A Very Important Birthday

06/09/18 – 09/09/18

Feeling like we were on possibly the shortest tour of the UK’s market towns we returned to Taunton. More celebrating was on the cards as Nan’s 90th birthday was imminent.

Nan was making the most of a fortuitous weekend Birthday with a lunch on Saturday in the medieval hall of Blackmore Farm, followed by a cream tea at home and then breakfast at Rumwell Farm Shop on the Sunday (the actual Birthday). Family had been gathered from around the country, children, grand children and great-grandchildren were present to help with the celebrations, close family friends (practically family after all) joined us in the celebrations. 

Family and friends gathered at Blackmore Farm
Waiting for dinner in the great hall

Ninety Years! Trying to imagine the changes that a ninety year old has seen is almost impossible. The ability to keep up, from the point when motorisation and automation was rare to the present computerised day, is not something that should be taken lightly. Despite Nan’s protestations she has kept up with the changes well, uses her laptop regularly (a new laptop was one of her gifts), banks online and is a keen texter. She is even looking forward to getting her first smart phone now that there is one available from the fantastic Doro.  

One of Nan’s gifts, a complement to her conscientiously kept diary and work in progress memoirs, was a picture album ranging from her childhood to the present day. It was handed from person to person while we enjoyed cream teas (hands were wiped clean first), with pictures taking us back to the time when Nan was a child and my great grandparents worked the land, through important weddings, family gatherings, and other events. Pictures started in black and white, until the early colour photos started to reveal things you may never have guessed from the monochrome prints, like the startlingly bright auburn of my Mum’s hair. Modern pictures may be more realistic but there is something evocative about the artificially painted quality of those colour photos. 

Me, my sisters and Nan

All too soon the gathered family members dispersed and went their separate ways, mostly back to the Luton/Watford/Bedford area. Who knows, in ten years time we may be celebrating a centenary, whether I’m still blogging at that point I don’t know, but I hope that I follow in Nan’s footsteps and keep a record of my day to day life.  

An Unexpected Journey

28/08/18 – 05/09/18

About 6 weeks ago we were on our way to Northumberland to spend a couple of weeks with Aaron and fiancé Kate, both of whom serve in the RAF. Now we were on our way back again to celebrate their last minute decision to tie the knot.

During the two weeks we spent with them they had shared their thoughts on their potential wedding. They didn’t want anything over the top and had been considering going abroad with close family and friends, or maybe a small wedding in the UK. We joked about them running away to get married without telling anyone. It was obvious they had been discussing their options and had lots of factors to consider, not least the armed forces rather old fashioned approach to couples (i.e. you have to be married or in a civil partnership to be considered for benefits like married quarters). Little did we know that a couple of weeks later they would have evaluated their options and decided to go ahead with a small wedding as soon as possible, although perhaps we should have seen it coming. 

With Kate due to be posted abroad in mid September they didn’t have a huge window of opportunity, and so the date was set as the 1st. We were notified by WhatsApp – how else would you let your parents know that you were getting married! Paul’s suit was dusted off and I ransacked the storage unit for possible dresses and had a minor meltdown when I couldn’t find any of my nice shoes. We booked a small site in Alnwick so that we could be within walking distance (the Shepherd’s Rest was expensive for a certified site, but we were paying for convenience).

Before we made our way up North we spent a few days in Taunton with my family, this time including youngest sister (also called Kate) and her two children. Then we made the long journey north, stopping off for a night in the carpark of the Bluebell Inn near Shirley in the midlands.

Entertaining the kids at French Weir park in Taunton

After a lovely intimate wedding with plenty of good food and drink, as befits such a food obsessed couple, we followed them down to Scampton where they were picking up the keys to married quarters. A substantial but empty three bedroomed house. Our role was to be there when various deliveries arrived and help sort out the various practical needs of moving into new accommodation. A flat pack extravaganza later and their house was looking more like a home and we could leave them to enjoy it for the few days before Kate’s posting. 

Flat Pack heaven – I was reading the instructions!

We are so proud of Aaron and Kate. No one can ever know what life has in store for them, but it’s always better with someone you love by your side. Here’s to the happy couple.

Just married

 

Bank Holiday Fun

24/08/18 – 27/08/18

The weather had truly turned by the time August bank holiday weekend came around. Gone were the long sunny, unnaturally warm days. Welcome back to the typical bank holiday weather; damp, cool and unsettled.

It got pretty chilly at times, blankets were needed.

But nothing was going to stop us enjoying ourselves. We were booked to spend the weekend with friends at Forest Glade campsite on the Devon/Somerset border. A motorhome, caravan and tent, 7 adults and one small child. We had booked it up quite late but they managed to get us into three very spacious pitches next to each other and the price wasn’t bad either.

Did I say one tent? I forgot about the VW.

We had a lovely weekend enjoying the facilities on the site. There was a small pool under a greenhouse style shelter – I bet it was lovely in the warm weather but it was a little chilly for us. The adventure playground had a very good zip wire (it’s not just for kids!), and an area for smaller children. There are plenty of bridleways and paths around the site, which is on a very level plateau on top of a hill, surrounded by forests, moorland and farms. I even managed a run (with Beverly) as well as several walks around the site.  

 

We Passed Our MOT

15/08/18 – 23/08/18

We took Bertie back to Tedburn St Mary and the accommodating and helpful MC services to have various repairs done to get through the MOT. As well as the steering rack and CV joint repairs we needed a few bits and pieces done including repair to the exhaust and handbrake adjustment. Bertie seems happier now, and if Bertie is happy then so are we.

Paul’s Dad took advantage of our visit to have some logs delivered to rebuild his winter log supply. A couple of hours saw us stack three tonnes of logs in one of the outbuildings. Paul and his Dad are very similar so I got lots of ‘helpful advice’ from both of them on the best log stacking technique. Let’s hope that it doesn’t fall over like some giant game of Jenga. We did such a good job of stacking logs that we were then invited to help fill bags of ice for ‘Mike the Fish’. Our reward was a roast dinner at the local pub, at OAP rates. Cheap labour.

Neatly stacked logs

We left Tedburn, had a quick stop in Taunton to do some chores, visit the family and get some washing done before going back down to Exmouth. We got our fix of rugby at a pre-season friendly for the Chiefs. Fingers crossed we will get to see them playing French side Castres in October.

All smiles at the rugby

While in Exmouth we also visited a few friends and had one day following the Exe estuary trail on our bikes, going from Exmouth into Exeter and then back out to Dawlish, before retracing our route a short distance back to Starcross where we got the foot (and cycle) ferry back to Exmouth.

Catching up with the gorgeous Sebastien (and his parents)

We spent most of the time on the campsite in Exmouth but also tried out the parking at the Imperial Recreation ground. This is one of the designated Motorhome parking areas in Exmouth now that overnight parking is no longer allowed at the seafront. It’s a lovely spot overlooking the estuary with views of stand up paddlers, kayakers and kite surfers enjoying the calm, shallow waters of the ‘dock pond’, but I can foresee some conflicts arriving between the motorhomes and the people who use that area for water based activities (although some people combine both). At £11 for twenty four hours it’s not cheap, but there were plenty of motorhomes using it, by the Thursday the majority of vehicles were motorhomes. 

Approaching Exmouth on the ferry