The Trip — 2016: Part 22 — Wadham College

Monday: Today was the day to visit Wadham College, University of Oxford, where Di’s parents’ ashes rest.

Trip - A busker we passed on the walk to Wadham

A busker we passed on the walk to Wadham

When Di’s father, F.F.H. Charlton, died a decade ago, permission was granted to spread his ashes in a private garden on the college grounds. (Ferrier had graduated from Wadham and maintained a relationship with the college afterward.) In a quiet corner the gardener planted a Japanese Maple and Fer’s children and wife spread his ashes beneath. Five years ago we returned and the children spread their mother’s, Lola Charlton, ashes beneath the same tree.

Di wanted to visit her parents while we were in Britain this trip. She made several calls to Wadham to try to arrange a visit but ran into nothing but busy signals. Locating the college just a thousand yards from our hotel, I took a quick walk over this morning to see what I could do for her visit. The Head Porter was quite accommodating as I explained the situation and called the gardener, Andrew, on his mobile. Andrew showed up a minute later and we walked to the back garden as I explained the situation to him. He remembered both planting the tree and spreading the ashes for Fer and our last visit five years ago.

He said he would be very happy to let us in when I brought my wife and her friends to the college later in the day — Hmmm . . . it seems for once I actually did something right.

Trip - Di standing at her parents' tree

Di standing at her parents’ tree

On returning to the hotel, we had tea and coffee with Don and Cathy and then headed to Wadham.

The porter called Andrew who showed up a couple of minutes later. While we were waiting for him Di arranged to purchase a Wadham t-shirt. She then showed where her father lived as a student and Andrew escorted us, and answered our questions, to the back garden. Don and Cathy, especially Don, spent time wandering the garden and being suitably impressed while Di spent some quiet time with her parents.

Trip - Don and Kathy in Wadham's garden

Don and Kathy in Wadham’s garden

A while later we exited by the back way nursery and car park for the workers.

Cathy wanted to look for some shoes so we visited the Clarks shoe store a few blocks away. I waited outside and started a conversation with Henry who arrived just after we did (his wife was shopping inside). We spoke for a few minutes and I found that Henry was a lawyer from Louisiana (As I edit and post this entry I find myself hoping that his was not one of the homes flooded recently in Louisiana.) and would be attending the New Orleans Saints game against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego this upcoming season. Don came out and our conversation continued for the next five or ten minutes until Henry’s wife exited the store with a single pair of shoes and they proceeded to their next experience. Cathy and Di exited a few minutes later with no purchases — Di wants to return tomorrow to get some shoes to replace those lost by BA in our baggage fiasco.

Trip - Nursery entry

Nursery entry

We said good-bye to Don and Cathy who were heading to London; we’ll see them on Wednesday for a tour of Buckingham Palace.

Returning to the hotel, we had tea and lunch (I, of course, had a whisky.) and returned to our room for a quiet evening.

Trip - Cottage entry with low doorway. Inset: sign above doorway

Cottage entry with low doorway. Inset: sign above doorway

Tuesday — a day of rest.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 21 — Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

I get some ice and fix a drink and then make the mistake of turning on the TV. Di looks up from playing a game on her iPad and sees a movie she likes so I take my book to the library to read. One of the staff dims the lights — it’s now too dark to read so I leave — more than a bit ticked off.

Trip - The sheep "next door"

The sheep “next door”

I take a walk and return. Di has the movie on and I pick up my computer and take it to the deserted library, now real dark and resume this story.

It’s now ten o’clock and Di probably wants to go out for a smoke, needs her meds and I need a drink — good night.

Went back to the room and Trish was there helping Di get her remaining clothes in order. When they finished Trish returned to Newbury and I accompanied Di out to the parking lot for a smoke and then to bed. Never did get that drink.

Trip - The backside of Highclere

The backside of Highclere

Sunday: Today is the day for Highclere CastleDownton Abbey for those of you who watch English soap opera (at least, I think of it as soap opera). A car from Pryors comes to pick us — Di, Joe, Don and Cathy — up at our hotel at one o’clock and it’s about a thirty-five minute drive. Trish met us at the entry and we purchase tickets. As Trish, Di and I have already toured the house we get garden tickets (cheap) while Don and Cathy purchase tickets for a tour of the house.

Trip - Kathy on "the bench"

Kathy on “the bench”

Don and Cathy toured the house and we found an empty table (just vacated by a small family) outside a snack-tent. Trish got Di some tea, herself some coffee and an egg sandwich — which she offered to Di and Di ate.

We then adjourned to the gift shop; Don and Cathy finished their tour and hit the gift shop — I cooled my heels on a rather hard bench.

On to the snack-tent (the inside this time where it was warmer) for tea and coffee and scones. We still had most of an hour until our car picked us up so we slowly walked or scooted to “the bench” where we took pictures. Di and I remained there while Trish showed Di’s friends some of the estates gardens — Di and I had toured them on our previous visit in 2011.

Trip - Don and Kathy

Don and Kathy

It was then on to the car park, the ride back to our hotel and dinner at the Quod Restaurant next door. Di ate some cheeses, crackers and bread while I had a scallop and scampi entrée and fish and new potatoes for dinner — and a couple of very nice scotches.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 20 — Heathrow to Oxford

Trip - Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant

Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant

Only a dozen people or so were left in the baggage area and I was only able to find three of our four checked bags (Di’s scooter, however, was there and I unfolded it for her to ride through customs and to our taxi). After waiting for the remainder of the flight’s bags to be unloaded, and not finding Bag #4 containing Di’s extra shoes, sandals, knickers and everyday clothing, we filed a claim with BA. We were assured the bag would be delivered to our hotel the next day. (It is now 9:22 pm the next day and the missing bag has still not shown; BA’s phone line has been too busy to speak with anyone.)

Trip - Don, Kathy, Di and Joe - University College, Oxford

Don, Kathy, Di and Joe – University College, Oxford

Helen was taking a train and bus to her home in London while the rest of us went in a hire car, think taxi, to take Trish home in Newbury and us to our hotels in Oxford.

Trish had Peter, our driver, get off the motorway a bit early to give Don (his first time in England) and Kathy a tour of a bit of English countryside.

Trip - Shelly

Shelly

We dropped Trish at her home only to find that the neighbors who were keeping an eye on her place had not placed the key where they had said they would. Eventually, we had to leave as it was getting dark. Trish said she’d be OK — turned out the neighbors were in another backyard garden and hadn’t thought Trish would be home so early.

We went on to Oxford and Don and Cathy landed at their B&B, and we checked into the Old Bank Hotel. The room’s a bit small and cramped but looks nice. It has some handicapped accessible features and Charlie can use her scooter to go outside for a smoke. It took me three tries to get some ice so I could have a drink and there is no fridge (there is a stocked mini-bar cooler), nor microwave nor tea/coffee maker — hmmm . . . there is an attached restaurant and room service.

Trip - On to the Ashmolean Museum

On to the Ashmolean Museum

I took Di out to smoke in the parking lot behind the hotel and then had a couple of drinks (Trish and Helen had gotten me a bottle of Cardhu at Corfu Duty Free) and some of Di’s Twiglets before turning in for the evening.

The hotel delivered a London Times and Daily Telegraph this morning and I read parts of them before Don and Kathy showed up about nine. We went to the Quod Restaurant next door for coffee, tea and breakfast. The service was slow, and we weren’t even asked if we’d like a second cup. No, I didn’t get any breakfast.

Trip - Egyptian exhibit at the Ashmolean

Egyptian exhibit at the Ashmolean

About ten-thirty we started to walk to see Shelly’s memorial (who, ironically, did not graduate from University College) and then walked in the other direction to take in some of the Ashmolean Museum. Don and Cathy wanted to split up to meet us at the Quod for High Tea at 3:30 pm. (Liliana, the librarian from Charlie’s former school was in Oxford with her husband for the summer and was also going to join us there.)

I asked Charlie if she wanted to see the museum and she said no. I asked why we were there and she said she wanted Don and Cathy to see it or, at least, have the opportunity to do so. Therefore, I wandered through the museum until after one when Charlie wanted to go outside for a smoke. I came out after another ten minutes and she now wants to go shopping for some skin moisturizer and knickers.

Trip - Tea

Tea

We do this and return to our hotel to wait for her friends and guests to show up for tea. I go next door to make reservations and am told they are taking no more, just show up — great. Everyone arrives and there is no room for us in the restaurant. We have to go to the “library” in the hotel. Eventually we arrange the furniture to suit ourselves and open windows that seemed to have remained unopened for decades to get some fresh air and cooling.

Trip - Kathy, Tricia, Di and Lilliana

Kathy, Tricia, Di and Liliana

Tea is served and we remain talking for some hours; Trish joins us; plans are made and changed; a round of Pimms is shared. Trish eventually takes Don and Cathy to a pub where they’ll meet her son and have a drink. Liliana and her husband have already left and Di and I head back to our room.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 19 — Villa Andonis to Heathrow

Time to take a swim before the day gets too hot to go out in the sun; after all, I’m not an Englishman.

Don and Kathy took the bus to Kassiopi; Becka walked to the harbor to do a little swimming in the bay (and maybe a bit of shopping); Di and her sisters are in and out of the pool and I’m reading the “local” papers online.

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Eirini, Di and Dora

Being as this is our last full day at the villa, the sisters who own it came to say goodbye to Di, and the rest of us, this morning and brought her a few small gifts. They’re good people as Di has gotten to know them quite well through two years of email communications and frequent conversations while we’ve been here.

Dinner was a home-made affair of chicken, pasta and salad provided mostly by Trish and Helen.

Our last day, Friday, dawned just as beautiful, with promise to be hot, as most of those in the previous three weeks. I had my swim about nine and then went in to shower and finish packing. Di and her sisters swam later and sunned until after one in the afternoon. By that time I had most of Di’s stuff packed, including the items she’d purchased on Corfu for herself or for gifts.

Trip - Villa Andonis on the day we left.

Villa Andonis on the day we left.

Our taxi was late and arrived about two-fifteen. We loaded our belongings, Charlie’s scooter and ourselves and we were off. The drive to Corfu airport took about a half-hour.

At the airport we went to check in and all went fine until we came to Charlie’s scooter. First the security had me load it on the luggage belt to go through the scan — it wouldn’t fit. Later they decided that it had to have its battery attached — contrary to what had been AA and BA policy on our two flights previous. They had me wait in an out of the way area until the scooter was brought out from the luggage loading area.

Can you see me getting ticked off at both BA and Corfu security?

Trip - BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.

BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.

Then they came and got me and told I now had to go through security with the rest of my party, who had also been held up, and go to “6” just past Gate 5. (Gate 1 is where the rest of the passengers on our flight were to board.)

Di and I were hurried through security and to “6” at the end of the Departure level of the terminal. We were taken outside into the 90°+ heat of the day and I had to attach the battery to Di’s scooter. It was then wheeled off to be loaded onto our A320. The gentleman who had taken charge of us wanted Di and I to wait in the chairs there to be taken to the plane in about “5 minutes.”

NO, we were not going to wait in the heat and sun for him to return, so he reluctantly brought us back into the terminal with its minimal air conditioning. And, no, Di did not have time to shop in Duty Free. Yeah. Fifteen – twenty minutes later our guide returned to get us to the plane.

Trip - Passenger loading/unloading stairs.

Passenger loading/unloading stairs.

Now we were a bit ticked off but the next part was actually neat. Di was wheeled down a long ramp and to the back of rather large truck, but it wasn’t exactly a truck. The back end had a lift gate which we all got on and it lifted to the passenger area of the vehicle. The airport worker opened the door and pushed Charlie in. There was an identical door in the front to the right of the driver and another lift.

We drove to the front of the plane and parked just inches from the plane. The entire passenger section of our vehicle was then lifted to the level of the plane’s door and Charlie was wheeled forward. All she had to do was walk a step to the plane and then another fifteen feet or so to her seat in Aisle 1.

Trip - Lunch

Lunch / Dinner

After we were seated the buses from the terminal carried the rest of the passengers out to be boarded. A weather delay over western Europe caused a half hour delay of our takeoff, but the plane was cool and it wasn’t a problem.

The flight itself was smooth; the Jack Daniels plentiful and the prawn dinner tasty. We had a twenty-five minute wait until a wheelchair arrived to take Di into the terminal at Heathrow. A longish walk and a two-stop tram ride brought us to the baggage area . . . Problem.


Trip - Back over England

Back over England

The Trip — 2016: Part 18 — Venturing Day and Night

Trip - Northeast CorfuMorning came and I had my swim. Trish, Helen and I — Becka volunteered to keep an eye on Di for the afternoon — got in the car for a scenic drive to the north. The road got wide enough at one point for there to have been painted two white lines down its center, although the lines were so faint they looked as though they had been painted about the time Charlie and I were married.

Beautiful scenery, beautiful villas and pebbly beaches. We stopped in Agios Stefanos for a dip in the sea, at least Helen and Trish did. We then had a drink at The Wave taverna on the beach — I had another Corfu Red Ale and the girls had virgin umbrella drinks and split a wicked looking ice cream and crepe mid-day dessert.

Trip - Agios Stefanos, Sinies - Corfu, Greece

Agios Stefanos, Sinies – Corfu, Greece

Then to the shopping at a couple of the usual souvenir shops. Postcards, stamps, some clothes and for me two sets of “hand-made” glass Greek coasters, one for Mike and one for myself. The woman in the shop (Delfini Traditional Crafts) gift wrapped both sets in the same paper so I don’t know which is which; guess I’ll find out when Mike chooses his.

One of the problems I have when going into these types of emporia is that I still think like a woodshop teacher and look for things I could have had my students make back in the day. Yeah, I once again found items I’d not seen before — dirty word, dirty word, dirty word.

Trip - Helen

Helen

On the way back to the villa Helen saw an unattached trailer by the side of the road built by the company of a Welshman she knows. (Ifor Williams Trailers LTD) She insisted we stop and we pulled into a turnout; Helen literally hopped out with her camera and walked back to the trailer to snap a picture. She hurried back to the car — I snapped a couple of pictures of her hurrying around the bend — chortle.

Also, we came upon a working garbage truck and crew emptying bins by the side of the road — It appears to me at least, as though they are still catching up to some of the refuse left over from the strike they were engaged in when we arrive in Corfu two and a half weeks ago. A quick stop at the “super” market and we were home.

After seven we again headed down to the harbor to catch a boat (think water taxi) to a cove north of us and dinner. We were landed at the White House Taverna for dinner. Di had difficulty navigating the steps and ramps to our table overlooking the water, but we made it. They had given us the table with the longest walk, not seeming to notice that Di’s a bit disabled. (If you come to Corfu, remember these people have nothing like the ADA to help the physically challenged more easily cope with life.)

Trip - Di and Becka

Di and Becka

The house was originally built by Gerald Durrell‘s brother Lawrence, which disappointed Di as it wasn’t the house the family had had in the 1930s. It also did not have many pictures nor much memorabilia, nor did the staff know much about the family’s circumstances or other houses on the island.

Service was a bit slow, but we enjoyed our food. Di was a bit disappointed as her salmon filet turned out to be a bony salmon steak a bit overdone to her taste. One sister gave her some of her lamb, again a bit done for Di’s taste. My meal, however, was quite good — the White House version of seafood pasta — although someone needs to teach the chef how to de-vein prawns as I had to complete the job for him on the plate. (In addition when the waiter took away my empty plate of befores, a pair of very good Greek sausages, he also took away my silverware. It was a few minutes while my dinner was cooling before I could get his attention for a replacement set — I really didn’t want to eat my seafood pasta with only my fingers.)

Trip - The Moon, Di and Joe

The Moon, Di and Joe

There was only one toilet for this, large, restaurant and it was a long walk and up steps for Di. She was quite weak after navigating between tables without her wheelie and we seated her nearer to the dock to wait for our taxi rather than return to our table.

The full moon was up; the breeze was cool and the ride back was a highlight of our stay in Corfu. The trip was a bit longer on the return as we also picked up and dropped off another family on the way. Nissaki harbor was cool and we were soon back in our villa. Trish and Helen returned the rental car and the girls, Di, Helen, Trish and Becka played several games of Bananagrams. We didn’t get to bed until one-thirty Thursday morning — it’s now ten.

(to be continued)

(more photos below)


Helen and Tricia

Helen and Tricia

Joe

Joe


Helen and Tricia in the swim of things

Helen and Tricia in the swim of things

Trash collection on Corfu

Trash collection on Corfu


Kathy and Don on the way to the White House Taverna

Kathy and Don on the way to the White House Taverna

Shell Gas: in Euros and Litres (Think Dollars and Quarts)

Shell Gas: in Euros and Litres (Think Dollars and Quarts)


Di, Tricia and Helen

Di, Tricia and Helen