Future wedding!

Brighton, Hereford & Cambridge: A Long Overdue Catch-Up

Hello, blog! It’s been almost a month since my last post, but I have a decent excuse as for most of that time – and after a really lovely evening at the pub with Clark in Leytonstone which just missed the last blogging window but deserves a mention – Randi’s parents have been visiting us from California.

For obvious reasons it’s been over a year and a half since we were all together in person, so Randi and I organised a trio of small trips around the UK to catch them up with our exciting plans for 2022. More on that shortly! First, though, when they arrived they had to consent to six days of quarantining in our flat – punctuated only by persistent calls from Test & Trace and bittersweet glimpses of freedom whilst shuttling to and from the PCR testing centre in glamorous West Croydon. (To be honest, I think we’re all quite fond of West Croydon now. It treated us well.)

Fortunately, some of this period coincided with the Tokyo Olympics, and despite the awkward scheduling and lack of spectators we still really enjoyed watching the huge variety of sport on show. Special shout-outs for Stu’s newfound love of Rugby Sevens and the usual awesomeness of the canoe/kayak slaloms, but I think my favourite thing to watch was the new rock climbing format with its crazy, escape-room-esque bouldering puzzles and slightly wacky scoring system. Looking forward to seeing more in 2024!

Rocking the Overground, baby
Rocking the Overground, baby
West Croydon!
West Croydon!
Working hard on our indoor project
Working hard on our indoor project
Not yet purchased: eye protection
Not yet purchased: eye protection

Not wanting to let a good quarantine go to waste, we also put Randi’s parents to work on our long list of house and garden tasks which we had neglected since moving in. So now, a drill has been purchased! A mirror has been hung! We have a coat rack! And, after an awful lot of parental hard labour in the garden, the lawn has now been reclaimed from weeds in preparation for grass yet-to-come, we’ve planted our first flowers and even managed to excavate a number of giant concrete slabs lying under the surface. (As we levered up the first one with a garden fork, it looking and sounding remarkably like the lid of a coffin, I think we had all prepared ourselves for pet graves… or worse.)

It all felt a bit like community service
It all felt a bit like community service
But our quarantine prison came with outdoor space and good reviews
But our quarantine prison came with outdoor space and good reviews

Once Beth and Stu had cleared their ‘Test to Release’ Covid test we were free to venture a little more widely, and in addition to our out-of-London trips we packed in a lot of capital adventures too. As you’d expect we took Randi’s parents to all of our favourite parks, cafés, restaurants and Waterlink Ways – other highlights included Pimms and delicious Indian food with Josh, Anna and Cora in their always-beautiful garden, a long-awaited dinner with my mum at Sanzio in Willesden Green, another trip up the Shard and an incredible meal at The Mayflower with Tash and Cormac (who I now feel empowered to start calling Tarmac).

Katie has also been visiting from Glasgow at the same time, and although sometimes it started to feel like every plan we made was doomed to be scuppered by a combination of flash flooding, Covid isolations and non-Covid medical emergencies (don’t worry, everyone’s fine) we did finally manage to all have dinner together at Cubana near Waterloo. Katie and I also managed to sneak in another Doctor Who night last night with 1971’s The Dæmons.

Together with Josh, Anna and Cora
Together with Josh, Anna and Cora
Randi and her mum/mom
Randi and her mum/mom
Finally catching Katie
Finally catching Katie
An after-dinner river stroll with Tarmac, before crossing Tower Bridge and ending up at the Cable Street Mural
An after-dinner river stroll with Tarmac, before crossing Tower Bridge and ending up at the Cable Street Mural

Trip #1: Brighton

Our first trip was a day trip to the seaside, principally to pick up Randi’s ring which we ordered after a whimsical adventure deep in The Lanes back in June.

A ring? OK, let’s back up. In 2017, wearing matching Settlers of Catan t-shirts, Randi and I got married in a Chicago courtroom and celebrated with Catherine and AJ over a lovely brunch and gorgeous gifts of giant meeple which now adorn our living room. But neither of us wanted to try and stage a wedding yet – not until we had the time, space and money for a wedding we’d both be really excited to have. Fast-forward to now, and it’s finally on the cards for (fingers crossed) September 2022 in Hereford. Many more details to come, obviously, although we’ve already started posting out some very attractive Save The Date fridge magnets emblazoned with our faces – you lucky things – to select countries.

Carefully guarding my replacement ice cream
Carefully guarding my replacement ice cream

Anyway – back to Brighton – where we collected Randi’s ring (which, very fittingly, includes all the colours of the sea) and then hung out in Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens, the beach and the pier.

The pier, incidentally, was the scene of the crime wherein a mercenary seagull swooped down behind me and stole a full two scoops of ice cream directly from the cone in its claws. Never trust a seagull.

Not usually jewellery people
Not usually jewellery people
Not the Pacific ocean...
Not the Pacific ocean…
...and not quite a Californian beach!
…and not quite a Californian beach!

Trip #2: Hereford & Church Stretton

Trip two, as should now make sense, was to Hereford to give Randi’s parents a peek at the wedding venue itself. Also notable on this trip was Beth’s enthusiastic, whole-hearted embrace of rhubarb and apple flavoured gin at an excellent tapas restaurant – I think we’re now on first-name terms with the owners – plus a day trip-within-a-trip down the Welsh Marches line to Church Stretton.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Church Stretton was the location of our first escape from London after Covid back in August 2020, and for that I think it will always have a special place in our hearts. It also helps that The King’s Arms has an amazing beer garden and pots of irresistible blue cheese sauce.

Where are we exactly?
Where are we exactly?
Future wedding!
Future wedding!
One of our many walks through the English countryside
One of our many walks through the English countryside
Fans of the Hereford cow
Fans of the Hereford cow
Ah, Church Stretton is still as beautiful as we left it
Ah, Church Stretton is still as beautiful as we left it
Finally got a chance for some reading this year
Finally got a chance for some reading this year

Trip #3: Cambridge

Randi was a superb punter and taught us all!
Randi was a superb punter and taught us all!

Last but definitely not least, this summer was a golden opportunity for me to correct the poor impression of Cambridge which Randi was left with back in 2015 when we shuffled about in the rain with ponchos and heavy backpacks. This time the sun shone, our backpacks were safely stowed away in a fancy hotel overlooking Parker’s Piece (very weird) and we could properly enjoy this indisputably lovely city. (I knew my work was done when Randi suggested it was prettier than Oxford.)

The highlight, of course, was hiring a punt and heading out towards Grantchester Meadows (which we very nearly made it to). As a group, I would say we had the perfect blend of hilarious ineptitude with enough determination and fast learning to actually make it somewhere.

I was also very happy, despite my last-minute organisation, to be able to grab a coffee with Peter Mandler the next morning before we headed home. As always, I learnt a lot, especially about some of the positive and long-overdue updates to the Cambridge experience which are coming out of the pandemic.

A quick scout around Caius
A quick scout around Caius
Stewart, me and Randi
Stewart, me and Randi
Concentration
Concentration
Never get tired of this river
Never get tired of this river
A very quick swim to make my mum proud
A very quick swim to make my mum proud
My new favourite photo
My new favourite photo
Me, Beth and Stewart on Parker's Piece
Me, Beth and Stewart on Parker’s Piece

« | »

2 Comments on :
Brighton, Hereford & Cambridge: A Long Overdue Catch-Up

  1. Jeff DuBowe says:

    How many different ways are there to spell JEALOUS. You all have the most wonderful smiles. As I write this comment we are just waking up in beautiful Jackson Hole WY and yet still jealous of our sister and brother
    Enjoy Family

  2. Gill Self says:

    Suitably proud of your swim – love the photos and narrative too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.