Thank you everyone for your Christmas cards & kind wishes
Every year I say it, where did the time go? Do you remember when we were young Fridays seemed to take for ever to come around. Now it’s not Fridays that come around quickly it’s the whole month and year. Of course it gets worse once you are retired as every day is a weekend. Then add in a trip or day away and I definitely become confused.com
I have had to get the calendar out see what we actually did do in 2022, see can’t even remember back that far.
It was Panto, I can remember it was good but that’s all couldn’t tell you much else but remember Bob getting wet with water being thrown. Sleeping Beauty at Theatre Royal has had really good re-views so we should have a good time and laugh soon. We also went and saw Mamma Mia in Plymouth in January, just what we needed with the feel good factor. Richard & I had hoped to have gone to the Travel Trade Show but due to engineering work unable to get to it.
We went to see the snowdrops at Welford Park, luckily the rain had just stopped when we got there and next day we went to Salisbury & a guided tour at the Cathedral. Richard took the trip to Bournemouth & Highcliff Castle as we still had our elderly cat. He did bring me back some of the lovely cakes left over from the visit as I had booked for talk and refreshments and they really had gone to town with the refreshments. I think they thought we had travelled up to Christchurch that morning not realising we had stayed overnight in Bournemouth and had a lovely dinner and big breakfast before the short drive there.
It turned out to be the last Classical Spectacular at Royal Albert Hall, so it was very lucky we had booked, usually we go in November and sometimes in March as well. Due to the conflict in Ukraine they didn’t do the 1812 but it was still an excellent concert. We had planned on visiting Hampton Court next day but due to covid/staffing they closed Mondays & Tuesdays. You might have thought it wouldn’t be a problem going to another attraction but so many places were also closing those days or didn’t want to take a group of over 30. However The Middle Temple in London were happy for us to visit and have lunch in the Hall and then in the afternoon we had a Blue Badge guide for coach tour. The Middle Temple is not a religious Temple but one of the 4 Inns of Court, the building being built between 1562 & 73 so it was a real honour to be able to visit and have lunch there, especially a few weeks later it was on Master Chef when the finalists had to cook for VIP’s
I went and tested positive for covid and so my wonderful helpers helped out and took the trip to Buckfastleigh for steam train ride and onto Exmouth for boat trip. I know they said they had a good time and I did learn that the draw ended up with some broken biscuits. I was negative and able to go to my favourite show That’ll Be The Day and Bristol when some went to see Anything Goes others went to British Aerospace but a few went to a day out and visit to Za Za for meal. Another day trip this time to National Trust Lanhydrock, still not all the rooms open and we were lucky to have a lovely sunny day as now it is quite a walk from parking to the house. At the end of the month we went to Exbury and the gardens were at their very best, next day we attended the BBC Garden Garden/Flower Show at Beaulieu. Good day going around Beaulieu but most thought the Garden/Flower Show a bit disappointing and not many purchases came back on the coach.
A boat trip at Fowey, great laugh 3 little open boats took the group off, then we did a detour to Charlestown for ice cream as the road we were to take was closed due to an accident. The following week we went to Salisbury most going to the Cathedral for the Flower Festival. There were some astonishing exhibits, especially one of the Queen’s Coronation. That weekend we went to Windsor for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. We had two coaches and next day was very hot and some visited Brooklands Museum while others went to RHS Wisley. Following week it was another mystery trip, these are always so popular, we went to Looe then a scenic trip to Mount Edgecumbe Park, and then next week it was to Plymouth for Les Mis, having seen it a few times I didn’t go but spent the day with Sylvia doing our own thing. Those that did go all raved about this latest production.
Our first trip in June was to Sonning Mill for a show we should have gone in 2020 but of course that was the year of covid, when it was re-scheduled in 2021 it was socially distanced so we had to wait till 2022 and it was worth it. Sonning Mill is a little theatre only seats 220 and you have a meal there before the show. We went to see a Jersey Boys tribute which were brilliant. Our selected ladies in the front row definitely were into it and of course the cast knew who to pick on and Marion was more than happy to play along. Next day it was a visit to nearby Saville Gardens and quite a few purchases mainly roses which surprisingly were reasonably priced. Then onto Windsor Farm Shop, (this was one of the Dukes pet projects and would often pop in the see how things were going) for a quick look around and refreshments. We were very surprised to see that yellow reduced stickers were coming out as it was towards the end of the day, needless to say quite a few more bags back on the coach. Later in the month it was either a trip to Antony House or Cher the Musical at Theatre Royal. I took the group to Cher and Richard the group to Antony via Mount Edgecumbe route. I wasn’t sure about the Cher show but it was brilliant and we could have happily sat there and watched it again in the evening. Following week it was off to the Donkey Sanctuary and what was to be a boat trip along the Jurassic Coast. It was however very windy and cries of I’m not going on a boat trip in that wind Carol, count me out. As it was so windy Stuart Line weren’t going to sail on the open sea any rate and we had a long 2 hour smooth estuary tour instead and all happy and enjoyed!
Our trip to Mid Wales postponed from 2020. Good time had by all, good company, food and attractions. Aberglasney Gardens were excellent, we did rides on both the Talyllyn & Welshpool & Llanfawr Steam Railways. Had a ranger tour of Elan Valley and visit to dam, followed by Kite Feed at Gigrin Farm which was amazing. A day trip to two National Trust Barrington Court & Lytes Carey manor on a boiling hot day. You quickly forget how hot the summer was and we were wondering will it ever rain again. At the end of the month a trip to see Dreamgirls at Theatre Royal Plymouth, while some did Antony House. Dreamgirls was like Marmite love or hated, I was the later I am afraid to say.
Still boiling hot when we visited Cannington Walled gardens which were starting to suffer a bit with the hot and long dry spell then onto Clarks Village – I didn’t buy anything, not even an ice cream, it was so hot they had sold out. Following week it was our boat trip on the Avon Gorge in a glass topped boat, even with them providing bottled water it was roasting. The weekend saw us off on Richards Gardens & National Trust break, we started at the Memorial Arboretum, and so hot that after our guided train or buggy trip most made for shelter. Next day a visit to the new RHS garden Bridgwater where we had a shower of rain, interesting garden but didn’t do it for me don’t know why it didn’t have the right vibes. Onto Ness Gardens where although not as spectacular most seemed to like the feel of the place. Next day two National Trust Penryn different and interesting and then Bodnant which of course we all loved. Following day two more NT, starting with Quarry Mill which we returned to as on our last visit the Mill and looms were closed whilst they did some repair work and put in a disabled lift etc. They were filming Countryfile and after Richard found a Countryfile book in the second-hand shop he then of course had to find John Craven to sign it which he very kindly did. I think Richard might have had thoughts on putting it on eBay but it was put in the draw which Dea won which was nice as she was really keen to get here hands on it being a keen photographer and see call her Newton Abbot Travel Club’s official photographer. In the afternoon still hot a trip to nearby Tatton Park before returning to the hotel. There had ‘been’ a wedding on, the couple not looking very happy we later found out that although they had gone ahead with day as it was booked and paid for, in fact the bridegrooms devorce hadn’t come through. Unfortunately some of our group experienced the rows during the night. We do see life on our trips. Our last day and a visit to the lovely Powis Castle gardens. The end of the month was one of our very popular mystery trips and yes it was. We had planned on going to Tapeley Gardens after coffee at one of the favourite coffee stops at Bridwell only to get email at 8.00 in morning to say the coach won’t got through the gates. When the coach came to pick us up there had been an accident at Telegraph and the road was closed so onto Plan B coastal road to Exeter, ring Bridwell saying coming but running late and decision taken to go to Ifracombe. All worked really well and as nobody knew what was planned they weren’t any the wiser until we told them on the way home.
What started out as a lovely break, the heavens opened as we made our way to Henley for our boat trip to Reading. A lovely trip but on it we learnt the Queen had been taken ill and the family called. We had only just got on the coach at Reading to hear that she had died. I think we all knew she was frail but expected her to go on forever so it was a shock to everyone. During our evening meal reports coming in of attractions and events that were going to close next day. Did we have a Plan B no not really, we were going to RHS Wisley for their Flower Show, oh Richard the Queens the Patron of RHS but then thinking positive would they close when they had their big flower show on, had it been a normal day I think they would have but we were lucky it went ahead they just cancelled the music which I don’t think anyone missed any rate. Plenty of purchases coming back on the coach. By the time we were home enquiries coming in, were we going to London for Lying in State or Funeral. Originally I said no then having slept on it said yes we would go just to pay our respects and lay some flowers etc. They were from our garden and was surprised when we saw the funeral on the coffin were almost the same flowers, I quickly realised that King Charles, that still doesn’t seem right had organised them from Royal Household gardens. It was down to station quickly got some train tickets and small group of us went to London. It was the day the coffin was being taken to Westminster Hall, all roads around the centre were closed and we made our way to Hyde Park to watch the big screens with the artillery guns behind us being fired. We then went to Green Park to lay our flowers and see all the other tributes. It was very moving and glad we did go, part of our history and to show respect to our late Queen for all that she had done for us over the last 70 years of her reign. Back on the train which was full with nearly everyone who had been up to do the same as us. At the end of the month, some of the group went to the Carole King musical Beautiful which it was and some went to Saltram House, National Trust.
Richards’s mystery trip, which of course nobody guessed. We started off with a coffee stop at Glastonbury on their market day. Of course Glastonbury is very alternative shall we say, every other shop has crystals, herbs etc. but very enjoyable, then onto our surprise location. It was to Weston Super Mare but to see the SEE MONSTER, the Government Funded Art Installation which was only there for a few weeks. It was an old decommissioned oil rig which had been done out, with gardens, slide which of course quite a few of the re-cycled children amongst us had to try out. Then a trip to the pier. This is where Janet & I decided it would be a good idea to have our photo on one of those big deckchairs. What we didn’t realise is you only sit on the front of it for a photo, not lie back then your feet don’t touch the ground and you resemble a beached whale as four people had to haul me out but it was worth it for the laugh. Next week it was to Cardiff for South Pacific at the Wales Millennium Centre, a lovely modern theatre down at Cardiff Bay.
Our trip to the Royal Mint outside Cardiff on King Charles ,( that still doesn’t seem right to say, write or sing), birthday. I was thinking positive that we might be able to strike our own new King Charles coin although they weren’t going to be issued for circulation for another month and the positive thoughts paid off and we were able to strike our own 50p coin and of course show off to any & everybody when we got home, talk about one upmanship. The week later back up to Cardiff again for the show My Fair Lady at the Millennium Centre, brilliant first class production. Some did come along to do some Christmas shopping before the panic sets in. The Sunday it was local and to Princess Theatre @ Torquay for my favourite show, That’ll Be The Day, over 30 years I have been taking groups to it and never tire. Following week it was our Magic & Cream Tea at Livermead Cliff Hotel in Torquay. What a lovely afternoon we had and raised a lovely lot of money on the draw as well. Peter was so good with his magic and jokes we have had so many requests for another date at the end of the year if he is around & not away working. Anne who won one of the draw prizes, a lovely teddy bear kindly donated to someone she knows and I was sent a picture of Teddy waiting for the lorry to start his new life with a new little friend in Ukraine. The cream tea was good as well, so much so we have booked again for May with Allan doing a Neil Diamond tribute. So start practicing singing now your Sweet Caroline, we only already have 100 booked and only have a few places left you have been warned.
Beginning of the month it was our Christmas Shopper break to Bournemouth & Winchester. Some visited the Russell Cotes Museum at Bournemouth while others visited the Wonderland and shops. Many were disappointed with the shops as so many of the large stores have closed or moved to out of town centres. It seems to be the same everywhere. However after a good evening meal everyone was looking forward to Winchester next day and it didn’t disappoint. The Christmas market by the Cathedral was good and also the shops. The following week we managed to get to the Royal Marines Christmas concert which we had originally booked before covid, then last year it got cancelled as they were required to help out with vaccinations. I was worrying it would be cancelled again as they might have been seconded to drive ambulances but the only problems were the weather and some snow & colds & coughs. It was lovely having the coach nice and warm drop us off right outside the Pavilions and there when we came out waiting for us and not having to walk in the freezing cold to get in a car & wait for it to warm up or catch a bus. The weather at the weekend was still very cold with Black Ice for when we were going to Truro + lots of colds, coughs & covid seemed to be rearing its ugly head again. We’re almost the end of the year and our last trip to Buckland Abbey via the moors. I have never had so many people have to pull out on a trip before, 11 with 7 the day before with colds & coughs, I blamed it on too much kissing under the mistletoe but I think with our age group I might have been watching too many films, more likely the grandchildren gave it to them. We all had to think positive for fine weather so we could have a drive the scenic route over Dartmoor. We were lucky with the weather although there were a couple showers it didn’t affect our day out. After admiring there decorations we called into Endsleigh Garden Centre. It seemed everyone was keen for a bargain and instead of the usual cuppa it was looking at the sale. They certainly had an awful lot of items reduced and I think they must have been very glad we called in judging from the amount that came back on the coach.
As they say that’s all folks at least for 2022, next week we are off to Plymouth for the Panto, Sleeping Beauty, oh yes we are, sorry just couldn’t help getting into the spirit of it. It has received very good reviews so I am sure we should have a good time, hissing and booing and ducking if they bring out the water guns.
We are busy with plans & ideas for 2023 so watch this space and thank you for all your support during the last year. Besides enjoying ourselves we have raised over £3,000 for charity none of this could have been achieved without your help so a BIG BIG THANK YOU.
Wishing you all a Very Happy, Healthy, Peaceful 2023.