, we can’t do that at home because Caroline won’t eat it” ate it here though, perhaps she was just really hungry!

The TV finally went on as it was about all we were fit for, and Wallace and Gromit good for everyone. Though the program after it, about the phenomenon of cats on the internet was thoroughly enjoyed by Fred, the big black tomcat! Watching him watching the TV was better than watching the TV, though he got frustrated by the irritating commentary before we did!

Caroline and Charles with Jackie at the top of a climb in Symonds Yat
Jackie abseils down over a cave
Sunday, again a gentle start, before Charles moved into the kitchen and made soup for lunch, who knew what a talented family I have? Quick walk in the woods to blow the cobwebs away and back for lunch, packing and blog writing. Sadly time beat us, so it was just as well Caroline didn’t want to write any more as she’d have been doing it in the car, with probably disastrous consequences! See below for their entries!

Back for a light supper (it was a good lunch), a bottle of wine and a mindless film! It is lovely to have them, but it is also lovely to wave goodbye! How do parents manage it?

Caroline gets ready to abseil
Charles' artistic photo of his foot!
Hi I am the guest writer for now, rescuing you from the boring historical monotone of previous entries.  My name is Charles (posh I know but I had no choice in the matter,) the nephew of the regular writers of this page, Brian and Jackie. For the three days that I have stayed with them there has not been much chance to listen to the wailing vocals of Iron Maiden but that is by the by, as in its place there has something better(no not Metallica, please don’t get excited Mr. Hetfield) but climbing, caving and bird of preying. 

Caroline abseils herself, watched by Jackie (who holds the rope loosely and could pull tight and stop Caroline should she let go of the abseil device)
A relaxed Charles abseils
On the first day of my visit we (Brian, Jackie and my sister Caroline) went abseiling (not rappelling. For any non- British English readers please stop speaking French, unless of course that is your native language, then don’t.) But moving on, after an abseil we went and did a climb. Where is all this you may ask well it is at Symonds Yat, no I don’t know where that is either. Anyway after this climb, which I led) we went for some caving. The first couple of caves we tried where dead ends and the turning round to come out involved much cursing and banging of heads. By the time we had found a suitable cave we had but half an hour to explore this narrow labyrinth. Led by Jackie we ventured forth for a bit, returned and left by scrambling up some rocks and through a crack in the rock. 

Caroline climbs up, Jackie belaying from the tree
Jackie, Caroline and Charles near the top
The next day we, with Gran in tow left from the house to the International Birds of Prey Centre, after watching some birds for a bit, all of them spectacular especially, the Stellar Sea eagle. We went to eat some of their tiffin which I heartily recommend, we left to return to Symonds Yat to do yet more abseiling and climbing, but no caving. We then returned to the car to take a cold disgruntled Gran home for some spag bol. 

Hand under the chin, a typical Charles pose for a photo
Brian reaches the top
As a new day dawned I began to prepare lunch,( no we don’t eat lunch early but I didn’t sloth out of the shower till gone 10 and this one takes a while to prepare.) This lunch was to be a goulash soup, this being an eastern European which is either Czech, Slovak or Hungarian according to who you talk to. After the initial prep was done we left for a walk in the woods by the motorbike track. Upon returning we finished up the goulash ate it, for those who are interested it was good but suffered from a lack of marjoram.

Then I left just like that back to my loving family leaving my estranged relatives to their travels unburdened.                     

Charles poses by a big drop with the river Wye and Symonds Yat valley behind
Inside one of the caves
Hello, my name is Caroline and I am one of the guest writers. On the 11th we went to the IBPC (international  birds of prey centre)and watched a performance. The handlers flew 4 birds and the buzzard flew so close to my head that its leather straps hit my head. We saw many other birds but my favourites were the barn owl, the ashy faced owl and the southern boobook which kept going “roooooooo”. I didn’t have a lot of time to write this and I don’t want to write anything else.    

Caroline squeezes through a gap. It really was that narrow!
Brian, Jackie, Caroline, Charles and Pauline (Gran) at the Bird of Prey Centre awaiting the display
One of the birds of prey landing by its handler
A good photo of one coming into land
Jackie and Charles arm wrestle watched by Gran and Pauline
Eagles are quite big!
Charles abseils down and we all climb back up this climb graded V'Diff

Caroline tackles the hard start of the climb (with a little help from the rope!)
Brian belays Caroline while Charles takes an 'arty' picture of his legs from a protected position higher up
Jackie prepares Sunday breakfast watched by Charles in Richard and Judiths fabulous kitchen
While Caroline (still in her nightclothes) does a jigsaw in one of the many other rooms
Sunday morning walk in the woods, Charles with his usual pose
Sunday lunch of Charles' splendid goulash soup
Charles' goulash extravagansa!
A final 'selfie' of us all in Burford, Cotswolds, on the way back to drop them off


  1. Superb blog entry - excellent updates by Charles and Caroline! More, more!! Xx

  2. Agreed. Very much enjoyed the blog with all the fun guest editors in it. Who will be next? Haven't heard fromPauline for a while! Nor a Teddy come to think of it! X