The Pig Yard

September - The month has been busy with events connected to Jane's family. We also experienced some very pleasant weather at the beginning of the month and managed to make a couple of superb balloon flights.

The first Sunday of the month saw us travelling down to London to see Jane's brother's daughter, Sarah get married to Richard. The wedding had all the trappings of a society event especially as it was taking place in central London at St Brides on Fleet Street. The gentlemen wore penguin suits and the bride wore a wonderful dress fit for a princess. The couple looked perfect and they were so obviously happy and in love.

As atheists all this church stuff is just mumbo jumbo but it does give a sense of importance to a wedding. We don't often go to weddings, not having children of our own, which means we only get to invited to some of our nieces and nephews and there aren't too many of them, least of all in this country! Perry & Colleen in Melbourne (nephew) were married in April this year but sadly it was too far to be there.

The weather was really very good with some puffy clouds and bright sunshine - nobody could've asked for a better day.

The reception was held at the Honourable Artillery Company which is very close to the city centre but amazingly there is cricket pitch right outside the entrance - this turf is very high value and is dwarfed by the high rise offices on all sides.

The wedding breakfast (why is it a wedding breakfast when it's served at 17:00?) was well served and the place names on the table were all personalised with little comments about each person. The seating plan was based on the London underground map so each person was a station and each line was a particular table.

It was good to see all of Jane's family together, particularly Ruth who had travelled from Tasmania - weddings, christenings and funerals. Such is the cycle of life.

We managed to fit in a couple of balloon flights during the month and the conditions varied from the flights that go nowhere to those that zip across the sky.

One Saturday morning we took off heading east but quickly turned south-west and after 40 minutes had just reached the southern outskirts of Northampton over Collingtree golf course. We came lower and then headed back towards Wootton eventually making a low approach over houses to land on the edge of Caroline Chisholm school. The caretaker was really unhelpful and if we'd landed in the school playing fields it is likely he wouldn't have allowed us to collect the balloon because he called it "an unscheduled landing" - well all our landings are unscheduled. As it turned out Nick landed on a piece of scrap land and then, keeping it inflated we handled it over a fence and deflated on a quiet roundabout at the entrance to the school.

Once again we've entered the Cycle4Cynthia charity cycle. This will be our third year and again we've opted to do the 25 mile route. Of course Jane is as fit as a flea and does a lot of cycling throughout the summer but Steve was far from being up to a 25 mile cycle without some training. During this month we've been slowly building up our stamina and on the final Sunday we did 21 miles in just under 2 hours. These cycles are not without mishap - Jane falling off or parts of the bike breaking.

Steve often referred to these Sunday fitness events as his triathlon. We would swim half a mile first thing in the morning then return home for breakfast whilst we listened to the Archers on Radio 4 before heading off on our bikes. To complete our triathlon Steve would have a sleep for an hour - swimming, cycling, sleeping!

One Wednesday evening we broke our normal routine (usually we're at home) to visit the Malt Shovel pub in Northampton to see Guy Tortora. We've seen him play here before and he is a really great blues guitarist with a tight band.

It was a great evening. He played two, one-hour sets finishing the night with an encore of the Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Woman".

The only disappointment was that his next album is not yet finished and therefore we will have to wait a few months before we can get hold of it.

This month was Jane's turn to host the Book Club in the village. She was a little nervous as our house although very comfortable is not as luxurious as the other 9 members of the group. However the white wine flowed as did the critique of the previous months choices " The Boy in Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne and "Restless" by William Boyd. Both books were excellent (Jane's description) the favourite for her was the former which had her in tears for some time after completion.

The group are an interesting cross section of the village residents. There is quite a difference in each individuals preferences with authors. Jane's choice for the next month is Mark Billingham's latest book "Buried". She bought the book some time ago and Steve has read it but she saved the pleasure until September.

"I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" is a Radio 4 institution so when we received an email letting us know that the show was coming to Northampton we just had to get some tickets. This wasn't for broadcast but effectively a "best of" evening. We persuaded Martin & Kate to join us and a good time was had by all.

We should've realised this was going to be a great night because the multi-storey car park was very busy and we finished up on the third level whereas we can normally park within 50 metres of the entrance.

The humour came thick and fast with Humphrey Littleton, as chairman, on top form. For a man of 86 he is incredible and he finished the night by picking up his trumpet and playing some amazing jazz.

At the end of the month we went to stay for couple of days with Jane's family in a cottage just outside Rugby. This was less than a forty minute journey for us and it would have been easy for us to visit every day and stay at home but by staying overnight it made more of a break.

The accommodation was very good with all rooms having ensuite facilities. Ruth, Carol, Jane and Richard are very different characters with some similarities and so it was interesting for them all to be together even if it was only a couple of days.

The only problem for Jane was that Rothersthorpe Village newsletter was due, hence she had to return home on the Friday to photocopy the publication.

We took a walk around Draycote Water (a reservoir managed by Severn Trent Water) on the Thursday and although there was a chill, brisk wind we got at least half way before turning back for lunch in the cafeteria. Jane's mum had fun riding on an electric wheelchair and she got up quite a speed.

A family lunch was held on Friday in the Dun Cow in Dunchurch when cousin Robert and his wife Elizabeth came to join us all (Robert and Ruth in picture). Jane's cousin & wife are very supportive to Peggy (Jane's Mother) who is becoming less able. Ruth the eldest sibling has been in Barnet sharing her Mother's bungalow which is not the easiest of tasks. Elderly parents have routines and breaks from these are welcome in one way but not in others. Ruth was unwell by the end of the week away so she came to recuperate in sunny Rothersthorpe...