The Trip — 2016: Part 27 — Shopping and St. Thomas of Canterbury

Trip - No Fishing
No Fishing

This morning I made Di tea and went to the front desk for some coffee and milk which were delivered ten minutes or so later. Finally figured out how to use the coffeemaker in the room, Magicmix. Coffee isn’t very good but it does put caffeine into my bloodstream to start the day.

It’s cloudy but not raining and Di is able to have tea, smoke and read on the patio. We’ll be heading into Newbury for some last-minute shopping later in the morning.P1010051bsmall

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Toward the altar

Pryors picked us up at eleven-fifteen and deposited us at the edge of the pedestrian shopping area in Newbury at noon (and to return at three). Oh, goody, three hours of following my wife shopping and carrying her purchases.

We visited a number of shops looking for four things: a suitcase to replace the one lost by BA, a fruit bowl for Helen to brighten her new kitchen, books, and, of course, candy.

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Altar window

I found a bowl for Di in John Lewis (designed in Britain and made in China), found a suitcase in another shop (no I didn’t get the one going for £695), purchased a dozen books in WH Smith and candy at Tesco‘s. Picked up the suitcase after the books and candy and loaded them into said suitcase. Then returned to John Lewis and purchased the fruit bowl — in a lot of bubble wrap.

We then found a café in a quiet courtyard and Di had a pot of Earl Gray tea and I read The Daily Mail. Just before three we headed out to where our car should be waiting and there it was. The return route was the reverse of the morning’s and again we passed Tricia’s home in Hampstead Norreys.P1010069bsmall

Upon returning to our hotel room we discovered that our room’s phone still was not working. Helen showed up at four to have tea with Di. I helped Di to the restaurant and then went for a walk through Goring and went to look at a church I had noticed earlier in our stay.

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To the back

The church turned out to be St. Thomas of Canterbury. I walked around the church and through the attached graveyard and memorial to the local dead of WWI and WWII. The interior was simple with a beautiful stained glass window high on the wall behind the altar.

Di and Helen were demolishing a second pot of tea when I returned to The Swan and so I retired to the reception area to read and blog. After two hours of tea, Helen and Di returned to our room and said their good-byes.

Tricia arrived a while later and we moved to the restaurant. We found the same low table and comfortable chairs we’d had the previous night ordered drinks: Pimms, whisky and gin and tonic. Starters, dinner, dessert and conversation. In all it was a nice dinner and company for our last night in England.

(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" to Highclere Castle
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" at Highclere Castle
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 at Highclere Castle
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 7 — On to Corfu

Trip -- Aerial View of Corfu

The taxi (from Pryors) picked up Trish first, after he found her home and then us. Traffic was thin, and it wasn’t raining too hard, so the ride was comfortable and quick (a Mercedes E Class 220 taxi. Ian dropped us off in good time, and after Di had another cigarette, we proceeded inside.

Check-in was a breeze after a helpful chap escorted us around the not too long lines and dropped us at the Assistance desk. We stopped for stamps for Trish to mail a few letters and Di for some Twiglets and proceeded through Security — a short line that early in the morning. We could have gone to the BA lounge and sat down and had some breakfast, but, no, Di and Trish had to shop some more and I cooled my heels with our carry-ons.

Eventually they finished (and had with them still another bag to carry on the plane), and we entered the lounge. (Di and I had club class tickets and Tricia was flying coach, but the check-in attendant told us to have Tricia accompany us as Di’s “caregiver.” Who were we to question that advice?) We had a bit of breakfast and boarded the plane without trouble — Di’s scooter being stowed in cargo but leaving me with the 17-pound battery again.

The plane, a BA A-320, however, was not able to leave on time. Some passengers had not been able to fly today (reason not given), but their luggage was aboard. Therefore, their luggage had to be removed before we could depart. A “ten-minute job,” the pilot said. A “thirty-five minute job,” chuckled the ground crew. But, eventually, after the tower found us a new place in the takeoff queue, we were on our way.

The flight was smooth, and we landed in Corfu after a two hour and forty-five minute flight. We had to deplane on the tarmac and then take a bus to the terminal. Charlie had a bit of a slow climb down the stairs with Trish’s assistance from the airplane to the bus but made it with me following with too many articles of carry-on baggage.

When we got to the main terminal, there was no one to help Charlie with a wheelchair. I found one a ways off and pushed her up the, rather, steep and long ramp into the terminal. Customs was short — mine was the only passport the inspector really looked at.

Twenty minutes later we had our luggage and Charlie’s scooter had been delivered, and I’d put it together. We were off.

Our drivers were there to meet us and, after a little discussion, they, the drivers and Charlie and Trish, settled on one. It turned out to be a sixteen-passenger bus with five riders — the three of us and two other women from our flight. Just before we left the other two women figured out they were on the wrong bus, got their bag and boarded the bus next to us with the rest of their party.

Charlie had wanted to rent a car and have me drive to the villa. I convinced her not to. Boy, am I glad I did — after all, I couldn’t speak the language nor could I read the road signs — it was all Greek to me. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that I’d have been able to successfully follow the directions we had to the villa through the city and out to the north. But the driver seemed to have no trouble, and included a stop at a “supermarket” for supplies.Trip -- Villa Andonis

When we arrived at Villa Andonis, Nissaki, Corfu, Eirini and Dora were there to greet us and show us around. It’s a “nice” place. Pictures to follow.

(to be continued)