Making the most of my mini break, I headed to Marlow on my way home. Suzy and I parked up and just as we were about to head out of the van it started to rain. I did have a do I don’t i moment, but I have good waterproofs so does Suzy so there was no excuse.
Our aim in Marlow was to complete another adventure Lab Cache series and just have a wander.
There are some quaint little areas to see and one of my favourites had to be the suspension bridge and the view down the river to the weir.
Leaving Marlow was a little bit of a challenge as the suspension bridge had a width restriction and guess where my google maps wanted to take me? Yep across the bridge. This is one challenge that I have found going it alone in the van. You can’t drive and find an alternate route at the same time without pulling over. Today there was no where to pull over so I just kept driving up alternate roads until google maps got me back on a suitable route.
Safely home and van I packed it was time to relax before Saturdays Cook off.
Some of you may have seen that once a month Since this crazy pandemic, Martin, Nick and I meet up and enjoy some home cooked food.
We alternate who cooks starters, mains and desert. Today Martin made a very tasty mulligatawny soup, which was a soup that I’d not made before and didn’t even know the ingredients involved.
Nick was on Mains today and he made a mince beef, onion and mushroom pie with mash, Brussel spouts and carrots. Again delicious.
Desert was to be a coconut and jam sponge with home made custard served in mini milk bottles.
We had picked a theme for today’s meals. School dinners is something we all remember. Lumpy raw mashed potato, roast dinners, Brussels like bullets, pink custard and Tottenham cake, gypsy tart and so many more. I am please to say there were no lumps in sight and no yucky skin on the custard. Another great success. Next month we are going for an autumnal bonfire night theme. I now have a few weeks to think about what starter I can serve.
The evening was completed with a few rounds of Jenga. A tense game with so much concentration and holding of breathe.
I hope that you are all staying safe and positive where ever you are and making the best of these strange times. Ben and I are trying to and I think we have to use this time to try new things and challenge ourselves.
As if I haven’t had any challenges lately, I decided that it was about time Miss Lexy and I went for an adventure. I’ve not been away with her on my own but I am determined to continue the journey for Rich.
We chose Henley as our destination. Not to far to drive (first time driving the van since my operation), a campsite that I was familiar with and I knew that way I wouldn’t need to do any heavy lifting, and good walks for Suzy. The town is also a short walk away and their is a cafe on site.
The drive down was traffic free (some positives to many having to work from home still) despite the heavy rain. Suzy was quite content on her bed with her seat belt on in the back. She sat up most of the journey as she can see out of the front window from there.
Once we reached the campsite, the barriers opened automatically and we drove straight to our pitch. The campsite have had to change all their booking in procedures to comply with Covid regulations. This means no going into the reception, and then sending you a map and you pitch in advance so that you can come straight in.
Once in we received a lovely welcome phone call from reception to ensure we had arrived safely and found and had everything we need. I’d booked a hard standing pitch with water supply, grey waste point and fresh water to save me from moving the van during my stay. Also this made lighter work for my back😉 However the pitch is slightly on the tilt so I had to drive Miss Lexy onto her levelling blocks. In the past I’ve had to have someone do this or guide me as it’s not my strong point. But after checking twice I was levelled and chocks in. Pat on the back for Me.
Our first afternoon Suzy and I went for a walk round the nearby fields before heading back for a cup of tea and some relaxation time before dinner. Sadly the cafe isn’t open at the beginning of the week in the evenings but I had come prepared with a homemade chilli which just needed warming and the rice cooked. Great comfort van food and little washing up.
Suzy started to get chilly, bless her. She has recently been to the Suzy Salon, so I snuggled her up in her bed, wrapped her up and put the heating on. One of the bonuses of Miss Lexy is that she has great heating and hot water settings.
After a good night sleep and brekkie, Suzy and I got ourselves ready and took a gentle walk into town. Everywhere is so pretty with all the autumn leaves.
I love the walk into and around Henley. The architecture is so beautiful. Lots of historical buildings and quirky features. Our aim for today was to follow a set of adventure lab caches around the town. This way I would find out a little history, have a gentle stroll with little rest stops and Suzy could explore. Many of the shops here allow you to take dogs in which is so handy as I was unsure of how to be out and about on my own with Suzy. What if you needed to go to the loo? Get a drink or snack? It’s strange not having Rich here as we would share looking after Suzy.
Our first stop was a quaint small pet shop. As I mentioned Suzy was chilly last night so we enquired what outfits they had that may be suitable. The gentleman was so helpful and he tried them on Suzy. She decided on a grey hoody, very fitting with a compass on the pocket detail.
Next we wandered to the first lab cache point and spotted a local produce market. Superb, I love a market and I hopped it has a cheese stall. But that could wait to later.
The walk was very therapeutic, also my first carrying a small rucksack as I had drinks for Suzy and I, and I wanted a little space incase of any purchases. This doesn’t sound odd but I haven’t carried any weight since my surgery so it was a bit of a test. I’m pleased to say, although a little tired at the end of the day I managed it comfortably, even after our 4.5 miles😀
The warm sun shone all throughout our adventure. We strolled along the river, Suzy tried to make friends with the ducks and geese, they were not impressed. After finding a few of our locations we went to the angel pub for a light lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere whilst sitting outside next to the river.
Once reenergised we completed our stroll and headed back towards the market. It’s so nice to see the local farms displaying their fine produce. I purchased some Goats cheese Gouda which I am excited to try soon.
This is a selection of the photos I took on our walk around Henley.
Something I’ve noticed around Henley is all the colourful front doors. One building which looks like the doors should be identical, isn’t. The doors are all slightly varying in size. Fascinating, I wonder why?
To complete our lovey day Suzy and I met up with Lisa in the campsites cafe for dinner. It was Mexican night so we enjoyed burritos and a good catch up.
Suzy looked very chic going to dinner in her new outfit and was warm and cosy.
Five weeks ago I could hardly move. Now I’m driving, walking very well, managing a bit of gentle gardening and back to my favourite pastime of upcycling.
So here is an update of what I have been up to in-between lots of relaxing and resting still.
The weather has been gorgeous on a few days so I have taken this opportunity to do a spot of gardening. Don’t worry, I’ve not overdone it and only done what feels comfortable. The front wall baskets have now been planted up with winter bulbs and very pretty pansies that remind me of oranges and lemons. Hopefully they will look even more spectacular in the spring.
During the week I have also worked on two cupboards from the living room. As you can see they were quite a dark wood and the living room is quite dark during the day so I set to giving them a lift.
Sanded then wiped down out in the sunshine with mummy’s little helper they were ready to paint.
We chose a colour similar to duck egg blue to coordinate with the grey sofa, sanding the tops back to the natural wood and waxing them.
I’m very pleased with them, but of course it doesn’t stop there. Next will now be the coffee tables and the lamp bases and probably the display unit. It’s addictive this hobby.
The back garden bulbs also started to be planted this week with Jono and Bev’s help. Hopefully the hyacinths will look great in front of the pond in the spring.
This weekend has been filled with meeting up with some friends. Saturday we enjoyed afternoon tea in Rochester, very indulgent, and today Nick, Martin and I went to see a show filmed at the 02 with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe but shown at the cinema. It was great. Lots of songs from the musicals amongst other greats. Trouble is it’s reminded me how much I miss going to concerts or the theatre. Let’s hope the theatres can open again soon.
It’s a very exciting day today. Four weeks ago I had surgery on my back which has made so much difference to my daily life. So today a few of us had decided to have a trip out to Hastings to browse the antique shops, do a bit of geocaching and maybe treat ourself a to something nice to eat.
Martin picked up Sam and I and we had a good run down to the coast. When we arrived the sun was shining and the sea was so calm.
The caches we decided to do today involved us looking for blue plaques around the town. This worked out well as we could do this in combination with exploring the antique shops.
The antique shops were fun to browse and we played a game of I would buy this from each shop. I think at one point I chose a large metal sphere, and Sam and Martin some other odd items. There were so many nice pieces of furniture that I would have liked to have to renovate but I don’t have the room. Perhaps I need to buy my own chateau.
Brunch this morning was in a cafe overlooking the sea. I had scrambled egg and chorizo which was very nice.
As well as looking out for blue plaques there was some interesting art work around the town.
After exploring and seeing all these quirky places along with these old buildings we headed to the pub for liquid refreshments before dinner.
Of course dinner had to be fish and chips as we are by the seaside after all. They were enjoyed sat on the front over looking the sea with the sun starting to set over Beachy head in the distance. Beautiful.
A truly wonderful day that didn’t disappoint in any way. Great company, delicious food, sunshine and an interesting town. Best of all I managed to do all this with zero pain and able to keep up. Brilliant.
The last view of the day was this vibrant rainbow that appeared just after we had finished our dinner. We just made it to the car before the rain came. A wonderful time was had by all.
Three weeks ago, the sun was shining, the days longer and I was still up cycling and recycling what I could to keep myself occupied.
Part of the reason for trying to keep myself occupied was that my back pain was getting worse. Moving became more difficult and Suzy walks were getting shorter and shorter.
I’d had an MRI and was awaiting an urgent referral to the team at Kings for possible surgery. However not doing things by half’s, on Thursday 10th September I had to call an ambulance as the pain was unbearable and my legs gave way. Ben was in complete shock after being woke by telephone to come over to my bedroom and help me and keep Suzy from worrying whilst we waited for the ambulance.
Once in A&E, after many hours I was admitted to a ward and another MRI. A disc in my lower back had herniated and was compressing lots of nerves. Surgery was now the way to go and after a middle of the night transfer to London Kings College Hospital and many do we don’t we from the surgeons I was quickly taken for the surgery. As you can imagine the next few hours were a bit of a blur. When I woke back on the ward I was asked to get out of bed and have a wee. To my complete surprise there was no pain! I could get in and out of bed, walk and sit. Sitting hadn’t been comfortable for weeks. I was truly amazed.
Sunday I was even more amazed as I was told I was doing so well I could go home. Quite a scary thought as they usually keep you there for 3-4 days but due to Covid it was safer to recover at home.
When I’d heard that I may need to have surgery some of my friends told me they had put a plan in place and I had to go with it. The plan was rapidly bought forward. Sam came to stay at our house to be with Ben and Suzy. Mark stayed home to look after their side of things and Bev, Jono and Victoria took turns in popping over to help me once home.
As many of you know I’m not very good at doing nothing but I now had to. I wasn’t going to risk undoing the work the surgeons had performed and I think my body was screaming at me to stop after a rough six months. I have done as I’m told, taken things slowly, lifted nothing heavy, I’ve not twisted, stretched or pushed myself to much. I had to ask for help to shower, cook my dinner, walk Suzy and many other jobs that we take for granted.
Now two weeks post op and Sam drove me to the country park where we could let Suzy back off the lead for a good run around and to test my walking on the grass. We have one very happy chilled out dog this afternoon. Suzy loved interacting with her chums and chasing the ball. It will be a few weeks yet before I can drive or walk Suzy myself but everything is going in the right direction. Best of all, no pain!!
I’ve thanked the NHS many times this year and I find myself saying it again. THANK YOU. What would we do without you?🌈🌈
So what was I up to before this little hiccup? We had two wicker baskets for bits and pieces in our hall way that didn’t match. You guessed it, they do now. Thanks to some more spray paint🙂
The plants in the green house have now finished and one of the last things to pick was our one and only melon. It was enjoyed sitting in the sunshine with some Parma ham. Just how dad and Rich would have.
My other little project was to respray a couple of photo frames as I have so many wonderful memories that I want to share. The first two went well and looked great once Mark had put them on the wall for me. However it didn’t look complete. It needed a third frame and unable to purchase the same again I set about restyling a bigger frame. I managed to do this whilst recovering after the op sitting in the sunshine. I pulled apart an eight frame, reattached it in its new formation, filled in the excess holes and sprayed it to match the other two. Another successful upcycle.
The weekend was topped of on Saturday with Nick and Martin joining Sam and I. Some of you may remember last month we had a holiday debrief and enjoyed a meal with each of us making a course. This weekend Nick made the main and Martin the starter and desert (I was excused from this month) and Sam on clearing and washing up.
Nick had set a further challenge by picking a Welsh theme as we had all holidayed there together a few years ago.
So Martin’s starter was home made Leek and Potato soup, garnished with sautéed Leek and chives, Delicious. Next was Nick’s main which was a Welsh lamb stew with home made sourdough bread. Again full of flavour and delicious and desert (I always love desert as I have a rather sweet tooth) was baked by Martin and was an Eve’s pudding but made with pear instead of apple. Bloody lovely and yes I had to have seconds. what a way to spend an afternoon😛
So there we have it. The last three weeks all caught up. All my other projects are temporarily placed on hold whilst I recover. For now I shall continue to be gripped by the Netflix drama, The Fall. (Thank you Cheryl, great recommendation) and alternate my time between putting my feet up, walking a little further each day and catching up on some reading. I may even do some research into the next big adventure☺️🚐
Take care everyone and thank you again to everyone that has sent me messages and helped myself and Ben out over the last few weeks. X x
Today was the day, we get to go and sample Bakewell. I’d been looking forward to this part of the trip. I last visited here in 2012 and really wanted to return for a more in-depth tour. Rich and I had planned to camp near here but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. But I feel like I’ve bought him along with me today in a small way to share the adventure. He would have loved it, especially all of the cake!
The drive across the Peaks was breathtaking. So pretty.
Perhaps best known for its unique and delicious Pudding. Bakewell is Idyllically situated on the banks of the river Wye, the biggest town in the Peak District National Park’s mellow stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge and quaint courtyards are a magnet for painters, photographers and sightseers alike. I can see why. We decided to explore this town today via a geocache. A multi that would take us to various locations. To do this we had printed out various photos of parts of buildings, these were the clues we needed to look out for. Different to how we normally do a cache, but fun.
Now before we could sample the famous pudding, lunch was in order. A very nice leek and potato soup with halloumi fries. Delicious.
Our walking tour commenced, taking us off of the usual tourist trail and up some narrow alleys that were brightly decorated in climbing roses and quaint front doors.
Up to the Old House Museum, one of the oldest buildings in Bakewell. This architectural gem is one of Bakewell’s best kept secrets. Built during the reign of Henry VIII as a tax collectors cottage the building was expanded during the Elizabethan period as a gentlemans residency. From Tudor to Victorian the building and objects tell the story of life in rural and industrial Bakewell. Sir Richard Arkwright housed his millworkers here.
After walking back into the town, we headed to the pudding shop via the bright, colourful displays of flowers in the park. The gardeners have done a fantastic job here. So many varieties and well thought out borders, all in height order and colour blocks. Even a small memorial garden.
Now, to the pudding – Legend has it that the towns famous pudding, was created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century. Today her delectable ‘jam tart that went wrong’ can be sampled at various bakeries and cafés and posted virtually anywhere in the world!
We may have purchased some and may have posted some. Will you be one of the lucky recipients of “the pudding”?
Bakewell was a lovely town to visit, and I’m pleased that we made it here. However I felt lost without Rich today as this would have been one of our adventures. Thank you to Martin and Nick though for accompanying us here.
A few more buildings to discover before we headed back to our base to enjoy another tasty evening meal.
Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. It has the highest elevation – about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level – of any market town in England. Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as “the gateway to the Peak District National Park”
We decided to set out a little later today as the weather forecast suggested more thunder storms. So a tasty breakfast was made by Martin and Nick. It consisted of Oat Pancakes with fresh fruit and apricot and marmalade muffins. Delicious.
The journey to Buxton was so picturesque. Rolling hills and rocky outcrops made up the vast landscape. 40 minutes later we arrived and found somewhere to park close to town. As usual our first stop was at a small cafe with outside seating to enjoy a refreshing drink and snack. I had a chicken and thyme sausage roll with home made coleslaw, very nice.
Our tour guide again today was a multi geocache that led us on a tour of the town. We needed to visit most of the historical locations to gather some information.
Built on the River Wye and overlooked by Axe edge moor. Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann’s Well (a shrine to St.Anne since medieval times) at the foot of The Slopes, opposite the Crescent near the town centre. The well was declared to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak by philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his 1636 book De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being The Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire.
Buxton landmarks include Poole’s Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann’s Well, fed by the geothermal spring bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town’s historic buildings.
The Grade II listed fan window Below, was built in 1863 at Buxton Station is a well known landmark in the town, greeting rail passengers to and from their destination along the Buxton to Manchester line. Originally part of a twin railway terminus, it was restored and repaired in 2019 (following vandalism which broke glass panels) organised by the Friends of Buxton Station; the fan window is just one of many improvement projects which have slowly transformed Buxton Station since the volunteer group rejuvenated in 2015.
The Crescent (as photographed below) was the centrepiece of the Fifth Duke of Devonshire’s plans to establish a fashionable Georgian spa town in Buxton. The grade 1 listed building is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the country. The redevelopment and restoration will secure a major investment of circa £50 million in Buxton and put the town back on the national and international map as England’s leading spa town. The project will create in excess of 140 permanent jobs, 350 construction related jobs and many more permanent jobs indirectly through new spa-related businesses resulting in a boost the local economy by over £4.5 million. The Crescent and Thermal Spa Experience and development of the Pump Room will also provide new indoor attraction for residents, visitors, groups and schools.
Plans for the Crescent include a 81-bedroom luxury spa hotel occupying the majority of the Crescent and which will incorporate the magnificent Assembly Rooms and a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths. The project will also feature 6 retail units in the front ground floor.
The project is estimated to cost over £46 million.
The Met Office Climatological Station, located on The Slopes in Buxton, just above the War Memorial, has records of the Buxton climate, reaching back nearly 150 years. Records of Buxton weather originally began at the 1866 in the grounds of Devonshire Royal Hospital.
Buxton Climatological Station moved to the current site in 1925 and continues to provide data to various bodies. Michael Hilton (famed for this Buxton Weather website) and a group of dedicated volunteers currently maintain the station. The Station has records of temperatures, humidity, rainfall, and much more – and even details like the daily temperature of the soil, one metre (3 feet) below the ground.
After visiting these locations we had a walk through the Pavilion gardens. It really is beautiful, but best of all a river running through the middle. The stream is brown in colour, but clear due to the amount of iron in the water. The water looked so inviting and the children were having so much fun, so you guessed it, Suzy went in followed by myself and Martin. Perfectly refreshing for a day like today.
A few more caches and it was time to leave this historic town. We wanted to stop at a road side cafe we had seen on the journey in. It overlooked the peaks and you could see for miles. Just in the time as they were just about to close. Fortunately they could provide take away cups so we could take our time. We also purchased some Stilton pork pies, I shall let you know what those were like later.
Tea drunk, photos taken, Homewood bound. Ben is cooking tonight, coached by Nick. We are all looking forward to our home made burgers and potato wedges.
Leek is a market town in the county of Staffordshire, England, on the River Churnet. It is situated about 10 miles (16 km) north east of Stoke-on-Trent. It is an ancient borough and was granted its royal charter in 1214.
Leek’s coat of arms is made up of a Saltire Shield. On the top is the Stafford Knot, either side is the Leek “Double Sunset” and below a gold garb. The crest is a mural crown with three Mulberry leaves on a Mount of Heather on top of which a Moorcock is resting his claw on a small-weave Shuttle.
We decided to explore this lovely old market town today. Using geocaching as our tour guide we set out to find a few historical spots in the town. Well we would until we became distracted by tea and cake.
Refuelled exploration of the town can began. We needed to find the memorial, church, market sign and college amongst other locations.
The town is so interesting to walk around. Full of unusual architecture. Even a gold postbox to honour the Olympian, Anna Watkins for her gold medal in the 2012 Olympics for the women’s double Sculls.
After a good few hours exploring and caching we headed off to Rudyard Lake.
Rudyard Lake is a reservoir in Rudyard, Staffordshire, located north-west of the town of Leek. It was constructed in the late 18th century to feed the Caldon Canal. During the 19th century, it was a popular destination for daytrippers taking advantage of easy access using the newly constructed Staffordshire railway.
Legend has it that the village of Rudyard was named after Ralph Rudyard, a local man reputed to have killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth field, although as the place-name, meaning ‘a yard or enclosure where rue is grown’ in Old English , was first recorded in 1022 and subsequently mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086 it is more likely that Ralph, if he ever existed, was named after the village.
In September 1864 Carlos Trower, an Afro-American tight rope walker who called himself ‘The African Blondin’ was engaged by the North Staffordshire Railway to walk across the lake on a rope suspended some hundred feet above the water. This was the first major event organised by the NSR. Special trains were run from nearby towns and the Potteries with over three thousand spectators attending.
After all this exploring it was time to relax with lunch of baps of various fillings and ice cream for desert. Suzy was treated to another swim in the lake before heading off home. It was such a warm evening dinner was also enjoyed outside. Well you have to make the most of the British summer.
Today Miss Lexy, my trusty motorhome was booked in for some work. She had a cracked water pipe leading out from the kitchen sink and need her water sensors checking. I set out in plenty of time to make the journey around the M25 and to Burgess Hill. I felt quite happy, wide awake and ready to go. However emotions as we know can just change and as I reached Swanley on the M25 tears came from no where. I have so many memories of Rich and today reminded me of last May when we traveled to collect Miss Lexy for the first time. Also of the many adventures we had all together. It was to be like this all the way to Burgess hill. Fortunately I could see where I was going. Once I’d reached my destination I took a few moments, took some deep breaths and handed over Lexy’s keys. She would be there for a good few hours so I had arranged to meet My friend Jono here.
We toddled off to Brighten. Found a car parking space and walked along the sea front. The sky was bright blue and the sun was warm and bright.
After a while walking around and seeing some very interesting art work on the buildings we enjoyed some lunch again on the sea front.
A little beach restaurant was chosen and as an added bonus we were told that everything on the menu was half price due to the governments new eat out scheme. With that in mind we picked a sharing fish platter. It was delicious.
Brighten is a very interesting place to explore and Rich, Ben and I enjoyed exploring it last year. It also reminded me of my last trip away with my dad which was to Glasgow. A vibrant city, also full of amazing art work.
I found this description of Brighten:
“Brighton’s location has made it a popular destination for tourists, renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, large cultural, music and arts scene and its large LGBT population, leading to its recognition as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK” and is the most popular seaside destination in the UK for overseas tourists. Brighton has also been called the UK’s “hippest city”, and along with Norwich named as one of the UK’s most ‘Godless’ cities, and “the happiest place to live in the UK””
This is so true as their are many statues and beautiful buildings to see.
It was now time to head back and collect Miss Lexy. She is all repaired and ready for her next adventure.
Although it’s been an emotional day it’s been a nice day and it reminded me that I need to persevere and keep doing things like this x x ❤️