A more relaxing month

This year is really flying by, isn’t it? I am a little shocked to realise that July has been and gone already. It doesn’t seem two minutes since I was writing my last blog post, let alone a whole month! July has been a far more relaxing month than of late, but we have still managed to keep fairly busy. As well as all the usual routine stuff…Op shop shifts, eye clinic appointments and my diabetic review check…which resulted in us both having to do BP monitoring for a week to prove that my BP goes sky high when in the close vicinity of medical folk (point proved btw!) and Geoff’s pickleball sessions, we have done some other stuff too.

We started the month off by meeting up with our “Cruise Buddy” friends from Scotland, Ewan and Jean, who were having a break in their caravan in Northumberland. We met at The Blacksmiths Arms at Talkin where we enjoyed a lovely meal and catch-up chat as always. It is great that this friendship continues…and long may it do so! As usual, we have been out and about during the month and have visited some new haunts, as well as a few old favourites too. We have continued with our “date day” Wednesday lunches out and have enjoyed eating at the Upfront Gallery, The Bridge End at Dalston and the Rose and Crown at Rockcliffe – all well tried and tested lunch eateries! The Dalston day was before we went for a tour of Rose Castle which was organised by the Cumbria branch of the Cambridge Alumni Association… of which Geoff is a member. It was a fantastic afternoon, which included a tour of the gardens as well as a tour of the wonderfully restored Rose Castle itself. Rose Castle was the historic residence of the Bishop of Carlisle for many years before being sold to Sarah and John and has now been transformed into a luxury venue for weddings and corporate events. But it is also the centre for the Rose Castle Foundation and Sarah gave us a very inspiring talk about the ethos and work of this foundation, which both of us found immensely interesting. If you have not heard about it before, I recommend you look it up. I was very impressed by the work they do to bring about reconciliation across boundaries all over the world. Sarah told a great story about how, at one of the conferences and retreats they do at Rose Castle, they purposely sat a young Palestinian man and a young Israeli man at the same table for dinner, forcing them to talk to one another and how the Palestinian had said afterwards, it was the first time he had ever seen an Israeli smile…as usually they were confronted by grim faced soldiers at checkpoints and didn’t really see them as people just like them. That story has really stuck in my mind…

We had a busy day too one Saturday when I went to help Hazel with an Amnesty International coffee morning. It was a good event and we managed to raise a bit of money for the Carlisle branch (which Hazel runs) and also to raise awareness of several campaigns which Amnesty are supporting just now. Afterwards, I drove out to Lanercost to meet up with my friends Rose and Robin, who were attending a classic car event with Robin’s beautiful MG sports car. Hazel, Geoff and the little one joined us later in the afternoon and I must say that the little one was very taken with the car!! I have told her Daddy that he needs to get her one for Christmas! Another little outing that Hazel and I did with the little one, was to the annual fun day at the Oak Tree Animal sanctuary which, although we arrived fairly late in the day, was a nice visit.

We also treated ourselves to a two-night trip away this month. Geoff has always loved the paintings of John James Audubon and had discovered that there was an exhibition being held at the Compton Verney gallery near Warwick so off we went to see that. We stayed in a fantastic little airbandb flat nearby and really enjoyed our visit very much. We loved the Audubon exhibition and I also loved the Quentin Blake one too, which was on at the same time. It was like going from the sublime (Audubon birds) to the ridiculous (Quentin Blake cockatoos!) but such fun! Compton Verney turned out to be so much more than just a gallery and we adored the fabulous grounds with their fantastic trees (and yes, he did hug one or two!) and I absolutely loved the wild flower meadows which were abundant in butterflies, dragon and damsel flies as well as bees of every type and colour. We spent a lot longer there than we had planned, but we also had enough time to do a little tour of the pretty Cotswold villages such as Stowe on the Wold, Broadway and Chipping Camden, places we have not been to for many years. We called in to see Matthew and Susie on our way back home the next day and dropped off some of our “required by law” car equipment ready for their fast-approaching family holiday to France. So, all in all it was a very nice little break and, despite the long drive there and back (most of which was on the dreaded M6!) we were really glad we had done it.

As the weather here continues to be far from the summer weather we would like to see (cold, damp & thoroughly dismal at times!) we have spent a lot of this month watching daytime TV. Wimbledon was its usual “must watch” draw

for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the men’s tournament…especially that epic final, where I was very pleased to see young Carlos win. I am slowly getting back into watching women’s tennis again, although I have to admit still not really knowing many of the new “star” names! The whole event was great though…I really missed Wimbers for all those years we lived in France. Geoff, of course was glued (when I allowed him access!) to the Tour de France as always and enjoyed that too. I have to admit I lost a lot of interest in that when poor old Cav crashed and went out. I struggled a bit to get on board with all the new guys…none of them very charismatic, I thought! It was great though to see Issoire, Clermont Ferrand and its surroundings featured this year…bringing back lots of memories of going to watch the tour when we lived there. Geoff has now removed his tour map from the living room door and is struggling to find things to do in the afternoons just now! Jusqu’à l’année prochaine mes amis!

This dismal weather is continuing here, so we can only imagine the heat that some of our friends in France and Spain have been enduring. My shorts, having made a brief appearance in June are now firmly back in the wardrobe…although Geoff has continued with his, for his walks with Xena, stating that legs are easier to dry than jeans! I am at the stage where I am now crossing off the days until we get back to France in September. Only the month of August to get through now…and that should be nice as we have a certain little girl’s christening to attend as well as another of Hazel’s friend’s wedding. Both of those events require a weekend away so that will be nice too. I shall report on both next time :blush:

A bientot mes amis…