We have turned into such a social couple over the last few weeks. A few days in Maidstone and then house and pet sitting at my brother’s very comfortable home has given us the chance to catch up with friends and family who we miss so much while we are on our travels. We try our best to pre-arrange dates when we know we are in with a chance of meeting up and luckily everyone is very accommodating when random dates are thrown at them two to three months ahead. This also means that the friends and family are invariably hosting us or meeting in a variety of locations – whenever the time comes for the jwalkers to no longer jwalk I think we will spend about 2 years hosting thank you dinners.
The Fat Cat Patisserie
One of those get-togethers over the last few weeks has been with a former work colleague, now firm friend, Wendy. She had some sort of epiphany a few yeas ago and decided to develop her passion for patisserie by embarking on a course at college. One year later, she was fully qualified and is now an award winning patisserie chef with her own business, The Fat Cat Patisserie. It has been hard work and a steep learning curve but her knowledge and skills are vast yet she is always striving to learn more. Probably the biggest problem she encounters is people saying “Ooo cakes” when there is not a cake in sight. Her specialism is providing gluten free patisserie items to order, both savoury and sweet, and they both look fantastic and taste superb.
During our travels, Wendy keeps me updated with how the business is progressing, which markets are going well, what orders she has, etc. Lucky for me, we realised that the date we were due to meet was the day before a three day event, A Kentish Kitchen, to be held in a large 14th century barn (The Tithe Barn) in Lenham and an extra pair of hands would be useful. Pass me the apron! We had a great day and, under her guidance, we supplemented her freshly made macaroons with a very shiny chocolate and strawberry tart, a zingy lemon tart and some very tempting raspberry and panna cotta chocolate cups.
The Pink Ladies Club
A few days later there was a scheduled meeting of what I affectionately call The Pink Ladies Club. The Club members are Becca, Lydia, Deb, Lou and me who all just happen to like copious quantities of Rose wine. First meeting place was Creams in Maidstone where all manner of dessert concoctions can be ordered. Not having a sweet tooth, I opted for a waffle with hazelnut ice cream and toasted nuts. All the ingredients arrived but the presentation was somewhat underwhelming. Add in a lukewarm sticky toffee pudding and that made 50% of the orders OK and 50% not so great. This was accompanied by the flatest, dodgiest Happy Birthday singing by the staff for another table. The Pink Ladies rose above the trauma and headed for some pink refreshment and to plan for the big Club event, Glamping 2018. Can’t tell you the location I am afraid, we are like freemasons and have oaths of secrecy, hats and funny hand gestures (but that could be the influence of the Pink, of course).
Family and Friends Reunited
We were on a roll and were lucky enough to meet up with three more couples and another former colleague who we have know for more years than I care to mention. Angie and Martyn, Tim and Caroline and Keith and Nicola and Debra. We do not see any of them as much as we would like to but it is always as if we only saw each other yesterday. Catching up on family news, talking of our adventures and theirs, all with a measure of humour thrown in. What did we do to deserve such good friends?
As our children get older and us being constantly on the move, it inevitably becomes more difficult to get together. A wedding invitation kept our eldest son and his wife away but the rest of us met up at my brother and sister-in-laws house to crank up The Big Green Egg. The BGE being an all singing and dancing BBQ. The food was great but the real goosebump moment is having our precious family around us.
The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night
Returning home one evening about 10.30pm from one of these reunions in local pub, I nearly ran over a man and his German Shepherd standing on the lane beside the house. He was dressed totally in black and it was only when we got out of the car that we realised it was a policeman. We were thinking a oh no we’ve been burgled but they had had a report from a residential care home in the village that an elderly man had gone missing two hours before. All rather worrying. We went in and lit up the house so it would throw some light on the garden and fields to the back of the house in case it would help. Jonno went out to do the neighbourly thing and help search. A few minutes later we heard a muffled scream and the flash of torches. Someone had come across the man in the field at the back of the garden. He was laying in a hawthorn bush. He was shaken and had a few scrapes but otherwise seemed coherent and unhurt. They were so lucky to find him in the dark in this area where there are so many footpaths, tracks and fields and I was lucky not to run over a policeman. Has he never heard of hi-vis?
A very belated Wedding Gift
The final excitement to report on is an airport trip to drop off our middle son, Sam, and his wife, Tabitha for a very belated wedding present. Since they were married two years ago, we have been chasing them to make a decision on what they would like but to no avail. After their busy year of studies and working, we suggested a relaxing trip. To combine it with their anniversary, what better place to go than Bled where they were married (Sam and Tabitha in Lake Bled).
They were dropped by the bus stop at Stansted Airport without a clue where they were going. Just four little packages to open at various stages of the journey.
All being well, they are lavishing in luxury at the Vila Bled Hotel on the edge of Lake Bled, Slovenia with a lake view room full of prosecco and fruit! However, the language barrier while emailing the hotel could mean that they are in a room full of beer and pineapples.
With all this talking about friends, how can I possibly leave out the current two four legged friends. Beatrice, the red fox Labrador, and Finley, the giant horse who loves a treat.
06/08 – 14/08/2017