After “The Italian Job” we scheduled a few days to catch up with family and friends. I think we did well to get around as much as we did but we always leave thinking of those we didn’t manage to get to see.
Royal Earlswood Park
A seamless journey flight and train trip brought us to Redhill and our son and his girlfriend’s apartment in the beautiful grounds of Earlswood Park. Formerly a hospital, know as Earlswood Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles, the building has now been converted into apartments and there are some additional new apartment blocks and houses. We left Italy in the rain and arrived in glorious sunshine – crazy!
Ryan and Ella are Flight Attendants and had both been working and we were weary from travelling so a quick decision was made to have dinner at the Bletchingley Arms. Good decision. Another good decision was a slap up breakfast.
The next day we headed to East Grinstead by bus to see Jon’s Mum and her friend Norman. We sat on the top deck to nose into people’s gardens and the hour journey flew by. Jon’s Mum and Norman have adopted our budgie after we made it homeless. There is some debate about whether it is a boy of girl but Pepper is the name and it is the most spoilt budgie in Christendom. Pepper’s toys, perches and cage take up a large proportion of their smallish living room.
Again it was a beautiful day so after snacks we decided a lap around the garden to admire the blossom was in order. We just had to try and get out the patio door without Pepper in hot pursuit. Not the easiest but we managed.
Despite having lived in Kent for most of our lives we had never heard of, let alone seen, Beckenham Place and Park. By this time on our whistle stop tour, we were now staying for a couple of nights with our middle son, Sam, and his wife, Tabitha in Shortlands, near Bromley. Tabitha is in the final few weeks of her Masters Degree at the Royal College of Art so hardly had time to breath but we did manage to prize Sam, a school teacher, away from his pile of marking to get some fresh air.
The weather was still gorgeous so armed with a picnic, books, a few beers and a frisbee we headed for the park. It was a huge park, just over 200 acres, and the manor house sat across a now unused golf course. The manor house looked a bit tired but there was a cafe, record shop, art centre, information centre and event room. The Friends of Beckenham Park Place run a lot of walks and events to raise funds and get the community behind preserving and improving the facilities.
I love a park on a sunny day. So many families set up to play games, picnic and forget the stresses and strains of daily life. We read, picnicked and then had a sneaky nap before a game of frisbee and heading back. It was a great afternoon.
JWalking to Chislehurst
We had lunch booked with our long term friends, Keith and Nicola in Chislehurst. We go way back to our time in Erith College in 1979.
Jonno consulted the map and decided that we could walk the 3.5 miles via a series of footpaths. It took us around a few areas that we had heard of but never been and it ended up taking us a round 1.5 hours, once again in brilliant sunshine. Chislehurst, famous for it’s caves, is a lovely village with lots of nice restaurants and a duck pond.
I have visited the caves a couple of times. Once on a school trip and then later with our own children. They are 22 miles of man made caves, originally mining flint and chalk but were used as an ammunition depot in WWI, an air raid shelter in WWII and a music venue during the 1960s. David Bowie, Status Quo, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, among others, have all performed in the caves.
Keith and Nicola had booked an Italian restaurant called Gusto which did a two course lunch for £11.50 or three courses for £13.50 so it was a steal. We caught up with all their news of their travels in Bali and Borneo and they looked so well. No JWalking back though, KJs Driving School whisked us home.
A Girlie Day
Meeting up with girlfriends regularly is one thing about travelling that I miss but, amidst a shopping day to replace worn out and threadbare shoes and clothing, I did manage to catch up with Wendy of the infamous Fat Cat Patisserie and Lydia and Deb of the even more infamous Glamping Girls. As usual too much nattering took place for me to remember to take a photo. Next time!
Ticket to Ride
All to soon we were heading for King’s Cross and the Virgin East Coast train for our next adventure. We love these friends and family weeks and are already planning the next one to try and get around a few more of the usual suspects who we missed out. You have been duly warned so stock up on beer, wine and washing powder, you could be next!
04/05 – 09/05/2018