9 June 2013

I have to admit, this has been a pretty decent week – the weather has actually been quite pleasant, for the most part, with lots of sunshine. It’s still been “fresh” but a distinct improvement on what we’ve enjoyed recently. If we could just get the temperatures up a bit and perhaps cut back a bit on the wind, it might be just about perfect.

We’ve also had a marvellous week because we’ve had some most excellent house guests – Chip and Leca Boynton and their youngest son Mark have been with us for a few days at the start of their short European vacation. As I mentioned before, we’ve taken advantage of their kind and generous hospitality at Boynton Hall when passing through Boston on a number of occasions. So, we were delighted to be able to attempt to return the favours.

The Boyntons Punting in OxfordWe did run them pretty much ragged, I’m afraid – they’ll need the rest of their holiday to recover from the hectic schedule of activities we subjected them to. We dragged them first of all to Kenilworth Castle and then to Radway and Edgehill (forced march down and then, of course, back up the hill again). The following day it was off for a punt down the river and a picnic in Oxford followed by a whirlwind tour of some of the colleges and landmarks. And then, on Wednesday afternoon we all went off to Stratford for the evening’s performance of As You Like It, which was excellent.

Before the show we ate dinner in the Rooftop Restaurant at the theatre and very good it was too. The food was very tasty, the service was outstanding and the view over the river, which was bathed in sunlight, was delightful. I was so impressed with how they dealt so efficiently with a significant number of tables, the occupants of which all needed to finish at about the same time to get to their respective shows. We finished with about ten minutes to spare and made our way calmly and serenely to our seats.

JaquesThe play itself was terrific fun which is what we have come to expect from the RSC and we had a great evening. It’s sad to confess, but I had forgotten that this play includes the “All the world’s a stage” monologue which was delivered exquisitely by Jaques, the melancholy fool.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

“Mewling and puking . . .” has always been one of my favourite expressions and one which I try to work into the conversation whenever the opportunity arises.

Alas, the Boyntons had other fish to fry and on Thursday I drove them to Banbury Station where they caught the train headed for the Eurostar and a few days in Paris. As we made our way towards Banbury we passed Ms Playchute on her return from Heathrow having collected our next set of visitors, Penny’s sister Rebecca and her daughter Hannah from Australia. Hardly time to clean the linen in this hotel!

Becca and Hannah have come for a few weeks to spend some time with Pen’s mother, Beryl who has been quite poorly. She’s been in hospital for the past two weeks getting some intravenous antibiotics but they freed her on Friday afternoon so she’s back upstairs in her suite and entertaining the visitors.

And, that’s not the end of our visitor-generated excitement! Although they’re not able to visit beautiful downtown Byfield, we are looking forward to meeting up with my cousin Wendy and her husband John who are on a European jaunt from California and have a bit of free time while in London. We’re going up to town to spend the afternoon with them on Wednesday. I can’t think how many years it’s been since Wendy and I saw each other but it’s a long time ago. Perhaps not quite as long ago as these photos were taken but these were the only ones I could find with me and she in the same place at the same time.

Wendy and Sandy
Wendy and Sandy

Sallie, Barbara & Greg
Sallie, Barbara & Greg

There’s a plethora of birthday wishes to convey this week: So, Happy Birthday to Hope yesterday, to Greg (The Younger) this coming Friday and Pam on Saturday – hope they all were/will be excellent and full of good cheer.

Some striking aerial photographs of London to finish with this week.

Much love to you all,