An early start but the taxi arrived at 9 and we were ready...just! We got the 9.44 train to Leamington Spa... the Bournemouth train, and it was quite busy. We were in the quiet carriage but it was far from quiet... a chap near us was talking very loudly to the ticket person (are they still called conductors?) and we could hear that he wanted to go to Sheffield, but our train was going via Leeds, Wakefield and then Chesterfield, by-passing Sheffield. The chap seemed agitated, and before Leeds loudly announced that he was completely deaf and wanted to go to Sheffield. Everyone else had heard that to go to Sheffield, people should change at Leeds. So Gill found a sheet of A4 paper and a felt-tip pen (we carry these to give the boys something to do if they announce 'I'm bored') and wrote on it "You need to change at Leeds" and I took it to the chap who then shouted 'B****r Off' at me! So I sat down, and another chap got up and approached him and signed something... and he got similar treatment. There was quite a bit of a stir in the carriage because of this! The chap didn't get off at Leeds but we think disappeared at Chesterfield and presumably travelled back North again to Sheffers.
At Chesterfield though, a group of perhaps 6 young women got on and it was obvious that they'd been out the night before 'on the lash' and were either hung-over or still drunk and very loud and girly, and off to a festival or some type of camping trip. It took til Derby for them to notice that it was the quiet carriage..by this time my rather intolerant child was getting ready to say something to them. I was reminded of my festivaling days, and was a bit distracted by their short skirts and long legs. Fortunately I didn't spot something that Gill told me about afterwards, that one of them was flashing her see-through knickers! That would have made it an even more interesting journey! They got off at Birmingham New Street and a quiet chap got on near us... I had a chat with him; he was just finishing his degree on Sustainable Architecture, his dissertation was on sustainable interior design. We had a good conversation and a bit of a laugh about various things.
Then we were in Leamington and Katharina and her two boys met us at the barriers and we walked to her house through the town, passing through a lovely park with a bandstand which I remember from years ago when I performed at the Leamington Peace Festival. There was a Farmers' Market and I bought 4 little bottles of perry, locally produced. Katharina's house was another 15 minutes walk through the town, on the Kenilworth Road in a very large house, now split into several smaller residences.
My boys were very happy to see their old friends, and Katharina was pleased to show us her new house which they've had re-vamped, with new flooring (following removal of dry-rotted wood) and a wonderful new woodstove, apparently partly inspired by seeing ours. Katharina and Ulrich have liked the idea of a woodburner for a long time, as in Germany they are more common, but they've lived in rented property since living over here. So they have bought a HWAM 'Beethoven' with Soapstone surrounds, which slowly heat up and keep the heat really well! It is a very stylish, having a curved glass door and it's a lovely grey colour. It's a smoke-free model.... Ulrich had been wanting the version which heats water, but it's not legal to have it in a smoke control zone.
I felt very tired and very relaxed, and as the boys all sat on one of the futons playing with a computer game, I went to sleep on the other! Just for a few minutes though, nothing too antisocial. I heard Ulrich come home and soon roused myself and was more sociable. However it is lovely being 'on holiday' and with people whom I feel very relaxed with.
We had a simple tea, pretty late, and a game of Scrabble with everybody else doubling up in teams, and me by myself... but their partnerships obviously hampered them and I won! Gill and I slept on a futon in front of the stove, which was wonderful!