Off to London…

We decided to go to London in the summer…I know, High Season!

However, going in July and August turned out not to be so bad, we secured our regular airbnb for 5 weeks, used some miles for travel and arranged for cats and garden to be cared for…although Callie decided she was coming with us and dared us to argue!

I had a couple of other things going on during our usual travel time so instead of waiting another 9 months we took the opportunity to accept an old school friend’s invitation to help her celebrate a landmark birthday.  I checked with Hubs and we decided to start our Summer Holiday with a party at the Marlow Rowing Club on the River Thames,

‘doing things we always wanted to’! (Cliff Richard.  Summer Holiday)

Why not? As you can see it was a typical English day by the river…

Perfect weather for a couple of Texans who had escaped the 100º+ temperatures.

Marlow is in the county of Buckinghamshire where I went to boarding school.  My paternal grandmother lived nearby in a town called High Wycombe; its claim to fame is Ercol furniture…I know this because my parents loved their Ercol and would buy it from the local factory…not me, I’m all for deep cushioned, snuggle-able, overstuffed, boho- type sofas and chairs.

“Too difficult to get our of,” Mummy’d say.

Uncomfortable, wooden furniture featured heavily in my family home.

I digress.

My blue-eyed cowboy and I made our way to the birthday bash using our brand new Two Together rail card and caught the train from Marylebone Station to High Wycombe.  The name of the London station, Marylebone, was said so many times over the tannoy and during our journey that I was left in no doubt as to the correct pronunciation of Marylebone by the time we reached our destination.


High Wycombe is 4 miles from Marlow so we hired a taxi and on the way through town I  recognised the private girls school at the bottom of the hill and the Rye (a park with ducks and water and hills to roll down and an ice cream van) and looked for the lane  my grandmother used to live on but of course it wasn’t off the main street.  Instead I took some deep breaths and hoped to catch a whiff of Mr. Whippy ice cream or the scent of freshly sawn wood from the factory….

At our hotel we unpacked quickly, asked for directions to the quaint Marlow High Street and set off walking.

My, oh my, the roads and pavements were narrow, we had to stand with our backs against a stone wall to let cars pass us!

We saw an old church, All Saints, by the river and wandered through its churchyard.

The gravestones were crooked and some had fallen over,

“This is the stuff of ghost stories,” whispered Hubs, “I bet there are some tales that would make it really spooky to cut through here after the pubs closed!”

Happily it was still daylight and we could wander without fear!

Some of the markers were very close to the river bank, we could see water lapping up onto the grass when rowers skimmed close to the shore disturbing the surface.

Finally we found the High Street.

My grandmother had never brought my brother and I here.  Perhaps because it was just a small village green with a post-office, a church and 3 pubs all those years ago.  She wouldn’t recognise it now, with its trendy shops and fashionable hairdressers and French cafes and wine bars

Nana’s Marlow began at the side of the river, where she’d throw down the picnic tablecloth, usually right next to cow dung, and unpack the flask of tea for her and plastic beakers with orange squash for us.  My brother and I would swim, climb trees and run around in the farmer’s field dodging cows and patties until it was time to eat.

We’d flop down on the flowery tablecloth for a tea (the afternoon meal) of thick, crusty, white bread spread with sandwich-spread, or sardine and tomato paste (my favourite) and marmalade for my brother.  We ate and shoo’ed the ever present flies away.  There were no crisps but plenty of her signature rock cakes and maybe a slab of slightly melted Galaxy chocolate she had bought at the ‘odds and ends’ chocolate stall in High Wycombe market.  We didn’t mind the wax paper it was wrapped in or the roughly broken corners, it still tasted delicious!

Back to Hubs and I as we explored the High Street!

Every shop we entered was attractively laid out with cheeses, cakes, wines, fruits, confectionary or clothes.  Even the charity shops had fashionable, high quality clothes hanging neatly in size order; I was able to nab a couple of bargains.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the festivities that had brought us here.

More about that that in my next post.

On Sunday morning we walked to mass at All Saints, the church on the river.

We read that a place of worship had stood on the All Saints site since 1070.  The current church was rebuilt during Victoria’s time after the spire and knave had collapsed.  No wonder it reminded us of our church in Beckenham, St. George’s, also a Victorian re-build.

Afterwards we stopped for our Sunday morning special at Fego cafe,

and to cap it all my handsome hubs had me take his picture with a golden letter box, painted in honour of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Letter boxes are going to become a thing of the past and be physically removed since no-one puts pen to paper these days.

Select neighbourhood corner shops are where stamps can be bought and parcels and letters dropped off for the die-hards among us who can’t give up their pens.

Merry Ole is beginning to lose some of her bastions of English life. The great British public have embraced texting as a more reliable and instant way to communicate.

No more waiting for letters, the number one occupation that saved my sanity at boarding school; if you’re interested you can read more about that here.


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