It's Tuesday evening, and I have just picked up the van. The final bill was £2503.16, and they threw in a full service to boot, so, seeing that she now purrs like a kitten AND is likely to be alright for her next MOT in May, we can once again get back to work, earn some pennies, and breathe a sigh of relief. I can't pretend that it wasn't a relief to hand back the Hippo van. Wherever I parked up, it got funny looks. I wouldn't mind, but the hire company is called U-Drive, who offer a premium service, except for the fact that their vehicles have a hippopotamus plastered all over them. It was a lovely van to drive though, and the latest model Ford transit as well!
But back to the title of this post.
A very dear friend of ours came to stay for a couple of days, and it was lovely to catch up with him. We shared some lovely food and conversation well into the night, and discussed all manner of things, as is usual. It was a real pity when we had to take him to the train station on Saturday morning for his return journey home. He spends some of his time singing with a Christian group, and in the clip below, he is the white guy on the far left. His voice is quite beautiful, although it's mixed with the others singing here.
No sooner had we seen him off and returned home, than the grand kids came to stay for the next couple of days. Amanda had to study on Saturday afternoon, and so I grabbed the bull by the horns and headed to a place that has always fascinated me, ever since the age of eight or nine, when my slightly elder brother and I would make the seafront pilgrimage from Boscombe, about a mile and a half away. Our parents were either very trusting, or oblivious, as we disappeared every other week or so. I think maybe the latter, but we were raised in an age when kids looked for mental input and stimulation themselves, rather than hanging around and complaining that they are bored, and expecting someone to entertain them. But I digress, and so back to our little afternoon adventure.
I was heading to this place, the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. The photo is pulled off the internet, and is from the early summer, so imagine it with a little less leafage on the plants.
We parked up in Bournemouth, and made our way down to a very windy beach. We only had about a half mile to walk before we had to head back up to the cliff top.
The surf was whipping up a lot of foam, and I really enjoyed kicking it up into the air and watching Ella get covered. I think she did too, but it was tough if she didn't.
And there it was, a short, but rather stiff climb ahead, the museum.
We had a couple of 'breath' breaks on our way up the zigzag, for the young ones you understand. This is us taking a 'selfie', and sayin 'big fat sausages'.
And then we were in, amongst the statues, paintings and object d'art. Sir Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes were important people to Bournemouth in their time, and as well as buying the Royal Bath Hotel next door, and extending it, they travelled extensively, and collected vast numbers of trinkets and artifacts as they went. The museum, then called East Cliff Hall, was built by Sir Merton, and given to his wife as a birthday love token. They filled the house with items collected from their travels, and although only a fraction are on display now, the rest are kept archived for safe keeping.
There are butterfly and shell collections, treasures from Japan, Norway, Australia, Egypt and India to name but a few places. paintings, marble and bronzes, ceramics, fighting japanese warriors and ivory combs, the list is quite endless, and the reason it has held my fascination since childhood. Joshua and Ella insisted on going around three times! It was hard to keep up with them as they hurried from room to room exploring the maze that the place is.
Here they are checking out the things in the Japanese room. In the good old days, one was allowed to roam amongst the pieces, but now the most precious things are kept behind glass, only in this room though fortunately.
It was thirsty work, and so coke and cookies were called for............
.....before heading into the labyrinth in the garden, finding the gate, and making our way along the pier.
It was so windy that little Ella could barely stand up.
They both slept well that night, and we all awoke to a lovely sunny and crisp winters morning, and so headed over to Moors Valley Country Park, so that the kids could use up a little energy and explore.
It's a fun place, set in woodland, and a walk takes you through forest, where there is a series of structures for the young ones to play on and explore.
I think we got more tired than them, as we clambered about, making sure that they were safe as they climbed and clambered! The time eventually came for them to be returned to their parents though, and so after a sandwich and a drink, we made the journey back, and handed them over. It really was a fun few days.
It's still Tuesday, about 9pm. I have the van, youngest daughter Bex has offered her services for the entire day tomorrow, although it's her day off work, just to help me catch up with work. I have accepted, and have made plans, but am looking out on a night of storms so far. The day has seen strong winds, rain and hail, and lightning that took out the Poole lifting bridge. Apparently tomorrow is set to be worse. I'm not sure where all this is going, but work isn't easy to get on top of this year so far. I do wonder what is happening. I will keep you posted as to how things pan out. The weekend was great though, and we have Dusty Springfield playing!