Cricket in Croatia

Our impending holiday in Croatia…

John and I went to what was then Yugoslavia for our honeymoon, staying on the island of Krk in the Adriatic. In those days we were blissfully ignorant of any family or sporting connections with the area… Continue reading Cricket in Croatia

Train Dramas: Your Adventure Starts Here

Your Adventure Starts HereI now have a new travel worry.

I have often feared that my very ordinary black suitcase – even with its red ribbon – might be taken by mistake, leaving me as once did happen with someone else’s entirely unsuitable clothes.

Now Matthew Parris has provided me with another anxiety. He wrote recently in an article in the Times that his suitcase – apparently bright yellow to avoid such situations – was not actually stolen as such. It was however opened by some children on the Matlock to Derby train. Woefully unsupervised by their over-relaxed parents they had opened his case and gleefully rifled through his clothes tossing everything out into the carriage.

He discovered his underpants festooned on the luggage racks. Matthew makes light of it but to my mind that could be the ultimate humiliation.

Our latest railway drama was nothing like that, fortunately.

Derby Station is being entirely revamped, with new platforms, new tracks, and new signalling. Progress comes at a price, and East Midland Trains have been meticulous in warning everyone about all the inconveniences such as lines being closed, bus replacements etc.

But however efficient, they couldn’t warn us about the latest blip we experienced one very sunny day recently. John and I were going down to London to see our growing family down there.

The Matlock to Derby TrainWithin ten or so minutes of boarding our lovely Matlock-Derby train, we stopped at Ambergate for an unnaturally long time. Peering out of the window we saw our driver standing by a little cupboard type box on the platform, talking animatedly on his mobile phone.

Eventually the conductress came round to explain that there had been an incident on the line out of Derby, where an engine had caught fire. Emergency services were helping passengers to disembark onto the tracks and as a result no trains were running for the foreseeable future.

What to do? Passengers in a hurry rushed off to try to find a bus (unlikely) or hitch a lift (possibly even less likely) and soon there was only John and me left. We sat on the platform in the sun and waited. And waited…Fortunately we didn’t have any deadlines so were quite relaxed.

Our lovely crewThe lovely train crew rallied round in a most heartwarming fashion. The driver found us a bottle of water from his cab, and the conductress offered to share her lunch. Eventually John overheard her pleading with the powers that be that they had an ‘extremely elderly couple’ who were in urgent need of a taxi to Derby.

A taxi did eventually arrive and we were very efficiently transported to Derby where we were hustled into the 1st Class waiting room and when trains started running we were escorted onto a 1st Class carriage. The rest of the journey passed without hitch, and in some comfort.

And I end with an amusing but absolutely true incident. A couple of weeks ago we had been down to Kent. As we boarded the train taking us to London Victoria John spotted a notice warning that there were no accessible toilets on the train. I reassured him that that must mean no ‘accessible’ loos. The train was crowded, it couldn’t possibly mean simply no loos.

Not so. We soon were informed by public announcement that indeed there were no lavatories at all on the train. If anybody was in serious need, the train would stop at the next station, and would wait while an attendant on the station was found to accompany this poor passenger to the station facilities. We did stop, and we did wait a while but as far as we could tell, no one had had the courage to take up the suggestion.

So, three bits of advice I have taken on board: keep an eye on your luggage at all times, pack with care assuming your case contents might be exposed to one and all, go to the loo before boarding a train…

Never mind worrying that the train might not move at all.

‘What a Way to Run a Railroad!’

We went to London last weekend.

I was intending to write a joyous post, telling of Swan Lake, baby granddaughters and other real delights. But our journey (“It’s Your Journey. Love it!”) home almost blotted out all our happy memories, so please forgive me this miserable National Rail rant while I get it off my chest… Continue reading ‘What a Way to Run a Railroad!’

The marionfsblog has temporary health ‘issues’

Dove in St Dunstan's Church, MayfieldAt least, we trust they’re temporary.

(But that has nothing to do with this beautiful dove, in St. Dunstan’s Church Mayfield, where my lovely goddaughter, Nicola, was married last week…) Continue reading The marionfsblog has temporary health ‘issues’

Golden Junketings in Scarborough

When I was young, the occasional elderly couple that reached their Golden Wedding anniversary seemed frighteningly old and frail.

Golden Wedding Tea PartyNow that John and I and many of our friends have reached that stage, I am glad to report that we all feel – and who would argue – look extremely youthful and vigorous.  Continue reading Golden Junketings in Scarborough

An Unexpected Outing to York

John had an appointment in York last week.

Having been given very precise details about the timings, at the last minute the date was postponed until August. We had already made arrangements to stay with Piers and Mary, some very special old friends (old as in longstanding you understand) who live in York, and were most reluctant to cancel the chance of seeing them so drove up as planned.

So, we had a really lovely unexpectedly free day… Continue reading An Unexpected Outing to York

New beginnings in Nagoya

We are delighted to include a post by Guest Blogger/our friend Shelley, who moved to Japan a few months ago. We asked her to write this post as we were intrigued to learn how they were getting on.

Shelley is a very talented photographer, and she and her husband Jonathan helped us a great deal a few years ago when they were staying in Douglas’s Barn and John was wondering what camera he should get.

We spent a delightful evening with them as we drank wine and they let John try their cameras and talked him through the pros and cons of various models. Their advice has proved invaluable.

Shelley’s website is http://www.www.shelleybray.com. Do have a look. She tells me she hasn’t had much time on it recently, as they have been rather preoccupied with getting to grips with all that is new for them since their move to Japan.

After an amazing 3 years in Hong Kong our Japanese visas finally came through.

We could pack up and make our move to Nagoya, Japan’s 3rd largest city, our new home for the next 3 years.

The start of Shelley's stint in Japan
All set for Japan
This was a day to celebrate, getting to this point had taken the best part of 7 months, at times it had been hard to believe we would ever get approval to be resident in Japan, but the months of paperwork and hurdles we’d had to jump were now passed and at last we were in our new home reunited with our belongings. Continue reading New beginnings in Nagoya