Family time in Dorset

Lydney

10 June

Rose was leaving to meet some friends in the City today and I was catching the ferry to Holyhead at lunchtime so, after breakfast and listening to our extremely vocal Irish host for quite some time, I walked to the bus stop with Rose and then went for a final walk along the pier and through town. It was a lovely, sunny morning and a most enjoyable walk.

Buildings on the waterfront at Dun Laoghaire
Buildings on the waterfront at Dun Laoghaire
View of the bay from the pier at Dun Laoghaire
View of the bay from the pier at Dun Laoghaire
Dun Laoghaire
Dun Laoghaire
View of Dun Laoghaire from the pier
View of Dun Laoghaire from the pier
Dun Laoghaire port
Dun Laoghaire port

Back in the room, I packed up, wrote the blog and then waited for said host to finish talking to some new American arrivals so that I could pay. By the time I left, the rain was starting and the weather had transformed completely from earlier this morning. It was only a 10 minute walk to the ferry terminal and with only 50 minutes to go before departure, the ferry had not arrived in from Holyhead. However, when it did, cars and people were off loaded and the new passengers and cars were loaded in a very impressively short space of time.

I was hoping for a good view of Dun Laoghaire when we left the port but the rain was pouring down and there were only two very small outside decks, which were not allowed to be used when the ship was entering and leaving the port, which was a bit disappointing as I like to be outside on ferries.

Loading the ferry
Loading the ferry
Leaving Dun Laoghaire
Leaving Dun Laoghaire

The journey was very smooth and comfortable and I spent most of the time reading. We arrived in sunny Holyhead right on time at 3.50pm, passengers and cars left the ship within 30 seconds of the ramps being put down and then I had to wait for someone from the car hire company to arrive so that I could collect my car. This meant I didn’t set off until 4.45pm, which was a little frustrating.

The journey down to Lydney took about 4 1/2 hours and was uneventful apart from the closure of a bridge at Monmouth, which meant I had to do a detour into unknown territory without a map. That aside, it was a beautiful drive across Snowdonia (could just see the mountains through the rain and mist) and down through the border towns of Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Hereford, which were bathed in a beautiful, soft (sunny) evening light.

However, I had forgotten how slow English country roads can be, even if they are ‘A’ roads and I found myself stuck behind drivers that seemed to be crawling along (and even sticking to the speed limit!) with no opportunity for overtaking. The roundabouts and traffic lights seemed to be numerous.

I had a warm welcome from Min and Des when I eventually arrived and we sat and had a drink and a chat before going to bed.

Lydney

11 June

Rose in Min's garden
Rose in Min’s garden

It was a fairly lazy day today, pottering around the house, going into Lydney for a bit of shopping and watching Andy Murray play and win at Queens (on the television).

In the late afternoon, Min and I walked up to have a look at the later blooming rhododendrons in the gardens, which are now closed for the season, so we could wander without any risk of meeting a member of the great British public! It is a very peaceful place to be with lots of birds singing in the trees.

Red rhododendron bush
Red rhododendron bush
Reflections
Reflections
Rhododendron in the sun
Rhododendron in the sun
The Gardeners next to the 'thinking' shed
The Gardeners next to the ‘thinking’ shed

Min returned home with Des and I walked up the hill to the old Roman villa, which was looking a little unkempt with lots of long grass and nettles growing up through the bricks. This was apparently an important site in its day, partly due its geographical position but also because, unusually, it was dedicated to the god Nodens and supposedly had healing qualities.

Deer in Lydney Park Estate
Deer in Lydney Park Estate
Roman baths at Lydney
Roman baths at Lydney
Copper beech at the Roman villa, Lydney
Copper beech at the Roman villa, Lydney
Lydney Park Estate
Lydney Park Estate

I then strolled back through the park, admiring some of the large trees in the arboretum, which I could see below me and on through the grounds of the house, (hoping that I didn’t meet The Lord or Lady!), and back along the track to the house.

After a dinner with far too much wine, I watched the next episode of ‘Quirke’, an excellent Irish drama, that Min had recorded for me, before going to bed.

Lydney

12 June

It was a beautiful English summer’s day today and we were up early to drive into Monmouth before it got too busy. Once there, we admired the old Medieval bridge, and then wandered the shops for a couple of hours.

Monmouth School
Monmouth School
Medieval bridge in Monmouth
Medieval bridge in Monmouth
The Bridge in Monmouth
The Bridge in Monmouth
Monmouth
Monmouth
Street in Monmouth
Street in Monmouth

We arrived back at home in time for lunch, after which, there was a bit more tennis watching (Andy Murray lost very unexpectedly today!) and then I went to the shops for a couple of things I had forgotten to get in Monmouth.

The evening was so lovely that we sat outside in the garden for our pre-dinner drinks and later, very well fed and watered, I watched the last instalment of ‘Quirke’, whilst Min and Des watched the opening game of the World Cup.

Charlton Hawthorne

13 June

Today was a travelling day, so I packed all my belongings, (which, strangely, no longer fit into my backpack!) and left Min at about 11am to head for Dorset. I made a brief stop in Chepstow and then drove, via the M4 and M32 through Bristol and onwards to Yeovil where I stopped at the nursing home and spent an hour or so with Dad. He looked much better than I had anticipated but was not very coherent in his conversation.

Garden at the rental house
Garden at the holiday house
View from the garden at Charlton Hawthorne
View from the garden at Charlton Hawthorne

Afterwards, I picked up breakfast supplies from the supermarket and drove to Charlton Hawthorne to pick up the key and make myself at home in the house Rose had rented for us. It was very comfortable and well appointed with a beautiful garden and patio area. I could have quite easily stayed and enjoyed the solitude but, after a cup of tea, left again to go to Milborne Port to see Mum.

Two of my cousins had already arrived and we chatted mostly about travel and all the places one of them (a travel agent) had visited in her working life. I hadn’t seen her for about 25 years, so there was a lot of catching up to do! Rose and the two other cousins and aunt from Italy arrived at about 8.45pm. They had all come to celebrate Mum’s 90th birthday with her.  We left soon after to go back to the house, leaving my aunt and one cousin with Mum.

We then spent a most enjoyable hour or two before bed, chatting over a couple of bottles of wine. I hadn’t seen my other cousins for about 10 years so there was a lot of talking!

Charlton Hawthorne

15 June

It was Mum’s 90th birthday today so the morning was spent with 5 of us in the kitchen preparing lunch and then afternoon tea. Lunch was with 11 family members from Italy, South Africa, Ireland and England at the house in Charlton and afterwards we adjourned to Mum’s house in Milborne Port for afternoon tea with her friends and neighbours.

The family
The family
Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea

Rose, my aunt and I visited Dad for Father’s Day and then went back to the house to join the tea party. We eventually arrived ‘home’ at about 9pm where Rose and I had a much needed glass of wine (or two!) We were quite tired by that stage!

Charlton Hawthorne

16 June

After a late start, we drove over to Mum’s and then all went into Sherborne en masse. We were there for an hour or so and afterwards took a ride out to Bishops Caundle to have a look at the village where we grew up, which seemed to have shrunk in the intervening years!

Back to Mum’s for lunch and then into Yeovil to visit Dad who was in very good form and not rambling at all today. On our return to Milborne Port, Rose and I visited one of the neighbours and then it was back to to our rented cottage for a quiet evening.

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