Wet and Windy in Woodbridge

Photo: Woodbridge watermill from along the river Deben

Outdoors then indoors. Storm Dennis shaped our weekend with friends David and Carolyn in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Outdoors

David and Colin decided that we’d ride the 158km to Woodbridge from London. Our wives decided on more comfortable transport. Our ride attracted two other riders from ICC. Desmond and Stephen rode with us to Colchester before they caught the train back to London. It was also another useful recce of the first Stage of the Giro di Muscoli.

Fish and chips lunch in Malden, with local salt of course.

Outdoors continued on Saturday morning with a walk along the Deben and back through Woodbridge. We really liked Woodbridge. The surrounding countryside is now on our list of places to investigate to build the E house. Just don’t tell David and Carolyn.

Indoors

Our trip to Orford on Saturday afternoon saw the start of the storm and the move indoors.

The rest of the weekend was shopping (Orton smoked fish, chocolate, muesli, clothes) – the pub – another pub – board and card games – Carolyn’s yummy sourdough toast for breakfast. All accompanied by great chat and quite a few laughs.

Dennis was indeed a menace but a lovely weekend nonetheless.

Bravado

Photo: Home from home. Federico and Colin enjoying a Moretta di Fano

“Bravado” Definition: a bold manner or a show of boldness intended to impress or intimidate.

Nico demonstrated this brilliantly on his last night with us. Nico is the 11 year old nephew of a Pansèr club mate. His dream was to see London. Luckily for Nico, his cousin Federico, who use to work in London, agreed to show him around for a few days. They were no trouble, disappearing all day to see the sights.

Passing on the chicken, Nico discovered he likes English sausages. A lot.

On their last night we treated them to dinner at Vinoteca Farringdon. We learnt that Nico’s favourite thing of the whole trip was the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

We also witnessed a classic example of bravado. We’d ordered Vinoteca’s signature dish, onglet steak, for all. “What’s this?” enquired Nico. Federico, the chef, explained it was horseradish. A bit like wasabi he added helpfully. Nico tried a very small amount and reacted how you might expect a young person trying something so strong for the first time.

Nico decided to try it again, this time a little more. I didn’t go well. Much to the hilarity of the Italian speaking waiter, Nico dived off to the gents to wash his mouth out. We were astounded when he came back for more! This time he was a lot longer in the bathroom and was very quiet for the rest of the evening.

Bravado.

You'll Never Walk Alone, the final act

Photo: “So ferry ‘cross the Mersey ’cause this land’s the place I love”

A christmas present that turned out to be a pilgrimage. The second, and final, Act of “You’ll Never Walk Alone

For Jan’s Christmas present Colin had bought two tickets for Liverpool vs Southampton. It was the obvious game to choose for a Liverpudlian and a Southamptoner. What Colin could not have imagined is that Jan’s father would pass five days after the Christmas Day gift. Roy was a previous Liverpool season ticket holder. Liverpool scarves adorned his coffin.

What struck us most about Liverpool, is how friendly and clean the city is. Every coffee bar, pub and restaurant we went to we were met with a friendly hello and service. It was exemplified by the Boot Room café at Anfield. We’d only had two coffees before the stadium tour and needed to pay. As we approached the till, a manager bashing away on his laptop nearby spotted us and came over immediatley and asked if we needed help. I can’t imagine that in many London places. A jobsworth would make us wait for a serving person. Well done Liverpool FC and the people of Liverpool.

We arrived on Thursday for the stadium tour. The staff on the tour were fantastic. Knowledgable, friendly and passionate about LFC. We’re sure we’re not the first people to do this but the tour gave Jan the opportunity to do something for her father and the family.

We left Anfield knowing that a few of Roy’s ashes were now on the Kop.

On the way back from the stadium we were entertained by a Scouser cabbie. Jan’s Liverpudlian accent came flooding back as she chatted with him. We were talking about Oxlade-Chamberlain and then Klopp when he mentioned that Klopp had brought his brother over to join the staff. I could see it coming, but it was funny nonetheless. You will have to imagine the Liverpudlian accent “eez brought eez brother over to ‘elp him, Clippity”.

Thanks to Liverpudilan and ex Oracle colleague Martin we had a great dinner at one of his recommended restaurants, Mowgli Street Food.

On Friday we walked to Baltic Triangle, stopping at the excellent Baltic Bakehouse for breakfast before heading to the Tate at the Albert Dock.

Walking through the city centre, we began to wonder which city we were in. It was spookily familiar to us Londoners:

Before dinner we popped into the Lion’s Tavern for a pint and G&T. We spotted this wonderful Resevoir Dogs style photo of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan et al.

Friday’s dinner was at another of Martin’s recommendtions, Maray, in the Albert Dock. On the way back to the hotel, we were by the Liver Building at the moment we left the EU. Not a moment of celebration for us, but a moment of sadness.

Saturday was the big game. Could the mighty Saints challenge Liverpool’s Premiership dominance?

Two weeks before, Jan’s father left us to the sound of Gerry and The Pacemaker’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. As you can imagine, it was intensely emotional as Jan sang along with the Kop

It was a great game. A tribute to Roy and his daughter.

For once, this Saints fan didn’t mind the result. I was so happy for Jan and her Dad.

Something to celebrate

Flat out

Photo: The completed task

We were on a mission. To complete Jan’s nearly god daughter’s school project. In December a letter arrived from Molly with Flat Stanley. He’d been flattened by a steam roller and was now very flat. The letter asked Jan to take Stanley on adventures and send him back to her school with photographs and a letter telling her what he’d been up to.

Inspired by Jan’s 2018 Monopoly running challenge we bought just the board (it folds flat) an proceeded to walk the entire board, taking pictures with Flat Stanley in shot for the record.

As you can imagine, we got quite a few odd looks as we held up a laminated cartoon character to photograph. It took us a few days but we submitted the board and letter before the deadline. Mission Imflattable complete .

Let’s see what Molly and the school make of it.

Time warp

How to stretch your age a little. Have your birthday in one decade and celebrate in another.

To be fair, Pete’s birthday falls in December when they tend to be overlooked, or even worse, combined with Christmas.

Other than Pete and Len we knew no one else at the party so we got to meet lots of their friends. We met people from Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria and even some Brits..

A great night out.

Cobweb clearing in Cornwall

Photo: starting out at Rame Head

A few fun days in Cornwall was just what we needed. With friends Angel and Neil we enjoyed clean air, walks, Cornish fishing villages, laughs, pubs and fish. Lot’s of fish. Cornish crab sandwiches became the lunch time mantra.

One of the joys of visiting sea side towns and villages in the winter is that they are generally devoid of tourists. Hypocritical we know, as that’s precisley what we were. The down side is that not everywhere is open. In Port Isaac the ice cream parlour and the fish and chip shop were closed. Even the bins were closed!

Fortunately, the pubs were open.

During a visit to Camel Valley Vineyard we were treated to a sales pitch which included the brilliant line:

This is our sparkling rosé. It’s won a best in the world award for four years running, so if you don’t like it, it’s you!

Further laughs came when we were discussing old photographs. Angela suggested we could look through their old wedding photos. Lacking an enthusiastic response she added “We could see whose still alive”. So began a bizarre conversation about an Alan Partridge style TV pitch: “We’ve got this idea for a new show where we track down old family photos and play Dead or Alive?”.

Thanks to Angela and Neil for a great time during which we all did our bit to support the Cornsh fishing industry.

You'll Never Walk Alone

Yesterday we said goodbye to Jan’s father, Roy, at his funeral. He died on the 30th December, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

After diagnosis Roy had agreed that his brain could be used for medical research into this terrible disease. As he also had vascular dementia his brain was of great value to researchers all over the world. He hoped it would help other people, knowing full well it was too late to help himself.

Jan was with him for his last four days. Keeping him company overnight as part of the family’s commitment to make sure he wasn’t alone for his final days.

The ceremony included three of his children, and one of his grandchildren, telling us stories from their childhood with their Grand/Dad. Both funny and sad, it was very moving to hear four adults, including Jan, tell their stories with such affection for their “Grumps/Pops”.

Roy had been a season ticket holder at Anfield. The final goodbye was to Gerry and the Pacemakers “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. It’s going to be tough for Jan to hear the Kop sing it when we go to Anfield on February 1st, but I think Roy would be proud.

If you’d like to know more about Alzheimer’s disease then go to the Alzheimer’s Society website.