It’s been a Sunday/Monday sleepover at Roger, Jane and Oliver’s as part of Denis’s 87th birthday celebrations and we picked up Bev on the way through from Stevenage station on Sunday.
We certainly had the weather for a celebration, and mostly ate outside! That makes a pleasant change!! There was even time to soak up a few rays!
Denis was on top form and it was good to have the Gambles family all in one place. It was also an opportunity to try out Ann’s new camera for the obligatory ‘family foto’.
We also managed to squeeze in a DVD – the rather excellent Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance and Alan Alda – a thoroughly engaging story which kept us all glued to our seats right up until the end.
Roger dropped Bev back to the station on Sunday and after breakfast on Monday, it was back home for us two.
It was off to our good friends Nick and Celina today for lunch and a quick teach-in to boost my Excel skills. It was good to see their place since our last visit. – two-and-a-bit acres plus a horse and a tractor made it more of a tour than a simple visit!
It was turning into another scorcher of a day and after Excel was sorted it was off to the Tollmarche Arms – about a twenty-minute drive away – for lunch… and maybe a few beers!
Wow!, the food was amazing! It’s probably the best burger I’ve EVER had!
…and it would have been rude not have a dessert wouldn’t it!!!!
Suitably stuffed, we headed back to N & C’s.. and a bit more Excel (which was a lot harder after our lunch!). Wendy and David (Celina’s Mum and Dad) dropped in, and we had a quick natter before saying our goodbyes and heading home.
By now it was even warmer, but luckily, the AC in the car kept us cool. After a quick ‘feet-up’ at home, we tackled the challenge of cleaning Ann’s car – which came up a treat!
A busy but really enjoyable day with more tomorrow as we head for Roger, Jane and Oliver’s to meet up with Denis and celebrate his 87th birthday!
We drove down to Roger, Jane and Oliver’s for Oliver’s end-of-term musical concert at his new school: Richard Hale. The past few days have been roasting – and today was no different with temperatures in the mid 30s.
We set off around 2pm – a rare outing for the XKR – and had a smooth journey to our destination. After some salad and a quick natter, it was off to the school to take our seats amongst the other hundred-or-so parents all there for the same treat! It might have been mid-30s outside, but in the relatively confined space of the School Hall, it was more like 130! Phew what a real scorcher!
At just after 7, the Concert began …and what a varied programme it was! I was expecting a sedate series of classical pieces, but what we got was something much more interesting! – the Theme from Goldfinger by the Concert Band as the opening piece, and that very much set the tone for the evening where the classics were nowhere to be seen (well, hardly) displaced by the more modern music of Jessie J, Coldplay and Lana del Ray. It was all great stuff and clearly demonstrated to me how things have changed since my school-days, where the end-of-term music was normally the ‘racy’ Hallelujah Chorus! The only instruments that were acceptable in those days was piano, violin, violin, violin, recorder or recorder! Tonight, we had synths, drums, electric, Spanish and bass guitars, bongos and saxophones!
I feel like I’m getting old!
Oliver’s solo piece was entitled: ‘Nobody Knows’, and he certainly made his flute sing! His ability has clearly grown since the last time we saw him play. Fantastic!
The nine pieces that made up the first half clearly showed that Britain’s got talent – well, at least Richard Hale school has! The other thing that became immediately obvious was how confident all the kids were. To get up (especially during solo pieces) without any sign of nerves and perform in front of mostly strangers was no mean feat – and I can’t imagine when I was their age having the balls to do what they did!
The interval arrived, and the congregation flooded out into the area in front of the Hall where the (very, VERY) welcome glass of free Pimm’s helped us all cope with the heat. If the School needed anything more right now, it wasn’t talent, it was an air-conditioned Hall! Phew! what a real scorcher. The Pimm’s seemed to be going down a treat, and happily we were informed that there was plenty more – clearly the musical talent of the kids wasn’t matched by the mathematical ability of those who provided the alcohol!
Part Two beckoned, as the now fully-refreshed (if slightly inebriated) audience flooded back into the sweat-box School Hall. Just like the first half, talent was in abundance, and although Khachaturian got a brief look-in with his Sabre Dance, (nicely played Oliver!) the session was dominated bymore modern pieces that included vocal solos and personal compositions.
The evening finished with the returning Concert Band (and more of Oliver!) who knocked-out Rock, Reggae and Disco pieces like their lives depended on it!
The Head rounded-off the evening with his thanks to everyone – and a reminder that next year is the school’s 400th Anniversary. I suspect that will be the perfect excuse for even more musical events! Wow! what an evening!!!!
We were soon back at R, J and O’s reflecting on it all. I think we all concluded that (based on Oliver’s education to date), the ‘system’ seems to allow kids to blossom at an earlier age – and that’s no bad thing.
By 10.30, we were done and with the music still ringing in our ears, we headed for bed. I think it had now ‘cooled’ to around 21 by the time our heads hit the pillow and we hoped for a good night’s sleep.
Morning came (as it often does) and we’d slept well. We had a quick breakfast before heading home. Another smooth journey meant that I was home in time for probably my last phone-call ever relating to my role as Chairman for the OCA. We’ve got our AGM and Reunion next Saturday (when I step down) and the phone conversation allowed me to clarify the last remaining bits and pieces.
We met up with Chris, Gill, Denise and Veronica for a trip to Stowe House. Wow! If you were going to have a place to impress your friends, this would be a pretty good contender! The weather had been very disappointing this week and we were hoping for a bit of sunshine – and as things turned out, it was a pleasantly warm day – not too hot, with a slight breeze that made it perfect for taking in the sights!
Our Guide David, did a splendid job where we learned (amongst many other facts) it is also the home of Stowe School where Richard Branson was a pupil (although RB’s quoted as saying he didn’t like it much!)
If the place looked impressive from the outside, then inside was even more-so. No expense had been spared! So much so that the family eventually went bankrupt! But I bet they even did that in style – impressive!
By now we were all ‘toured-out’ and we headed back for the car to pick up the picnic bits and settled down to a lavish feast of our own. Yummy!
Then it was a final look round the grounds (by then, the camera battery had given up!), and then back to Chris and Gill’s for tea and cake including a yummy home-made chocolate delight courtesy of Veronica… Oh, and a couple of cucumbers from Chris’ hydroponics venture!
All-in-all, a fantastic day… but we came home shattered!