Holiday in UK 8-20 November

I played for a funeral at 11am and then returned home to pack and make my way towards the airport. Fortunately one of the choir allowed me to leave my car at her place and then drove me to the airport. My flight was not until 7.30pm but time soon passed with security etc. Once airside I was able to settle down to a few pints before boarding. The airport was full of Brits!

The flight was full but uneventful. Once through UK customs I located my rental car, a Peugeot 308 and drove off to mum’s. I was able to get to her by 11am but by 1pm I was in bed for a few hours catch up.

At 7pm Chris popped round but I spent the rest of the evening chatting happily with mum. On Saturday I drove mum to see Richard and Camille in Guildford. We went out for a pub meal (steak and kidney pud for me) and a real beer! Then on our way back we stopped off at their Belgian friends so that Camille could sort a computer issue for them. They were a fascinating elderly couple with a clear passion for music. In the hallway was a spinet. In the music room there was a 2-manual harpsichord, a square piano and a synthesizer along with a consort of crumhorns and baroque flutes.

The return journey to mum’s was difficult in the rain and poor visibility. Later that evening I joined Chris at a local pub where we shared pizza and rather too many spirits! I remember getting back around midnight.

Somehow I was able to set off the next day heading for the north. Over the next few days I was able to visit friends and play the restored organ in the cathedral. This time In Sheffield I managed to meet up with Kieran Fallon, Sheila Verity, Clare & Brian Campbell, Fr Kevin Thornton and Maria Neal. On Tuesday I headed off to Knaresbrough where I would meet Alison and Pippa for lunch at the Lavender Tea House. Then we went on safari exploring the charity shops. I managed to buy some sheet music! Then I drove on to Malton where I met Fr Tim Bywater. He had been quite lethargic when I had last seen him but the docs had changed his drugs and giving him some breathing exercises which meant that he was really alert and lively. He had taken on the parish of Pickering and had a meeting there that evening so I chose to drive on a find a B&B outside Thirsk. I ate a pretty unexciting fish’n’chips and then checked in to my room. It did not take long for sleep to take over.

The next day I went to Northallerton and then Bishop Auckland where my twin brother lives. Having parked the car outside his place I walked into town. I came upon a bookshop with a difference. Any customer was allowed to choose 5 books in one day and take them away for free! It was amazing but I took only one book – the combined Delia Smith How to Cook. At the other end of town there was considerable development around the town square. There was a new Mining Art Centre, a viewing tower and a Spanish Art Gallery and Faith Museum would open next year. Also in the square was a Wetherspoons where I waited for Andy my twin with a pint of Old Rosie. We had a further pint together before wending our way through several more bars down to a Tapas bar where we ate dinner. After that we retired to Andy’s house and I was finally able to admire the building work he’d had done to his kitchen area.

The next day I returned to Sheffield to meet up with the agents renting my house. Then I had fish’n’chips with my friend Kevin before driving south again to visit a friend in Leicester and another in Englefield Green.

The rest of the time was spent with mum in Surrey. On Saturday I went into London to buy Jon Baxendale’s new edition of the Couperin Masses. I also visited Westminster Abbey for the national celebration of Oscar Romero’s canonization. A great surprise was meeting my old bishop, John Rawsthorne. We were able to catch a few moments after the service as well. There was some great singing by the choir including a wonderful piece by James MacMillan using Romero texts. I had thought of going to the Cathedral for Mass but in the end I elected to visit the Augustinian Church where my friend John is Music Director. Unfortunately he doesn’t play for the vigil Mass. The celebrant was the retired bishop of Lancaster whom I knew via the Augustinians for whose chapter meetings I was a frequent liturgical musician.

ON the Sunday I drove with mum down to Southampton where we had a wonderful traditional Sunday lunch with my brother Pete and his family. They are having a lot of work done in the garden so it was great to hear of their plans.

The following day I spent the morning the phone sorting out my pensions! That evening we went round to eat with Chris and Sue and quite a bit of supping was also enjoyed.

My return flight was at 1230 so there wasn’t much else to do save return the rental car and wait at the airport. I enjoyed a fine breakfast and a few pints before boarding. My seat was broken but not uncomfortable. However the gentleman behind me felt very inconvenienced and got upgraded out of the zone.

I collected my car from Mary and drove to the Local for a couple of pints before heading home for sleep.

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