Just back from 26 hours with Jane's parents down in Devon - another very mellow time, helped by beautiful sunshine.
Her mother wrote and illustrated a multitude of children's stories (published by Medici), meticulously researched even as far as flying in a Tiger Moth biplane for Freddie in Flight which has an aerial view of our old home in Stanford... Almost all of them feature animals. She's become a miniaturist of great skill. Her great grandchildren enjoy listening to the stories, and of course now feature in her miniatures!
We left The Italian Chapel which I've mentioned before for Jane's father to read. You may recall it's the story of the Italian prisoners of war on the Orkneys who had to assist in constructing the Churchill barriers joining the islands together to protect the Atlantic fleet from German submarine attacks; they're still in place today, as is the beautiful chapel they created out of two nissen huts. As I said before the book is a really good read; it's particularly moving because it's largely true, but more because it shows how good and beautiful things can come out of the most unpromising of circumstances - including friendship between enemies. Anyway, we thought he would enjoy it; and it turned out that the first voyage he had made after signing up in the Navy in the 2nd World War was in the brand new HMS Paladin from the Clyde to Scapa Flow where the fleet was based in the Orkneys. They hit the most horrendous storm on the way. The destroyer lost various bits on the way, and the seaman were all dreadfully sick...!
My in-laws live on the Jurassic coast of Devon in a lovely chalet bungalow overlooking the valley. It's well nigh perfect - except the path to the front door is steep and long. Well, at least it feels like that to me. One day, presumably, I won't be able to make the slow ascent, but I did it again on Tuesday between Jane and my stick. I still feel a sense of achievement. Going down, I submit to the wheelchair. It's safer. At least in the house I don't have to go up the stairs to the spare bedroom, because those two generous octogenarians give up their ground-floor room for us. You can see they're not the in-laws of popular myth! They've acquired a tv for the first time since I've known them, and I spent a couple of happy hours watching the old BBC production of Barchester Towers with the odious Mr Slope and the good Mr Harding. I reckon there are similarities between the latter and my father in law.
On the way back we'd learned our lesson on the A303, which we'd discovered on our way down was entirely blocked at Mere. They didn't give sufficient warning for you to take an alternative route, and so you were forced to take the official diversion through Shaftesbury. Returning we took our own diversion on familiar roads round Stourhead and saved 20-30 minutes. As a result the dog didn't have to wait too long for her supper.