What's going on at the cottages?     -  The Sunnybank Blog!    2016         

Now that we are in 2017, the blog for the new year will start its own section in the side menu. Greetings to all our readers!
Jan 1 To mark the start of the new year, we joined our Rotary friends for a walk around the shop windows in Ambleside and tried to decide on the order of quality of displays as our own little competition. The same shop windows are in the real competition organised by Rich as part of Ambleside Christmas Lights.
Dec 31
Today Jill's neice, Rachel, and her children (Max, Sophie and Emily) joined us for lunch with nephew, Oliver, and Ellie along with Monty (sitting here on Sophie's knee) and Rachel's mum Marilyn.
Dec 25/26
Jill and Rich pose during Christmas Lunch, with the Bavarian wooden pyramid on display. This was brought back from Germany by Rich after a school trip to the Rhine Valley in the 1990's.
Megan puts on a cute pose with Grandad at the Christmas Lunch table.

In her pretty "fairy dress" Jessica spins the Bingo balls during our evening family game of Bingo!

During Megan's turn she would spin the drum until she had three or four balls ready to call out.

Jessica, however, preferred to get just one ball at a time!

Dec 25
Megan holds up her stocking and shows off her gappy mouth as she is in the throes of losing her milk teeth!
Dec 24
The box of buttons which we gave the girls two years ago was popular again this Christmas. In our back bedroom, which had become the "Craft Room" the girls made "plates of food with different coloured buttons. Very inventive!!
Dec 23

The special treat was, of course to go to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Lowry, starring Jason Manford and Phil Jupitus.


Before the performance we looked around the shopping mall and Jessica and Megan enjoyed searching for all the nutcracker models. Here they are with "Arnold".

After lunch at Cafe Rouge, we made our way into the theatre and had great seats for a really enjoyable performance. The Child Catcher was roundly booed by everyone! The highlight was the flying car as it rose into the air on its flight to the Baron's castle.


Afterwards, Megan and Jessica drove home with us whilst Caroline and Andrew made their way to Oxenholme by train, where Rich later picked them up.....

....and Christmas was under way!

Dec 22 Today Caroline, Andrew, Jessica and Megan flew to Manchester from Heathrow. They only live three miles from Heathrow so it was a simple journey. Tonight they stayed in the Midland Hotel in the city and tomorrow we will join them for a special treat.
Dec 16

As Vice Chair of Governors at Grasmere School, Rich was invited to join the school for Christmas Lunch at Rydal Hall. The whole school walked the three miles from Grasmere to Rydal via the Coffin Route and on arrival they found a real reindeer waiting for them! This is the same reindeer who comes to the Lights Switch On in Ambleside. After hearing a short talk from Belle's owner, Everley Buckley, the children all stroked Belle as they went inside the hall to get ready for lunch.


After lunch the whole school sat in the entrance hall and received their presents, which Father Christmas had kindly dropped off earlier! Here the Head, Jo Goode and the Deputy Head Nicky Steels (both seated) hand out the gifts before the children put their boots back on to walk back to school.

Dec 15

One of the things we did at the NEC exhibition was enter a competition. Today we found out that we have won FIRST PRIZE. In other words - a visit to see Pete Waterman's model railway!!! Pete Waterman is (if you didn't know) a famous record producer and TV personality.

As well as that sort of work, Pete Waterman is an avid railway fan with a world class model railway as well as being the owner of full sized railway locomotives.

We have had to select a series of Sundays for a possible visit to his layout. We wait to hear which date is convenient to Pete!

Click here to see a video of his railway. Just watch a few of the 29 minues!

SPECIAL MESSAGE TO KATH L of Warrington (You know who you are!!).... We know that secretly you want to go there with Rich BUT YOU CAN'T... this trip is just for Rich and Jill !! :-)

Dec 11 After the fun of the last two days, we headed North from Caroline's house with all their heavy luggage as they will be flying to Manchester in a few days with hand luggage only.
Dec 10

Richard and Poppy at the table.

It's only when I look at this that I can see that my face was still affected by the weakness after my operation in October! The progress is slow but steady.

All the girls LOVE being together and here Megan and Daisy have an affectionate hug!
Caroline and the four girls are listening to Ben/Uncle Ben (probably telling one of his cronic jokes!)
Ben (complete with Elf T shirt) enjoys an extra roast parsnip.

The girls had the far end of the table to themselves.Jill is holding one of the wind up Santa figures one of which was in each cracker.

Later, we had hilarious races across the table (once it had been cleared) by the ranks of wind-up Santas!

Dec 9

Today we drove down to London for a "fake Christmas dinner" as Ben and Alison, Daisy and Poppy will be staying in Reading for Christmas this year.

Jessica and Megan with Rich's 2016 gingerbread creation - Big Ben with Santa's feet sticking out of the top!

We stayed with Caroline and family but tomorrow we would all drive over to Winnersh near Reading for the "fake" meal.

Dec 5
At long last the locking covers have been fitted to our water supply tank! The raised covers will prevent any surface water entering the system and the locks will prevent any unauthorised access! Two strong padlocks are on order!
Nov 26/28
Another great layout -this being of part of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.
An amazing scale model of the Forth Bridge. It is over 10 feet long and the scale of the train is tiny. If you look carefully it can be seen rouighly above the join in the baseboard. The whole train was T gauge and measured less than 3 inches in length!

The Warley Exhibition at the NEC covers an area of two football pitches! With over 90 layouts and 150 trade stalls we were glad that we had booked a night ion the adjacent Hilton Metropole Hotel.

We were 2 of the 15,000 visitors over the two days!

An unusual layout which features a harbour where a sea plane has just landed!

Nov 25 Withe the frenetic lights weekend behind us, and with the Volvo safely repaired and returned, we headed to Richard's brother - Robert's house near Stoke, on route to Birmingham to visit the National Mofdel RAilway Exhibition at the NEC. We spent Friday night at Robert's and met most of his family before setting off next day to the NEC.

Unfortunately the day was spoiled for us when Richard's Volvo broke down in the street at 10am. The ignition key barrel failed making it impossible to start or even move the car as it was locked in "Park" position!

The frustration was overwhelming waiting for a recovery vehicle to arrive.

At 1.45pm the car was finally hauled onto the lorry and taken off to the nearest Volvo dealer!

Nov 19

The Lights Switch On day and Lantern Procesion.

Something in the regiod of 9000 visited the town to see the famous procession and enjoy the lights being switched on. Here, some of the lantern bearers are passing through Market Place.

Over 200 lanterns had been made by visitors and locals, many during the half term holiday workshops run by the lights committee.

Rich walked ahead of the procession escorting the reindeer and its handler.

Nov 8

The first snow of the winter is forecast for tonight and this afternoon Rich will be helping put up the LED lit Chistmas trees around Market Place! By the coming Sunday all the lights should be installed around the town, ready for the big Switch-On and lantern parade on Sat. Nov 19th.

Ouside the cottage we have replenished all the bird feeders and peanut feeders. There is now a feeding frenzy going on with flocks of house sparrows and blue/great tits queuing up for their turn!

Nov 4

Today is the day when all Richard's stitches and staples were to be removed. Before attending the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, we decided to have lunch at the iconic art-deco Midland Hotel in Morecambe.

In the Rotunda bar, Richard sups his diet Pepsi with the aid of a straw as the face muscles still don't make it easy to drink!

Later, the 18 stitches and 16 staples were removed and we headed home!

Nov 1
Quite some time has been spent on renewing the pond in the park near Scandale station on the upper part of the layout. After building up the ground with plaster bandage and adding the "grass and trees", the work started on the pond. First, real sand was glued on the pond area, painted and then layer after layer of liquid water was poured into the pond. It starts out milky but after two days it dries clear and hard. Finally, tiny laser-cut plants and lily pads were added with a spot of glue. This is the result - after people, jetties, birds and boats were added.
Oct 31

One task has been to finish off the job of adding the ballast (stones between the tracks) and greenery to represent plants and weeds.

This picture shows the completed station area.

Oct 30 A very relaxed pace with no involvement in Christmas lights has been the order for Richard, so some work has been done on the model railway.
Oct 26 The consultant came in at 0701 and was very pleased with the scar and was happy for Rich to be discharged by lunchtime. So at 12 noon Jill arrived and we said our goodbyes and drove home to the comfort of our cottage and the absolute peace!
Oct 25

Spot the differences!

1. Richard doesn't have a bolt through his neck!

Once the head pressure-bandage came off the hairstyles were similar!

As the consultant and his assistant were both in Barrow and Kendal for the day, Rich just sat and relaxed for the whole day with blood pressure checks every 30 minutes to relieve the monotony.

Night-time was "interesting" as the man in the next bed had just had his leg removed and spent the entire night pressing the buzzer to ask the nurses if he could get up and go home!

The staff at Lancaster RI were superb and they all deserve a medal for their professionalism and especially the handling of people who are clearly confused (NOT Rich!)


Oct 24

The day has arrived for Richard's operation in Lancaster Royal Infirmary. We left at 6am as admission time was 7.15am! By 8.30 Rich was admitted and dressed in a particularly fetching hospital gown and escorted straight into theatre. Jill asked the anesthetist if he knew what he was doing? He replied that after 22 years - he hoped so. (Rich was thinking "best not to antagonise a man who's about to put your husband to sleep!!")

Rich woke up at 6pm and it turned out he had been in theatre for 8.5 hours! The benign tumour in his salivary gland had intricately would itself aroung his facial nerve and required to be very slowly and carefully removed.

Jill meanwhile was in the ward waiting (perhaps reflecting on her question of the anesthetist!) and obviously concerned.

Oct 17 Back home on the train today after a lovely weekend with the family.
Oct 16

Today we used Caroline's car to drive over to Winnersh where we helped Ben in the final clearing of his garage, ready for the new building project which is about to start.

On the way back from the local dump, Ben thought a traction engine was approaching us. It turned out to be an Audi which then burst into flames in front of us! The driver had pulled off the road into a garage forecourt when he saw smoke in the car. The garage owner set uop a new record for removing his cars from around it!

Oct 15
After several false starts, we finally managed a whole family portrait with everyone looking the same way at the same time!
In preparation for Richard's forthcoming face operation, the beard was shaved off and the new "three weeks younger looking" Richard appeared in the garden!
On the way back from our family lunch at a newly opened restaurant, Richard and Alsion acted as the ends of a mini line-up! (Richard, Megan, Daisy, Poppy and Alison).
Oct 14 Today we went off by train to spend the weekend with Caroline and Ben in Staines and Reading. We arrived in time to collect the girls from school and later watch them swimming.
Oct 7 The visit to Newcastle ended today and we drove home via Middleton again, the plan being to collect the five plants we had ordered from a shop there. The plan failed! They only had one! Someone had not passed on the message!
Oct 6
On the way back to the hotel, time for one last look at the amazing skyline on the River Tyne. My pictures didn't do it justice so this one has been found on the internet. (Copyright acknowledged).
For the final dinner together, we returned to Cafe Vivo in the city centre. This had been our choice on the first night and was the unanimous choice again tonight. Rose, our waitress, obliged with a photo of us all.

After leaving Cragside, Jill and Rich headed for the village of Wylam and a half mile walk to George Stephenson's cottage where he was born. Later of course he bacame famous as the inventor/builder of The Rocket steam locomotive. He certainly started from humble beginnings. The whole family of eight lived in the single room behind the bottom left window.

What a contrast to Cragside!

This morning we all drove to Cragside, near Rothbury in Northumberland to visit the famous home of Lord and Lady Armstrong. He was the famous (and fabulously wealthy) Victorian shipbuilder and armaments manufacturer.

What makes this house special, apart from its design, is the fact that it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro electric power.

From a modest house (the bit hidden behind that light green bush in the picture) it grew and grew as more extensions were added.

When the Prince of Wales decided to visit, the Armstrongs really went to town and added a whole new wing including a ballroom with one of the world's most impressive marble fireplaces!

As the house had been rather remote, Lord Armstrong did what anyone would do - he paid for a railway line to be built to the nearby village!

Oct 5

The children visiting the museum that day all found the sweet shop - as did we!

The sweets were authentic but the prices were not 1900's - definitely 2016's!

Going into the town's shops was like stepping back in history (or our childhood as it is also known!).

The clothing and haberdashery shop had all the stock in well labelled boxes and shelves.

We all went to Beamish Open Air Museum today. Jill's grandad actually worked in Beamish Pit and Jill's father's primary school has been reuilt, brick by brick here too - so it was all very relevant.

Here we are in the 1900's town, having arrived on the tram which runs right around the entire site.

Oct 4
Later we drove on to Bamburgh Castle where there hardly a cloud in the sky. From there we went on to Seahouses and walked around the harbour and watched the sea birds on the beach below us. Turnstones, eider ducks, oystercatchers and lesser black-backed gulls were amongst the breeds we saw.
For lunch we had booked into the well known Craster Fish Restaurant which is part of the kipper smokery. The food was delicious, being so fresh, and the picture here is of a painting of the castle which was on display in the room.
The waterfront in Newcastle has the most amazing photo opportunities. Here in Jill's photo, the Sage in Gateshead reflects the evening sky and creates the illusion of an ocean liner!
Day 1 was only enjoyed by five of the seven friends, as Brian and Jacqui had arranged to join us tomorrow. We headed up the Northumbrian coast to Craster and walked towards Dunstanburgh Castle. Here Liz, Peter, Ray and Jill sit and shelter from the brisk on-shore breeze with the castle in the background.
Oct 3
The location was idyllic. The farm was in the flat land on the Tees valley, but just high enough to be safe from floods. This is the view from the top of the valley towards the village of Middleton in Teesdale
Jill approaches the house end of the building which is close to collapse. The chimney stack has fallen and damaged the roof which, in turn, lets in the rain. Standing in the doorway was risky, given the hanging window frame above!
Today we started out on our trip to Newcastle and Gateshead for a reunion with 5 friends. On the way we drove via Middleton in Teesdale to find and photograph the family farm from Jill's family history. The farm, Ornella, is in a sorry state these days, abandonned and the yard is used as a manure store.
Sep 10
This afternoon we attended a Rotary garden Party on the shores of Lake Windermere at White Cross Bay. With good food, good company and plenty to drink, we passed a very pleasant five hours in the sunshine. Jill, in the foreground with her back to the camera, is chatting to some of our friends.
Sep 5
Sir Bradley Wiggins passes Sunnybank on the ascent of The Struggle - a 'Category 1' climb and the highlight of Stage 2 of the Tour of Britain. He and his group were three miles behind the peleton due to a bad crash some miles back.
The Peleton followed about a minute after the leaders.
The race leaders including Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings.

By 2pm well over a thousand people had walked past the cottages to watch the 124 competitors struggle up the Struggle!

At Sunnybank, around 200 of those people chose to watch the race there.

Our tea, coffee and flapjack stall made a profit of £220 in two and a half hours! One police car driver spotted our stall and shouted "Flapjack". We rushed over and gave her a piece!
Sep 2




Prior to the race day Rich was preparing signs including a King of The Mountains T-shirt in MDF.

Next item was a bike, rescued from a skip and sprayed yellow with three tins of paint!

We fastened it to the end of the coal house.

Later its picture appeared in the Westmorland Gazette!

Aug 11
With our new lavender plants and some new climbing and rambling roses, the border is starting to look less like a buliding site and more like it used to. Dan and his mate had cut a trench on the other side of the wall to send the water down the field and not through our wall - so now the surface water no longer invades our garden!
Aug 7

Having taken the girls back to London after their stay with us, today we all gathered in Windsor Great Park for our 46th anniversary picnic - a re-run of last year. Daisy enjoys being with Meg and Jess and is becoming quite adventurous!

The trees around our picnic area are just right for climbing! Megan and Daisy show their skills.

Whilst the children played, climbed trees and chased Ben we prepared the picnic (almost a feast). Again this year we were blessed with warm sunny weather.

Before we left the park our "children" presented us with a selection of lavender plants from the Royal Estate garden shop to help re-stock the border by the repaired wall at home.

Aug 4/5

On Thursday Aug 4th we set off for London with the girls, heading for Lichfield the first day. There is a superb park there and we had booked a night in the local Premier Inn. The traffic on the M6 through Cheshire was awful and we diverted via Manchester but even that wasn't much better.

However, the parkin Lichfield made up for the journey and later we checked in, had a meal and the girls even tackled banana splits!

The following day we continued on our way towards Staines and with much easier driving, we were soon able to hand back the girls to Caroline and Andrew.

We were staying on for a few days to celebrate our anniversary with all the family. See above.

Aug 3
Our second attempt to play crazy golf - the first was abandonned due to the crowds waiting! Both girls scored hole-in-ones and actually beat Grandad!
Aug 1

Later in the day the girls enjoyed the indoor play area including this climbing wall.

Another good free activity was the tractor ride around the farm. We sat on a special trailer with about 20 other people and saw most of the farm including the sheds for 16,000 chickens. Needless to say we bought some eggs!

Next day we used the eggs and three eggs in succession were double yokers!

Today we took the girls to the Lakeland Maize Maze Farm. We started with the challenge of finding the ink stamps for our leaflets in the maze which covers 8 acres (or 8 football pitches). After walking about two miles in a complete puzzle we ended the trek and found the picnic area for lunch and also its good range of playground equipment.
Jul 30

Megan and Jessica loved the painted plastic herdwick sheep, which have been placed around the Central Lakes to raise money for The Calvert Trust which offers adventure weeks for the severely disabled.

Here Jess gets up close and personal with the sheep outside Booths supermarket!

Jul 29
Today was a chill-out day in the garden and the girls decided to have a wedding! The assembled guests are lined up on the lawn! Jessica was the bride and the groom was one of the toys. Megan was the vicar! She obviously knows the words because she suddenly announced, "If any of you know any just cause why these two should not be joined in marriage.... speak up now!"
Jul 28
Caroline and the girls joined us for Ambleside Sports but it was a thoroughly wet day! Nevertheless, the girls joined in the spirit and helped Jill to sell programmes and raffle tickets.
Jul 24

A Rotary day at the races - in Carlisle.

A group of 16 hired the community minibus to drive us to Carlisle races for the day

Caroline, Meg and Jess joined us for a day out. We also met up with Rachel and her children. As can be seen, it rained on and off and despite being wet we had a great time. A 'Jacobs Join' picnic provided a wide choice for the food.

Rich ended £29 up with his winnings! Plus we somehow got in for free!!

Jul 23
Another visit to Cathedral Cave today. This time with Caroline, Meg and Jess and Jess the dog of course! This is the stile before you cross the meadow to the bridge.
Jul 13

Tonight was the Grand Final of the Rotary schools general knowledge quiz called "Quiz Kids". The quiz organised by Rich has two teams from each of four schools competing for a trophy but EVERY school gets a cheque for a charity of THEIR choice,

The top school gets £400 with the last placed school receiving £75. It was a great evening.

Grasmere School won - the fact that Rich is a Governor there was pure chance! No really - it was!

Our President Jim Wilson and Fiona Sparrow (Lakes Parish Council) presented the medals.

Jul 7
Daisy found our soft toy dog Jessie (a border collie) and after a visit to the shops in the town it soon had a mate - also called Jessie! and a husky, which was named Storm, became a firm favourite of Poppy.
Jul 5
In beautiful sunshine, we made our way to The Three Shires in Little Langdale for lunch and then a circular walk to Cathedral Cave and back via Slater's Bridge.
Inside the cave there is a large pool and then a jumble of rocks which have fallen from the roof since it ended its working life as a quarry.
The massive cave has a central rock pillar, left to hold up the roof. The sheer scale can be judged from the buggy, parked as we explored further into the cave.
Jul 4

Ben and Alison arrived with Poppy and Daisy for a week's stay. Ladybird Cottage was used a lot! The day before they arrived, the garden wall finally fell down as a result of the foundations being washed away by water running off the field in recent storms.

Fortunately, our waller Dan was able to start a repair almost immediately. The lower picture shows Dan and his mate sorting out stones for the new foundations.

Two days later it looked like the top picture!

Jun 24

Today we were in Richmand Park with Alison, Poppy and Daisy for a performance of 'In The Midnight Garden' with Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy!

Together with 400 or so toddlers and mums we watched the well-loved characters from the BBC children's series as they solved the pronblem of Iggle Piggle's lost blanket.

When the characters finally "went to sleep" (as they do when the programme ends) there were instantly 400 or so crying toddlers!

It was a very professional production and the girls absolutely loved it!

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Jun 18
A new control board for Richard's model railway has been taking shape. With a piece of perspex 500mm by 300mm and a supply of pinstripe for cars, a mimic of the layout was created. Then 31 switches were installed. Each switch has six wires soldered to the pins on the back. The good news - when tested it all worked.
Jun 15

Ben's birthday supply of Higginson's pies have run out so, as Rich was in Grange-over-Sands, a visit to pick up new supplies as part 2 of his present was achieved!

For his first supply, Higginsons delivered 12 of their award winning pies as a variety pack to Ben's office in Reading. Apparently, his parcels comandeered the office fridge for the day!

Jun 2

To mark the occasion, the group assembled on a very special bridge on the farm.

The 40 "Celia Johnsons" stand on the old footbridge which featured in the wartime film "Brief Encounter".

Not a single "Trevor Howard" to be seen!

The forty members and guests enjoyed a picnic in beautiful sunshine. As well as sandwiches, savouries, cakes and tea the ladies were entertained by some singers visiting the area. They played croquet and boules and there was a special hat competition. Jill came second in her hat made from an IKEA lampshade! (Don't ask!)
Jun 1
Tomorrow, Jill's WI group are having a birthday party for the Queen. It is to be held at an idyllic farm in Great Langdale so today we were there putting up bunting and flags.
May 31

Tonight, Richard was visiting one of his eight Rotary clubs for which he is responsible as Assistant Governor. That club meets at Morecambe's football ground.

On the way home, at 1030 pm this was the view from the promendade looking across Morecambe Bay towards Barrow and the Lakeland Fells!

May 27

Today is Caroline's birthday and to celebrate Caroline, Andrew are flying out to New York with Megan and Jessica for a week's holiday!

So since we cannot say cheers face to face, we decided to eat out for lunch at Wainright's in Chapel Stile and toast her there!

Actually we were due to visit Langdale Primary School next door to Wainwright's to hold a Rotary quiz with Years 5 and 6 at 2pm so we decided to dine at Wainwright's first!

May 20
In the spring sunshine, the bluebells at Banerigg Wood near Grasmere make a beautiful blue swathe beneath the trees.

May 11

As Richard is a Governor at Grasmere Primary Schoiol, today we joined the group of children and staff as they helped re-open the A591 at Dunmail Raise with MP Rory Stewart and the rep from Highways England.

The children had helped feed the 42 troops who had cleared the road of 10,000 tons of rock and mud before the road repairs could begin.

May 9

It's amazing what a bit of sun can do! Less than two weeks later, we had a lovely show of bluebells!


Apr 28
The weather! Today is almost the end of April. Two weeks ago we were eating breakfast in the garden! Today we have three inches of snow!
Apr 10
Yesterday's op - the foot doused in iodine, two black dots on the toenails to remind the surgeon which bit was to be cut out!
Apr 9 Today Richard was in Lancaster Nuffield Hospital for an operation to remove a Morton's Neuroma from between toes 2 and 3 on his left foot. Morton's Neuroma's are caused by two main things - wearing high heels and ballet points! (Rich gave up both years ago!!)
Mar 26
The party included two bouncing trains of children (you can just see the heads of the second train!). Once linked together, the instructor starts the bouce with hilarious results!
After the tramplone session it was time for the party food. Daisy and Poppy chose a "Frozen" theme for the partyware!
Mar 26
Fresh from our flight home, we headed off to Bracknell today for Poppy and Daisy's trampoline birthday party!
Mar 25 Today we flew back to Heathrow from Nice after a wonderful four days in total luxury and a chance to recharge our batteries after a wet winter in Ambleside!
Mar 24
On our last night we chose a restaurant in Le Souquet (the old part of town) and it was decorated with paintings such as this. The "Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies" which was level with Richard's eye!!
We dined out each night and on this evening we chose a pavement restaurant. Jill was given a single rose at the end of the meal!
Mar 23
For those who have everything (and money to burn!) the hotel offered test drives in a Bentley Convertible! They sold two in the time we were there!

We took a bus trip to Grasse, the European capital of perfume production and explored its steep and narrow streets. We found this view of the town cascading down the hillside with the sea in the far distance.

At 1.5 Euros, this has to be a bargain excursion!

Mar 22

A trip on a small ferry to the Isle of St.Margueritte was an experience! We visited the fort where the Man in The Iron Mask was imprisoned; saw a collection of Roman pottery recovered from a nearby shipwreck; and had a meal in what can best be described as quirky restaurant! There was a sign on the window saying "Do not touch!" as the window was likely to fall out!

Jill had a Ceasar salad and Rich hada very artistic Italian salad.

We found two local markets in Cannes where prices were reasonable (as opposed to the shops on the seafront where a Rolex watch was a snip at £10200 !)

This one, called Forville had the most perfect displays of fresh fruit and flowers - all from local producers.

Mar 21
The view of Cannes from the old town (Le Souquet) on a small hill at one end of the bay. In the centre is the film festival centre.

After a weekend of fun, Jill and Rich decided to head for the sun. We were heading for Cannes on the French Riviera where Caroline had done her "year's placement" whilst at university. As Caroline is onlty three miles from Heathrow - it was an opportunity too good to miss.

With extreme good luck we got a really special deal at 5 Star The Majestic Hotel on the seafront. (Four nights for £591 instead of £2370 !!)

Mar 19
Outside, waiting for the taxi minibus, the girls and some of their friends show that they understand the expression "cheesey grin"
Next up was Megan who watches as her plate is finished off after the hand print.
Jessica, as birthday girl, had a special plate done by the owner which included her hand print.
The birthday party was a pottery party in a specialist shop in Old Windsor. Sixteen children and paint and brushes and water! The owners showed the children how to decorate their plate, which was fired in the kiln after we had departed - to be collected in a few day's time.
Mar 18 Today we drove down to London for a two weekend birthday party extravaganza! (Jessica, Megan and Poppy tomorrow) and the following weekend it will be the turn of Ben and Daisy!
Mar 5

Today we decided to try out the new Shuttle bus from Grasmere to Keswick which goes off into the forest on a new road to avoid the devastated A591 beyond Dunmail Raise. Two buses follow each other and are escorted through the security gates and along the new road, over a bailey bridge and then around the west side of Thirlmere. There we passed another security post at the Keswick end of the lake before getting back onto the main road. All we met were a few cyclists!

This picture (not one of my best) shows the view as the bus met cyclists on the new road. Note the crash barriers to stop the bus falling down into the trees it it goes off the road!

Feb 28
Today Rich and Jill returned to Congleton to meet up with Robert (Richard's brother), his daughter Helen with her children George and Matilda as well as Margaret and Arthur. Here we tried for a group selfie!
Feb 19

Inside the ground the girls met "Boots" the mascot and posed for thsi picture. The actual match was against Australian team South Sydney Roosters. We lost - badly- and the girls got cold in the chillty February wind!

Then it was back to the hotel and the next day we headed off to the station for the return trip to London, to be met at Euston by Caroline.

Feb 19
Last night we took the twins down to Warrington and stayed the night at the Giullivers World Hotel. Today we were up early to travel to Manchester Airport to meet Richard's cousin Margaret and her husband Arthur who were flying in from Philadelphia. After they collected their hire car we all drove to Congleton and got the into their self catering apartment. After a group picture we headed back to the hotel and later to St.Helens for the twins' first rugby match.




Feb 17

The husky-type dog was a favourite, especially when it "talked."

In the afternoon we went off to Brockhole National Park Centre for an animal experience. Here the girls get to stroke a ferret.

Later they stroked a rat !, a hedgehog, watched a flying squirrel and stroked a husky-type dog.

Today was a busy day. The first thing to do was to visit the hairdressers in Ambleside. Both girls had a wash and style with Jessica retaing shoulder length hair. Megan however, had opted for a bob.
Feb 14
Jessica and Megan love the squirrel outside the Langdale Chase Hotel, so today Jessica and Rich went off to get a photo. The squirrel was dressed up in a hat and scarf before Jessie posed.
After doing the squirrel picture (above), we headed up through Troutbeck village and called at The Mortal Man pub. Jessica decided on a hot chocolate and was served a truly impressive one too!
Feb 12 Yesterday Jill went off to London and today returned with Megan and Jessica who were staying witgh us for theiur half term week!
Jan 26
After it snowed in New York, the weather system has now transferred to the UK and between 7am and 2pm today we had torrential rain which totalled 50mm or 2 inches. The result was that StockGhyll was in spate and the Bridge House looked distinctly at risk - again!
Jan 26 Click here to see the road outside this morning!
Jan 23

Today we drove over to Dent in the Dales to watch our good friends Roy and Jean Parfrey steam past behind the Flying Scotsman (well actually it wasn't the Flying Scotsman, which has brake problems despite its recent overhaul, so their 12 coach train was pulled by two Stanier Black 5 locos). On the way back we arrived at Oxenholme in time to see them again on the way back from Carlisle to Manchester.

Here 44871 and 45407 storm up the gradient towards Dent Station where several photographers were gathered in the icy wind!

At the platform end, Rich gets a great view of the lead driver looking out as the train enters the station - the highest station on a mainline in England.

This video shows what Pooley Bridge was like on December 6th and how it changed in the course of a couple of hours!

Click here to watch it

Jan 1 Having returned from our Christmas visit to Staines - it was back to reality with a vengeance! With Pooley Bridge having collapsed and the main road to Keswick washed away at Dunmail Raise, our road has proved popular as a possible route to the North (if you don't mind risking the floods along the side of Ullswater). Overall though, the Lakes are incredibly quiet as people stay away!