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May 2021 - Day 4 - Runnymede and more

Our third night at Bannantyne’s gaff and another hot one. It may have been slightly cooler or that we were getting used to it but we did slept slightly better.

We asked to sit in the restaurant for breakfast as it had air conditioning after Karen’s complaints about the heat of the conservatory yesterday. We seemed to get much better service in there for some reason even though we were the only ones in there. The general manager actually brought our hot food to the table and get this - we were asked if wanted anything else! But as I had eaten Karen’s single toast again and we wanted to get going I declined.

With our bags all loaded we set off to head to Runnymede memorial as our first destination en route to Windsor. After a quick stop to refuel we were underway on the short 76 mile trip with a happy heart.

My conclusion was that although Sussex is nice, its no Norfolk. It is also unnecessarily hilly. It is also a bit too close to London.

My good mood driving didn’t last long.. We hit hold up after hold up and that was before we joined the M25 where it got even worse. Have I ever mentioned how traffic hold ups make me a tad annoyed. I started to get really fed up with and got more and more so . We took over 2 hours to do 30 miles. I hated it and remembered that this was one of the many reasons I prefer to holiday out of the UK. I was hot and bothered despite the air con on in the car. Whichever lane I was in always seems to be the slowest. It really made me want to rethink our other 3 trips booked over the next 3 months. If I have to drive long distances I would prefer to it either really early or really late to minimise any chances of delays. I may have even used a few swear words to pass the time in-between moans..

Eventually we arrived at the RAF memorial to those 20000 airmen whose bodies were never recovered during WW2. Each name is etched in stone of the walls. It was eerily quiet when we arrived with only us there. I quickly found Uncle Basil’s name and wished again that I could have met him. Then we came across the most extraordinary thing. Along the same stretch of corridor was a bunch of flowers with a note. It said ‘Remembering my Dad - Stephen Clare on the anniversary of his death’ I quickly found Stephen’s name on the wall above. What really spooked me was that it was from his son ‘Peter’. So earlier today a ‘Peter Clare’ had visited the memorial as well. What is the chance of that happening. When I get time I will try to research both Stephen & Peter to find out more about them.

From here we drove the short distance to the Magna Carta site. Pleasingly it is run by National Trust meaning we didn’t have to pay for the car park. We saw there was a tea room and headed in that direction only to find it boarded up and shut. We were not the only people trying to get in and peering through the door. I know during the pandemic the NT laid off loads of staff but they missed on on a load of trade here today alone with it being shut. So we followed the Red walking trail instead. This led us to the JFK memorial up a steepish bank. It was not as impressive as perhaps it should have been.

Then we found the Magna Carta memorial. Strangely this was paid for and built by the American Bar Association. It is also not in the actual place where the Magna Carta was signed. Apart from that it was quite nice although it needed a proper visitors centre or something to explain it in much more detail. This would have interested me, pleasingly the one information board did show our ancestor Richard De Clare as one of the signatories. So rather than learning much more about the Magna Carta we instead we sat on a bench and checked our phones.

Finally we made our way to our Hotel - Holiday Inn at Maidenhead/Windsor. Our first impression was poor until we realised we were trying to get in an unused back door. Once we found the proper entrance we were relieved. It was big, warm and welcoming. Being a Gold IHG member we were upgraded to an Executive suite. It was like coming home and felt so large and comforting compared to the last place. I was not happy with having to pay for Hotel parking but when presented with the whole bill for our stay I realised that the total cost including parking and breakfast for 2 nights came to much less than 1 night with Duncan so then I was more than pacified. The check in staff were so friendly and helpful, and I think just grateful to have people back staying with them.

We decided to head out into Maidenhead as I had heard it was supposed to be quite nice by the river. For some reason I thought the town centre would be near the river - it wasn’t. We actually wanted Maidenhead Riverside and when we actually got there, it was as nice as I hoped. On the drive there from the centre we noticed every road seemed to prefixed with the word ‘Ray’. There was Ray Lea Road, Ray Park Road, Ray Park Avenue etc. We wondered why. Of course I had to keep singing Ghostbusters even though Karen pointed out it was Ray Parker junior and not Ray Park who sang it. I said a black marker pen would soon rectify that. Eventually we found a car park and paid £1 for a hour to explore.

We were at Boulters Lock and stood and watched several boats go through the lock before walking onto the Island. Apparently the land mill were owned by the Ray family hence all roads named after them. Also Richard Dimberley used to live on the island not that has any relevance to anything. It was all rather nice and it had a quite spectacular weir at the end hence the need for the lock for boats to get through. The island also had an aviary for no reason at all with some sad looking birds in them.

I had selected a pub to eat in tonight in a quintessential typical English village called Littlewick Green (and yes of course I called it Camberwick Green). The village jcircled a large green with a cricket pitch in the centre and delightfully there was a match taking place when we arrived. Of course the pub just had to be called The Cricketers. It was the village local and was a place where everybody knows your name. It was a bit run down, but everyone was friendly and the food was all homemade. I had a homemade burger whilst Karen opted for the Chilli. They were both above average and reasonably priced. We just had the one drink before standing and watching a few overs of cricket along with what seemed like the rest of the village. I said it it looked like a setting for Midsomer Murder (and it turned it out it was) at which point Karen decided it was time to leave. As we left we saw a blue plaque for Ivor Novello who had lived in the village. I wonder if he would have been as famous if he had kept his real name of David Davies?

Back in the room we chilled for a while. It was such a novelty having a TV with a decent signal. I have just realised that it was ironic that Duncan couldn’t sort out a decent signal as 10 yards from the entrance to his Hotel was a ‘Welcome to Hastings’s sign underneath which it read ’The home of the birth of Television (John Logie Baird lived there). I promise not to mention my annoyance with Little Duncan anymore this trip.

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