Archive for February, 2012

Thursday 26 January to Monday 6 February 2012

Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 January – Cool and overcast

 This week was spent relaxing and enjoying time with Janet, Adrian and Ella doing the ordinary everyday things like shopping in Reading, groceries, cooking, cleaning, and having fun with Ella.  She mastered the art of crawling this week and it is an absolute treat to watch her getting around.  She is also becoming more competent in pulling herself up on furniture so that she can stand up, but hasn’t yet learnt that she can move from one piece of furniture to the next – we are sure that it won’t be long before she works that one out!!

On Thursday, 26 January, Janet and Ella got dressed in their Australian t-shirts for Australia Day.  Ella continued the theme by trying a vegemite sandwich for lunch for the first time.

On Thursday evening, the two of us went out for dinner to the Old Devil Inn – a lovely old English Pub on the A4 – which was our Christmas present from Katharine and Steve.  The Inn retains its old English appearance and charm with an open fire crackling away and one could very easily imagine themselves back in the olden days.  There were lovely fresh tulips on each table and a cat curled up on the chair next to our table, enjoying the warmth from the fireplace as it was freezing outside!  We had a lovely meal and the odd ale or two.  Richard was quite shocked when he received his meal – he had ordered roast shoulder of lamb – and when it arrived, it looked like half the sheep on his plate!

On Saturday 28 January, Janet and Adrian’s friends, Hilary and Andy came for lunch and spent the afternoon with us.  We always enjoy their company and always seem to spend a lot of time laughing.  We said our goodbyes and hope that our paths will cross again in the not too distant future – we have invited them to come to Australia when they are able.

On Sunday 29 January, after we all returned from church, Janet and Adrian’s friends, Toby and Dave came for lunch and also spent the afternoon with us.  Toby is a school teacher and used to work with Janet, so there were lots of funny stories about their teaching adventures.

Monday 30 January to Monday 6 February

On Monday, Janet took us shopping to Reading – we had a lovely few hours wandering around the shops.

On Tuesday 31 January, the two of us headed off adventuring!  Janet walked with us and Ella in the pram as far as the station, where the two of us caught the 9.15am train from Maidenhead to Ealing Broadway. With a couple of tube changes, we were at Colindale Station, which is north of London.  After a short 10 minute walk in VERY light snow (by the time it reached the ground it had melted), we arrived at the RAF Museum, which houses over 100 aircraft from around the world, including some very early aircraft designs through to the latest modern day jets and military aircraft.  One building was set up to display aircraft from both sides of the Battle of Britain.  Another building was set up with aircraft through the ages and yet another one was set up with bombers, such as the American B17, Messerschmitts and the giant British Vulcan.  Richard was delighted to be able to actually walk through a Sunderland Flying boat and our adventure was over far too quickly as we had seen so much and yet could have spent many more hours reading information and stories about all the aircraft. We arrived back at Maidenhead at about 5.00pm, exhausted from all our walking around.

On Wednesday 1 February, we headed off on another adventure!  This time, we borrowed Janet and Adrian’s car and drove to Hampton Court Palace, which is at East Molesey, South West of London.  Hampton Court Palace has been the home of some of the British monarchs, including Henry VIII, Queen Mary I and Charles I.  We enjoyed wandering through Henry VIII’s kitchens and marvelled at the size of the kitchens and at the servants’ abilities to be able to prepare lavish meals for large numbers of people, without the use of modern kitchen appliances.  The kitchens were built in 1530 and were a central part of palace life, feeding the 600 or so members of the court, twice a day.

From there we visited Henry III’s wine cellars, Chapel Court Garden, the Chapel Royal, the Georgian Private Apartments, part of Henry VIII’s Apartments (the other part was closed for maintenance – so was the Great Hall), William II’s Apartments and the Palace Gardens, including the Fountain Garden.  We had a late lunch in the Privy Kitchen Café and after a lovely day at the Palace, we headed back to Maidenhead for more fun and play with Ella.

On Thursday, Richard packed our suitcases so that on Friday he could add some of Janet and Adrian’s summer clothes – we arranged a 30kg baggage allowance and had a spare 10kgs in each suitcase.

On Thursday evening, the two of us, Ella and Adrian were struck by a stomach bug that had been going around the local area – Janet didn’t get it, thank goodness, so she was able to help look after the rest of us!

We were all exhausted on Friday and spent the day resting.

On Saturday, 4 February, we made our bed back into a futon, moved our suitcases etc out into the lounge room and then helped Janet and Adrian to move some of the shipping stuff into Ella’s room.  Richard packed some of their summer clothes into our suitcases and helped Janet and Adrian to pack some of their stuff too, as they were moving out of their flat on Sunday, prior to leaving the UK to move back to Oz permanently.

After having virtually no snow during the past 8 weeks in Maidenhead, it started to snow late on Saturday afternoon.  We would be flying home on Saturday night, so would not get to wake up to the winter wonderland on Sunday morning!

After spending a wonderful 8 weeks in Maidenhead, we said our goodbyes to Adrian and Ella and then Janet drove us to the airport at about 6.30pm, a bit early in case of hold ups on the roads because of the falling snow.

By the time our flight was called and we boarded the plane at 9.30pm it was snowing quite heavily and there was a lot of snow on the ground. Not long after we boarded the plane and the hot towels had been handed out, the captain announced that Heathrow airport had cancelled 35 flights, but ours would still be going.  However, we had been given a new departure time and we were no 15 in the queue, which they anticipated would take approximately 2 hours.  Finally, the de-icing truck arrived to de-ice our plane, and exactly 4 hours after we were supposed to take off originally, we finally did make it into the sky.  Needless to say, we missed our connecting flight in Singapore, but Singapore Airlines were well organised and had booked us onto the next flight, which, luckily for us, left less than 2 hours after we arrived in Singapore.  We had been expecting that we may be in Singapore until the next morning before getting another flight to Brisbane.  Our original flight was due in to Brisbane at 6.00am on Monday 6 February and we finally arrived just before 10.00am where we were delighted to see Katharine, who drove us home and spent the rest of the day with us, catching up with each other’s news.

There are more photos on the gallery too.