Where we’ve been

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.

Detail of gabion wall, Whitstable

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

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About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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12 Responses to Where we’ve been

  1. Such lovely, expansive experiences and sights. Thank you so much for sharing – I want my own gap year now! I hope you’re feeling much better now. x

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  2. good to see you back – look forward to more soon

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  3. Marian says:

    This is such a lovely post, Deborah — I so enjoy reading about your adventures (and I can only imagine how it must have felt to visit that Pink Floyd exhibition and to know your son’s work was part of all that!! Incredible 🙂 ).
    I too find that mill to be a thing of beauty! I’m not sure what it is about older machinery (in particular) that makes me see it as such — maybe it’s that I can appreciate the craftsmanship/ingenuity that goes into making the tools themselves, rather than overlooking that and merely seeing the products that the tools have made possible…

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    • Oh you’re right about the mill. I couldn’t capture in photos how it really was – all beautifully painted and looked-after machines, polished wood with the sheen age adds, leather handles that have been used by so many people over so many years. The miller who showed us around was a real enthusiast for his craft, but sadly finding it hard to find younger people willing to put in the hard graft to take it on when he inevitably reaches a stage where he can’t continue. It’s very hard, physical work in there.
      And yes, we were so very excited to see our son’s work being enjoyed by so many people. Our other son is an event lighter (theatres, dance, corporate events), so we’ve also had the great pleasure of seeing his work being enjoyed by many – especially when he worked at the National Theatre in London and on tour.

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  4. Sam says:

    Hope you’re feeling much better very soon. Sounds as though you’re packing in loads of interesting stuff.

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    • Thankfully the cold is (slowly!) shifting. And yes, life continues to be busy. Mostly with good stuff, fortunately. So sorry to see that you’re taking a break – sounds like things have been tough for you this year. Sounds like a good time to look after yourself – but I’ll miss your posts!

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  5. Lucille says:

    How interesting to hear about Shipton Mill. We’ve been using their flour for years too.
    We have a gabion wall and I wish I had thought of being as creative with it as the folks in Whitstable.

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    • Yes, that gabion wall is really lovely. You only really notice the artefacts when you get close up.
      If you’re ever planning to be near Tetbury I’d thoroughly recommend the guided visit, you have to book and they do them about every three weeks or so on a Saturday at midday. It’s free, and the man who takes you round has a relaxed approach to Health and Safety, which means you get to see all sorts of things and areas which might otherwise be excluded. Fascinating, and I’m sure you’d love it.

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  6. I love the Museum of Childhood! It’s great to be able to pop up to London for the day and visit a museum or just walk around. Love your list of travel plans and destinations for next year. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to Liverpool but it’s on my list… Glad you are (slowly) getting better x

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    • We were meant to be in Liverpool now but postponed till next year due to rail strike yesterday. Looking forward to it though, as like you never been there and heard good things about it. We are lucky to be have London so easily accessible, and M and I especially to have a base to stay there (with one of our sons).

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