The Estuary

The Estuary

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Monday, 31 August 2015

A Shared Hobby

When we moved to Shrewsbury Paul and I were conscious of the fact that we would be spending more time together, as we were moving further away from friends and family. One hobby that we decided to share was playing bridge. Paul was already a confident player, but I would have to learn from scratch.

An evening of Bridge

Bridge is a card game for four players (two partnerships). It is a competition between the two partnerships. There are two stages to each game - the auction or bidding and then the card play.
  •  Bidding is like a language or code. Each member of the partnership uses bids to tell her/ his partner about the hand of cards s/he is holding. After passing sufficient information to and fro one of the partnerships wins the auction and it is time to start playing the cards.
  •  The card play is like whist with each partnership trying to win tricks. During an evening playing at a bridge club you are likely to play 25 - 30 games.
  • The scores from all the games for each partnership are added up at the end of the evening or next day. They are then generally posted on the internet, so your successes and failures are pretty public!!
The idea of attending classes to learn the game was pretty daunting. Paul had joined Shrewsbury Bridge Club and encouraged me to go to the class associated with that club. This is run by Mike and Sarah Amos. They are both excellent bridge players but very tolerant and easy going teachers. I started weekly lessons in September 2008 and have been attending fairly regularly, on Monday evenings, ever since. That's seven years of lessons!! I have learnt a lot but still feel like one of the beginners at Border Bridge Club where we play on Friday evenings.

Shrewsbury Improvers
Monday Evening Bridge Lessons

However, one of my main aims in learning to play bridge was for socialising. The Monday evening classes have been such fun, many of us never want to leave. I got to know a lot of people and made good friends with some. Earlier this year Sarah organised a bridge weekend in Llandudno. Paul and I and two of our friends, Bridget and Ian, went along. It was a great weekend!

There was even time to go swimming before Bridge started! (St. David's Day 2015)

Similarly, once I felt brave enough to attend Border Bridge Club (2010 after 2 years of lessons) I found more new friends. After playing cards until about 10.15, a group of us go to the pub. We have a drink or two, discuss some of the games we have played, catch up on each others' news and generally put the world to rights.  I also sometimes play with Paul at the Monday Club in Shrewsbury.

Playing at Border Bridge Club

At Border, as well as weekly bridge sessions, the committee organises various social events through the year. A fish and chip evening, a summer bar-b-q and of course a Christmas party.

Border Bridge Club Christmas Party 2015.

I keep on practising. I received a very useful Bridge practice computer game as a retirement present - 'Bridge Master 2000'. I play on this most days. I also use an internet site called 'No Fear Bridge' where  you can practice your card play and develop your bidding skills. As all the results are put on the internet you can monitor your progress. My best score when playing with Paul at the Monday Club was 61.74% and we came first. My best score when playing with Bridget at Border was 60.05% and we came second. Generally if I score above 50% I am pretty happy!

Now we are moving on from Shrewsbury and leaving our Shropshire bridge friends behind we are looking forward to meeting new people at bridge clubs in Devon. I hope the members will be as friendly and welcoming as the people I have met playing bridge in Shropshire.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Meantime in Greenwich

Still waiting to move... so in the meantime we spent a couple of days in Greenwich.
Thanks to Sam's generous flat mates James and James who shared their space with us and thanks to Sam for providing a perfect day of sightseeing.

View of Greenwich from the top of the park

It was a very warm and humid day and Sam and I set off quite early for the National Maritime Museum. There were lots of fascinating exhibits. Sam was particularly keen on Nelson's jacket with the hole made by the bullet that killed him!

There was a lot of stuff about Nelson including this miniature Nelson's Column

We saw the famous Turner painting  'The Battle of Trafalgar' which shows HMS Victory and the horror of the battle.

The painting is massive and we had the room to ourselves.

After the museum we met up with Paul. Sam took us on a long walking tour around Greenwich Park. It is the largest enclosed Royal park. It has loads of rare trees which Paul and Sam enjoyed identifying.  There was a small lake, lots of ornamental beds, a rose garden and Queen Caroline's Bath! We also came across a sculpture by Henry Moore.

'Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge'

The Royal Observatory is in the Park and of course the meridian line which represents the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero (0° 0' 0"). Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line.

View of the observatory from the park.

We loved our time in the park, especially as it was such a warm day, although Sam did get stung by a sleepy wasp.

We had some lunch and then decided to take a boat trip up the Thames to the centre of London. This is a brilliant way to see famous London landmarks and you can pay for it with your Oyster Card!

Tower Bridge

 We travelled as far as Embankment and got out and walked along the Strand. We passed Paul's old place of work, King's College, and went for a drink in a beer cellar attached to a micro brewery called 'Temple Brewhouse'.

Then we sailed back down the river and enjoyed the sights from the other direction.

Fantastic view of Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

It was a really lovely day out. I think anyone visiting London would do well to spend time in Greenwich. This is now my favourite part of London.
Thanks again James, James and Sam.
I like this photo of Sam, James and James (taken in Cornwall)

Monday, 17 August 2015

I love SFS (Shrewsbury Flower Show)

Shrewsbury Flower Show is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as 'the world's longest running Horticultural Show in one location'.

Shropshire Horticultural Society organised the first show in 1875!

We have been living in Shrewsbury for nearly eight years and have been to the show every year (although I can't find any photos from 2009).

2015 Gladioli display

2008 was my mother's 80th birthday and as part of her celebration she joined us on our first trip to the flower show.

2008 Enjoying a ride on Sabrina Goddess of the Severn before our visit to the show.

Each year the official opening of the show is preceded by the arrival of the military marching band. The band marches round the town and arrives at the main gates to the park.


I am interested in growing Bonsai trees and have had several attepts. Each year there are amazing displays of Bonsai at the show. I have bought several specimens over the years and have currently got one surviving.

2011 Inspirational Bonsai

2012 was the first year we purchased annual membership which meant we could attend the show both days. It also meant we could use the privileged 'Member's Enclosure' where there was a bit more space for sitting and watching the fireworks.

2012 Member's Enclosure before the main crowds have entered the show.

The format of the show remains pretty similar each year and by 2013 I had learnt how to be sure of a good position for watching the marching band arrive.

2013 The familiar opening ceremony

Last year my sister came with us and we all really enjoyed it. Especially the evening entertainment. There is always a singer or band followed by the massed bands and a male voice choir. The choir finishes off by singing the Welsh and then the English National anthems and then there is the magnificent firework display.

2014 The massed bands put on a great show

Well, 2015 will probably be our last year of attending. It started off very wet but after lunch the sun came out.

2015 The opening march had to be cut short because of the heavy rain.

 I attended a very interesting and useful lecture on growing orchids and am looking forward to expanding my orchid collection once we have moved. I currently have two that are doing quite well.

Despite the wet start I loved my day at the show.

2015 These competition begonias were incredible.

The show typifies the character of the town and its position on the border between England and Wales. It will be a great way to remember so many good things about living in Shrewsbury.

Monday, 10 August 2015

SO MUCH TO DO!! (Thank goodness I'm retired.)

Well things are speeding up. The move is approaching fast and we have loads to do.

A major feature of the move is moving all Paul's plants (as mentioned before he has nearly 200 plants in pots!) We also have to dismantle the greenhouse and pack it up safely so that we can take it to the new house. That's our main project for this week.

Paul's cacti moved out of the greenhouse

Its going to be a full week...

Sunday is the start of the greenhouse project and also Joe is coming to dinner.

First large panes of glass removed

On Monday we will continue with the greenhouse project and I need to publish this blog!

On Tuesday we will continue with the greenhouse project and in the evening we are going to an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night at Shrewsbury Castle. It should be fun, the cast is all male as it would have been in Shakespeare's day. We are going with a group of friends, having a picnic and then watching the show.

On Wednesday we will continue with the Greenhouse project and Sam is coming to stay. He is going to join our walking group (Paul and me) and we will do the Bromlow Callow walk.

This is a landmark group of trees that Sam spotted beside the A30 in Cornwall.
It is a similar feature to Bromlow Callow

On Thursday we should finish the greenhouse project. Hopefully it all goes according to plan. We are a bit concerned that the weight of the safely packed glass is going to be very heavy and might be a problem for the removal men.

This carefully packed glass is going to weigh more than 100kg.

 At the end of the week we have Shrewsbury Flower Show on Friday, including watching the evening fireworks.
On Saturday friends are coming to dinner and watching the repeat performance of the firework display which we can see from our garden. Hopefully we will be able to stand on the one clear patch created by the removal of the greenhouse!

I love the fireworks!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Moving House

It is surprising how long it takes to move house!!

In Autumn 2012 Paul and I decided we were ready for a move. We were planning on selling our woodland so felt the need for a bigger garden.

We considered locations far and wide.

From December 2012 to September 2013 we visited:

Lincolnshire thanks to Rose and Bob

We would like a house with a view.

Devon and Cornwall visiting Harry and co

We like the sea

Wales (Portmeirrion)
An estuary would be nice.

Various locations in France during a 5000 km tour

This is the sort of view we might like.
Or maybe some mountains

Kent thanks to Christa and Mary (and Roxy and Sam)

This is a nice house by the sea with a big garden.

There are lots of nice houses with very big gardens in Ireland

And Devon and Cornwall again in time for Joe's Birthday celebrations

We seem to feel at home here.

By Autumn 2013 we had decided on North Devon and preparations began in earnest.

We decluttered the house, put loads of stuff into store and touched up odd bits of paintwork etc.

In the beginning of March 2014 we put the house on the market...expecting a quick sale.

Pole position in the estate agent's window

Three months later and not a lot of interest from buyers. Our patience ran out and we entered a part exchange deal with Bovis.
They were planning a new development in our chosen location of North Devon.

There was one house on the development with a reasonable sized South facing garden so we reserved it. Initially the house was due to be ready in Autumn 2014

Your new house will be somewhere around here...

Objections from locals delayed work. A move in Spring or early summer 2015 was predicted.

May 2015. Work is underway but not ready to move into yet.

More delays but by the beginning of July 2015 the house was growing and the predicted date to be ready was September 2015.

Looks promising.

End of July - things are moving fast and a move in September is predicted.

Almost there!

The three year journey is nearly over. Time is beginning to move faster and there's actually still quite a lot to do...