When we first moved to Melbourne in 1965 we started attending the local Anglican church and became friendly with some of the families there. My parents were particularly friendly with Mavis and Jack Viccars and with John and Bertha Smith and we saw a lot of them and their various children. Mavis is still living, but John, Jack and then Bertha have all died over the past few years. But until they died, they all came to major family celebrations. Mavis still does. And so too do Janet and Simon, John and Bertha's daughter and son.
Janet and Paul, her husband, come to England relatively often to visit their son and daughter-in-law who live in London. They've been over this month and decided to have a few days in the country. By a piece of sheer serendipity they found a place to stay in Dronfield, which is a small town about half way between Chesterfield and Sheffield. It has been a matter of some incredulity to the people I know who live in either Chesterfield or Sheffield that any Australian with no connections to the place would ever have chanced across Dronfield but Janet and Paul assure me that it was, in fact, pure accident. And a lucky accident because the place they've been staying in is, they say, very nice indeed. (I have added it to my list of places to eat at on their recommendation!).
Dronfield is only a ten or fifteen minute drive from our place, so they came round on Tuesday evening to have dinner with us. I was at work on Tuesday, so used my slow cooker and my freezer to feed us. A beef, mushroom and onion casserole in the slow cooker. A vegetable stew in a Japanese curry sauce from the freezer. Beans and peas from the garden and allotment. And rice. We had cheese and fruit after. It was a lovely evening.
On Wednesday they met The Builder in the church in Chesterfield. The one with the twisted spire. You can do tours of the tower, led by the verger, so up they all went. There are 150 quite steep and winding steps up to the top of the tower, although you do get a rest in the bell platform. Then they had lunch in The Rutland as a reward for all that effort.
Yesterday they came into Sheffield and met me for lunch, although I hadn't made it clear enough that I work at Sheffield Hallam University and they ended up, confused and a bit bewildered, at the University of Sheffield near the Hallamshire Hospital. Fortunately, they had my phone number and a quick trip in a taxi to where I was waiting sorted that out. We had lunch in the cafe in the Millennium Gallery across the road from SHU and then had a potter about in the gallery, in the Winter Garden and in the Peace Gardens (which they have turned into a "seaside" play are for the summer holidays), before strolling down Fargate towards the cathedral where I put them on a bus heading back to the hospital where their car was parked.
They're off back to London today and then head back to Melbourne on Monday. I hope they enjoyed playing in some of our local places.