Sunday in Corfe Mullen greeted us with cold winds and overcast skies. Later that afternoon we headed to the Lamb’s Green Inn to meet up with a group of old friends. I was absolutely blown away by how many people showed up, despite the yukky weather! It was so lovely to see old school chums, ballet school and college friends, and many more… people that I have known since I was a little girl! Honestly, upon seeing them all, it felt like I had never been away. That’s the beauty of old and true friends. It doesn’t matter how long you have been apart, you pick right up where you left off when you do see each other. Everyone braved the crappy weather outside in the beer garden (no children allowed inside near the bar)… and then finally we merged indoors and ate dinner. It was just so good to catch up with everyone. I wish I had been able to spend more time with everyone individually, but this was a great way to see friends and hug them when our time in the UK was so limited. I am truly so grateful to everyone who gave up their Sunday afternoon to come and hang out with the Porters! We love you all!
On Monday, we got up and packed up a picnic before heading off to Beaulieu. Beaulieu boasts a wonderful motor museum, house, and gardens. We met up with our dear friends Stoss and Michael (they drove down from Bucks) and enjoyed a fabulous day. The weather held out for us and Gwennie really enjoyed seeing all the cars (as did Bill and Michael!), the beautiful “palace” (Beaulieu house!), and she loved tripping around the gardens and children’s play areas. It was lovely to see Stoss and Michael… again we were so grateful to them for coming as Stoss had only just had a stent placed the week before! My hero! Nothing stops that lady!
On Monday night my BFF from Grammar School, Jacqui, came over for dinner. Jacqui came to our little reunion on Sunday, but she flew all the way from Spain to come and say “Hi!” to me, so we planned to have an evening together at Mum’s to just relax and catch up properly. We ordered a Chinese takeout and proceeded to laugh all night! It was SO good to see her. We haven’t done so in about 20 years! Again, it was like we had never been apart! I was so grateful to her for coming all that way so that we could be together! Wow… I have some amazing friends!
On Tuesday, we headed out to one of my favourite local places and historical landmarks… Corfe Castle! We parked the car and jumped on the Swanage railway. It was Gwennie’s first time on a steam train! So much fun! I think she was a tad disappointed though that the train didn’t look completely like the Hogwart’s Express on the inside! We got off the train at Corfe and walked around the ruins of the castle. It was a lovely day… the sun came out to play at last! We went to the Greyhound Inn for lunch and then had a mosey around the village. We visited the Model Village, which is always a delight. It boasts a mini-version of Corfe and its village, a fairy garden (big hit with G!), and areas to play draughts, Connect-4, croquet, hopscotch, etc. The garden there is just stunning! Beds crammed full with various colours of poppies, foxgloves, peonies, roses, lupines, and on and on. We visited some of the shops in the village and Gwennie has acquired a penchant for looking in churches, so we took her in to the Parrish Church, St. King Edward, King and Martyr. It was a really lovely day. We took the train back to the car park and then drove home via the ferry, which is always a fun thing to do. We stopped on the top of the hill and enjoyed the beautiful scenery down below of Sandbanks, Bournemouth, and all across the bay.
Wednesday we ventured closer to home to Kingston Lacy. It is an elegant country house now owned by the National Trust and boasts beautiful acres of gardens and parkland. We enjoyed looking in the house and hearing all the history and we had a lovely walk in the extensive gardens and surrounding area. We enjoyed a nice lunch sitting outside at the Stables Restaurant.
That evening we met up with my Godparents, Vera & Burt, and headed out to the Taj for an Indian meal! LOVE! It’s a standard when I go back home… I must have fish and chips, sausage rolls, and an Indian! It was fabulous to see V&B and Gwennie really enjoyed them. We had a wonderful meal and our servers were delightful.
On Thursday, our last day, we headed to Castlepoint to do a little shopping, before heading home to pack up out suitcases. (Boo!) Mum cooked us Toad in the Hole that evening! Another of my absolute favourite dishes (who says the Brits don’t know good food???). It was splendid, of course! What a great send off!
And Friday the 28th came all too soon. Our car picked us up at 8:45am and we were off to Gatwick Airport.
I’m feeling all emotional and choked up as I sit here and type this. I am not going to lie… I have serious post-Europe blues. I get homesick at the best of times, but it is only highlighted more now due to our recent visit. I am so grateful to my lovely Mum for putting the three of us up in her sweet little home and for taking such great care of Gwennie so that we could visit Paris. I am also so thankful for the dear friends and family who came to see us whilst we were there. To those that we didn’t have time to see, I am so very sorry and we will hopefully catch you next time. Two weeks just isn’t enough and I hope/plan to come for longer next time.
A little break now… I am trying to get back into the Florida swing of things again. Photo posts to follow soon!