After a whole year of living here, I made another discovery. To = of and past = after! We sent word to the neighbors that their girls should be ready to go with us at a quarter of nine the day we went to Blenheim Palace. Jennifer told me later they did a bit of head scratching and decided we meant before the hour rather than after. They would have said a quarter TO nine or a quarter PAST nine. They never say three thirty, either; it’s always half past three. (Be sure to put “Aah” in half and past.)
Monday was a Bank Holiday. We stayed at home, though John was on the phone quite a bit since Europe and the US were open for business. John $ and I walked to Old Tadworth where I found the fishmonger and poulterer. I must return to sample their wares.
The highlight of that day was the horse race in the garden – Kate on John and $ on Lisa. Philippa was here all day, and we briefly met Catherine’s friend Brigitta who has a Canadian accent but is Danish.
Tuesday I intended to run errands in the afternoon, but Mr. Hughes (owner of our first house Tymberly) called to say he was coming by with a package. He and Mrs. Hughes were so nice – said they felt we’d taken good care of the house and that they were able to move right in. They are going to put the house on the market because their four children are grown and they don’t need the space. The package was a pair of Kate’s jeans we’d left in Oslo.
We met Paula (a check out girl) at Co op, did our shopping and went on to Woolworth’s in Redhill and Reigate. After lunch we took her to Polesden Lacey for the afternoon. Lisa and Kate have been there several times, but there was a new dimension that day. Each child was given a clip board of questions if they wanted to participate in the quiz. There were several things to look for in each room such as two golden fish in the drawing room and who gave a cabinet in the library. What a marvelous idea! It kept children interested and quiet for ages! I know other parents appreciated it as much as I did. Lisa and Kate did very well; think they only missed two things – the number of soldier jars and the pink lobster in the hall.
In that mansion, one elderly crippled lady was slowly making her way around the house. She smilingly studied $ for a few minutes and said, “I wish someone would hold me up in a harness!” I felt like telling her I was sure she wouldn’t be as much trouble as one small boy.
I had thought Paula might mention future plans, but she didn’t. She has finished working in Co op and expects her baby to be born in November or December. We are really going to miss her when we go shopping.
The girls kept $ in the car for the 15 minutes it took for my hair to be trimmed. Then we picked up Caroline and her French guest, Muriel, to spend the day with us. Several hours were spent watching the Royal Wedding on tape. They also played tag outside and got out all the Fischer Price toys to play with in the entrance hall.
Thank heavens for understanding neighbors! They accept the love behind funny gifts. I made Phillipa a birthday cake – chocolate cake with fudge frosting. I almost misspelled her name with her sister standing at my elbow advising two “L’s”. After the cake was delivered, I heard Catherine in our hall saying in a concerned whisper, “Don’t tell her, Lisa.” Lisa replied, “Aw, she’ll just laugh.” Louder, “Guess what, Ma! You left the ‘A’ out of birthday!” Who could help laughing? We talked about”birth-ay” the rest of the day. What was just as bad was that the frosting appeared to have set, but the weight of the piped border pulled half the decorations half way down the side of the cake.
We were invited to tea next door to celebrate the birth-ay and have some of the cake. As Phil cut her slice of cake, she screamed. I had visions of maggots in the middle, but it turned out to be a custom here to make a wish and scream as you cut. Phew!
Yesterday Lisa elected to enjoy a day by herself while the rest of us went to the Cotswolds for the day. She had lunch next door and was with Catherine much of the time.
We were slightly north west of Oxford seeing the mellow yellow stone buildings of this area. All the towns seem squeezed together surrounded by mile upon mile of lush farm land.
We walked around Bourton-on-the-Water where the River Windrush ripples through the center of town. Behind an inn is a model of the village in 10/1 scale built of concrete and slate. The buildings are about 2 to 3 feet high, and you walk around the streets. The model is complete, even with running water for the river. We were surprised to find the model inn had a model behind it – about 3 feet x 3 feet. Even it had running water for the Windrush! In that model was the tiniest model of the village, just as cute as could be.
Near Chastleton we went through a dusty, ill-kept manor house that made us appreciate the sparkle and shine of all National Trust houses. If it were dusted and polished, it would be impressive. I was intrigued with the 425 year old book of Roman History bound in wood with pages NOT yellowed because of the linen content. Also there was the carved Bible box the Archbishop of Canterbury, who happened to come from the area of Chastleton, had presented to King Charles I at the scaffold where he was executed.
The guide pointed out some hideous antlers and said it had to be explained. It seems that one of the early owners of the manor house had been to Denmark to a castle there and had been impressed with antlers. He took the measurements and had a set carved for himself in England out of wood. Then the fake horns were mounted on a funny looking animal head and mounted on the wall. At some later date someone painted a brown body on the wall that did nothing to enhance the original antlers. I think this house seemed to have belonged to more real people than those in which odd things were weeded out by people of good taste and breeding.
Catherine spent the night with us last night so she could go to church with us this morning. She, Lisa, Kate and I went around the corner to St. Peter’s. John will go this evening.
Do you want to know what a “gang kit” is? It is not a packaged version of West Side Story. It is $’s pronunciation of “blanket”, still a very important part of his day and night.
This afternoon Phillipa and Kate went to the parish children’s party down the lane. They started off with pony rides, a tug of war, jumping mats, and such and went on to a barbeque in the rectory garden, ending with a service in church. The weather couldn’t have been better – sunny, but not hot.
Speaking of weather, I don’t think it has rained during the day at all since we returned from our holiday. It may have rained or sprinkled once or twice during the night. This is so different from the cold, wet time we had for the first several months after we arrived here last summer.
Our tomato plants are doing fine, showing small green tomatoes in profusion. I don’t know when they might decide to turn red, but when they do, we will be inundated. I’ve already planted indoor ones for the winter. We’ll have to wait to see if my black thumb is turning green or just molding.