Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Mayday Bank Holiday Weekend

I could have sworn that the weather boys and girls have been promising rain for most of the week. Actually, I think it has been raining in many places. It’s just not raining over Tupton

So yesterday, The Builder wandered up to the allotment in the morning sunshine and dug over the rest of the top bed and made a start on the second. I shall plant some more potatoes there, perhaps on Tuesday. In the meantime, I pottered about in the garden, supervised by Marlo. The little broccoli were not best pleased to be abruptly potted on! Marlo was quite happy, however, sleeping on the patio bench in the sunshine.

The Builder came home again.

We packed up and leapt into The Vixen. We were off to Salisbury to begin the celebrations for the cathedral’s 750th birthday.

We decided, given that we had left quite a bit earlier than planned, to set Jenny the Sat Nav to take us to Barb’s place avoiding the motorways and see which way she took us. At first, she went in the way I expected her to go. Down through Clay Cross and on to Alfreton. I had expected her to take us down the Fosse Way, which is the way I would go. But no - she took us off across country, back towards the M1, then down the A42 towards Birmingham and then along very pretty road towards Bosworth. We went past a rather pretty little zoo - must go and have a proper look at it - and then past a road to the Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre. Must go and have a proper look at that too. A can feel a day trip coming on! Then she took us all the way across nearly as far as Milton Keynes and then towards Oxford. Then she connected up with the normal A roads we go along when we come via Oxford.

It was all very odd. I couldn’t work out at all why she had gone that way rather than down the Fosse Way. Then I remembered that if you go along the Fosse Way you have to go for one junction on a motorway - and Jenny’s little computer brain was busily avoiding motorways. Mind you, some of the A roads behave quite a lot like motorways. If you really didn’t want to drive on an M road, I’m not sure you’d be any happier on the A34!

By 3:00 we were beginning to feel a bit peckish. The Builder, in a manly sort of way, kept driving past pubs with signs that said “Food served all day” and little caffs and even a Budgens minimart. Eventually, we decided to call into the village of Brackley to see what was there. Brackley is a small market town with a very pretty town centre, a beautiful central building (corn exchange? Market hall? Some such thing - I’ll have a look later - later update: it seems it's the town hall) It also has, in a laneway off the main road, a wonderful deli, which does magnificent toasted sandwiches. I thoroughly recommend it to you.

We are now at Barb’s, getting ready to go to the medieval fair in the cathedral close. The impediment to progress is the refusal by the dishwasher to add water to the dishwashing equation. I think we might need to wash last night’s dinner dishes and this morning’s breakfast dishes before we go, otherwise we’ll need to buy paper plates, plastic mugs and replacement saucepans for dinner tonight!

When we got here yesterday evening, Oliver and Polly, the black kitties, were up on the kitchen roof. Polly leapt down, looked at us in horror and exclaimed: I don’t know you - arrrrgh! Oliver leapt down, looked at us and exclaimed in excitement: I don’t know you - hooray! But it was Polly who came in this morning and snuggled down upon The Builder in bed! I think she has decided she likes him.


We are back from the fair. It was held in the Cathedral Close where there were lots of medieval style tents and people wandering around in medieval garb. We met Barb’s brother Greg outside and ambled in for a look see. I must say, it wasn’t as big as I had thought it might be. The close is quite big - there would have been room for lots more tents. Barb and I agreed that it was quite a lot like going around a school or church fete. There were lots of craft type stalls. There were some lovely baskets and some pretty jewellery. There were some tents which showed how things were done in the 14th century. There was even a stocks where you could throw wet sponges at a hapless peasant. But there weren’t very many food stalls. One with jacket potatoes, one with pork sandwiches. There was a beer tent but not cider and no wine. There were no seats in the beer tent. And what sort of a church fete - for it was, in effect, a themed church fete; it was just a VERY large church! - what sort of a fete is it that doesn’t have a cake stall? Or a sausage sizzle? There was NO sausage sizzle!!!

There was an exhibition of medieval dancing. And a falconry exhibition. We saw the end of that. The falcon flew off - and sat for several minutes at the top of a tall, tall tree. You could just hear it thinking, as the falconer called it, that it wasn’t moving - and just exactly what are you going to do about it!!!!! Then it decided to play. Just as a duck was flying past. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a duck fly out of the way quite so fast. And all of the little birds abruptly vanished.

So, it was quite fun, but for the 750th birthday of a large cathedral, I think the report has to be: Could have done better. And there weren’t all that many people there either. Perhaps they’re waiting for tomorrow (bank holiday) when the forecast is for better weather.

Mind you, the weather held quite well. I was wearing short cut trousers, a t-shirt, a light jumper and sandals and wasn’t cold. We had a couple of showers, but The Builder only put the umbrella up a couple of times. It didn’t properly rain until we were on our way home.

We tried to go to the Salisbury museum after we left the fair. They had a stand in the close and were handing out leaflets and things. The museum isn’t open on Sundays! OK. Fair enough. But you’d think they might have made an exception on the day of the Cathedral fair, particularly if they were advertising the museum. It’s open on Sundays in July and August. Perhaps we’ll try when we come down for the Vaughn Williams concert in July.

We had quite a good day yesterday, the Bank Holiday. It rained a bit in the morning, though this didn't bother us. We weren't doing outside things. Instead, we went to a garden centre and bought courgette seedlings (or seeds, if you were Barb). I also bought a packet of different coloured radish seeds, just for fun. We called in at Waitrose for a few supplies. Then we went and picked up The Builder's mother, Gwen, and carted her off to lunch at the Yew Tree. I like the Yew Tree, but the menu doesn't ever vary very much. Perhaps we'll take her to the Ship Inn slightly further afield next time. I think we all enjoyed our lunches, although The Builder was the only one who actually managed to finish his. You can't complain about the size of the portions at the Yew Inn. You can't complain about the liquid measures, either. My pint of cider was filled to the brim.

It was a bit early, when we had eaten lunch, to go to the hospital. Visiting hours, under normal circumstances, start at 2. So we all bundled into The Vixen and went for a drive around in the countryside. And then we went to visit The Builder's dad, Mick, in the hospital. He was sitting up in a chair when we got there, but looked very tired. Eventually, the nursing staff put him back to bed. Barb and Gwen report that he didn't look as well yesterday as he has done in recent days. Mostly, he was asleep - though he was very pleased to see The Builder when he walked in. He broke into a huge grin. He still doesn't look well to me (though better than a week ago) and the doctors are saying that he won't be able to go home for 6-8 weeks :-S They don't have rehab units here, but even so - that's a long, long time to be in hospital. And especially in a ward where quite strong measures are being taken to counter infections. We all had to wear disposable plastic pinnies. I thnk we can safely say that he is not yet out of the woods by a long way. But at least still with us.

We left Gwen at the hospital, to be collected by her son Peter later, and took Barb back to her place. This was slightly enlivened by The Builder leaping into the car - and sitting firmly on his reading glasses, which naturally were not best pleased by this. I have stitched them back together as a temporary measure! Then we came home, once again avoiding motorways. This time Jenny took us up the Fosse Way and then along a series of roads that met up with the A38 (which more or less takes us directly home). Once again, it was very pretty. And slightly more direct than the way she took us down. But I don't think there was a significant difference in the time it all took.

So it was a good weekend. Lots of food and wine and chatting. We enjoyed the church fete (even if £8 per person is a bit steep for a church fete!) and generally had a good time.

It was gloriously sunny this morning. The Builder went back to work at the usual time. I am on the late shift today, and had arranged to take the afternoon as well. I have done lots of washing and ironing and a bit of gardening and some mooching about in the sunshine. I did not get up to the allotment to plant the potatoes, alas. Nor did I make any biscuits or a cake. I did, though, change the bed sheets. And put the new pillows on the bed.

I'll just have to plant the potatoes one evening after work. I don't suppose a few more days will matter all that much
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