Our retirement adventures

Jet lag to Jersey and model Steam engines

4 April

9 days after returning from Australia and still probably jet lagged, we are up early after an evening of song and dance performed by our daughter, Mel, at the Centenerary Centre in Peel. This time, she didn’t make the costumes but she choreographed the show and sung a couple of solos. What a talent, but of course we are biased!

Isn’t it nice to have the Mannannan back in service and we speed in fog towards Liverpool arriving just before 10 in the morning and head off to Ross on Wye via the A49.  Although this is near Clearwell, we can’t use our house for Ali P’s wedding as a guest booked it about 10 months ago, so Premier Inn it is.

Sarah, Ali and Harry have arrived a few minutes before us and we head out to Ross Labels for a coffee after unpacking.

Dinner was supposed to be a Chinese in Hereford but we are all tired, so opt for a Beefeater in the attached restaurant which isn’t a bad choice.

So many of Ali and Craig’s friends are staying there.

5 April

Drop a car load at Dingle Rise and return to take Sarah, Ali and Harry to the wedding which is at Wilton Castle, a derelict castle just off the A40 SW of Ross.

Sarah, Ali & Harry on way to Craig and Ali P's wedding

Sarah, Ali & Harry on way to Craig and Ali P’s wedding

We have a late lunch in the Beefeater which is just as well as by the time we get to the wedding for the evening function, the food is nowhere to be seen and we have to leave to get Harry to bed.

Somehow miss Ali calling and sending texts re leaving the wedding early but do get there eventually, hopefully no harm done.

Harry had a good time and was absolutely worn out, going to sleep pretty quickly after getting to the hotel. 

6 April

A wet day and we all relocate to Dingle Rise although Ali is taken to Bristol Airport for his return as he has limited time off work available.

7 April

Sal’s cousin, Alan and his wife, Debbie visit with their two dogs but the rain is incessant so a walk is out if the question until about 5pm when we go over the back of the village of Clearwell much to the fascination of the sheep.  Although the dogs were on leads, the sheep were bleating like nobody’s business.  Harry walked probably close on 2 miles so hopefully a good night’ sleep is in store.

Lunch in the Wyndham Arms as Butcher’s arms closed.  Waitress might be interested in hiring Dingle Rise for a week or so but never gets back to me.  However, phone now has Wyndham Arms free wi-fi on it so a late night walk to the pub is called for – just for the wi-fi you understand!

Children's playground, Clearwell

Children’s playground, Clearwell

8 April

We are both exhausted but as it is a nice day, Sarah and Richard take Harry to park, another mile long walk – he just loves the outdoors.

Sliding Harry

Sliding Harry

Sarah off to Hereford to collect some kitchen furniture stored at Ali and Craig’s house whilst we try to entertain Harry with our now fast developing colds and keep him up until just before Sarah returns with a full van load of kitchen furniture.

Harry at Dingle Rise

Harry at Dingle Rise


9 April

Sarah & Harry off very early for a 9am ferry from Weymouth – they make it in good time and crossing not bad.




Neighbour Ken arrives early to adjust the back porch to allow cars to pass and park up the drive – something I should have done years ago!

New Porch @ Dingle Rise

New Porch @ Dingle Rise

Generally a lazy day but time spent sorting out bedding for Mick and Brenda’s visit and some house cleaning envisaged but Sal really not well so off to nearby doctor as a visitor patient, collect antibiotics, buy lunch and fall asleep for the afternoon!

Have to ring Mick and Brenda to cancel their visit, it is the first time we can recall we have had to cancel a visit because of illness.  Hopefully they will understand.

10 April

Off to Monmouth for some Internet access, Ken finishes off most of the porch but nothing else achieved as we both still have bad colds and cannot really concentrate on anything for too long.

Cottages4You ring to say they have a guest for next week which means we need a hotel for two nights.  By the time this is arranged and we ensure Sarah has not booked her ASDA delivery for anytime after Saturday morning, the person has cancelled but Cottages4you never let me know! They are a shower.

Just as well we cancelled Mick & Brenda in view of the hours we have spent asleep today.

11 April

Drive in lovely warm weather to Cheltenham to get more bedding and some more food. Start touching up the living room paint but the paint tin does not contain the right colour – might have to have a feature wall of a slightly different colour –  eventually manage to find the right paint tin which resolves the problem and we now have paintwork that looks better.

John & Deirdre ring to say they have exchanged contracts on their Bedford house and will be moving on 25 April, the day after we get back from Jersey. This has been a long and tortuous road for them as they had interest and a prospective buyer last February when we were in NZ.

Colds beginning to feel a bit better.

12 April

Not such an inspiring day and we head off to Monmouth for a late breakfast and a quick shop for dinner tonight.  Even at just after 10, Monmouth is busy with only a few parking spaces left. 

Cafe Nero are warming up their croissants so mine will be ready in 5 minutes and she would bring it over to us.  Ten minutes later it hasn’t arrived so a visit to the counter results in a profound apology, the aforementioned croissant and a voucher for a free coffee for our next visit – result.

Back for a few more jobs, an afternoon of watching the footy scores / results and guess what, Watford concede in the last minute to salvage a draw from a winning position.  How many times has that happened?

Discuss water with next door neighbour who thinks it is from the gutter rather than their heating.

13 April

Off to dump with a whole load of unwanted items from the house and get talking to the new opposite neighbour who bought the house about 8 months ago, comes from Sheffield and also lets it out through Cottages4you and was “complaining” it was so successful they couldn’t get into it because of the lettings – I know the feeling!

Just before we go off to see Rob get taking to anotherr neighbour who has just bought a house in Sling for her, her husband and two children, intend doing it up, moving to it in May time and then do up the present house to rent out on a permanent basis.  She is interested in visiting the IoM to see the MGP so discussed Homestay with her.

Rob in good spirits although Carol is with her cousin, Brenda, on a holiday somewhere in the UK, Rob doesn’t know where or for how long!


Gary with engine for finishing

Gary with engine for finishing

Now off to Flic & Gary’s before going down to Andover to see Jose.  Jose’s husband, Dennis, was in the middle of making a model steam engine before he died and Gary is going to finish it for Emma, David’s daughter.  A tour of Dennis’ sheds had Gary in awe looking at all the items Dennis had.  Gary was after a particular tool for painting but although he couldn’t find it took the engine away to complete as well as a few items to help.


One steam engine half built

One steam engine half built

David and his partner were also there and it is possible that Gary will return to look at the tools and make an offer for some of the many tools in the sheds. A lovely duet recital on the piano by Jose and David. 

Return to Clearwell but get held up just short of the air balloon roundabout so have to back track via Cirencester and Stroud. Sat Nav tries to take us down a cyclists and buses only route in Gloucester – about time I got an upgrade or a new one!

Half pack car, watch MotD and down to get e-mails at Wyndham Arms – the local nosy parkers will miss me going down there at around Midnight each evening for the past week.

14 April

Off to Weymouth with a journey time of about 2.5 hours which actually takes over 3 with at least a 15 minute wait for re surfacing a few miles short of Dorchester. Ferry crowded and end up sitting opposite an old couple with legs cramped under our seats.  Worse than Economy flights!

Lots of traffic in St Helier on arrival and it takes us about 45 minutes to get to Sarah & Ali’s from docking, a journey that really should take about 10 minutes max.

Indian take-away from New Raj, now that brings back memories, as Sarah and Ali off out for Sarah’s birthday meal.

15 April

Greve de Lecq

Greve de Lecq

Breakfast at Corrine’s, Greve de Lecq followed by some food shopping.

16 April

Use B & Q discount card for boarding for kitchen roof which just about gets into Sarah’s van.  

She has ordered a new garden table and chairs which somehow, I managed to have to pay for!



17 April

Ali off to France with some climbing friends, staying at Fontenbleu, so I pick up car seat from his garage and off to pick up Harry, take him to Millbrook park for a play.

Harry @ Milbrook Park

Harry @ Milbrook Park

As it is holiday time, park very crowded but Harry manages a few slides, which are his favourite along with sitting in the stagecoach.

La Rocco Tower, St Ouen's Bay, Jersey

La Rocco Tower, St Ouen’s Bay, Jersey

A walk on some of our favourite beaches follows including St Ouen.

Tide out and we nearly get to La Rocco Tower which is being refurbished to provide holiday accommodation.

That sounds a good idea, especially as the tower is surrounded by water for 70% of the time if not more.


18 April

Gorey castle, Jersey

Gorey castle, Jersey

Keep Harry occupied today with a visit to Gorey beach as Sarah has jobs to do and out for a meal with Laura & Jim at the restaurant overlooking Corbiere, so see sun set, nice meal and reasonably popular.

Jersey has so many decent restaurants it is difficult to choose from so it is perhaps not surprising it is not full.  A fair number of tables taken though.

19 April

Sarah has already taken down most of the ceiling in the kitchen so as to re-wire for lights, sound speaker and fire alarm. Still some more to take down and we take Harry out to allow her space and time to finish the job and start putting up new boards.

Kitchen minus ceiling.

Kitchen minus ceiling.

Ice plants bought from Ransome’s which hopefully will survive the journey and the more northern weather of the Isle of Man.

20 April

Lunch with Sue Thorne at Five Oaks. Sarah booked and it was just as well as the place was crowded. Good traditional pub food and attentive staff who warmed up Harry’s food without fuss.

A bit of an indifferent day though today, weather wise.

21 April

More shopping, this time a small hand held Dyson as an impulse buy and some more food and a play with his brio by Harry despite him still insisting on wearing his cycle helmet.IMG_0627

We were supposed to be going to Laura & Jim’s for a Jim cooked curry but they have “guests” who arrived. Morag and Greg and their two children have had to move out of their flat in St Peter’s after a mains water burst flooded their flat. As it is Easter, no insurance company open. It is likely to be three months out of their flat, we understand later.  

Laura and Jim now have their grandchildren 24/7!

Instead, a meal out at an Indian near Patriotic Street car park, the Madras Balti being very hot although I had ordered the medium version. Jim’s hotter curry was disappointingly mild though.

22 April

Sarah off to work early so Harry wakes up in his own time, about 8:30 but is initially upset at his Mum not being around.  This is surprisingly compounded by the arrival of the cleaner but by the time we get him to Nursery, he is more than happy.

More shopping but this time in St Helier with a coffee in de Gruchy where the manageress is the same as was when we were regularly visiting 20 years ago!

Out for a late lunch of a crab sandwich, well you just have to have one when in Jersey, don’t you, at the Prince of Wales at Greve de Lecq.  Not nice enough to be on the beach so area not crowded at all.

Some French families including children, eating a late lunch of Moules were the only other occupants. Collect Harry from nursery and take him to garden centre to see fish and animals. However, a bigger attraction are the sheds and greenhouses which he spends at least 15 minutes shutting and opening the doors with us being pushed and pulled into the greenhouses before Harry shuts the doors. IMG_4574

Back home, Harry out on his trainer bike again, he loves this and will I’m sure be riding properly soon.

Ali back from France at about 6 full of tales from the camp fire and climbing.  

23 April

Sarah off at 7 but brings Harry in with Sally’s birthday presents before she goes. Harry taken to nursery 45 minutes later by Ali and after breakfast and loading car up, head for St Ouen for some Jersey Royals to take home and then down to harbour for return to UK. Ferry not quite as crowded and uncomfortable as coming over but on time.

Dinner at Weymouth Beefeater using some points for a bottle of wine and drive onwards to Taunton for overnight.

An outrageously stupid lorry driver tries to push me off the road on the way to Taunton but he has no “How is my driving?” telephone number to complain to – he was probably foreign anyway.

At hotel, room lights not working so we have to be moved to another room and as a bonus get a free night’s accommodation.  We have never been to Taunton before so this is another pin in the map of places been to.

Our destination today is Mr Miles Tea Room in the centre of Taunton where a farmer’s market is in full flow.  We are meeting Brenda & Mick who we had to postpone earlier in the month because of our colds. A lovely lunch which had to be curtailed somewhat as we needed to get to Liverpool for 6:30 fort the ferry home.

Despite leaving plenty of time for the journey we still managed to be late by about 10 minutes, were the last onto the ferry which sailed virtually as soon as we were aboard.  Back home for a rest for a few days.  



Picture Perfect

It is time to downsize when you have to rid a cupboard of old fashioned shelving and find that you have too much to go back into the space provided. Add this to still having boxes of pictures, photographs and many other items belonging to our late parents the last of whom died nearly 5 years ago and the situation could be described as desperate. 

One item that really didn’t warrant much attention was an 800yds swimming certificate awarded to my father in the 1930s that had been in an old but damaged dark oak wood frame. Being inquisitive, I carefully remove the backing paper, pull out the pins to allow the removal of the wooden backing only to find yet another swimming certificate (completely unfaded) and a picture of an elderly gentleman sitting at a table. This picture had probably been put there merely as backing to give support to the two certificates. 

Written underneath the picture (about the size of an I-pad) was the name of, presumably, the seated gentleman, a Rev R W Loveridge, stating that he was the vicar of St. Phillip’s, Mount Street, Bethnal Green, London. More wording merely said “35 years”.  Sadly there was no date on the picture but because my family once lived in Mount Street the picture was intriguing. 
Rev Loveridge
Now, Google is a wonderful tool and it was not long before I was able to establish that St Phillip’s church was demolished in the 1960s and the congregation merged with St Matthew’s. Contact with the church revealed that a historian by the name of Sarah Wise has written a book and a blog about the deprivation of the area and describes the vicar as being “heroic” in view of his kindness to the poor of the area.

The blog had quotes from a family member, stated that no known picture survived of him and that he left St Phillip’s church in 1896 to move to Yorkshire where he died the following year. 

So, I had in my possession, a picture probably taken no later than 1896 (itself somewhat amazing bearing in mind the good quality of the picture), of an individual described as heroic and one that his family did not know existed. 

Contact with the blog writer, Sarah Wise, through her publicist, resulted in an exchange of e-mails with the relative, who by chance lived only a few miles away from our daughter in SE England.

Living on an island, as we do, trips across to see our daughter have to be planned some time in advance and by co-incidence we were visiting her 10 days later so agreed to visit the relative whilst in the area and hand over the photograph in person rather than trust the postal services. 

Understandably, the relative was thrilled to have the photograph and I like to think that it will also be useful for the church’s records as well. 

Now all we have to establish is how the picture came to be in my family’s possession back in the late 1890s bearing in mind that it must have cost a substantial amount of money to produce and the type of area my ancestors lived in at the end of the 19th Century. 

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