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July 2021 - Dorset - Pre Trip Update

Blimey doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. A simplified idiom that dates to the 1800’s probably based upon an original Shakespeare quote. When working full time although the days sometimes passed quickly the time between longed for events dragged. Whereas now hours/days/weeks just seem to vanish, and we are already onto our next exciting venture.

It may only be 6 weeks since our last trip but today we are off again. We have done so much in the intervening period and that at times we have barely been able to sit back, breathe, relax and take stock. Karen has had work coming out of her ears and some days could have been treble booked and that was only the schools that had made direct approaches.

The next garden project (Hot Tub) had been progressed greatly and the day I spent labouring with a cement mixer whilst Graham did the hard work of actually laying the paving slabs is not one I will forget or want to repeat quickly.

We had a lovely weekend away with Graham & Jo in their new Jaguar E Pace. I really enjoyed the first afternoon at Bletchley Park which is somewhere I had long wanted to visit. Having a passing interest in technology, my head hurt thinking about how Turing and others worked together to create the first recognisable electronic device that we now recognise as a computer, whilst under such pressure. They were just so damn clever and real hero's. We watched The Imitation Game again once we were back home.

For that weekend we stayed at Horwood Hall which turned out to be where Percy Thrower was born. It was a beautiful 1911 building with some lovely grounds. The next day we went into Milton Keynes where Graham tried out sky diving in the wind tunnel before we headed onto Warner Brothers Studio Tour. We first went there not long after it had opened but it was greatly changed and improved this time around.

That weekend did however show us the inadequacies of the current infrastructure for Electric vehicles. Many charging points we went to were not working for a variety of reasons. For the UK to hit the targets to move over to this technology there needs to be an urgent and large investment made. After much faffing we did made it back to Grahams with just 30 miles range left in the battery.

Of course we have had the posponed Euros which caused much excitement in our house. I think we overachieved in just getting to the final with the luck of the draw. I think the manager got everything right up to the final where he just forgot to say, ‘when taking a penalty – just hit hard and off the ground’. Not that I have any experience in taking one myself.

Another piece of excitement was the late delivery of my joint Christmas/Birthday present from Karen of an Ooni Gas Pizza Oven. After a few attempts I am getting reasonably good at making them (even if I do say so myself). They do taste flipping good and we have enjoyed hosting and entertaining people with them.

We also decided to have our missed Christmas Dinner with Barry & Ellie along with Karen’s Mum. It was almost exactly 6 months after it should have taken place and we tried to really go for it. We used the large turkey that had been taking up so much space in the freezer. I put a small tree up and we had some crackers. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and we even played games afterwards as we would have done on Christmas Day. It was good fun.

Unbelievably, despite being a good old Norfolk bor’, I have never really been on a proper boat on the Broads. This was finally corrected when we hired a day boat with Glenn, Al, Julie and Captain Burley. It was a good day out which exceeded my expectations. I saw bits of Wroxham and Horning I never knew existed and look forward to doing it again.

I also managed a day out with Neil to Trent Bridge to watch my first T20 England Test Match against Pakistan. It was a Government test event with full capacity and all restrictions removed. You just had to show either your vaccine certificate or a negative test before being allowed to enter. I was nervous about going but didn’t want to let Neil down. I decided to wear a mask all the time whilst in the ground. I was in a very small minority to do so.

We were sat in a stand that I had selected for price (tickets were still £45 each). This turned out to be the alcohol-free family enclosure. Neil was not impressed (despite the fact I paid for the tickets, petrol and our meal beforehand). It meant he had to sink a pint quickly before we took our seats. It felt strange to be in a crowd and hearing a live band play (as they did from their unusual stage which was on top of the bar itself).

Being an alcohol-free stand, it also attracted a large proportion of Pakistani fans, who were very noisy and excitable during the game. We were also so close to the flame boxes that went off with every wicket or boundary that we could feel the heat. One of the things I do like about cricket is the fact that the crowd is integrated. Although outnumbered we never felt threatened or uncomfortable. Whilst they may be chanting to the English supporters in another stand one minute, the next they are applauding a six hit by an English batsman.

The game itself was exciting. England were trying out some fringe bowlers who were not quite up to the mark and were made to pay for it. Despite the fastest ever 100 by an English player, the target set always looked just out of reach and so it proved.

I also managed to play 7 rounds of golf (9 holes) during the 6 weeks before the past weekend where I went away on my first golfing weekend with Graham, Alex & Ian to Wyboston Lakes. It is a great venue for golf. The course was beautiful but had so much water. On the Saturday I hit my first 4 tee shots straight into water. We are all about the same standard (which is to say – none of us are good or consistent enough to warrant a handicap). Nor are any of us competitive at golf. For us it is much more about the company, being outside and the walk.

We had a really good time. On the Saturday we played pairs match play. We each took a tee shot and then on with the best ball in pairs. I played with Graham who played really well over the first 9 holes and so we won relatively easily. It was the first time I played a full 18 holes for ages. In the 29c heat it took its toll. All our games deteriorated as the day went on. I was dead on my feet by the end of the afternoon.

In the evening we met for dinner in the hotel. It was a most peculiar affair as we were staying in what was essentially in a training centre and our meal was to be in a canteen. There was some strange rule about alcohol not being allowed in the canteen area which we didn’t understand so we got our 3-course carvery and ate it in the bar next door before taking a couple of bottles of wine to drink outside in the courtyard whilst watching the ISS pass overhead. After some interesting chat we were all feeling tired after our efforts and retired early.

The next morning following a very acceptable breakfast we checked out before readying ourselves for our tee off time. This time we decided to play as a Texas Scramble team. We all took our tee shots and then decided which shot was best and each played a ball from that spot. The theory being that between us all we should somehow hit near to par. In fact, we did considerably better than this and hit 2 under for 9 holes. By which time it was 30c again and we all agreed we had had enough and hit the bar for one last drink before the drive home. I really enjoyed that format of golf especially the team spirit it engendered. It also helped that I played so much better than the day before. A good weekend with good company.

And so now onto our next trip – Dorset, on what is promising to be fabulous weather wise.

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