Today was a Bank Holiday and the first day of half-term so I woke Jof up and castigated her for making me late for school.
Once this minor confusion had been resolved I ate a bacon sandwich and we trundled off to see Grandad. He is 87 tomorrow so this visit was scheduled on his only free day because retirement is proving a busy time for him.
We strode the grounds of his latest manor house and went to the fitness complex where it was nice and warm and we hardly had to wait at all for the 2 remaining old crusty people to get bored and leave. I swam and dived and threw buoyancy aids around for at least 30 minutes, and got into the hot tub twice but there's a sign up saying over 18s only then it was time at the spa thank you ladies and gentlemen and Grandad taught me maths in the changing rooms while the others used the gym.
We try to go to new and interesting places and this one was no different as we drove through the New Forest to Hythe. This is, let's be fair, a very small place which zealously guards what history it has. It has only 2 main streets, one pedestrianized, but its own Police station, fire station, houses with build dates painted on the front such as 1739, 1808 etc, public toilets and a really big flashy marina with big walls around it.
We parked in Waitrose because they didn't seem to mind and found our target pub "The Lord Nelson" and the amusingly shaped bar wench took our food order and gave us the window seat. Normally we would have eaten outside with the sea view but this place is only 5 miles from Calshot Castle where I was stung by a wasp and I am still allergic to the idea of wasps even though it's not the right season.
The food and instant coffee was a little disappointing and I didn't finish my scampi but we were off to our next destination. Hythe is the proud owner of the 7th longest pier in Britain (640 metres) and has the oldest continuously operating pier railway in the world. The signs said we had to buy a ticket even to walk on the pier, that's £1.60 we won't see again, and we waited for the little trundling narrow-gauge train with the uniformed engine driver at both ends but we were there at the wrong time and it was practically quicker to walk anyway.
The very long thin pier is dotted with helpful signs about live rail do not climb barrier, deck boards need replacing so do not climb barrier, and bits of potted history such as the kings that have used the ferry, TE Lawrence of Arabia, D-Day invasions, Titanic liner and so forth. You can also buy a carved deck-board and some people have obviously bought more than one.
From the end (nice waiting room) you can see Calshot Castle, Netley castle (now luxury apartments) and lots of giant cruise ships. The ferry goes over to Southampton and we might very well come back here one day on the ferry.
The railway refused to come at the right time for us so we walked back and found Ewart Recreation Ground where there was a cricket match in progress. The players were quite happy and loud and we saw the bowler hand his pint of beer to the umpire so he could bowl, and a good few wickets went down as we stood there with a very decently sized crowd by the pavilion all with their pints of beer in the pleasant afternoon sun.
Next to it there is a swing-park and I climbed it and did the slides and the polygon-of-ropes and the zipline and Bud made me go too fast on the whizzy thing and then we went to Waitrose and bought wine and food for the barbecue, or as Grand-dad called it, the braaivleis, for he spent a lot of time in Africa. He taught me about Geography and which way the world turns and seasons using the globe, and I couldn't find Japan.
Dumping Granddad back at the manor, we picked up pine cones for the Scout campfire and drove home, where I spent no time at all before going to Elizabeth's house for the Random Barbecue.
Us kids hid in the front room all plugged into various tablets and occupying various cyber-realities whilst in the same room.
Ben and I had a rude text-battle until my tablet ran out of charge again and then we discovered the delights of the BBQ fire which had finished.
We cooked corks on sticks and offered them to the beery parents and then we invented Tyrone. He was a gestalt entity made of corks, bacon-fat, olive oil, chicken juice, coffee grounds and anything else we could find and we set fire to things in the abandoned BBQ and that kept us going for ages.