Welcome to our Home Page (20/02/2007)
A big hello from me, Graham Wise, to all who have lurched into this space. I’ve no idea what it looks like because I’ve taken George at his word and thrown some content together which he has been badgering me to do for ages. Its likely to be more trickle than stream of consciousness stuff, but I guess that what you might expect from the majority who pollute the blogosphere, (if that’s not oxymoronic).
For a little bit of context, Judy and I are old friends of George and Ann’s from Contract Computing days and were latterly quite close neighbours after they moved to Meopham and we were still in Wrotham. A year ago we moved to Tenterden but still see George and Ann at their their memorable Maibowle and Brunches which they so kindly put on for everyone’s huge enjoyment. Now I’m feeling guilty because we haven’t adequately reciprocated their generosity, but I’ll plead distraction due to settling in to Tenterden and buying a place in France, more of which later.
I’ll introduce the family briefly. Andy, our eldest has a flat in Tunbridge Wells and does well as a recruitment consultant. He’s recently announced tentative plans to emigrate to the east or west coast of America. Greg is married to Karen and they have two daughters, Amy and Emily. (Yes, of course we’re doting grandparents). They have a house in Tonbridge and both work for John Lewis. And no, you can’t get a discount on future purchases – even we can’t! Greg’s up for a move / promotion to Supply Chain Manager in John Lewis Direct and fingers are crossed. It’s a position he’s worked hard for and should be well suited to. Denise and Veronica are my daughters by a previous marriage. They’re both doing well as PAs in London. Denise has a daughter, Chantal, and is just about to move back to a flat in Sevenoaks with her boyfriend Marcus. Veronica has recently bought a flat in Abbeywood. Chantal is 16 and lives in Switzerland with her father, coincidentally also called Markus. Pictures are/will be available, and, basically, there you have it.
Tenterden is something of a well-kept secret, considering its size. It increasingly exists in a bit of a time warp, brought about by the departure of mainline train services in the Beeching era. Locals have taken the opportunity to preserve its Georgian character, although first Waitrose and then Tesco have done for many of the old provision shops. Nevertheless it’s a friendly place, where people greet you and look you in the eye – quite spooky for the city dweller, perhaps. There’s plenty of clothes shops, an abundance of antique shops, many excellent eateries in the town and surrounding district and of course, the Steam Railway. One often hears people saying that they know Tenterden, what a lovely place it is (and indeed it is) and always speaking well of it. Judy’s brother and sister-in-law have just moved here from Sutton and a friend of theirs will soon be moving down from Chislehurst.
And so to France. A few months after moving to Tenterden we were just going to explore the possibilities in the area of choice, namely Poitou-Charente. The family all said “Yeah, right”, they’ll buy something. They were right, of course, but it really wasn’t meant to happen that way. What can you do when you’re presented with something that’s exactly what you’re looking for. We selected Poitou-Charente because Normandy and Brittany would be too similar to the climate in the South of England, the Loire would (probably) be too expensive, and the south of France would be too hot. Not being skiers and having little experience of the east of France, ruled that side out, and we definitely wanted to be within striking distance of the Atlantic. So, we stuck a pin in Rochefort (just south of la Rochelle), drew a 20 mile radius inland, jumped on the internet and found a B & B one mile outside the arc, more or less due east. A couple of weeks later we’re meeting the charming young couple who have just started running the B & B, Rob & Lindsey. They warmed to the project immediately, persuading us to visit estate agents and visit properties, even though we weren’t in the market, and five visits later, there it was. A pretty Charentaise with stone walls, roman tiled roof, oak beams and a wood burner. It wasn’t a wreck by any means – just needing a bit of TLC, which we’ve just heard has been completed. So, we’re off next Tuesday for a couple of weeks to finish furnishing it, then it will be back again at the end of April for a couple of months. The village is in the back of beyond (known in French as “la France Profonde “, and comprises one hundred or so souls, of whom we are the twelfth and thirteenth English people, most of them northerners, strangely.
So, there you have it. Now I’ve started something else that will never get completed – thanks George! Blogging can now join the other things, like my passion for unfinished woodwork (one door hung and painted, another door hung, and five more to do) – guitar lessons started and already failing to get the practicing done – camera manual still needs a good studying – slimming (oh please) – drawing and painting, something I’ve always wondered whether I have any talent for – exercise, well we have been swimming a couple of times, and we’ve got bikes here and in France (but we’re fair weather cyclists, of course) – and I nearly forgot aero modelling. Perhaps I should give it all up and just talk about it? Just to close on a grumpy note – is anyone else exercised by the growing inability to pronounce words correctly (BBC included). “Dispute” is a well known one, but how might “pronunciation” be pronounced – the mind boggles. And then there’s the firemen who have been cautioned not use step ladders, and I’m not allowed to dive in the swimming pool, both casualties of the Health & Safety police. Grrrr.