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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 2 October 2004

return from holiday...

This is, unfortunately, going to be a fairly brief one, because I typed a long, tedious entry and then the computer chose the most inopportune moment to crash...

It was, however, the best family holiday I can remember, as everyone enjoyed themselves, and there were (apart from my dodgy tummy towards the end and Beth's rather worrying illness shortly before!) no bad points to it at all.

A brief summary of what we did and when follows, though, in my favourite 'bullet point' format, which will hopefully assure some degree of brevity.

  • Friday

  • We drove to Market Lavington - the slow way (not surprising, since we had to traverse the M25, although once we'd reached the M3, and certainly by the time we'd reached Stonehenge on the A303, we were going at a reasonable pace). It was nearly dark by the time we arrived, so it left a little time for exploring, looking for the nearest supermarket for essentials, starting my Holiday Book (Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" - kind of a verbose yet jocular version of 'Crap Towns', which, I see, has canvassed public opinion and - in my opinion - rightfully judged Luton as number 1 in its second volume) before a moderately early night after Grumpy Old Men.

  • Saturday

  • I cooked pancakes (yum!) and we drove to Devizes, where it rained, we ate freshly made sandwiches and then visited the museum, where Christopher did some brass rubbing, and Ella dressed up.

  • Sunday
  • I cooked pancakes again (I'd been meaning to make them for weeks, but hadn't taken the opportunity - having found some batter mix and the mandatory Jif Lemon in Co-op, I had my chance...) and then, after kicking a football around the large patch of grass outside - watching out for the 'bee flight path' - we visited Stonehenge. I would recommend our 'cheap pleb' approach to this monument, leaving the car on a dirt track just next-door to the 'pay on enter' car park, and walking outside the chain-link fence where we stood less than ten yards from the equally windswept paying visitors, who aren't allowed to go any closer than that to the monumental stones. OK, so for £13 for a family of four you get to walk all the way around the circle and listen to a table-tennis bat, but the view is just as wonderful outside. Just my view, mind...

  • Monday

  • We visited Beth's Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle. The Great-Aunt is a Collector; she's very much into genealogy, and has some wonderfully hand-coloured photos of her ancestry on the walls of a lounge replete with trinkets and ornaments. Fortunately, the weather was clement, so the children, and the daughter of another visitor - an ex-neighbour who was just about to jet off across the world (again!) - played outside much of the time. They all seemed to get on very well, which is really encouraging.

  • Tuesday

  • We took a trip to the New Forest, following our noses, really (and roadsigns to Beaulieu) until we reached Exbury Gardens, a tranquil, exquisite expanse of land which, during the summer season, offers row upon row of flowering rhododendrons. There was still plenty to see, though - not least was the steam railway, which Christopher especially enjoyed. I noticed that, as we passed through Salisbury on the way south-west, the pub next-door to where I used to live over 21 years ago(!) had turned into a Hungry Horse [Note: please be warned that this website is horrifically gaudy] restaurant and we had enough time, on our return trip, to pop in for a bite to eat (probably the first time I ever entered that establishment!) and take a wander up Ayleswade Road (noting that the house next door to the one I used to live in was for sale - a rather swiffy SMS service told me that it was on the market for £235,000!), over Harnham Bridge and through the still near-perfect Cathedral Close so that Christopher could see the building and its sheer size close-up.

  • Wednesday

  • I woke up feeling a little achey, although we had to leave the house fairly early to catch the ferry from Southampton; Wednesday was Christopher and Ella's first trip off the mainland. It was the only really damp day of the holiday, although as we walked with Andy's parents (who live a few tens of yards - mostly downward - from the beach) along the coastal path to the bizarrely yet wondrously rainforest-like Shanklin Chine the clouds allowed the sun through, and we played on the sandy beach until a little while before we needed to leave for the return ferry.

  • Thursday

  • My tum still wasn't really behaving, so I approached it with "hangover cure number 1" - a gigantic fry-up, that I prepared for myself and Andy (with a fried-egg sandwich each for Beth and Christopher). This seemed to settle it, and, while Suzi and Andy went shopping in Devizes, we visited Coral Cove - probably the best indoor 'Adventure playground' type place we've been to. It has sofas alongside the clambering equipment, and a small caf? that offers adult, child and toddler portions. We'll definitely go back there if (and hopefully when!) we return to that part of the world.

  • Friday

  • The end of the holiday came so quickly - especially since I had not quite finished my Holiday Book. We needed to be away by ten o'clock, so an early start was required. However, everything was packed and tidied well before half-past-nine, so we set off home, on a very straightforward journey (an hour and forty-five minutes).

A fine holiday, then, although sandwiched between a couple of bouts of poorliness! I'm feeling a lot better today, thank goodness - with any luck, the gallery (and possibly this blog entry) will be full of pictures over the next day or so.


  • TV humour? : While I've been away, has television just become funnier? This isn't the only example.
  • God vs Bush? : OK, so it's not to be taken too seriously (I'm not sure where Jeanne went, for a start) but this is interesting..

    Posted by james at October 2, 2004 10:42 PM

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