A month of rediscovered pleasures

August has been a lot quieter than recent months for us really. I think that now we are all getting “back to normal” activities it all seems to be a lot more…well normal, thank goodness. We have been out and about quite a lot though and have at long last managed to get back to sitting in a theatre which was wonderful. It is so good to be able to move around freely once again too. Although the weather has not been as good as last month, we have not let it put us off getting out and about. So with all those outings and my regular shifts at the Op shop we have been fairly busy once again.

Ill start with our trip to Buxton which is where the sitting in a theatre bit comes in. We had a really good couple of days there and enjoyed looking around Buxton yet again…even if it did rain …much as we remembered it! In fact, when I really thought about it, most of my visits to Buxton were to antique fairs in the pavilion and a lot of those were to do something indoors, as it was raining! We (or rather I) enjoyed the G and S performance of the Pirates of Penzance – although it was not the best Ive ever seen – but the sheer joy of actually sitting in the Opera House and seeing a live show with an orchestra after such a long time, was a very special moment. We also managed to meet up with some old friends, John and Elizabeth, from the days when we lived in Marple on the Thursday evening, for a lovely (French as it happened!) meal. On the way home we actually called in to Marple and had coffee and a long catch-up chat, with our ex-neighbours Sue and Larry. Our old house does not look the same! We also managed to squeeze in a quick visit to our son in Manchester for lunch too before we made our way back up the M6 to Carlisle. So, all in all it was a good mini break.

Our Wednesday “lunch out” excursions have continued too this month and we are still discovering new places to eat and explore near here. We went to Maryport one week and enjoyed a super lunch in a small place called Herciti which was tucked away in the town. It had been recommended by a Twitter friend and was lovely. It was an odd mixture of a bric-a brac, vintage clothes and art gallery sort of place but the food was delicious. We also enjoyed a little stroll around the harbour, but didnt linger too long as it was mighty chilly that day! Our last two outings have been into Northumberland – which of course is less than an hours drive from here. We went to Gilsland one day and again ate very well at the Samson Inn there, before returning via Lanercost where there was a little craft fair in progress, much to my delight! Last week we met up with some more ex neighbours, Gill and Charles, this time from when we were first married and living in Seaton Sluice, in Hexham. I have always loved Hexham – my parents had a static caravan there for many years – and so it was great to have a little mooch around the town again. Our friends were in good form and we enjoyed once again catching up with family news. There was a bit of sad news though as another of our old neighbours had died that very morning and so we were reminded that we are all now entering that phase of our lives. We really do need to make the most of every moment now don`t we??

My friend Linda has now returned from her extended trip to Australia, where she has been helping her daughter with her new baby. She now has to sort out her mother, who, while she was away had had a nasty fall and as you can probably work out, is now deemed as unable to continue living in her own home. Unfortunately, she is in Lincolnshire so Mike and Linda are in the process of finding a suitable residential home for her…not easy at the best of times but so much harder from a distance. We did manage to see them at home, for a cup of tea, though before they set off on this quest and due to Mike and Geoffs “longer than planned” walk together, we ended up staying for dinner too! It was good to hear about her adventures in Oz and to try and put things into perspective regarding her Mums care. Poor Linda was still a bit jet lagged and looked rather frazzled by all the events. It will be good to get back to our regular swimming sessions once the schools go back and we can once again book sessions at the pool.

My brother, Alan, came to see us last week. We met him at the station and took him on a tour of some of Carlisles delights such as the Tullie House Museum (where there is a great costume exhibition at the moment), the cathedral (where we had lunch in the lovely café there) and best of all I introduced him to the Bookcase…the wonderful second-hand book shop near the cathedral. That place is like the Tardis inside…it just goes on and on and is filled with every genre of book and music you could imagine! Alan was delighted to see it and also to discover that at last he might be able to bring some of our fathers book and record collections in to the shop, for possible resale and for them to find new homes, at last.

We had another outing this weekend to pay a visit to Crummock Bank farm, where the enterprising farmer has a field of sunflowers which is open to the public and is bringing joy to all who visit. It is such a great idea…who doesnt like sunflowers? People have been driving there to take photographs, watch the sunsets over the field and to pick flowers. We noticed that everyone who was there had smiles on their faces and were really happy to see the lovely sight of these flowers. We, of course, saw many fields of sunflowers during our time in France, but they are not very common here. We did remark though that we couldnt see our French farmer friends welcoming folk to tramp through their sunflowers, or help themselves to the blooms! The field has brought happiness to all who visit and has also raised a lot of money in donations for the Air Ambulance. Chapeau Mr Farmer :blush:

We are back to going to church again…hallelujah! We still have to wear masks and keep our distance from one another, but it is nice to be able to attend services again. I hate having to sing with a mask in place and the church is really cold as they insist on leaving the doors open, but knowing this, we now wear more cardigans, jackets and socks than we did the first time we went! At last, too, our fellow worshippers have stopped asking if we are on holiday and are beginning to recognize the fact that we might just belong! Its only taken18 months!

Geoff has started playing pickle ball at the tennis club where we had both been playing tennis until my legs began to play up. Pickle ball is a form of tennis and I quote here “more suited to the older person”! it is played on a smaller court, with a lower net and using special racquets. He is loving it! There are a little group of people who go to this session each week, including two guys in wheelchairs and so far, they are all beating him regularly, as they are much fitter than him! He comes back totally worn out but a very happy chappy :blush:

We are now almost ready for our long-awaited return to France next month. It has taken several days of trying to make sense of all the travel documents we need to enter France and then to re-enter the UK. However, we think we are almost there now and we are just waiting for some documentation to arrive via the post and email and we are done…unless of course the rules change again! Oh, for the days when the most stress we had was getting through security at the airport! I still have a hotel to sort out for the evening we arrive - we have decided not to risk arriving at our flat in darkness and then finding we can`t remember how to get in! We have also decided to hire a car for the first week or so to give us time to try and get our little car back into working condition and roadworthy again. That is still all to be sorted out, but then we are set…or so we hope! We do have things to do in the flat, but we are so looking forward to a bit of sunshine and bobbing about in the Med again. Next month then, will be a blog about being back to French life…hopefully! That of course all depends on us travelling without any problems and on my having access to the technology to write and post it successfully! Our fingers are firmly crossed and I would appreciate it if you all could cross yours too!

A bientot mes amis…