We like a bit of nature, but we’re not so keen on wasps. So when one was posing on the outside of our kitchen window, how could I resist?
Luckily, he stayed outside. I probably could have done with the exercise, chasing him round the flat, trying to encourage him to go back outside, but he was quite happy where he was.
Meanwhile, some people in Northenden thought they could have fun polluting the river. I’m sure they had a great time, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the ducks and geese and fish get up to in the Mersey.
Tony Bennett famously left his heart in San Francisco, but someone left theirs in the woods near us.
It was lovely to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden with William and Martha. They both seemed to like the blankets their Oma had made for them, and William wasted no time making himself comfortable!
We sat in the sunshine, enjoying a picnic lunch, we soaked up the Sun, and I was surprised that the water pistols didn’t make an appearance. I say water pistol, but William calls it a water crystal.
We played What’s the time, Mr Tod, which morphed into What’s the Time, Mr Wolf and lots of chasing ensued. Plus, both Martha and William watched the bumble bees doing their thing with the clover.
We all receive a copy of the magazine from Chester Zoo every month or two, and Martha, with Oma’s help, repurposed the current issue into headwear. She is also secretly training to be a model, none of us told her to pose this way, it just came naturally.
A couple of days later, I drove into Manchester and just like my last visit there, it was purely practical. Straight to the Blood Donation Centre, then straight home. But I was delighted with the choice of biscuits on offer this time. I had a mint Club biscuit for the first time (I think) since the 1980s. The nurses, all the medics, were very welcoming and friendly. The health check questionnaire has been revised, and now, gay men are not excluded from donating blood, something that was deemed impossible, in the 1990s.
Our world is slowly expanding. We paid a visit to Stratford upon Avon where we met up with Helen and Steve from Chessington. It was warm but overcast, a nice day to mooch around a perfectly delightful little town. Lots of touristy shops, and just about everything has a connection with Shakespeare.
On the two-hour drive, we were reminded of things that we haven’t seen for a long, long time. The M6: the roadworks seem to have largely been completed. The Pies graffiti is still there on the bridge. We actively listened to the traffic report on Radio 2, although nothing affected us today. I scored 12 points on Ken Bruce’s Pop Master, over two rounds.
The four of us went on a 45-minute cruise on the Avon. Edward Elgar was quite rude about the then new theatre when it was built, so I had to laugh when the boat crew played Nimrod. Well, I didn’t laugh, I usually cry when I hear that tune, but it seemed so out of place. Something by Shakespears Sister might have been more appropriate. And then, they played The Swan fron Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, much better suited to the situation: see the picture after the next one (sorry, spoilers).
Actually, the commentary was very informative. What happened to Shakespeare’s head after he was buried is really sad and unnecessary. Of course, it would be rude to venture out onto the Avon and not take a picture of a swan. So here it is.
We learned that swans are the heaviest flying birds in the world, and sometimes in Stratford, rather than fly, they use the locks to get from one place to another along the river and canal system.
We enjoyed this actor outside the theatre. He recited a couple of speeches, from Henry V or maybe Richard III: my English teacher would be horrified if she thought I didn’t know.
We had lunch at Boston Tea Party, another branch of the place we’ve been to in Salisbury several times. A long time ago, before the pandemic, that is. What’s nice about this place, at least according to the menu, is that they use Chew Valley organic milk from happy, jaunty, loveable, huggable cows.
The menacing pink sheep took us all by surprise, just standing there, guarding a shop. No, we hadn’t been drinking.
But just when we thought we were beginning to understand Stratford upon Avon, we had to accept that, yes, it is a bit strange. As this inscription on the pavement confirms.
And something else weird is occurring in Stratford. There are two golden post boxes, painted gold to celebrate local gold medal winners from the 2012 London Olympics. Only one of these two has a plaque attached. And the other one says that James Roe won a gold medal for rowing. Really? Nominative determinism?
Stratford is a nice, quiet little town, but it could do with a few modern high-rise buildings to drag it from the 15th into the 21st century.
The most exciting part of driving home was spotting some new graffiti on one of the bridges over the M60.
I suspect this relates to the old Pies graffiti, daubed by the band of the same name over twenty years ago, maybe even longer. But what a surprisingly pleasant drive home, no traffic hold-ups at all. The car managed its longest trip in over 15 months, it didn’t complain once. Which is just as well, because we’re soon off on another adventure which is why this piece of nonsense has appeared earlier than usual this week.
Also, because we had made plans, I pre-recorded my radio show this week. You can listen live here on Friday at 2pm or catch up here soon after 4pm. The theme this week is Holidays, which is a remarkable coincidence, since we’re all going on a Summer holiday.