What a thoroughly disappointing week. It’s been wet, cold and cloudy for much of the week and the topic of conversation just about anywhere you go is what a disappointing summer its been so far. The weather has been so grim that the Guardian has been calling for photographs of holiday makers’ underwhelming holiday photos.
Ben shared the link on Facebook and, perhaps not surprisingly, Nick, Penny and I all had the same recollection. All three of us remembered, independently and, no doubt, with some degree of affection, one of our camping holidays. We had planned a simple and cheap camping holiday in Wales sometime in the early 1980s (Adam was probably about three or four). My recollection is that we had spent much of a pretty good summer working on the cottage or in the garden or whatever and towards the end of the summer we decided to set off for Wales. The holiday started off remarkably poorly and spiralled downwards from there.
The first night we discovered that we had left Adam’s “unga” behind (his comfort blanket or similar – we and he referred to it as his “unga” because, as he held it next to his face, that was the comforting sound he made to himself – unga, unga, unga). We spent the next morning in the nearest town touring all the fabric shops to try and find some muslin which is what the “unga” was made of. After some scouring we found something which worked and Adam, at least, was moderatly happy for the rest of the vacation.
The rest of the time it simply rained. It rained, and rained, and rained and then rained some more. I remember just about every shop we visited folks were exclaiming how wonderful it was to have some rain after the hot, dry summer they’d had up until then. Instead of the cheap and cheerful holiday by the sea we had planned, we ended up spending a small fortune visiting all sorts of attractions to get out of the rain. We went down a slate mine, visited museums, drove all over the principality and even toured a couple of power stations – riveting stuff! I think we had planned to stay for a couple of weeks but after the first week we held a vote and it was unanimous – everyone had been through enough, thank you, and home we went. At least we would be warm and dry.
Sadly, the photo albums are already packed for our move or I would have shared the photograph we took on our last day on holiday. It was a depressing photograph of Pen and the three boys huddling in front of a slate heap in the pouring rain looking thoroughly miserable, like four drowned rats. We could certainly tell the Guardian a thing or two about underwhelming holiday photos but if you’d like to see what currently passes as such you can do so here.
Penelope and I had a lovely day out on Thursday. Out of the blue we both thought how nice it would be to go and do something so off we went to Wightwick Manor, an interesting National Trust property in Wolverhampton. It was built in the late 19th century by Theodore Mander of the Mander family who were very successful industrialists perhaps most well known as paint and varnish manufacturers.
The house is one of a very few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. The walls are covered with William Morris wallpaper and the floors with William Morris designed carpets. The house also has a remarkable collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Rossetti, Burne-Jones and their followers. In short, an absolute masterpiece which we were delighted to discover.
As I mentioned last time, the Tour de France finished last week – it was a great race this year with the Brit, Christopher Frome, winning by just over a minute after three weeks of furious pedalling! The Guardian had a nice collection of photos the other day covering each of the 21 stages in 21 photos. The photos will give you, perhaps, a glimpse of how gruelling an event this is and the phenomenal cyclists who complete it. I get tired just thinking about it!
Not sure if (or when) you will be able to see it elsewhere but Penelope and I have enjoyed the television series Humans which finishes its first season tonight. It’s set in a parallel present and features “synths”, i.e., synthetic humans, which are marketed as high-tech luxury household appliances. It’s been a very interesting series with issues surrounding artificial intelligence and its possible threat to mankind, as well as exploring what it means to be human. If you see it on your television listings or can find it somewhere online it might be worth a look.
Good news for those of you who have been diligently keeping your fingers and toes crossed on our behalf – moving day is Friday 14 August, just under two weeks’ time. My goodness, don’t we have a lot of stuff, most of which is probably unnecessary. And, aren’t there an awful lot of people and institutions which need to be informed – energy providers, water, council tax, doctor, banks, credit cards, the tax man, telephone, television, broadband, driving license, insurance, and on and on and on and on. We are very excited!
Much love to you all,