Saturday, 20 August 2011

In with the in-laws

After a few heavy posts it's time for something lighter. On Thursday we bade a fond farewell to Jane's parents after a short stay here. Her mum, you may recall, recently fell down six steps in their garden. She's clearly made of tougher stuff than me! She's back in one piece and going like a Duracell bunny.

One mealtime I asked her father whether he was on HMS Paladin when HMS Cornwall was sunk on 5th April 1942 in the Indian Ocean. My late uncle was on board the Cornwall as doctor. It was attacked by Japanese dive bombers and sunk within 12 minutes. My father-in-law was on the Paladin which was one of the boats which rescued the survivors. So there's the intriguing possibility that my future father-in-law met my uncle in the middle of the war, even fished him out of the sea. He told me that the Cornwall's captain had kept the men singing (mainly hymns) as they waited in the sea for rescue, hanging on to debris and floats for up to 30 hours. I imagine Uncle Paul was leading the singing.

Tuesday was warm and sunny, if you remember, and so we decided an expedition was in order, nothing too demanding - just the Oxford Botanic Gardens and then across the road to have lunch in the Old Kitchens in Magdalen College, which we thought they'd like. I think I was the most excited to find an episode of Lewis being filmed there (the fictional Morse's promoted side-kick, to be

distinguished from Magdalen's brilliant real life don, C S Lewis). Anyway there the crew were hard at work: "Let's do it again... and again..." The crime scene seemed to be on the banks or in the waters of the Cherwell. And there were the actors and extras looking extraordinarily unexcited! I got Jane to ask an assistant when the episode would be - probably no 4 or 6 in the new series. I'll obviously have to record the series.

The gardens themselves gave me plenty of opportunities to use the camera Jane gave me for my birthday, with its zoom and  close-ups. Had a bit of trouble getting into the disabled loo but am happy to report it is a good one.

Then it was over to Magdalen. For wheelchair users they have to open the main wooden doors ("otherwise reserved for the Queen" - and anyone else who needs it!). The Old Kitchens are a good place for an economical lunch in congenial surroundings (e.g. £2 for a bowl of soup, croutons and a roll). Then we wandered through the grounds (herbaceous borders better than over the road, according to one gardener amongst us) and into the chapel with its remarkable copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, before home.

Otherwise our time was spent together talking, puzzling over codewords and crosswords, and neglecting the TV - which I gather we in the UK watch for an average of 4.3 hours per day, to the detriment of our longevity. We should be out walking regularly instead enjoying the beautiful world we've been born into. And I reckon enjoying plenty of good company such as we've just had - and of course in the picture!

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