I thought I’d do a quick round-up of where we’ve been while I’ve been absent from my blog.
Our habit of monthly trips away lapsed for a while as other things took priority. But we both found through our ‘gap year’ that we really value our trips away, so we’re plotting some more for the next few months. They don’t have to take us far (here are so many wonderful places in the UK that we haven’t yet seen), they don’t need to be exotic, and they don’t need to be very long (we’ve been amazed to realise how much we can cram into just a few days, and what a difference those days make).
We’re planning a brief trip to Liverpool; another long Scottish walk (next spring); a train trip somewhere in the south of France; and probably something further afield. Then later next year there’s a significant anniversary coming up, which we plan to celebrate somewhere special (to us) with both sons and their partners.
In the meantime, there have been lots of trips to London, mostly for a specific purpose but I’ve been careful to build in something that was just for me as well. Often ‘just’ a walk and a picnic lunch – simple, but so refreshing for the spirits. Plus a couple of brief London visits purely for fun. Including a day trip on the train from London to Whitstable – such a treat!
We went to the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V & A (‘Their mortal remains’), largely because oldest son was involved in designing the exhibition. We were wowed by it, and could see why it got such rave reviews.
We gave our Danish friends and a group of their Danish friends a guided tour – a combination of bits of of two of our favourite London walks (St Pauls, a section of the South Bank to Tower Bridge, then DLR to Island Gardens, through the foot tunnel to Greenwich. exploration of Greenwich, a pub supper, then back on the river bus). Seemed to go down well with all…. We certainly enjoyed it (and we love the totally unexpected and gorgeous Danish porcelain they gave us as a ‘thank you’ gift).
I met a friend at the Museum of Childhood, another part of the V&A, tucked away in Bethnal Green. A trip down memory lane for me, as it was somewhere mum took my sister and I were taken when we were very young (and she remembered it from her childhood growing up in the East End).
I don’t recall it being as gorgeous or as welcoming and family-friendly then as it is now. It would have been worth the visit for the architecture alone, and was even more so for the special exhibition we saw about Michael Morpurgo (you may know him as the author of War Horse, also of many other books for children and young people). A fascinating insight into what moves and motivates and inspires him as a writer, and an exhibition that integrated children’s experiences of his books into its very heart. (Youngest son worked on the lighting of War Horse at the National Theatre, so I had particular pleasure in seeing the puppet horse Joey).
There have been lots of local walks, some new to us, some old favourites, some variations on old favourites just to mix it up a bit.
There was a fascinating guided visit of the flour mill that produces the flour I’ve used for all my bread baking for the past 30 years (Shipton Mill, near Tetbury). Another example of ‘going back’ to the future – in the 1970s when they set up their mill in the old run-down former mill building, they reused machinery from flour mills in the north of England that were ‘modernising’ their methods and abandoning their old machinery. The Shipton Mill people lovingly restored it, and have been using it ever since. As well as being useful, it truly is a thing of beauty.
The ‘gap year’ may have ended, but the lessons and experience continue. Once I shake off this humdinger of a cold….*
*I wrote this post over the past week or so, lucky because my brain’s not functioning enough to be coherent right now