The Trip — 2016: Part 6 — Donnington Grove

We head down the rather steep hill (Di’s sitting in her wheelie and I’m backing “up” so she doesn’t go rolling down at breakneck speed) and stop for a pot of tea (for Di) at Costa Coffee and then to the newsagent’s for magazine, candy and cigarettes. They didn’t have the cigarettes she wanted, but we got candy and her gossip rag. Then it’s back up the hill a bit to the coffee shop and the remainder of her tea.

About ten to six, I begin to push her up the hill to the bank building and it begins to rain — no, we don’t have any rain gear as we hadn’t anticipated being around so long. The doorway has a small overhang and we didn’t get too wet as the taxi was right on time. In goes Di, in goes her “wheelie” and in goes I. Fifteen or so minutes later we’re “home” again.

Gerry and I go to the local fish and chips shop and get four orders of fish, three of chips and one of “mushy” peas. The food was good although Di didn’t really like Maria’s putting the chips in the oven to crisp them up a bit — they were no longer proper “English chips” but American “French fries.”

Trip - The Donnington Hotel - Our room is in the building on the right.
The Donnington Hotel – Our room is in the building on the right.

On Wednesday it’s time to leave Maria and Gerry and head to Newbury where we will stay a night in a hotel before Heathrow and a plane to Corfu on Thursday. The same driver who brought us to Hopton picked us up about 11 am and the three-hour journey begins. Less traffic, a bit less conversation between the two ladies but a much higher volume on the radio, BBC2. Oh, what a headache.

We arrived at the Donnington Grove Hotel and Country Club. No one’s playing golf because of the rain. Our driver helps with unloading our gear, but we then find out our room is in a separate building, again uphill of the main building and reception. Another major job of moving luggage (grumble, grumble, grumble). I put Di’s scooter back together and she motors up to the room while I schlep our luggage in three or four trips.

Trip - Donnington Grove Hotel Main Entry
Donnington Grove Hotel Main Entry

She has a couple of cigarettes and I make her a pot of tea to keep her company while I take a walk — the first real exercise I’ve had in a week.

“Oh, didn’t you get enough exercise going up and down the stairs at Gerry and Maria’s or dealing with the luggage and Di’s scooter?” No. I don’t call running errands for the wife exercise.

The golf course was rather pretty, had a nice old bridge and ducks and swans aplenty so I took my camera along on the walk. I found a public footpath through the golf course and had an hour and a half walk.

Back at the hotel I enquired after a bite to eat and a drink. The whisky was good but the English make a “Canadian pour” look generous. I also brought a menu back to the room for Charlie to look at.

Oh, yeah, when I charged my drink to our room the bartender said he’d just brought my wife fresh milk and sugar for her tea.

Di’s sister, Tricia, was in the room with Di and they made dinner reservations for six o’clock. Dinner for Di and I as Tricia had to go home and get packed and ready to fly with us the next day.

Trip - Di and the finally chosen wine.
Di and the finally chosen wine.

The dinner was very good. I had a salmon Caesar salad and poached salmon while Di had a small green salad and the poached salmon with boiled new potatoes. The only snags had to do with the waitress thinking I’d ordered the pork and having to wait for my salmon and the wine.

Charlie ordered a half bottle of a sweet dessert wine and when it arrived it turned out to be not what was on the wine list, red and not very sweet or desserty. Eventually, the bartender found an acceptable wine, which Charlie liked (she had a glass or so and I finished off the rest).

Then it was off to bed to wake up at 3:30 am and picked up at 4:45 am for the trip to Heathrow and an 8:50 flight to Corfu.

The Trip — 2016: Part 4

First to baggage to pick up our suitcases and then to the surface to find our ride. She found us, because of Charlie’s scooter, and we were soon loaded into the car and bound for Hopton to the northeast of London. It was supposed to be a two and a half hour drive that morphed into a three and a half to four hour drive because of Friday traffic and a stalled lorry on a two-lane country highway — with Di and the driver nattering away about either Brexit or Trump for almost the entire journey.Trip - The Cedars

It rained a bit, but we missed the day’s downpours and safely reached The Cedars, the home of Gerry and Maria, Di’s cousins. (In Britain many houses are named and without street number addresses — good luck finding a place without detailed directions and/or local assistance. Their postal service survives with a rather esoteric system of postal codes, but I don’t know how, so I guess we can too.)

Gerry and Maria greeted us warmly, and with Gerry’s help I carried our bags to upstairs to our rooms. Yes, upstairs seventeen steps and then down one step and again down two steps — then the reverse to go downstairs. It’s a bit tough on Di, but she seems, with help, to be managing. She needs both her cane and rollator “wheelie” to successfully navigate the house but does so without complaint.

Trip - The CedarsWe had a nice dinner the first night and slept with no sign of jet lag. Part of this may be due to the excellent company, food, wine and whisky provided by our hosts.

If you think that American television these days spends too much time and effort on the election campaign, you might be surprised to learn that British television, and newspaper coverage, spends at least as much time and effort on Brexit.

If the term “Brexit” means nothing to you, here’s a brief explanation: the United Kingdom last Thursday (June 23, 2016) held a referendum on whether or not to remain in the EU (European Union) or to leave. BRitish EXIT.

To the surprise of many, if not most, UK citizens and politicians, pollsters and bookies the LEAVE side won: 52% to 48%. Some areas, such as metropolitan London and Scotland, voted heavily to remain in the EU and others voted just as heavily to leave.Trip - The Cedars

Even the bookies were wrong in their guesses as to which side would prevail. More money (the richer bettors) was bet on the “Remain” side, but more small bets (the poorer guys) were placed on the “Leave” side of the equation — “Leave” won the election.

The Prime Minister resigned; the financial markets were in turmoil; politicians, pollsters and pundits scrambled to explain the results; many Europeans said the equivalent of “Leave quickly”; and many “Leavers” were quite pleasantly surprised but unsure of what to do next. A number of disappointed (and possibly outraged “Remainers”) began signing an online petition to force another referendum.

A couple of days later the online petition was stripped of many electronic signatures for obvious irregularities such as several thousand signatures coming from British citizens living in Vatican City — with a population of about 800. Hmmm . . .

(to be continued)