Posted by: glenswatman | August 11, 2014

20140801-10 Messing about on the river and having a (summer) ball

FRIDAY 1 AUGUST 2014 – Malcolm and Claire have asked us to meet at Salters slipway for their celebratory cruise. They have a fantastic free camping spot on the banks of the Thames. Their Romanian friends Laurentiu and Michaela have brought along some traditional decorations including a ruby red flower to be pinned on everyone. Once the boat arrives they go on board to help decorate it and the caterers load up. About 50 people board ready for the Thames cruise to Henley on Thames. Initially we head up river to view the famous college boat houses. We are on the front deck under a canopy then at the back is an upper open deck and a closed in one beneath which is where there is a bar serving alcohol, soft drinks and hot drinks constantly. We really enjoy the scenery passing by. We go through a number of locks, past countryside, magnificent house, bridges with beautiful flowers and many small towns. At one point the boat suddenly turns around. It turns out Malcolm’s Panama hat has gone overboard and we get great entertainment with the boat crew trying to catch it from under the overhanging branches. There’s a cold buffet and desserts for lunch which goes down nicely but I’m not sure we’ve left enough space for what is to follow. Claire & Malcolm got married at 3pm and at that time we gather for them to service Asti (which they had at their wedding), make a speech and cut the cakes. The number 4 is a fruit cake and 0 is Claire’s famous homemade chocolate Sachertorte. A trio of musicians are on board and plays some lovely melodies on a mixture of guitars and other stringed instruments. It really is the icing on the cake to a wonderful trip. We pass Uri Geller and Vince Hills homes as well as many others that must belong to multi millionaires or lottery winners. We’ve plenty of time to chat to different people and catch up on Claire & Malcolm’s news as the whole trip takes over 10 hours. Mid afternoon the first lot of caterers disembark and another lot board with the food for the evening buffet. As the invitation said “there will be little to do but gaze out at the delights of the countryside and eat and drink so no need to get in training for the event”! We are so inspired by what we have seen that this is another area we plan to return to in order to explore more. Alighting in Henley on Thames just before 9pm there is a luxury coach waiting to take us back to Oxford in less than an hour after the fantastic trip.

SATURDAY 2 AUGUST – We cut across country and after a couple of hours drive make a short detour to the national trust property of Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill near Cambridge. With fantastic gardens and a home full of the owners’ collections it is wonderful although overall we like the gardens the best. There are numerous areas with lovely flowers, a water mill, lake and over 100 statues to discover. The bottom end is a woodland with the newly opened “Wild diner” rustic cafe where we enjoy lunch. We have a surprisingly good couple of hours visit before completing our journey home. Merryhill are having a “Beach party” and the pool area is nicely decorated. When the BBQ’s are ready we take it in turns to cook our food then sit together under the marquee to eat. Entertainment comes in many forms. The boat race involves people having to pull a mini boat across the swimming pool by winding the string onto a bobbin. The “laughing Policeman” competition has everyone in stitches but the funniest part of all has to be “Miss Merryhill”. About half a dozen blokes have dressed up to enter and it is hilarious. Bikini tops are stuffed with balloons, some have found high heels big enough and swimming costumes are at full stretch. There’s a really good atmosphere and the MC comments on how this is how Merryhill always used to be and will be again in the future.

SUNDAY 3 AUGUST – Enjoy a couple of games of petanque in the morning. I’m really chuffed to find that we have some ripe tomatoes and boy do they taste good.

MONDAY 4 AUGUST – Making the most of the glorious weather our neighbour Dave arrives on his day off. Dave’s a book maker so Steve learns a lot more about betting and horse racing. After lunch we set out on a walk to find blackberries. Cover nearly 4 miles and return with enough blackberries to fill 2 trays. It’s amazing to be able to go to the pool around 4pm on a hot day in August and be the only one in the water, wouldn’t get that happening on many campsites. I make a blackberry crumble and served it with custard. Get a late phone call from Claire and Malcolm to say they have dropped their Romanian visitors at Doncaster airport and are now at Kings Lyn and would like to visit us tomorrow.

TUESDAY 5 AUGUST – I put a join of beef in the slow cooker and we prepare the potatoes for lunch then sit out enjoying the morning sun. Claire & Malcolm arrive just before 1pm and we eat outside. Although we only saw them on Friday we didn’t have all that much time to chat so can now catch up and hear about their recent motorhome trip to Iceland. We take a late afternoon drive to Taverham hoping to buy some “holiday” shoes at Pavers but without success. Claire and Malcolm invite us to their motorhome where we enjoy lots of nibbly things for tea. They decide to stay on site in their motorhome overnight so that they can enjoy a drink or two.

WEDNESDAY 6 AUGUST – After calling in to say Good-bye to Claire and Malcolm we head to Mattishall surgery. My CT scan results are not through but Dr Allen agrees I may have irritable bowel syndrome as a side effect of the operation and gives me a diet sheet to follow to see if that improves things. It’s a rainy morning so we might as well go shopping. In Dereham we set about finding ourselves new shoes for next months’ cruise. We both want lightweight trainers and I also need smart but comfy flip flops. In the afternoon it brightens up and we head home to make the most of it.

THURSDAY 7 AUGUST – Quiet day. It’s very humid so we combine cooling off with doing exercises in the pool.

FRIDAY 8 AUGUST – We manage a circular walk in the area covering almost 5 miles but both feel whacked in the humid weather. Unfortunately Steve’s shoulder also becomes uncomfortably after he has been walking for an hour or more. We have a dull afternoon with occasional rain so I begin our Japan tour plan and figure out what we will do in our first port of call Kanazawa which should be easy as a bus loops take in the main sights. Also book our winter trip to Spain with Ryanair flights from Stansted to Alicante return for £151.96 for us both. At night we get such heavy rainfall that I give up trying to sleep and spend a couple of hours in the lounge.

SATURDAY 9 AUGUST – We do a Sainsbury’s shop with me trying my best to picks things that fit in with the recommended low-fodmap diet. It’s a strange day with mixed and rapidly changing weather as if something is brewing. Spend the evening at Dee & Brian’s. Since last seeing us they have been considering a lifestyle change and buying a static caravan so have a number of questions for us. Dee is also interested in learning about the diet we have adopted for Steve as she wasn’t aware of the difference it could make. Although we can’t prove it has helped Steve the Doctors always say he is doing remarkably well so it obviously avoiding processed food and eating lots of fresh fruit, veg and fish isn’t doing any harm.

SUNDAY 10 AUGUST – The leftovers of hurricane Bertha arrive and we have a really strange day with strong winds, heavy bouts of rain and even a few hail stones. Luckily Steve is able to get out to the pub to watch football during a lull but says there are lots of small branches in the road and mud everywhere.



  1. Life seems to be treating you well!Looking forward to seeing you here in Spain over the winter period! Was talking to the guy who lost his wife to Leukaemia – whose name I have forgotten. He seems well- and always asks after you both!
    I am ‘doing ‘ a BLOG of Summer madness- will send you the link!

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