24 August 2014

A distinctly cooler spell of weather this week – it seems like summer may indeed be receding from view in our rear-view mirror. It’s still been a pleasant enough week – no great deluges of rain in spite of the occasional dark foreboding skies – but significantly cooler than the temperatures we were enjoying before the remnants of hurricane Bertha passed through. Unfortunately, the Guardian had an article on Monday announcing that this was, indeed, the end of summer.

Forecasters said there was “not much to be optimistic about” as temperatures look set to remain below average with spells of rain throughout the rest of August.

After basking in a glorious heatwave for much of July, the curse of the typical British summer has struck again.

AnnabelleI am writing this week’s edition on Thursday morning as we have a busy, busy weekend ahead of us. It’s Nick and Lucy’s fifth wedding anniversary (on Friday) and they are off to Bruges for the weekend. Which means that we get to babysit Annabelle!

We’ve been resting up and we’ve taken our vitamins and energy drinks to build up our strength and endurance – I’ll let you know how well (or otherwise) we cope with the full-on attention of a nearly three year old!

We’ve also been trying to think of all kinds of amusements we can offer her and places to visit which she will find entertaining. Pete and Sal next door have given us a couple of leads so I am sure we will muddle through somehow. I’m already exhausted just thinking about it! How did we ever survive our own children’s early days? I know we were younger and fitter and had more energy but the real reason I survived is obvious – I went out to work and Penny did all the heavy lifting. Hmm. Perhaps that’s the strategy I should adopt this weekend? Just kidding – we are very much looking forward to it.

We had a great weekend this past weekend – our friends Sue and Stuart came to stay and we all trotted across to some other friends for a very pleasant Sunday soiree.

We used the occasion of Sue and Stuart’s visit to sample the new Italian restaurant which has recently opened in a neighbouring village. We’ve been two or three times to the Windmill Inn in Badby (just up the road) for lunch and it’s always been very good. The last time we were there the landlord asked if we knew the Fox and Hounds in Charwelton, another village just up the road. We replied that we had been there a few times in the past but not for some time. Indeed, the pub had been closed for some time and I’m not sure whether I even knew that it had recently reopened. It had been a fairly ordinary village pub with a substantially-sized restaurant attached serving pretty plain and ordinary fair. Generous quantities to be sure but a fairly mundane menu – a lot of greasy fry-ups!

fox_and_houndsThe pub closed down about nine months ago and the landlord at the Windmill Inn told us that it had been purchased by the “community” and that he had been invited to be the new landlord, as well as looking after the Windmill Inn. He told us that they had transformed the restaurant which was now being run as an Italian restaurant with a great menu and an excellent chef. He also presented us with a couple of vouchers entitling us to 10% off our meal.

You know by now how I am with vouchers! And, most of you will also know that I love Italian food. A good Italian restaurant just five minutes up the road – what could be better! So, with Sue and Stuart in tow we set off to give it a try.

It is at this point that I wish I could write a glowing testimonial about the fantastic new restaurant we visited and how eagerly I was looking forward to our second and subsequent visits. Regrettably, I am not able to do so – the service was poor, the ambiance was dull and uninviting (on a Saturday night, no less) and the food was mediocre, at best.

As we were chatting with the landlord before our meal, he proudly explained how they make everything “from scratch” including their pizza dough, for example. When Sue ordered a vegetarian calzone, however, he told us that he wasn’t sure there was any pizza dough left (as they made it fresh each day). This was at half-past seven on a Saturday evening and, as it turned out, there was none left and Sue had to settle for a vegetarian lasagne. Perfectly OK, I understand but nothing to write home about. Stuart and I both fancied the swordfish from the specials menu. Oops! Big mistake – the fish was severely over-cooked and, although the olives and garnish were tasty enough, it was a leathery disappointment. On top of that, the service was slow to glacial and we sat for long periods of time staring at our empty plates. A real disappointment considering our high expectations and anticipation at having a decent Italian restaurant within such easy reach.

Remember the 81,850 documents which needed transferring from my “old” computer to the new one a few weeks ago? You will be as pleased as I was to learn that I needed to transfer all of them off the new computer onto an external hard drive so that I could reset the new computer to its factory configuration. Now, just for fun, I get to re-install all my software and uninstall all the rubbish that comes with any new computer as well as, eventually copying all 81,850 documents back again. What a lovely way to spend a couple of days. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the new computer was failing to download and install any Windows updates. It would download them and then hang up during the installation process. The Dell helpdesk tried everything they could think of over two days but without any success, hence the need for the reset. If I end up with the same problem in a couple of days I am not going to be very impressed!

Friday Update: Having copied all the 81, 850 documents back and re-installed most of the software I need, you will understand my disappointment when I tell you that I am having exactly the same errors I was experiencing before I spent two days back and forth!

Another Friday Update: Annabelle is travelling lightly for her visit with Grandma and Grandpa!

Annabelle's Baggage

Finally, happy birthday to my father this coming Tuesday! At 91 he still regularly sends me material for the weakly “Amusements” most of which is considerably better than anything I run across. It also happens to be Ben and Donna’s anniversary so many happy returns!

Love to you all,

Greg