I think I owe those of you who know me personally an update on our progress here in Surrey. We’re very happy in our converted convent and have many very nice and interesting neighbors. Last month saw the Oldfield Wood tennis tournament, which was a lovely social event with barbecue, wine, beer, Sunday papers, chat and lovely sunshine. And a lot of tennis. And would you believe that David won the tournament (with his partner, a very nice lady). Dane did not win the mini golf tournament and was very upset. He might be just as competitive as his Dad! I didn’t compete in anything and thus did not have to confront any personal shortcomings (that day…).
Dane has been to school six weeks now and loves every minute of it. We’re very, very happy with our choice of school – and only last week it got an outstanding Ofsted report. Every Friday after school there’s football and Dane’s improving every week. He loves that too. After a bumpy start where I thought he might never get the hang of it, he’s now doing really well with his reading and can read sentences like “It is my book” or “I can skip like you, said Dad”. We’re so proud of him, because to catch up with the other children, he has to do a lot of extra homework and he’s been quite graceful about it.
David has been away working for three weeks in Germany and Switzerland, but now he’s home again. It takes a bit of getting used to, the uncertainty and short notices of being freelance. But we’ll get there, I’m sure.
One of the things our trip through the US etc. has left us with is a great appetite for walking and experiencing nature. We’re also very fond of gardens, old houses, castles and the like. We’re members of the Royal Horticultural Society, so we can go to RHS Wisley, which is very close by and also of The National Trust, so we can visit numerous nature reserves, houses and castles throughout England. We’ve been to Polesden Lacey, a beautiful Edwardian mansion and we go for walks by the canal in Ripley, an area protected by the National Trust. The lock there is the oldest in England and right next to the ruins of the first of many monasteries and priories demolished by Henry VIII in his fury over the Catholic church’s refusal to grant him a divorce (from his first wife). It is an amazingly beautiful place!
Finally, we’re members of Surrey Wildlife Trust and yesterday went to an event they were hosting at Ashtead Park. It was a lovely day – we had a picnic on our own and then went on a guided walk, where a ranger told us about the work they do to keep a forest with meadows, when you don’t have animals grazing and when you want to improve and increase the habitats for animals, insects and plants and at the same time have to keep it safe for human visitors. There’s a great deal of work involved!
Pictures from top: Our living room in the library of the former convent. Dane on scooter after school. Newark Priory, picture from a history of Pyrford (village between here and Ripley), Newark lock, picture from Wey river. Dane and Daddy on our picnic. More and larger-format pictures here.