They say a week is a long time in politics but it seems a long time in our lives too - it is amazing what can be crammed into a week!
|Jackie cooks the paella assisted by Ian|
With Richard and Judith’s permission we invited newly-wed Iain and Bev and Ian and Helen down to Redmarley for a warm sunny summer evening BBQ. Nibbles and wine on the patio amongst sleeping dogs and cats wanting the occasional fuss while we gazed across the expansive country views watching the sun slowly sink to the horizon while Jackie cooked two fabulous paellas on the BBQ nearby, ably helped by Ian and lots of laughter and wine!
|Enjoying the afternoon sunshine pre BBQ. LtoR: Iain, Helen, Bev, Ian, Jackie|
|Cooking nicely on the BBQ|
Later we went indoors to the upstairs conservatory as the sun set to enjoy the meal, more wine and laughter before Ian and Helen drove home as no doggie day care (or night care) available for Monty dog (so Ian had to remain sober, always difficult when everyone else gets silly with wine!), while Iain and Bev stayed the night to enjoy a lazy Sunday morning, breakfast in the conservatory and good conversation until early afternoon.
|Two fabulous paellas, one fish and meat, the other just fish for our piscitarian|
No sooner had they gone than Abi (Sooty’s owner from our Hall Green housesit) arrived for afternoon tea and cake and more fun and laughter, taking us through to evening dog walking, plant watering and final chill out on the sofas with dogs and cats - all very nice and a great end to a lovely weekend.
|Sunday night relaxation with Oscar and Max, dogs, and Ginger, cat.|
After final dog walking and feeding on Tuesday we repacked the car, waited for the phone call from Richard and Judith to say their plane had arrived in Bergerac airport in France, meaning they were definitely on time for their flight back to Birmingham, we left, as arranged, to drive across to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire for a weeks housesit at Judith’s daughter Imogen and partner Matthew.
|Goodbye for now to Charlie cat, Flora dog and all the other animals at Richard and Judith's house|
|Shirley, the 'pocket rocket' hamster|
All this was arranged between Judith and Imogen and we were happy to oblige as Aylesbury is but a ‘stones throw’ from Jackie’s brothers house and meant we could catch up with them and see Jackie’s niece and nephew Charles and Caroline.
Imogen and Matthew are a likeable young couple who have recently bought a new house on a modern housing estate in Aylesbury and our task is to look after their two rabbits and hamster – what a hardship! They were off to Judith and Richards house in France (where we went last October), so were flying out to Bergerac to relax in the house that mum and dad had just spent the week we were housitting for them working very hard on – we think they were quite pleased to get home for a rest!
|Winston munching away at his breakfast|
|Edith and Winston sharing breakfast|
The two bunnies, Winston and Edith and hamster, Shirley are a joy to look after, all providing endless entertainment, as long as you remember to close doors on rooms they are not supposed to go in and we are constantly alert when running free! Chewing things for both bunnies and hamster are a pastime they enjoy and they are very fast, so ‘eyes everywhere’ is an absolute must, but their constant antics have caused huge laughter from us. Little Shirley attacks things in her cage and constantly climbs and falls off things, but when she’s out (only allowed with us on the sofa) she is constantly running about, through her cardboard tube, up over the cushions, over us, everywhere! I’ve forgiven her for sinking her teeth into my hand on the first day just moments after Imogen told us she doesn’t bite! The stress becomes too much after a short while so we return her to her cage to watch this little pocket of energy dash round climbing upside down and falling off things in a very cute fashion.
|Jackie studying the treasure hunt clues at Charles and Caroline's house|
Bunnies are kept in the kitchen, which seems to be rabbit proof, with door closed, but they are keen to get out as soon as the door is opened and dash about to explore, even going upstairs, getting into everything. They particularly like the stackable coloured beakers, picking out each one with their teeth and throwing them aside and it was particularly funny when Jackie hid bunny treats inside some of the inner ones, leading to a very excited Winston who couldn’t control his desire to get them apart and get the treat before Edith cottoned on and joined in. Have a look at this little video on Facebook of him playing: Bunny video
|While Charles adds new paper to the printer, supervised by Caroline|
As we were so close and Charles and Caroline are on school summer holidays we had a couple of daytimes with them, taking them indoor rock climbing at Milton Keynes, where they did really well, climbing up to 6a+, with only a bit of rope support (well, a lot actually!) one day, and then outdoor stuff on another day.
The ‘outdoor stuff’ started with a walk up to the high summit of Ivinghoe Beacon, well, at least from the car park. There’s a ‘trig point’ on the summit and the views around are expansive, particularly on such a nice day, however the numbers in metres of the actual height were a little disappointing at only 233m.
|Charles and Caroline on our walk up to Ivinghoe Beacon|
It didn’t stop Charles running the last few metres to the top after I challenged him and then stopped shortly after he set off at speed! Fabulous views from the top, including a view of the famous Whipsnade Zoo lion carved into the chalk on the hillside nearby, although it looks a bit dirty these days. Charles spotted a tree just off from the summit and decided it needed climbing, so we all had a go. How many aunts and uncles climb trees with their nieces and nephews and sit up there and have a chat I wonder!
|The four of us on the summit|
|The famous Whipsnade Zoo lion cut into the chalk hillside|
Anyway, back down and a quick visit to a restored windmill nearby and then into Tring to do a treasure hunt and a trip down memory lane for Jackie. Tring is where she and her family originate from and it’s been a while since she has been there so it was an emotional trip for her and we heard all about hers and Charles and Caroline’s dad’s early life, visiting the house they lived in, the old factory her granddad started all those years ago in which her father in Spain worked, the large house her granddad owned and we visited the venue of Charles and Caroline’s mum and dads wedding reception, the Rose and Crown.
|Charles spots a tree we all had to climb|
|Meeting and discussion in the tree|
Tried as I did to get C&C to pretend to be newly-weds standing outside they wouldn’t! The treasure hunt was a fun thing to do, we purchased off the internet, downloaded and printed the instructions for it from the internet website: https://www.treasuretrails.co.uk/ It isn’t only for Tring, there are over 1000 of them throughout the UK and it provides entertainment and a walk round a town for two to three hours and, with kids, it’s an enjoyable outing.
|Jackie explains the workings of the windmill to C&C|
We successfully completed it, went back onto the internet to enter the decoded message we deciphered, found out we were correct and we were entered into the monthly draw for a £100 prize. On the way back we drove past ‘the windmill’ house Jackie used to live in. I’d heard much about this converted windmill with a big downstairs extension that her mum and dad used to own but never seen it so it was a bit of a treat. We couldn’t see it close to as it’s down a private drive, but we could see it from a distance between houses and I managed to get a photo. I wanted to walk down the drive, knock on the door, say Jackie and C&C’s dad used to live there and could we look round, but I was overruled.
|You seem to have gots grassy things stuck in your hair Jackie, how did that happen?|
It’s already been a great few days here and we still have until next Wednesday here before returning to Alvechurch and then going on up to Derby for yet another housesit. What an interesting summer it’s turning out to be!
|Jackie showed Caroline the 'Nanny, nanny, jump out of bed' trick with the large Convulvulus flowers www.plant-lore.com|
|Caroline, Jackie and Charles outside the Rose and Crown, venue for the mum and dads wedding reception many years ago|
|Caroline gives us a very professional demonstration of her flute playing, with great sillyness from Charles behind (there's another photo we'll save for his 18th birthday party!)|