Thursday, 17 August 2017

Hilton, Derbyshire – August 2017

Tim and Jill's lovely house
Our summer in the UK is whizzing by and what we thought was going to be a lazy month in Derbyshire looking after Stimpy cat while Tim, Jill and family are on a long holiday in Australia is disappearing rapidly.

After the first hectic week here with Tim, Charles, Caroline and Pauline (Jackie’s mum) it quietened down a lot. Tim went off to Oz to meet the rest of his family, Charles, Caroline and Pauline went home and we had nearly three weeks ahead of us to relax, but we’re now nearly at the end of the second of those weeks and have done little relaxing, yet we can’t list many things that would indicate we’ve been busy.

A present for us from Stimpy cat
That moment of doubt before submitting the assignment!
It’s true that a lot of the time was spent studying and writing our final assignment for our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, while attending to every whim of Stimpy cat. She likes to spend a lot of time asleep during the day on one of the chairs upstairs either in Tim’s study or, higher up on the top floor on Ellie’s office chair, but then she’ll wake up demand food, fuss and to be let out, then in again, fuss, let out, back in, food and ‘oh I see you have a computer on your lap, I’ll just climb up, shove your computer out of the way and settle down on your lap’. She’s full of character and very talkative and we think she quite likes us now, particularly as we’re prepared to cater for her every wish!

Tim, we need to have a word! You may be tall...
On the TEFL front we did finally submit our assignments and both passed with quite high marks. We sent them in on Thursday 10th and were told it could be up to 5 working days before we heard. We both opted for the scenario of taking a class of 16 teenagers (13/14 years old) of low intermediate level that are on a short holiday lesson in England, Jackie chose her subject of teaching them how to use the London Underground and expanded into some pronunciation and grammar, I chose to use a trailer for the new Emoji Movie as a listening exercise with follow on pronunciation and grammar.

Jackie had her results back on Saturday morning and she passed with 85%, finishing her course with an average mark of 91% over the whole course, so she is now a fully qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Fantastic mark, well done.

Stimpy relaxing with us
I had to wait until Tuesday to get mine back, with plenty of time to doubt if I had chosen my subject well and whether I’d have to do it again. In the end my result was 81% for the assignment and 87.75% for the whole course, so I am also now a fully qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Very relieved to pass and very happy. The assessor didn’t particularly like my choice of the Emoji Movie trailer, thinking the language in the trailer difficult to follow and probably above the level of the students, but he liked my exercises and overall thought I’d planned it well. He’s right in his comments and one of the reasons I was doubtful of my subject choice. However, it’s over with now and we can move on, keeping the qualification in reserve should we wish to teach anywhere in the world in the future.

And sleeping with us
On the old railway track
We’ve been out on our bikes a couple of times, doing 17km rides from the house here and partly along a dismantled railway line with a loop back round the roads and we’ve been on a local walk of 11km along difficult to follow public footpaths, which became quite challenging from a navigation point of view, but very picturesque.

Bike rides 1 and 2:
Fabulous selfie!
Twice we’ve been back to Birmingham, which is only an hour away (outside of rush hour traffic) for medical appointments for both of us, mine was at the Queen Elizabeth hospital for a skin check-up as part of my on-going appointments for the Lynch Syndrome I have. They found a lump on my top lip and did a biopsy of it there and then, cutting it out and putting a stitch in it. A bit unexpected that, so now I have to go to the nurse at the doctors surgery here in Hilton village to have it removed tomorrow. It’ll only be three days and they said to leave it five to seven, but last time I left one for six days and it was difficult to remove, so better earlier than later. Anyway, I just want it out!

On our 11km walk
Our 11km walk:
Whilst in Birmingham on one of the visits we also managed to squeeze in a house viewing for my nephew Nick, who is looking to buy his own home in Kings Heath. We took Ian with us, after lunching with Helen and spending the afternoon waiting to see how their extension is coming on (looks good but a long way to go!). Ian has up to date info on DIY jobs and, although this wasn’t the right house, needing too much work, it gave Nick a really good insight into what to look for in houses, so hopefully he’ll find something soon,

Lunchtime beer and snack at Generous Georges in Hilton
My daughter Fiona and James came over on Sunday last and we had a very pleasant Sunday lunch and a good chat that went on into the early evening, making them quite late to get home. This Sunday we’re seeing them again with the rest of the family for a birthday party, Fiona’s was last Tuesday, granddaughter Jenny who will be 13 (or is it 14?) and eldest granddaughter Abbie who will be 19. Photos to follow in the next blog.

Finally saw Hedgehogs Scampy 1 and 2 in the garden
We have one more week here housesitting in Hilton, with a visit on Tuesday and Wednesday from my sister Denise and Paul, where we’ll hopefully get out walking if the weather is kind. Then, on Friday we’re heading off to Edinburgh, Scotland to see our friends Simon and Diane for the Bank Holiday weekend. Busy, busy, busy, but we’re loving it.

Beer and fabulous locally made sausage roll at the Hawke and Buckle
Today we went on a 24km bike ride to Mickleover and a loop back with a stop off at the Hawke and Buckle pub in Etwall for fabulous real ale and the best locally made sausage roll we’ve ever had. The sun shone, it was warm, nice easy ride along the old railway track then out through country lanes in lovely English scenery and a stop at a traditional English pub for local beer and food with friendly staff, well, it’s what life is all about!
Todays 23km bike ride:

A stop on our bike ride to wave to new new calves in the field
Picking blackberries in Tim and Jill's field to make Blackberry Ripple Ice Cream - fabulous!

This is Tim and Jill's field and that's their house. They own all of this!

Their lovely farmhouse style kitchen complete with Aga

Yes, and we haven't forgotten you Stimpy. Do you want to go out, have some food, want a bit of fuss or just to be left alone? Yes, OK, we'll just leave you alone then until you want us!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Stimpy sitting in Derby – August 2017

In Derby with Tim
We’re now on our third housesit since arriving back in the UK at the end of May, this time at our friends Tim and Jill, who have a lovely house just outside Derby. We’re here for the month of August while Jill, Ellie and James are in Australia, for half of July and August and Tim joins them sometime on Monday (7th August). Jackie’s niece, nephew and her mum joined us for a few days while Tim was still here and, below are their comments from their stay:

Jackie with Charles and Caroline
Hello, this is Caroline speaking. We have been with AJ and UB since Wednesday and are getting on the train this evening at 17:13 precisely. At the moment all the mad people are fighting to win the game of Boggle Slam. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. I am sitting here protecting my toe from AJ who wants to squeeze the pus out. Ewwww. We went climbing yesterday and I got sunburnt on my face and arms, same as everyone.

I think that Stimpy is THE most talkative cat I have ever seen. She just never shuts up. Anyway, I feel slightly left out of the mad game they are playing and will join in. see you soon, bye… JJJJJJJJJJJJJ

Caroline, Jackie, Charles and Gran (Jackies mum)
Jackie and Brian were very good however; I must say that the meal variety was rather limited as I remember the spaghetti Bolognese from our last outing. I must say though that the cooked breakfast was rather fine and all the house facilities were in good working order. The planned outings were acceptable and the visit to the national memorial arboretum was very moving whilst the climbing excursion was rather fun. However, their keeping of a vicious and dangerous cat has to lower their overall service meaning I can only give a 7/10 with a recommendation to visit. Upon visiting one should demand a crumble from the secret menu which the chef Brian can whip up with ease to an exemplary standard making the cooking a solid 8/10.

Bye, bye Sooty, for a while
To pad in the detail around the above, Abi arrived home on Saturday, not Friday as expected as she too had had a dodgy tummy, I'm sure we are twins separated at birth, so can't tell a lie we thoroughly enjoyed sitting in front of a movie after an easy dinner. Saturday back to it and out for a yummy Chinese. We shared the meal for two between three and were all thoroughly stuffed! 

Hello Stimpy cat
Sunday we packed the car and waved bye bye, though we'll be back for the end of September, so it's not for long. Arrived at Tim's where Stimpy greeted us outside which Tim seemed to find funny as we sat on the floor talking to her rather than coming in to him! Well she is our main charge.....

We had a lovely couple of days with Tim, it really felt like being on holiday, we cooked a roast when we arrived after a short positioning walk. Monday was a lovely day, so we went for another gentle walk along the canal from the marina, to a pub, rude not to have a pint, before returning to the marina for a lovely tapas lunch. The promised pub crawl fell short in the evening as Tim realised that a few pints before his blood tests may not be the best plan, though we did have to walk the village to check the pubs and have a couple as my stress level was through the roof. As commented in the last blog 'can we both possibly pass the TEFL assignment as they are so different?' The answer was no, he did with flying colours, but I had to resubmit my first lesson plan! Not happy. So worked very hard, till we had to go out, tried to drown my sorrows with a couple of pints and some great pizza, which sort of worked till bedtime when I only managed four hours sleep! Oh well, assignment resubmitted by 11.00, fingers crossed! Shopping and prep for the arrival of Charles and Caroline before a trip to the cinema with Tim to see Dunkirk. Really glad we saw it, though it's one of those films you don't 'enjoy'!

Jackie and Tim outside the Hilton House Hotel where we went for our beer and pizza
Well, it was outside the pub, we had to do it!
Up bright and early to get the kids, and gran from the train station, a whole new experience for the kids, train travel on their own, but they seem to survive the experience, as did Gran despite her journey taking longer and cost more while covering a much shorter distance. 

Intersting history of the Hilton House Hotel
Apple and blackberry crumble and custard (and beer) with Tim
Rosliston Park in the afternoon where we followed Caroline map reading us, with what turned out to be a very bad map, round a good wood sculpture walk. Back for the traditional Spag Bol, as mentioned by Charles, it's just one of those things I know they will eat, and I can cook in advance! 

Can we go climbing? Hope to, but not today, the forecast is not up to it, so off to the Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath, a good plan as it turned out, up the cable car and into a cave as the rain poured down. By the time we came out though it had stopped and the rest of the day was clear. Lots to do, something for everyone, and home tired!

Jackie and Caroline being silly, Charles being cool and gran, well, just not wanting to look at the camera as usual
At Rosliston Park
Friday, hurrah, good forecast so off to Birchen edge for some climbing, though as we went through Chesterfield the road was very wet, but that was the last we saw, did anyone bring the sunscreen?
Having not climbed for a long while we sent the kids up the first route, then Charles tried the harder start, perhaps not, except then Caroline did it, so did I. He tried again and succeeded, no pressure on Brian then! We had a great time, Gran going on the scramble up and down and Charles leading a route and belaying Caroline up while she removed the gear.

Caroline sliding down the pole in the playground
Back to the chicken pie, that Brian had made the pastry for and Charles had made the filling for the previous day. Tim back from his cultural sojourn with his mum we sat around the dinner table talking till bedtime. 

As Charles said, the National Memorial Arboretum today, which was very moving, though we could have timed it better as we did get very wet, but hey, we're not made of sugar. And now? Kids and Gran all packed off on their respective trains, Tim has left for the airport for his three weeks in Oz and it all seems very quiet!

Who took that photo of me sliding down the pole?
Oh yes, and my assignment was remarked on Thursday and I too have now passed with flying colours. Just hideous looking assignment number two to go....

Stimpy helping Brian write the blog
Charles showing us how to do pull ups. I managed 5, Charles managed a few more (lots more actually!)

Brother and siterly love!

Waiting for the cable car to the Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath

On they get. Did you know, the Heights of Abraham is so called after a famous battle at the place of the same name in Quebec against the French in the seven years war where General Wolf lost his life
Exiting one of the show mines
Fabulous selfie!
Lunch stop
Gran, Caroline and Charles posing, but obviously Charles is too cool to show his face
The Victorian tower at the Heights of Abraham
Caroline at the top peering over the edge at gran below (Jackie was hanging on to her!)
The view down to Matlock Bath from the cafe
Charles abeiling down Trafalgar Crack at Birchen Edge
And then climbing back up again. Its a V. Diff 4a climb
Jackie showing Caroline the starting move on Barnacle Bulge, HS 4c
Away she goes...
Charles on the same climb
And me making a bit of a meal of it. It was hard and pumpy!
Caroline on a very polished Diff that went up through a cave at the top
Caroline seconding up the climb that Charles led, watched over carefully by Brian at the top and Jackie below
Last climb of the day a Severe 4c, one of the top 50 climbs in the Peak District
The National Memorial Arboretum
Unfortunately the rain and hail came down
But we did find the tree planted by Tim's family in memory of his great-grandad who was shot below the heart and lived while a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps in WWI
Here's the plaque
The 'shot at dawn' memorial. The statue represents Private Herbert Burden, one of the men shot at dawn in the First World War for breaking the rules. There are six trees facing him that symbolise the firing squad of soldiers. The wooden stakes represent the other soldiers that died in this way, some under 18 years of age. Today we understand that many of these were probably suffering from combat stress, also known at 'shell shock', but it wasn't understood until much more recently
The huge armed forces memorial at the national memorial arboretum
On one side is this sculpture. The slit between the stone doors is so aligned that sunlight shines through to the central pedestal at 11 'o' clock on 11th November each year
The wall on the left lists service personnel killed since WWII
A final shot of Stimpy relaxing at the top of the stairs