Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Family (and Friend!) Ties



I’ve just had two lovely days in a row visiting with my cousins. This comes almost immediately after a really super weekend with our friend and her two sons. This is the way I most like to spend my time - visiting with people who are important to me.

On the weekend our dear friend Yvonne came to visit with her two sons, and we all had a wonderful time together. On Saturday, the weather co-operated and we walked all the way into Pangbourne through the fields on the beautiful Thames Path, and after a brief stop to refresh ourselves in Pangbourne and a spot of shopping, walked all the way home. We spent the rest of the time relaxing and visiting. It was really nice to get together.

And in the photos above you see me with my cousins Brenda and Holly. We had a wonderful time yesterday exploring Reading. Although I have lived near Reading for almost two years now, I have continually gone to the same places and not been very courageous about checking out any of the side streets. Yesterday, I saw more of my “home town” than I ever have, and had loads of fun doing it. Forbury Gardens was a wonderful surprise, tucked in behind the post office, down a road I had never bothered to walk down! We also managed a bit of shopping as you can see from the photograph! In the evening Holly joined my husband, son and I for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, The Boathouse at The Beetle and Wedge. It was a really super evening.

Today Holly and I went to Basildon Hall, a National Trust property in Lower Basildon. It’s a beautiful eighteenth century Palladian mansion set in acres of parkland. The house itself was restored by a very dedicated couple, Lord and Lady Iliffe, in the 1950’s and then donated to the National Trust. It is really lovely, beautifully decorated and full of interesting antiquities. It’s interesting to see some of the bedrooms which are decorated in the style of the 1950’s, with dressing tables decorated with ruffled skirts, juxtaposed against centuries old canopied beds and Regency silk curtains. Some of the bed canopies and curtains in the more modern rooms were actually sewn by Lady Iliffe. It’s also one of the only National Trust houses where the bathrooms are so on display. It’s quite wonderful to see, as it makes you realise this is a house that was actually lived in. So often stately homes seem like museums, but this is one in which you can picture yourself curling up on the sofa with a pot of tea and a good book - albeit the sofa may well be Chippendale!

It’s been a wonderful couple of days. One of the greatest pleasures in life is spending time with family and friends, and I’ve been really lucky to be able to do that this week. And guess what? We’ve got more friends arriving on Friday. I’m really looking forward to another nice weekend.

“These are things that matter most -
Friends and laughter,
words of praise,
Family ties that warm our hearts
and keep us close through all our days.”
Unknown

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