The Pig Yard

October 10 - This has been an extremely busy month with virtually every weekend packed with events and activities. Steve saw another birthday come round and it seems only last week that he was retiring and celebrating his 60th - as one gets older so time seems to go depressingly faster, it can only mean we're having a good time and making the most of our lives.

 Steve and our friend Dave completed their big adventure by walking the Cotswold Way, we again visited one of our favourite places in Britain - the Isle of Wight, we experienced The Hollies in concert and we spent the final weekend of the month celebrating our friend Kate's birthday in Norfolk. November cannot be this busy.

The Circus - Bath


Before Steve and Dave started their Cotswold Way walk, Jane and Lucie spent the day in Bath with them. It is a beautiful city provided you can find somewhere to park - we did several tours and even parked ready to take the park and ride scheme until we realised that the cost of parking plus the fare to get into the city centre would cost more than the cost of parking in the centre. Public transport will never succeed whilst it doesn't provide a cost effective alternative.

We enjoyed our walk around Bath, all the more interesting because the city had an exhibition of aerial photographs from around Britain on display - to see some of these photographs click here... After tramping around the city admiring the architecture the evening started to close in and we made our way back to the care before heading back to our Travel Lodge ten miles south of Bath.

We found a really good pub, The Woolpack Inn, in Beckington and had an early dinner before retiring to bed. We were up early the following morning, breakfasted at the Woolpack and then Jane drove Steve & Dave into Bath for the start of the Cotswold Way. After our farewells, full of stiff upper lips, the boys set off in the rain. Jane and Lucie then drove to their first B&B with their rucksacks and onwards to home.

The Cotswold Way

Steve & Dave have been talking about doing a long walk for over eighteen months, initially they were considering the Pennine Way which is over 200 miles and would have taken at least two weeks so commonsense prevailed and the decided to plan the Cotswold Way. They booked their Bed & Breakfasts in the spring having calculated how many miles they thought they could achieve every day but they had very little practice, although Steve did several 12 mile walks and felt that covering 20 miles in a day was feasible.

For more details on their big adventure click here...

Dave half way along the Cotswold Way

Jane on our balcony

Isle of Wight - Sandown

Jane decided it was time for a weekend break and so she booked a hotel in Sandown on the Isle of Wight. This is always an easy trip because we just throw our things into a bag, stow it in the back of the car and drive off. This time we set ourselves a bit of a challenge because we decided to catch the 10 o'clock ferry from Southampton. This meant leaving the house at 7.30 to make it in good time. As the early morning start unfolded we didn't get away until 7.45 which meant it was going to be a close timing. Despite some traffic issues around Oxford we turned up at the ferry terminal with less than 5 minutes to spare.

The hotel was on the sea front and we booked a room with sea views and a balcony. The weather was extremely kind and the view out from the balcony was superb. Best hotel view we've ever had!

After a leisurely walk to Shanklin and back in bright sunshine we were very happy with the start of our break.

Walking Sandown to Bembridge

We thought we might cycle to Cowes but the weather started dull and uninspiring so we decided to walk from Sandown along the cliffs to Bembridge. It was quite a walk up to the Yarborough Monument and we were looking forward to a light lunch in Bembridge. The wind picked up as we reached the edge of the village and so we looked for a cafe but unfortunately nothing was open. We ended up in the the Crab and Lobster which was rather over priced and very busy largely because it was the only place open.

We tried taking a different route back but this would have made the walk too long so we found our way back to the cliff top footpath and eventually back to the hotel completing a 12 mile round trip. For details of the route click here...

Beach hut near Bembridge

Cowes - Isle of Wight

Cycling Sandown to Cowes

Jane was really keen to hire some bikes and cycle across the island to Cowes. We picked up the bikes just after 10 o'clock and after some adjustments we were on our way. No matter the quality of hire bikes they're never as good as having your own bike. We soon found the Sunshine Trail which follows an old railway line to Newport. The track varied between open fields and woodlands. Thankfully the weather was really kind to us and we travelled most of the way in bright sunshine. At Cowes we locked up our bikes close to the quay, as seen in this photo, and whilst Steve read his book Jane explored the local shops.

That done we had a quick coffee and sandwich before heading back. As always, once you know a journey it seems to be shorter on the way back. We quickly found our way through Newport and back onto the trail. Before long we were in Sandown and handing our bikes back to the rental company. The guys there couldn't believe we'd been to Cowes and back in such a relatively short time but to us the 28 miles just flew by without us feeling too tired. Obviously the fitness levels achieved for our 50 mile cycle for charity at the end of September hadn't left us.

Steve's Birthday

Another year passed by and Steve reached the age of 61, surpassing his mother, who died at the age of 60. He does find birthdays difficult and he found himself in a depressive mood on the day but once the day was over the depression dissipated and he was back to his usual "happy" self. He was brightened by some of his gifts especially a box of small cakes, made by Kate, that wished him a happy birthday.

We went out with our friends to the Greyhound where we had a voucher that gave us a bottle of wine for each couple so we managed to drink 5 bottles of wine between the ten of us despite some people abstaining because they were driving. A good time was had by all and the food was surprisingly good - worth a second visit.

Steve's birthday cakes

Self Build Visit

National Self Build Centre

As part of our continued research into our housing project seven of us visited the National Self Build centre on the outskirts of Swindon.

Steve & Nick had visited it before to make sure it was worth a visit for everyone else to go and there was general agreement that it was worthwhile if for no other reason to see the issues the project faces and the decisions that will need to be made before the separate houses can be designed and built.

As our friends discuss their requirements and what can be afforded our ambitions are being refined. Even our location in the country continues to be considered. At one time we did dismiss Norfolk as a possibility but this has been reviewed and it is back on the list as a possibility.

The Hollies

We went to see the Hollies at the Royal and Derngate. Of course after 45 years in the music business there aren't many of the original group left, in fact out of the group of six only Tony Hicks, lead guitar and Bobby Elliott, drummer are left. So despite these changes the sound they produced was the same as the original Hollies and the harmonies were excellent. Jane enjoyed the evening more than Steve (he was never a great Hollies) but there was no denying their professionalism and excellent performance.

Tony Hicks was exceptional with his guitar solos bringing the house down.

The harmonies reminded Steve of one of his favourite albums, Crosby, Stills and Nash, which he used to play a great deal in his room at college over 40 years ago.

An evening of reminiscences and good music.

Hollies at The Derngate

The Old Stables - Norfolk

Kate's Birthday

Over the last weekend of the month we had an invite to join the usual suspects to celebrate Kate's 60th birthday at the Old Stables, North Burlingham. The accommodation was situated in open countryside with excellent views over farmland. There was plenty of space inside and it was very warm and comfortable.

Apart from the Friday evening when we had a takeaway delivered Kate was insistent that she would do all the cooking and she lived up to her word with excellent meals on Saturday and Sunday evening. We over ate and drank too much but had a great time.

Wroxham - Norfolk Broads

The Saturday promised to be sunny and dry so after a walk along the beach at Caister where we watched the inshore lifeboat practising rescues we decided to head off to Wroxham to hire a boat. We arrived at lunch time so we decided to buy some sandwiches and drinks to have picnic whilst messing about along the river Bure.

This was a very special afternoon with excellent weather for late October so the trip down the river couldn't have been surpassed if it had been the height of summer.

Jane took the helm on the way back and soon got the hang of steering the craft whilst Steve sat in the back of the boat enjoying the views and soaking up the sunshine. An afternoon like that will remain with everyone for the rest of our lives.

Boating on the Broads

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