Archive for the ‘Erith’ Category

The journey home

September 8, 2019

We waved our farewells, sitting in the back of the taxi blubbering, we valiantly pulled ourselves together to get a few words out to our taxi driver. He was already 30 minutes late due to traffic holdups and he was explaining to us that he would be taking us to Heathrow via a very roundabout route as there were major traffic holdups on the M25 – the motorway that circumnavigates London city.

The trip should take one and half hours, on a good day, 2 hours at the most we are told. He was telling us that we would be having a very memorable last drive in England, travelling through some very small country lanes, until we had to rejoin the M25.

Narrow country lanes

Then we meet traffic….who is backing up?

We went through a few pretty little villages, and we were enjoying the scenery on our journey through the countryside. His navigation system (Waze) was being constantly updated with reports coming in of accidents, holdups and other traffic info plus it had our expected time of arrival emblazoned across the bottom of the screen. We started off with an ETA of 6:00pm, which then extended to 6:30pm which then soon became 7:00pm, by the time we got to the multi lane motorway car park we had an ETA of 7:59pm. We finally checked in at 8:20pm.

During this travel time we were in contact with Alex as they were able to follow our progress through a tracking app on their phones as Ian had made the initial taxi booking for us. I’m sure they thought that we had been kidnapped and were being taken off somewhere deep into the countryside.

Back to our airport arrival. Fortunately, we always allow a lot of extra time for exactly this sort of event as we don’t mind being at the airport early. It means we can relax and partake of a favourite pastime, people watching. We didn’t have much time to relax or people watch as it was soon time to board but looking at our boarding passes, I was sure that we had not been allocated our preferred seats and on checking my phone app, I was right. When we came to board we queried why we had not been allocated our assigned seats, we were soon ushered to a senior staff person who apologised and reassigned us new seats, this time we were to have a whole row to ourselves…score!

I have to admit that the tears welled up again as the plane took off, it’s not easy leaving .

The flight was uneventful, we tried to sleep, I even managed to lie down along our row of seats but sleep eluded us. We were soon landing in Hong Kong where upon arrival everyone goes through a scanner to check your temperature. The current measles outbreak is worldwide and precautionary measures are in place everywhere.

Once through passport control and then customs we were met by our driver who was waiting to take us to our hotel in Central HK.

Streets of Hong Kong

By the time we checked into our hotel it was mid evening local time, a quick bite to eat, a shower and a good nights sleep was all that was on our agenda.

It was very hot and sticky weather in HK, not conducive to wandering around very much at all. Breakfast, repack and a late checkout we set off for the airport yet again hoping that any protests would not hinder our departure. We saw no evidence of any of the protests but we did note that our passports and travel docs were checked before we could take a step inside the terminal building.

Interesting shop seen on our way to the airport….can you read the sign?

Closeup of the sign

I did notice a shop sign on our return trip to the airport, a Bakery I thought. Just a minute, that says “Professional Barkey”, does that mean it sells keys for bars or maybe it’s something to do with dogs who bark a lot?

Once at the airport we settled in to wait for our flight and ended up chatting to a you g couple who were travelling with their baby. To cut a long story short, it seems that they had tried to book the seats that we had been allocated, being in the front row where there is a bassinet, they had booked the third seat in the row and the one on the row behind. After take off once the crew were out of their seats we asked if it would be ok for Roy to swap with the Dad so he could be next to his partner and baby. We couldn’t help notice that the exit row seats across the aisle were empty, the crew said please, you two move to the exit row (Roy & I) so the couple and their baby had the middle three seats to themselves and Roy and I had the two exit row seats. Everyone was happy and comfortable.

We were quickly through passport and customs in Auckland where I have to say that the NZ officials are the most welcoming we have encountered, they are always pleasant and polite making the homecoming experience a pleasant one.

Antony was waiting for us in the arrivals hall and we were soon on our way to Antony’s for the weekend.

All in all a memorable trip home. Now we start planning our return trip next year!

The final day

September 4, 2019

Alex and Callum, Roy & I went out for a leisurely brunch on our last day in England. We caught the bus into Bexley and found ourselves at a lovely cafe in the centre of town.

The temperatures were again going to hit the mid thirties and it was very warm even for mid morning. With choices made we set out to enjoy a lovely relaxed brunch.

Alex and Callum with Callum preferring to eat his fingers!!

The return trip home was via the B12 bus, the bus that we took frequently and became a bit of a running joke at how we knew the timetable and its route off by heart.

It was back home to pack our bags and make sure we had everything.

Just checking to see if Callum will fit in our bag (along with the Yorkshire Tea).

Everything was packed, bags set by the door ready for the taxi ride to the airport.

Grandma, Grandad and Callum

I am sure that saying goodbye gets more difficult every time and this time was gut wrenching. But we know we will be back again soon and we are fortunate to live at a time when communication is instant with video calling through one of the many means available to us.

It won’t be too long before we return though so we have that to look forward to.

We feel very privileged to have been able to be part of Callum’s life for the first three months of his life and look forward to watching him grow under the wonderful care and love of his amazing parents.

Afternoon tea

August 30, 2019

We’ve been waiting to go to Danson Park for some time now. It’s a local park (local for Alex) that includes a large historic building, a water play park, mini golf, lovely large park grounds with lots of gardens and large trees as well as a small lake but we were going for afternoon tea at the 1766 built stone homestead.

Danson House

We had been putting off a visit until Alex was back eating dairy again and with normal transmission having been resumed, we headed off to partake in some goodies.

Roy and Alex

Bernice and Roy

Afternoon tea including scones with clotted cream

Coffee and walnut cake

We had a lovely afternoon, Callum slept the afternoon away so Alex could enjoy an uninterrupted tea as well. And just so you don’t feel left out, here are a few pictures of the handsome young man.

Callum

Date night

August 25, 2019

We had a booking for dinner at Melucci’s in Bexley, just the two of us. We were told it was our date night?! Really? It’s been a while since we’ve been on a date! Do we remember what to do? What do we talk about? We were under strict instructions not to talk to each other for the day beforehand so we would have something to talk about over dinner, and we were even sent a list of possible chat topics which covered everything from North Korea Politics, Origami, Brexit, the best Nursery Rhymes to who would win the Rugby World Cup!!!

But before dinner we were also going out for lunch, Roy with Ian’s Dad Barry and his cousin Brian and me with Ian’s Mum Chris and cousin Julie. The fellas were off to a pub whilst us ladies were meeting up at a tea room in Bexley. However, when we got to the tea rooms, they were closed for the day so it was off around the corner to another tea room where we enjoyed a very nice lunch and an afternoon of chat. Apparently the fellas had a nice lunch and sorted out the problems of the world. And you guessed it, neither of us took pictures.

Back home on our respective buses (I’ve got this bus lark sorted) where it wasn’t long to wait before it was time to go out again.

Off we went, actually we were dropped off by Alex, and we rocked up to the restaurant in the Main Street of Bexley. My brother John & his partner Jude were here last year with Alex & Ian, we had been given rave reviews from them all so we were hopeful of a good meal. And we were not disappointed, we got good, honest Italian style food cooked with love and passion with great local ingredients. It’s not everywhere where you can go for a meal and they can give you the provenance of the meat; as in which farm the animals come from, how they are raised etc etc. and they obviously care about where their produce comes from. But it was the service from the owner and chef that really made the night, Christo does front of house and his wife Maria is the chef and they really make you feel welcome.

Roy’s bruschetta with the yummiest mozzarella

My arancini – simply delicious

We were well entertained by Christo, Maria and other staff and as well other customers who picked that we were kiwis and they chatted away with us over the course of the evening with no mention of Brexit!

Roy’s slow cooked beef short rib

My pork belly with the best crackling ever (half eaten).

Apparently John had the pork when he visited and he enjoyed it so much he ordered extra crackling! I can attest to the fact that it was the best crackling I’ve had in a very very long time.

All in all we had a great evening and yes even held hands as we walked back to the bus stop for our journey home! Enough said.

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

Visitors

August 3, 2019

Last week we stayed with cousin Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes, once we had arrived back in Erith we were to have a visit from Jackie’s sister Dawn, whose son Richard just so happens to live just a few minutes away from Alex & Ian. Dawn was down visiting Richard so we arranged to meet up.

Dawn & Richard with Callum

Was that a wry smile?

Richard’s turn to play

Richard has a broken foot so he was hobbling a little with his leg in a cast, this is just a few months after he had surgery for ACL reconstruction, not the best for someone who plays football semi professionally.

We retreated to the garden for morning tea and talk.

Someone was relaxing

And talk we did, somehow time just disappeared and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon.

Time to say hooray

Cousins

The oldies with the young ones!

Bernice, Dawn, Alex with Callum and Richard

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet up again.

A week in Erith

July 22, 2019

We returned to Alex, Ian and Callum in Erith settling in for a quiet week. There’s always bits to be done in the garden as well as the usual cooking, washing, cleaning, and cuddling Callum of course.

Callum asleep practicing his meditation hand gestures!!

And of course it was a week to watch netball on the tele. Regular readers will know that we are huge netball fans with Alex and I attending three previous world champs and although Alex had tickets for us for this world championships, a certain wee man meant we made the choice to watch the games from the comfort of the couch with tickets instead going to netball friends.

It’s also been a week of doing a bit of baking and experimenting as Alex is off all dairy foods as they seem to upset Callum (just as they did for his mum). So it was out with the very old recipe for a chocolate cake that I used to make years ago, I think it’s based on a recipe from either the war rationing years or the depression years as it contains no butter or eggs. And what is even better is that it’s all mixed together in the cake pan so no washing up either. It is a very tender cake crumb as well and very moist too so everyone enjoys it. From there it was a look for some recipes online for vegan baking as they contain neither butter, milk or eggs, as we are not sure if Callum may also have an intolerance to eggs as well (again, just like his mum did). Some very successful cupcakes were made, made so much easier today with the proliferation of alternatives to dairy available in the shops. The baking was so successful that an afternoon of baking lessons were done by me with Ian’s mum Chris. She now has a few very easy and successful bakes under her belt which she can bake with her other grandchildren for a bit of fun.

Roy and Ian’s Dad Barry had a day out together for a visit to the Science Museum in London, for an exhibition called Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security. Expect a blog entry on this exhibition once I have nagged him into doing it!!!

Alex had a return to her first game of netball since falling pregnant so I went along as spectator and babysitter.

Callum cheering on Mum.

Later that day he helped cheer the Silver Ferns onto their semi final win over England.

Then of course we spent Sunday watching the semi finals and then the epic final. One of Alex’s friends came round to help us cheer on the kiwi girls, the blood pressure pills were taken, the location of the nearest defibrillator was established, and we settled down to cheer, yell, scream at the tv all the while getting messages from the girls hi were at the stadium watching. The England supporters became Kiwi supporters for the final and the noise was apparently deafening. I have to admit to tears being shed from sheer joy at the result, go girls, you are amazing athletes and ambassadors for the game, women and New Zealand in general. We hope you get to party hard.

Alex had placed a cheeky bet on the NZers winning the tournament well before the tournament started so she was especially happy with the result with a very nice return on her investment.

Winners!

Wetting the baby’s head

July 10, 2019

There is a tradition apparently of when a baby is born that the father and close male family and friends go out to ‘wet the baby’s head’. But where did that term ‘wetting the baby’s head’ come from?

Traditionally taking its name from the Christian baptismal rite, during which the head of a baby would be wet with blessed water, the phrase now commonly relates to the consumption of large amounts of alcohol as a celebration of the new arrival.  The true tradition meant that the Dad went out with his friends the night after the baby was born, I guess it’s some sort of male bonding or show of virility or something along those lines but in this case the celebration was a few weeks after Callum’s arrival.

The upshot of all this was that Roy and Ian headed out on Friday night to the William Campden Pub to meet up with Ian’s Dad, brothers and mates.

The happy celebrations

Eagled eyed readers will note an interloper, Ian’s Mum just so happened to be going past and popped in to say hi. Meanwhile Alex and I were at home with Callum, so what did we get up to? After a very simple dinner, Callum went to sleep and Alex and I followed suit shortly thereafter!

Apparently the blokes imbibed in some suitable liquid refreshments and spent a jovial evening together. Callum has had his head appropriately dampened, next will be registering his birth so all appropriate documentation is done. Next it will be time to get his passport so he can visit all his NZ family.

Showing off Mums new passport, won’t be long before he has his own.

A week of firsts

July 4, 2019

It’s been a week of firsts for Callum this past week, already we are seeing him change and grow and I’m sure he is already smiling and trying to talk…..but I am an unbiased grandma 😉. He was three weeks old yesterday and starting to be a bit of a character. He was well past his birth weight after the first week, he is a very long limbed young man which he obviously does not get from his grandma!

Summer has finally arrived so we set up the gazebo over the outdoor table on the lawn for some welcome shade from the English sun. Callum came out and just lay about on the table, happily sleeping most of the day away. I must add that it got up to 34C that afternoon so outside in the shade with a gentle breeze was the way to stay cool for all of us.

Just chillin’ laying about on the table in the garden

Sunday was family day out so we all walked down to the train station and caught the train into Greenwich.

First ride on a train

We were heading to Greenwich market, we’ve been here many times before but there is always something new to see, and taste, we were kept busy looking at all the various stalls, especially the food stalls outside.

Crowds at the market

After wandering around for some time we had a bite to eat, a pulled pork bun for me, traditional fish & chips for Alex & Ian, and Roy had to try a few raw oysters.

I do admit to buying a new scarf (after losing one on recent travels) and I may have bought some Pontefract Cakes (I was born in Pontefract, read about the cakes here) and a selection of lovely bone handled knives which we use as butter knives and pâté knives. I know, some of us have strange likes and our return luggage is going to be a very interesting and eclectic mix as I have purchased 6 toasters as well. These toasters are ones that go on the gas hob and I’ve been using since we found one in France in 2010. They do need replacing every few years but they are not expensive and work better than any of the other myriad of toasters on the market, and believe me when I say I’ve tried them all.

But back to the market adventure. We had all split up to go and look at different things. Later we all met up at the pub in the market for a well deserved drink. Another first, Callum’s first outing to a pub!

At the pub

Of course it was a no alcohol beer for mum whilst Callum slept through the whole outing before it was time to return home. The return journey on the train was uneventful but we were all felling pretty exhausted after our big day out.

The next day Alex tried out Callum in the sling, Ok, we admit it, we did YouTube it to get the instructions on how to tie it, although I must add that we went searching for a clip that included the use of a real baby rather than a doll!! Real babies wriggle and squirm so it was good to see it in real terms.

Doing the origami with the sling

and it worked surprisingly well, and very simple once you mastered the technique. Now why weren’t these around a few years ago when I needed one rather than trying to wrestle with a frontpack with buckles and clips. Yes, I know slings have been used extensively in some parts of the world for centuries, just not in my world.

Look Mum, no hands!

The sling has been tried and tested with a trip to the supermarket which proved very successful as Callum slept though the whole shopping experience.

He’s watched football and cricket and according to Ian he has to cheer for England in football/soccer but he’s allowed to cheer for the All Blacks in rugby. But of course he will definitely be a Silver Fern fan in netball!

Return to Erith

July 1, 2019

We returned the rental car in Selby, Yorkshire, where we stayed with Pauline & Pat again before catching the train back to London. however, once we got to the station we discovered that our train was cancelled but alternate arrangements were made I.e. another train to Leeds then another train from Leeds to Kings Cross. But why oh why is is always that you arrive on Platform 1 but your next train departs from platform 18 and you have 5 minutes to get there, oh and of course there are a zillion steps to go up and then down again. We made it though, just in time to settle into our seats and watch the countryside whizz past.

Leaving Leeds

Some famous stadium of some kind, Leeds!

Once on the train from Leeds we travelled though some familiar towns,including Doncaster and Wakefield, towns with strong family connections.

Wakefield, where two of my siblings were born

The weather was rubbish though.

English summer weather

Countryside and the weather improved

However, the weather did improve the further south we ventured. Once we arrived into Kings Cross it was a walk across the road to St Pancras to catch the next train to Abbey Wood station where Ian was waiting to pick us up.

It as lovely to be back again, and of course see Callum and get in some cuddles.

Although the following afternoon proved to be a bit much for Roy, Alex and Callum, where they were all caught napping!!

It’s all a bit much for these three