Sunday, 24 June 2018

Stoupa Reunion, 24 June

This holiday is a little different from our normal one, as we are in Stoupa, Greece, for a reunion of some members of the class of 1970 and their spouses, if applicable.

We were up at a disgraceful hour this morning, and took an Über to Clapham Junction and then a train to Gatwick. We met uo with a few people who were on the same flight, but didn't sit with them. The flight to Kalamata was an hour late, but we took off in the end and it was very smooth and uneventful, just a bit bumpy coming down through clouds.

Then a long coach trip across the mountains, during which the holiday rep would not stop talking! And then to our very nice apartment in Stoupa..

After unpacking we walked to the supermarket - only a few minutes away - and then down to the beach and along a bit to where we were meeting the others for a drink and a meal, which was very good. - I think the beer hissed going down - while  we caught up on tales of the Dear Old School and so on. And then a walk back with a friend who has taken an apartment next door, and a night which, although it isn't late by UK time, is definitely late enough for me!

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Rounders Match

There wasn't intended to be a rounders match.  We were just taking the motorhome for its annual MOT and service, but then the parents and sister were all going to watch my youngest niece play in a rounders tournament and suggested we go, too.  We agreed, with the caveat that if the garage phoned to say the motor home was ready, we would head off.  As it turned out, they didn't ring until much later in the day.

My brother had said that the afternoon's matches were due to start at 1:30, and it was not much past that when the cavalcade arrived, the wheelchair rolled down the slope, and we joined my brother and his wife and the other assorted parents to watch the match.

The school is in a wonderful setting, nestled into the Downs, very beautiful and probably totally lost on the children! This was the finals of some kind of tournament, and the school had already lost one match that morning, so were in the playoff for the Bronze medal.

When we arrived, the match was just starting, and the visiting school was batting.  My brother was explaining the rules to my parents, and exactly why the girl in question had or had not run.  It is well over half a century since I last played rounders, and I was glad to be reminded of the rules.  I'm always impressed how anybody manages to hit that very hard ball with such a narrow bat (for American readers, about the same size and weight as a baseball ball and bat); I never could. 

Visiting school was finally out for 4 1/2 rounders, and then Our School went into bat.  The niece didn't particularly cover herself with glory, but played competently enough.  The last girl left in, though, managed to score three rounders single-handed, to massive cheers from her cohorts and the assembled parents, and the half-time score was 9-4.5. 

After a break for drinks and reapplying of suncream (both unheard of during matches when I was a girl - you got a segment of orange to suck if you were lucky, as it was thought that if you drank during exertion you would feel sick, and the importance of proper hydration hadn't yet been realised; as for sunscreen, I don't think it had even been invented!), it was time for the second innings.  All was going well when, just at the end, disaster struck - there was a serious collision which resulted in a girl on our side's being hit very hard on the back of her head with a bat.  The poor child who had done it trotted over to apologise profusely - it had been a total accident, everybody agreed on that - but the child was out of the match, and the substitute had already been substituted once as she had a strained and obviously painful leg.  The team was badly shaken by this, and although they vowed to go and win it "for her", they couldn't get past it, and, sadly, it was all over very quickly with only 2 or 3 of the 8 rounders they had needed to win being scored.  Great was the disappointment, and a fair few tears were shed - adrenaline crash, mostly, I suspect.  I know the feeling all too well.

But, despite the disappointing result, it was an enjoyable way to spend a warm summer afternoon.
Photo: Maggie Wright

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Living History weekend at the Weald and Downland Museum

We hadn't been to the Weald and Downland Museum for years, and as this weekend was the Living History weekend, we decided to visit it on our way back from dropping the motor home in Sussex.  We were rather later than we meant to be, but arrived there about 13:30.  The first annoyance was that we were parked miles and miles from the entrance, but there was a buggy that kindly gave us a lift to it, so we didn't have to walk for miles before we got there.  Then we realised that, as it had been cool and cloudy when we left London, we didn't have sun-hats with us and only had a tiny bit of sun cream.  And it was hot and sunny, and hats would have been rather a necessity.  Sadly, the only ones on sale were either incredibly expensive or for children, so we had to do without.

We bought ourselves a venison burger for lunch (judging by the state of my insides this evening, this may have been a mistake), and then wandered off to see what we could see.  It was basically Re-enactor Heaven, including jousting, demonstrations of weapons from the Mediaeval period, and a great many crafts people, some of whom were better at talking about their work than others.  There was a fascinating man who made nets - I am not sure what period he was supposed to be, and didn't quite like to ask - and another woman who demonstrated 15th century food.

We ended up watching "Sir John Paston" have his dinner - ridiculously over-formal for Paston, who was, after all, only a jumped-up merchant.  Plus the squires were far too old - they would have been boys and young men not quite old enough to be knights.  But it gave a good impression of what it might have been like, although I think the women did eat with the men, at least at the high table, and there would have been lower tables where his people would have eaten.

Once that was over, it was almost the end of the afternoon, so we treated ourselves to an ice-cream and then the Swan Whisperer went to get the car, and we drove back to London via the A285 and A3, enjoying the sight of cricket matches on the village greens we passed - proper white flannels, not the pyjamas that international cricketers seem to wear these days!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Beer and Castles Tour, The End

And so we awoke, once again, in the car park at the Cité Europe.  As soon as we'd had breakfast, I rushed into Carrefour for some last-minute shopping, and while I was there went to get a second token for the trolley - they turned out to be free!  Imagine that, Tesco's!  And so while I was there I asked about the loyalty card you need to use the Scan 'n' Shop facility there, and the extremely nice woman set me up for it then and there, so I was able to use it for my shopping!  Of course, it was checked (mine always is, largely because our local Tesco doesn't have the facility so I don't use it very often).

Anyway, once that was done, we finished packing up and went to the check-in at the terminal, rather hoping for an earlier crossing, but we have never seen so many motor homes waiting to cross, so no chance of that.  There were 4 crossings that hour, though, so we didn't have to wait - they said our crossing had been "rescheduled" by 15 minutes, but in fact it did actually set off on time.

And then a long, slow drive up the M20 and across London, until we finally got home.  And then the endless hard work in unpacking the van and putting things away, but it got done at last.  And look - after five years, we nearly have a garden again:

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Beer and Castles Route, 31 May

We have been in four countries today. We started off in Germany, where they were having yet another public holiday, but we found a petrol station with attached bakery to get both diesel and rolls for lunch. Then we set off on the long, long trail back to Calais, across Holland and Belgium, with endless road works and delays. We ended up in Ostende, where we stopped for a cup of tea and to stretch our legs, and then asked the Sat-nav to take us the rest of the way not on the motorway. It was a delightful drive alongside one of the many canals, and then through Dunkerque, a town where we've been many times before but we couldn't recognise anywhere, for some reason. Neither of us could, it wasn't just me being feeble.

Then we stopped at the big Auchan outside Dunkerque where we ate supper in. Flunch (not too gruesome!) and did a bit of shopping before heading back to the motorway for the final, quick and easy, run to Calais.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Beer and Castles Route, 30 May

Today was All About Wuppertal. And there is one thing which defines Wuppertal and that is the Schwebebahn, or suspended railway, which runs about 25 km through the town and serves the function of a metro or tram.

Citymapper works here, which is always a plus,and we discovered we could buy a day ticket that covered all the public transport in the area for €10.30 for both of us. They were available from the bus driver, too, so we didn't have the boring thing of having to pay for a single ticket to the station!
We found the right bus stop which was not far from the aire, and the bus came in about 5 minutes. It dropped us off at the Oberbarmen station which is one end of the line.
It really is an amazing feat of engineering, but what we didn't expect was that the cars would sway about - most disconcerting, and slightly sick-making. On subsequent rides we learnt that sitting as near the front of the train as possible minimised this.

We went to the far end of the line and, after stretching our legs round Woolworths and DM, came back to what we thought was the main town hall but it wasn't, so we got a bus to the central station and then the Schwebebahn again to the station called Alter Markt, where there was a brewery and a town hall, and a cafe where I used the loo and we ordered lunch, which was a big mistake as it took over an hour to arrive and was nothing special when it did. How long does it take to put salad and chicken on a flatbread?

Anyway, it came at last, and we decided to get a bus back to the aire that went a different way and that stopped just outside it. This was very pleasant, but we felt we had done Wuppertal by then, so after a cup of tea and using the services we headed on. First port of call was a supermarket as tomorrow is yet another bank holiday in this part of Germany (how many holidays in one month do you need?), so we had to get the last German things plus milk and yoghurt and so on. And then a rather slow drive to Düren and the aire we have stayed at twice before. We are definitely homeward bound.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Beer and Castles Route, 29 May

Today started off hot, and I decided to walk to the bakery to get rolls for lunch, and after using the services, we set sail for Wuppertal. The SW wanted to go across country through one or two marked scenic routes although, as he said, everywhere is scenic at this time of year. So we put various way points into the Sat-nav and eventually ended up at Stockum, on the Möhnesee, for lunch. There was a kiosk so we went to buy sausages, only to find that this was all they were, just on a plate by themselves, so we were glad of our rolls!

It was a long drive in the afternoon, too, and by the time we arrived at the camp site it was pouring with rain, so we haven't been out. Tomorrow will probably be nice, though.