First, I had a marvellous time in the UK. But that has to be kept in the forefront of my mind. Because I wondered how anybody kept sane, so many shocks for me. So much building last two decades surprised weight of South East does not tip England into the channel. Everything takes so long, so many roadworks, years long projects, extension Shepperton studios, widening A3 junction, Our train to London slow-roasted us, no A/C no windows to open, it was 32 degrees, people must be permanently exhausted with exceptional heat being the norm. The biggest shock was noise and behaviour at my hotel, overlooking a quiet backwater of the Thames, with ducks and ducklings, swans and cygnets, moorhens and chicks. The noise from Chertsey Bridge was inevitable, and I had forgotten planes!
It was very hot, Ascot week, big demand to eat by the river – people having a good time, laughing and talking, great, up my street. But my birthday evening, exhausted from hacking round London and the rather wearing London Aquarium, I sat in my first floor window to enjoy the view, and what happened? The worst drunks I have ever encountered, and I am no shrinking violet. They swore, loudly, the whole time, noticed me, and made the most horrendous personal remarks. Food arrived, they swore at that and the staff. Management arrived and persuaded them to go away. The next night, again in my window, very loud American with a horrendous little dog which yapped for two solid hours. Sunday morning was enlivened by two hours strimming in camp site opposite. I think our family lunch party probably made a fair racket but we were inside. Sunday night the loudest group of blokes, with bellowing laughs. Every other word was a swear word.
I will not bore you with pre-departure horrors, house agents, stolen lap-top, tablet, mislaid bank papers so I had to change codes at the actual banks in both countries, all in exhausting heat with a boat to catch.
My daughter pulled out all the stops, even driving me to Lincolnshire to see a friend who had a bad accident, did not think we would meet again. A University friend, who nearly died at Christmas, made it to the hotel, we had a fabulous four-hour catch up by the river, under an umbrella and a slight breeze. My great-grandsons are adorable, of course, hug-a-baby feel-good factor. Loads people sent birthday greetings, and offers of help in my current state of chaos. Belated birthday lunch tomorrow. My family paid for meals I intended to treat them to, and got slapped wrists. Brittany Ferries DID help me on and off boats, private taxi in one instance. But, huge disappointment. On boat at Portsmouth, ready for a super dinner. Restaurant full, could not cope with self-service. So dinner in cabin with a small bottle of wine and a packet of chocolate biscuits. Shock horror.