At the end of November I mentioned I needed some time out to focus on other things. Well, one of those was a trip to the UK to visit my family, most of whom I haven't seen for far too long. It was a big birthday for one of my brothers, but prior to that I'd learned that one member of the family has some serious health problems, which made it especially important for me to see them.
We met up at one of England's lovely National Trust properties, Stowe House, which also happens to be Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. It's open to the public at weekends and has beautiful gardens which the birthday boy particularly wanted to see. I was staying with my sister and since she isn't a member of the NT, we decided to forego the garden tour. It was quite pricey and not something we really relished doing on such a cold day. However, we had a great lunch together in the café and it was wonderful to catch up with them all again. There were several nieces, plus a couple of grandchildren as well as a good show of in-laws. I only wish we could have spent longer together, and it made me aware that I need to go back more often. None of us is getting any younger; in fact, I am the youngest of the four of us.
My sister and I talked each other's legs off – all of them, not just the hind ones, which meant that no donkeys were involved. I suspect she was quite relieved when I left. Peace at last...haha. Seriously, though, it was amazing to have so much time with her and I think we both caught up on lots of events in each other's lives that we didn't know about. Much of this was achieved while walking, so here are some photos of the beautiful parks we visited in the area.
|Harrold Park, north west of Bedford|
|A lovely place to stop a while|
|There were several of these beautiful benches in Harrold Park|
|I've no idea what caused these holes, maybe a woodpecker?|
This was the bark of a tree in Ampthill Park
|The same tree in Ampthill Park. It has a strangely twisted|
|Magnificent panoramic views in Ampthill Park|
|Ampthill House, privately owned, I think|
Back in the Netherlands, I had work to finish off, a family dinner with my daughters, stepsons and their partners and then of course, Christmas, which was quietly spent in Zeeland with more walking and heaps of reading. Just how I like it. As you know, waterways are a huge attraction, so here are some photos of a recent walk in Belgium along the Durme river.
|The house of many colours. I was fascinated by it|
|The Durme on its way to the Schelde (Scheldt)|
|What we like: boats moored in Lokeren|
|And a very pretty traditional tjalk|
|On the liveaboard side of the moorings|