So it’s back to Bognor for us then. Spring is well underway here
and I was glad that we were back in time to catch the bluebells in the woods at the edge of the Downs.
The washing machine had its work cut out; we had to wash everything and I think I did about 15 loads over the first couple of days back. It’s been great to meet up with our family and friends and to finally get some exercise (we have been shamefully lazy over the last 3 months). (No wonder my clothes were starting to feel tighter, first time on the scales in three months, eek!) Our lovely granddaughter is now running (not always in a straight line)
and it only took a couple of days for her to get used to us again (oh, the joys of Skype). Yep, she is now happily back to bossing granny around with imperious cries of ‘ook’ (Look?)(although she does do a very cute gorilla impression, so it might be ‘ook’, after all) and pointing. It’s amazing how one toddler can control a whole room of adults with a very economical range of devices. I have even done ‘granny duty’ when her mother was at work a couple of time, and survived the local (extremely good) toddler group. The parents leave something to be desired, however, as there were slightly older kids running around like mad things, bouncing on the trampoline on tricycles and swinging two up on the little tiny swing. Luckily granddaughter is as tough as they come and bounces really well.
Tim has never had the time to explore many of the London attractions so we rented a flat near the Oval in Kennington, South London for a week and decided to walk around London as much as we could. In the past, I have usually taken the underground to get around, so it came as a surprise to find out how closely the main London attractions are clustered. Over the week we probably managed to walk about six miles a day and visited a whole range of places; Tate Britain (free entry and a great Turner collection), the Science Museum, past signs that housing is tight in Sloanland
and signs that cyclists are very nervous in London
through air thick with the billions of seed falling from the plane trees
(everyone in the whole of London had squinting, streaming eyes)
past Borg artwork
By the Millennium wheel
and random statuary
(this one was next to St Thomas’ Hospital)
We visited a whole shop dedicated to M and M’s
(Really? Good grief!)
We went past the forbidding offices of MI5
(Where I took a nervous, sneaky photo and wondered if I was going to get into trouble) (Too long in Tunisia, I suspect)
We wandered close to Buck House and caught the end of the changing of the guard
and got told off by this rather fierce-looking mounted policeman for walking in the road
Nah!, he was a really pleasant Welsh bloke, who was busy explaining how dangerous the cars coming round the corner could be. We couldn’t work out why there were so many people there until we got to the pub (Oh, the joy of British pubs; a great atmosphere and beer with flavour) and were told the baby had been born and it was a girl. It shows how long we had been abroad, because it took us several minutes to realise they meant the latest royal offspring.
The Imperial War Museum was extremely good
and I ended up describing what it’s like to listen to doodlebugs going over London (my mum’s stories)
It was intensely moving to see a car that had been exploded by a roadside bomb
and some debris from the Twin Towers
HMS Belfast was well worth a visit
We had a great time, especially at the Natural History Museum, where we took the Spirit Collection tour, which was amazing. It’s a free tour that takes you behind the scenes in the museum’s vast collection of animals preserved in ethanol (not looking for ghosts, as we first thought).
We were shown the largest preserved giant squid in the world (8m long), some of Charles Darwin’s samples and the room where they tried to stuff Paddington Bear in the recent movie.
The tour guide was a working scientist with a wealth of interesting anecdotes.
We went to see Book of Mormon (extremely naughty and wicked and it made me laugh until I cried) and we managed to get some last-minute standing tickets to the Globe, to see the Merchant of Venice.
They cost only £5 each and the acting was all you could expect from the Royal Shakespeare Company; they made me laugh and cry. There can’t be many things you can do in London for £5, but it was outstanding (if a bit hard on the feet)
After a few weeks of living in houses (and catching my first cold of the year)(perhaps living outside is better for you) it has been a real pleasure to spend a few nights in the Tentipi.
Leaving Bognor we spotted these two grumpy blokes taking their bath for a walk
and headed off for Weymouth through heavy traffic
We stayed at a lovely campsite near Weymouth and, despite some very wet and windy weather and swallowing enough paracetamol to rattle, we had a great time.
The coastal paths overlooking Chesil Beach are beautiful and, if they are not using the firing ranges, not likely to get you blown up at all.
It was great to spend some time with our best friends, Pat and Dave.
Tim and I went to visit the Tank museum at Bovington, which was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I always knew tanks were big, but standing next to some of them showed just how terrifying they must have been on the battlefield.
The weather on the Saturday was fantastic and after a lovely drive around Portland,
we visited the lighthouse at Portland Bill. It is still a working lighthouse, because the seas around Portland are extremely hazardous, with hidden rocks, shallows, rough seas from opposing currents. We were taken up the seemingly endless stairs (yep, still not getting very fit) and up to the lamp at the top, a mere 10 times more powerful than an old-fashioned 100W household lamp. The secondary backup lamp is a 100W 12V car lamp. Good grief!
Before the lighthouse was automated it was manned with 3 keepers, who had to keep a permanent watch on the two lamps and wind up the turning mechanisms every 75 minutes day and night (in case the sun’s light got focussed by the lenses and cause the lamp oil to explode). To keep an eye on the lower fire they had the high-tech solution of a hole in the floor!
After that we went to Weymouth for lunch and enjoyed wandering through the folk festival
We saw these interestingly dressed women enjoying their lunch by the river. Pat and I were cross with Tim for calling them ‘Old biddies’ so he decided to go and ask them. Apparently, they don’t mind being called ‘biddies’ but said ‘no’ to the ‘old’.
The last night was very wet windy and I slept quite badly. In the morning we left the Tentipi for as long as possible to dry out and just before we decided to strike it, the skies opened and everything got very wet. Of course, we hadn’t brought our usual wet strike kit with us, so the tent just had to drip all over everything in the car. We are off to Hayling Island in a couple of weeks, so we will have to get our act together better.