Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Empty nest

We drove the girls to the Guide camp site in rural Surrey on Sunday. Very rural, we saw deer, rabbits and llama en route. Llama are farmed in UK in some places, but it was still an interesting sight.
We were there in time to help them put their tents up. Great structures with alcoves for privacy. They sleep about 20 small girls. It was a long job, with the dads wielding mallets and mums mainly taking photos! The pirate flag, (the theme of the camp was pirates) the 'Jolly Roger', skull and cross bones on a black background, was hoisted at about 4:30. We left them then, and will not see them now for a few days.
John then had a business trip away the following night and I, really alone in the nest, took myself to London for the day. The weather was dreary so the long planned visit to Kew Gardens was put off. Instead I walked all around Knightsbridge and Leicester Square. I am getting to know the quieter streets now, and have found two great Chinese food stores for cheaper supplies of tofu and green tea. I watched a film as the rain was really coming down by mid afternoon, and then met my brother for drinks and dinner before heading home.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Harry Potter at 12:01

Em and I have just come back from the launch of the last Harry Potter book. Two bookshops in town had it on sale at 12:01 this morning. Waterstone's had a huge queue, and WH Smith, where we had a copy on order, a more modest group. We learned afterwards that the price of the book was 50p lower at the former store!
It was still quite an event, with the growing number of Harry fans merging peacefully with the spillout from the pubs and clubs.... The very present Sussex Police no doubt helped maintain the tone. Only a few people were dressed up, and there were more mums and dads probably collecting the book for their offspring than children.
We walked home under the stars and after a hot chocolate, are going to bed. The book will be started when we wake up.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Good friends, rain and camping

The girls finished school on Tuesday. Their brief time at Crawley Down came to an end. Both move to new schools in September and are excited about it. The holidays tend to be hard to fill, so we have researched lots of inexpensive activities and they are going to a Guide camp. Three days in tents in sleeping bags. The rain bucketed down today, there was thunder and lightning and it made me wonder how they will cope if they have weather like that.

We have now to label each item of clothing and equipment we have bought for them to take with them. I doubt they will be able to carry their own packs, there is so much stuff. But it should be a great experience.

Apart from spending the last few days filling the camp list, we have had a visitor. Daniela, a good friend from Japan was in London catching up with friends and she spent a night with us. It was great to see her. We talked until late, mostly in Japanese, as she speaks Italian...so it was a good thing for John that he was away....and then this morning took her in the torrential rain to see the sights of the town. The English are stoic about their weather, so we were determined to be so too. It was a bit damp and cold, but she took lots of photos!
At the station to catch the train back to London we were told of delays due to flooding, landslips and lightning strikes. After about 60 minutes a train pulled up, much to the surprise of all at the station who told us nothing would be there for hours. The conductor offered to take all those waiting to Oxted, about four stops from here. He claimed that there may, or may not be, connecting buses to near London!! Daniela put her destiny in the hands of Southern Rail and hopped on. We are hoping that she does not have too much of an ordeal and we also hope she comes back again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Weekend away

John took me away for the weekend recently to Midhurst in East Sussex. We stayed at a lovely old place, the Spread Eagle Hotel. http://www.hshotels.co.uk/spread/spreadeagle-main.htm Our room had a four poster bed, fireplace, huge bathroom and creaky floor boards. We ate our dinner in the restaurant that night where there are plum puddings hanging from the rafters ageing before Christmas. The food was good but rich, so we took a walk to Cowdry Castle. Flying above the river and under the bridge we crossed were bats. Many people don't like them, but they can only survive where there are a lot of insects and a clean environment. Seeing bats is a good sign of a healthy area
We managed a drive to the sea near Chichester. A pebble beach, cold and windy, but the sea is always nice. We also, on the way home, dropped in to Parham House for their annual garden fair. We came away with a selection of his and hers favourite plants. Bliss. The house itself is elegant and has a wonderful collection of embroidery and paintings.

Friday, 6 July 2007


Big news for the town as we are to get our very own Monopoly board, depicting the famous local landmarks. Townsfolk can vote for the places they want to see included!
Standen, my favourite is at number 8 at present, a pub is in first place....this IS England after all, and the 100 year old sweet shop with its old fashioned scales and jars of sweets one would never see in a supermarket is at number 3. The girls are voting for that one. The town council has a committee to oversee the votes and of course we want to buy one of the games when it comes out at the end of the year. The long link is the announcement in the local paper a few weeks ago.

Yesterday John was at Wimbledon Center Court with guests in from the US. They watched Hewitt play and be beaten, but enjoyed a delicious lunch and of course, strawberries and cream for afternoon tea. The man made up for the few hours respite by working at home till all hours last night...
I had a more simple fare for lunch, egg sandwiches!! It was digging day at Standen and this time we were spared more laying of pipe. It was all weeding, first around the fig trees along the old wall in the lower carpark and then in the rhododendron dell. Such a lovely word, dell. On one side of the dell are rhododenron trees and where we were, on a steep slope, pitted with rabbit holes, were tiny little saplings. Next spring some of them should blossom.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

wet wet wet

Lots of rain and flooding around the country. Thunder and lightning today as well. It is getting to be monotonous. But this hydrangea loves it. It is at the bottom of the garden, and the mop heads are so heavy with moisture they lie on the lawn.
We have been busy and have decided to seriously tackle the house. First job is the bathroom. It may not start for another six weeks, but the whole thing will be gutted and redone. John has left choices of colours, fittings and tiles up to me. It is a little daunting and I could do with some of the girlfriends around to advise me. How can you choose a tile all alone? It needs thought, discussion and a little wine. Anyway, I splurged on an interior magazine for some ideas and there is still a lot of time to decide. I am even having a CAD done....and if he can be persuaded, I am going to walk John through the showroom at least.