On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

Berkshire – 24-27 May 2013

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Not the nicest day as we set off with Mum, Uncle D but no Archie, but the weather forecast looked to be on an improving trend,  so we had high hopes.  Our first stop was – Winchester services – for lunch provisions as it was the only suitable stop on our route to Hurley, the site of our base for the caravan for the next three nights.  It was not our first visit to Hurley Riverside (see entry for July last year) and we knew what to expect. A few problems over the dates we required ensued (probably my fault I think) but they were able to give us a grass pitch for the 3 nights instead of the hard-standing we had booked. Not a huge problem – except that it was raining cats and dogs! Not a great combination with grass.  We got set up quickly and I soon had the kettle on for a cuppa.

Once refreshed, we made our way to Marlow, where Mum and Uncle D (hereinafter referred to – somewhat irreverently –  as “the olds”) were staying – in Granny Anne’s B&B. Marlow is approached by a beautiful bridge over the Thames, which was designed by William Clark. There is a replica (although much larger) of this bridge,  over the Danube in Budapest.

We popped in to Waitrose (still raining) on the way to pick up supplies for our Barbecue – which we had planned for Saturday as it looked the best bet weather-wise. After depositing them at the B&B,  we popped back to finish unpacking and arranged to pick them up at 6.30 for dinner. The B&B, by the way, came well-recommended on Trip Advisor, and justly so.  Mum was in “Seymour” and Uncle D was in “Magnolia”, where he fell in love with the very swish shower.  They were both very pleased with their rooms.

Marlow Bridge - long shot

Marlow Bridge – long shot

Marlow Bridge closer

Marlow Bridge closer

Just after 6.30, we picked them up and drove to the “Marlow Donkey” where we had a table booked. The pub is named after the branch line between Maidenhead and Marlow, presumably because it is near the station? The train that runs on the line is also known as the Marlow Donkey. No donkeys. Sorry.  We returned them to their rooms around 9-ish and returned to ours to watch a movie. The rain had, by now,  pretty much stopped and we had a quiet night.

We awoke to sunshine – hurrah – on Saturday morning, which was good news for the planned barbecue but more importantly for the Thames boat-trip in the afternoon.

Sunny Saturday - Hurley Riverside

Sunny Saturday – Hurley Riverside

So – off to Windsor – avoiding main roads – and we arrived just as the Changing of the Guards was taking place. This is a daily event and is accompanied by a band. Sadly, we could only hear the band and just glimpse the Guards but it was nice to be there.

We found a handy Disabled parking space and set off to find a cuppa. We visited the Windsor Royal Shopping arcade which is situated in the old Victorian station.  Loads of eateries and a selection of “posh” (Aquascutum, Jaeger) shops. We had a coffee and a walk round, seeing the replica of the engine that used to pull Queen Victoria’s train when she visited Windsor.

Windsor Royal Arcade

Windsor Royal Arcade

Mum Windsor

Victoria's train with Mum & Uncle D

Victoria’s train with Mum & Uncle D

After this, we still had a little time to kill,  so we drove to Eton and had a look at the colleges and saw one or two of the Eton lads in full regalia. Then it was back for the Boat Trip, run by French Bros. Paul dropped us nearby and went off to park. We had a little bit of trouble getting Mum on the boat but the lads were very helpful and we managed it successfully. The departure time drew very close and still no sign of Paul!  He was struggling to find a space. I spoke to the crew who very kindly offered to put us on the next cruise,  an hour later. So – we got Mum OFF the boat.  We’d just managed that when Paul rang to say he had struck lucky and was now running along the bank towards us. The crew agreed to wait  (amidst my MANY apologies) and we got Mum back ON the boat – we’re talking a set of 2, then another set of three STEEP steps here. Game old girl took it all very well. It was a two hour cruise, which took us through Boveney Lock, past the imposing, Gothic styled  Oakley Court  (which appears in several hammer Horror films ), Bray Studios and as far as Bray, where we turned round just above the lock. It was a beautiful afternoon and on the way back, we were rewarded with stunning views of the castle.

Entering Boveney Lock

Entering Boveney Lock

River Views

River Views

Oakley Court - now a hotel

Oakley Court – now a hotel

Bray Studios

Bray Studios

The Castle

The Castle

Windsor Bridge

Windsor Bridge

All too soon it was time to leave the boat and the lads were once again very helpful in helping Mum OFF the boat, for one last time!  Paul popped to get the car and then we made our way back to Hurley.  BBQ time! Paul cooked up a storm over a beer or two and we ate indoors as it had clouded over a bit. Lovely meal with, of course, way too much meat as seems to customary whenever there is a barby.  After we had cleared up, Paul dropped “the olds” home and we settled down for the evening.

Sunday was also a nice sunny day and we picked them up around 10.30 and set off for the local garden centre for coffee and a mooch. I bought some lavender plants, which I shall probably kill as I always seem too. Never have much success with it, anyway.  We had noticed quite a few gliders about and decided to seek out the local airfield. This turned out to be the the Wycombe Air Park and we spent a while watching the small aircraft come and go and refuelling.

Barbecue

Barbecue

Uncle D enjoying a beer

Uncle D enjoying a beer

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At the airfield

We had arranged to meet some old friends (John & Linda Raddon)  from ONS who had moved to Marlow some 17 years ago and whom we hadn’t seen in all that time.  Lunch at the George & Dragon was the plan. It was so lovely to see them and meet their daughter (Charlotte). and the conversation flowed easily, despite the intervening years. Linda used to perform with Portchester Players and we enjoyed reminiscing.

After lunch we had planned to visit Henley and the Raddons decided to accompany us.  Henley on a sunny Sunday  afternoon is very busy! Everyone was out enjoying its riverside charms. Mum decided to stay in the car (I suspect a snooze!) and we walked through the park to the river. It felt very British, with a Brass Band in the in the bandstand and people picnicking. Lovely. Must be a pain to live there there, though, in summer. We could see preparations being made for the annual Regatta, which takes place in a few week’s time. We sat on a bench and watched the bustling river. I wished so hard for a boat, but no sign yet.

We prised Mum out of the car and she joined us for a cuppa at the cafe in the park. Lovely afternoon in good company and good weather.

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Henley Bridge

Kay and Linda

Kay and Linda

Tiddley om pom pom

Tiddley om pom pom

John & Charlotte

John & Charlotte

Watching the boats

Watching the boats

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It was soon time to part and we went our separate ways. Us, back to Hurley, them back to their house which,  by some amazing coincidence was just  10 doors down the road from the olds’ B&B!

On our return, I quickly made up an assortment of sandwiches and we had a late afternoon/early birthday tea, complete with scones, clotted cream and jam.  This went down very well indeed!

After dropping the olds back, we went to bed early (21.30). They had worn us out! I think they enjoyed their weekend and we arrived back by lunchtime on Monday – just in time to mow the lawn.

The next trip is quite local as we’ll be staying near Winchester, with Mum as she will be staying with us for a while while Uncle D goes off on his travels to Bulgaria.  Can’t wait.

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