Finishing work an hour early on Christmas Eve, I took the second to last train down to Dorset where I spent the extended Christmas weekend with my Parents, Grandmother, sister Rebekah and her fiance, Tim. On Christmas day we were joined by my brother David and his wife Yvonne together with their first baby William. As always my eyes were bigger than my stomach during our enjoyable traditional christmas meal. The meal was followed by the obligatory washing up, the opening of presents, a short walk and a fair few beers.
Saturday was an early rise – at 06:30 I was up and dismantling the bed that I had slept in the previous night. The ‘man and van’ arrived at 08:00 and we spent the following hour and a half packing as much furniture and boxes into the van as possible. The most difficult items were the sofa and washing machine. Extreme care was required on the slippery steps down from the first floor flat. The drive over to David and Yvonne’s new house in Honiton took about 45 minutes. On arrival we unpacked the van before bring joined by Rebekah and Tim as well as the parents. We spent the afternoon cleaning and moving the larger items into position as well as enjoying a game of sponge football in the stadium sized conservatory. In the evening we all enjoyed a well earned pizza and a pint at the Railway gastro-pub. After a morning walk and sunday lunch in Exeter I headed back up to Swindon in the Sunday evening.
With a rare Friday off work I headed down to Devon to help David and Yvonne move from Budleigh Salterton to their new house in Honiton. First stop was Exeter where I refamiliarised myself with the city centre and quayside. My next move took me down to the town of Exmouth where I began walking along the cliffs and over to Budleigh Salterton. The walk took about an hour and a half, due in part to the fact that I headed down on to Budleigh beach to check out the dragons cave before meeting David and Yvonne. In the evening we ate out at the pub in Budleigh Salterton, taking on energy for the job ahead of us.
Today I headed out to Bradford-On-Avon to visit my Australian friend Sarah and her family. The journey took a little longer than expected due to the weekly national ‘dig up the railways’ day which meant getting on a replacement bus service. Arriving in to Bradford-on-Avon the town was at a standstill whilst the roads were shut for the remembrance procession. Rain meant that the conditions were not exactly ideal for photography but I had a wander around the town and took a couple of pictures inside the Saxon church. Bradford-on-Avon is a very beautiful little town (although not exactly designed with cars in mind). I headed back to Swindon in the evening after what felt like far too much food.
This weekend I headed out into the forest of Dean to spend Saturday with my sister’s family. On the way I stopped off in Gloucester and spent a little bit of time exploring the Historic Docks and also the new designer outlet which recently opened. I continued on towards Cinderford where we spent the rest of the day entertaining Holly and Emily. In the evening we headed off to the Annual fireworks display in the obligatory rain. £5 per person was a little excessive if you ask me, although the fireworks were reasonably spectacular. It didn’t take the venue long to turn in to a mudbath. I returned to Swindon on the train in the evening noting a heavy police presence in Gloucester who were apparently expecting football hooligans.
This weekend I headed down to the pond for a weekend packed full of family related activity. On Saturday we were joined my Marianne, Holly, Emily and of course Charlie after the dog-napping drama earlier on in the week. David and Yvonne also popped in and we enjoyed a walk up to Coney’s Castle. The wind was blowing a gale and we all enjoeyd attempting to catch the Autumn leaves which rained down from the trees above.
On Sunday morning we headed down to the beach at Charmouth before returning to the pond for Sunday lunch – we were joined by Rebekah and Tim who came down from Bristol.
On Sunday evening Charlie the Springer Spaniel mysteriously disappeared from my sister’s family home in the Forest of Dean town of Cinderford in Gloucestershire. The next few days were spent frantically searching for a much loved family member. Posters were erected asking for information regarding his whereabouts. Could he have been hit by as car or fallen down an old mine shaft?
Emily was distraught at losing her best friend and couldn’t stop crying. The drama continued until Wednesday when following a tip off from a friend, Charlie was returned to the very relieved household after a police visit to a house on Wednesday evening.
On Saturday I headed over to Bristol for the weekend to spend some time with my sister Rebekah and her fiance Tim. In the evening evening we headed up on to the Clifton Downs to watch the Zambezi Express – an African musical based around the tale of one boy’s pursuit of the ultimate footballing dream, from the backstreets of a Zimbabwe township to triumph in South Africa.
On Sunday we headed out in to Gloucestershire where we first tried to visit the National Arbouretum at Westonbirt but were put off by the thousands of cars. So we drove on to Minchenhampton Comon where we took a walk on the common. I made friends with some highland cattle as well as pretending to be a tree. We also enjoyed a drink at the old Lodge pub before returning to Bristol. I returned to Swindon on Sunday Evening.
On Sunday I took the train over to Cheltenham in search of the Cemetery and Crematorium which is located in the Prestbury area of the town. No one I asked seemed to know where the Crematorium and Cemetery were – I was quite surprised by this considering the size of the place. I was actually looking for my grandparents memorial plates which I finally found after spending a rather surreal hour and a half wandering around the rememberance garden area in the autumn rain. I left some flowers before heading back into town for some food and a quick look around. I headed back to the train station in the evening – just as the sun came out.
This weekend I have spent a total of six hours configuring a website for the West Bay Housing Association which provides sheltered accommodation for the elderly in the small seaside community of West Bay in Dorset. The website is based around the WordPress Content Management System and makes use of the excellent modifiable Atahualpa template. This has been completed as part of my voluntary community Services project. The website will hopefully be launched next month.