Reflection on 2018

In keeping with my yearly tradition I created a calendar for Mr C, showing one photographic memory from each month of the previous year. I also created a calendar for mum, having noticed a perfect place for it in her new kitchen.

2018 didn’t go according to plan. We had intended to visit Italy in June for our 20th wedding anniversary, and during which we had planned to renew our wedding vows. However, in January, mum put her house up for sale and placed a deposit for a new-build bungalow due to be ready for occupation in late May.  We knew mum would need support immediately after moving in to her new home so we postponed the Italy trip until September. Snow and cold, adverse weather over the winter months and other factors caused delays and there was no clear view of when the bungalow would be completed. Each delay brought us closer to our September holiday plan and, once again, we found we couldn’t risk a holiday abroad because we would be needed to help with the move.

Mum’s move didn’t affect our Easter plans; a short break in York to coincide with mums’ 85th birthday. We stayed in the Minster Hotel and from it we visited; The Yorkshire museum with its temporary dinosaur exhibition, Fairfax House, The Treasures House, Barley Hall, Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop (which proved expensive), York Minster with its Easter garden and the famous Betty’s tea shop where we had to queue for a short while outside whilst waiting for a table and where the staff, after learning it was mums birthday, presented her with an individual cupcake complete with lit candle. On Easter Sunday, we attended the Easter Eucharist Service in York Minster which was presided over by the Archbishop of York (Dr John Sentamu).

In April we had a family gathering in the Little Amsterdam Café in Banbury. There were traffic problems on the Motorways that day and some of the party were badly delayed. Lunch of Dutch pancakes and waffles was thoroughly enjoyed by all (eventually).

Instead of Italy in June, we visited family in Kent for their house warming party and followed this with a few days in Chichester. We paused our journey to Kent in Banbury, taking another opportunity to lunch in the Little Amsterdam Café. Whilst in Kent, we were able to visit The Church of St Mary, Willesborough.

From Kent, we made our way to Chichester, taking the coastal route and stopping off in Eastbourne for lunch. We chose to have fish from a chippy and eat it whilst enjoying views of the English Channel and Eastbourne pier from the promenade. Just as I was finishing my lunch, a seagull did a duck and dive manoeuvre, passing between Mr C and myself as we sat on a bench, and tried (but did not succeed) to relieve me of my last piece of fish.

Lunch complete we continued along the coast road towards Brighton and then inland on a more direct route to Chichester and No. 4 Canon Lane, the former archdeaconry. We had a fabulous room looking out over the garden. During our stay at No. 4 Canon Lane we visited many interesting places; Arundel (including the Castle, Parish Church, Fitzalan Chapel, Catholic Cathedral and the Wildlife and Wetland Trust Reserve), The Bishop’s Palace Gardens (adjoining the B&B), Weald and Downland Living Museum, Tangmere Museum of Aviation (although several planes had been removed temporarily so that they could take part in the RAF 100 celebrations in London), Chichester Cathedral (complete with scaffolding and a dubious modern art display), Novium Museum, Pallant House Gallery, Fishbourne Palace, West Dene Gardens (where Mr C managed to misplace his glasses and had to have them posted home). Last but not least, called in at Stonehenge on the homeward journey.

In September, just before our main holiday, we had a mini-break in Malvern staying in the Cotford Hotel. We picked this hotel because we had enjoyed a very pleasant dining experience when we staying in the area the year before.

When making the booking we were unable to book our room of choice or even our second choice so we opted for another of the rooms that was available. When we arrived at the Cotford, we were delighted to find that we had had a complementary upgrade to our original room of choice, The Bishop’s Room.

Our overnight stay was ahead of a gathering of the Shutterchance group of photographers for a special birthday celebration. The meetup the following day was at Croome Court. The weather was kind to us and a great day was had by all.

For our main holiday of 2018, we returned to one of our favourite parts of the world, the Northumberland border. We stopped off for a couple of nights in Jesmond Dene, just outside Newcastle, before moving further north and spending a week in the Collingwood Arms, right on England’s border with Scotland. Mr C insisted on us travelling in his car even though I had wanted to drive in my car. As it transpired, I was glad I wasn’t driving because whilst we were there we were caught in the countryside when Storm Ali was in full blow. The wind and the dust storms were alarming and I had never before seen trees move like that!

Our journey to Jesmond Dene was quite circuitous. The SatNav plotted a route that took an hour to get not very far, leading us to lunch in Sandbach (i.e. before joining the motorway) rather than Kirkby Lonsdale (i.e. after leaving the motorway) as intended. We reprogrammed the SatNav for a more direct route, albeit a different route from the one we usually take. We did stop in Kirkby Lonsdale for a cup of tea before the SatNav directed us through some stunning scenery and past some interesting sites including Barnard’s Castle and Raby Castle.

Whilst in Jesmond Dene we met up with a friend (JD) and had a day out to Cullercoats, St Mary’s Lighthouse and Whitley Bay. JD gave me another lovely painting. That evening, we dined in the excellent Peace & Loaf restaurant (another plus point for a stay in Jesmond Dene), travelling in style in a Mercedes (although the return journey was much more modest).

Our journey from Jesmond Dene to Cornhill on Tweed incorporated a brief detour to Barter Books in Alnwick before we visited Bamburgh Castle. The beginnings of Storm Ali were whipping up and the wind was booming down the chimneys and causing movements in some of the upstairs floors.

This was the first time we had stayed at the Collingwood Arms. We still miss staying in our original B&B but feel it would not be the same without the previous proprietors with whom we have become friends and still meet when we are in the area.

The Collingwood Arms is ideally located, allowing us to visit; Cragside (almost, wind stopped play on two separate occasions), Chillingham Castle (almost, wind stopped play), Rothbury village including Lord Armstrong’s grave, Thirlestone Castle, Abbotsford House, Melrose and its Prior Wood Gardens, Scott’s View, Roslyn Chapel, the Coastal drive from Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Jedburgh Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, Chain Bridge Honey Farm with its Bus Café and new bee garden (which was an unexpected delight), Flodden where we found again the nearby CherryPie tree that was painted by JD, the River Tweed and Traquair (where I missed an entire floor of the house!).

Finally, on our way home, we encountered two fully grown, escaped bulls in the road near Jedburgh.

Our final break of the year was in Ely staying in the delightful Peacocks B&B where we were treated to complimentary tea (or in my case Elderflower Presse) and cake on arrival. During our stay in Ely we visited; Toppings Book Shop, Cromwell’s House, City Cycle Centre, Ely Cathedral, Cutlacks and World War One 100 years poppy memorials. On our way home, we also visited Anglesey Abbey.

At the beginning of the year, we joined the HHA. We thought the variety of houses would be fun as the National Trust has become corporate and stale, its individual properties not being quite as charming, special or unique as they used to be. At first, we struggled with the HHA. The properties all have different opening times and some of them are only open mid-week, which means that we couldn’t on a whim just go on a day out to visit a property. We had to plan it. That being said, we have enjoyed our visits over the year; Fairfax House, Adlington Hall, Broughton Castle, Hodnet Hall (just me), Haddon Hall, Arundel Gardens, West Dene Gardens, Bamburgh Castle, Abbotsford and Traquair.

In between our breaks we had the opportunity to visit Pitchford Hall on a private “invitation to view” ticket. I also took Mr C on a surprise magical mystery tour to Shropshire Lavender for lunch followed by a visit to Boscobel House, home of the Royal Oak. After many years of not quite getting around to it, Mr C and I went to the Elan Valley. He was blown away by the size of the dams. Glorious weather meant the water levels were rather low so not quite as impressive as they might have been. We also visited Arley Arboretum, Shugborough Hall and Ironbridge to see the bridge under wraps as it was being renovated which enabled us to see the ironwork underneath the bridge from a temporary viewing platform.

Our last excursion of 2018 was a December treat to see Chirk Castle and Powis Castle decked out for Christmas. Both displays were well worth the visit.

We were blessed with a fabulous, hot summer, perfect for holidaying in the UK and lots of fine dining experiences on the patio. Throughout the summer months I committed to a walking challenge of at least 10,000 steps per day which I achieved but after the challenge was complete I fell by the wayside.

I visited Attingham Park several times throughout the year, taking in the different seasons although unfortunately I missed seeing it decked out for Christmas.

We embarked on a programme of house decorating, painting and refreshing. The latest room is the one where my computer is. I love the new colour because it gives out a warm glow which is the effect I was trying to achieve for what is one of the darker rooms of the house.

The year brings us full circle back to Mum’s house move. Her house move finally took place in August but there remain some ongoing issues with repairing faults to the property that we noticed when she moved in.

Reflection on 2018

I wonder what 2019 will bring my way :-)

14 Comments CherryPie on Jan 9th 2019

14 Responses to “A Reflection on 2018”

  1. James Higham says:

    Best not to speculate about 2019, the Lord will provide.

  2. The Yum List says:

    What a lovely look back over the year. You sure captured some lovely photos.

  3. Ayush says:

    a calendar is always a nice thought, i think, for loved ones, CP.

  4. A beautiful selection of photos for your calendar gift. I always do something similar for my son. You have had some wonderful holidays and breaks this year at so many beautiful locations. I look forward to seeing where you visit in 2019 :)

  5. Now I know how you filled that little jar so full of happy memories.
    Are you going to get another jar this year? One is definitely not enough.

  6. lisl says:

    These are memories caught forever in word and picture – what a great idea, and personalised calendars, different for Mark and your Mum- great

  7. Ginnie says:

    I didn’t read this entire post, Cherry, but I have read about your trips throughout the year and have enjoyed your antics along the way. Taking care of parental challenges at this stage in life is, well, a challenge, to be sure. I wish you a successful and peaceful 2019 in that regard.