Letters home, 2000, Aug 24

24 Aug 2000

Dear Dad

Our planned trip to Wales this weekend didn’t come off, unfortunately. Yesterday afternoon, Elaine went to examine the coffers to pay the rent and stuff and the report wasn’t good. We’re not destitute or even close to it, but spending 300-400 pounds on a trip to Wales didn’t sound too clever with Christmas not too far away along with our trip to NZ and Elaine still being on holiday – and not being paid – for the next two weeks. However, all is not doom and gloom. It’s raining here and there are storms in Wales and people also told us that going away on long weekends usually means sitting in long tailbacks on any highway we wanted to travel on. Well, parked on the M25 is not my idea of a holiday, so I guess we’re making a virtue of our necessity.

We’re not wasting our time, though. When we went into the market for our veges this morning, we met two really cool people from “oop North” (Birmingham) dressed in motorbike leathers, who called themselves Paul and Jean. They rode to St Albans on a Honda GoldWing 1500 and they are camping on the Hertfordshire County Fair Ground near Redbourne. That was the grounds we went to last year for the Hertfordshire County and Gamekeepers Fair (where I bought my neat hat.) It is also the grounds where the first ever recorded game of cricket was played in 1668. ANYWAY, they are staying there because there’s a Europe-wide gathering of the mark. Tomorrow afternoon, 600 of those huge bikes will parade through the streets of St Albans and Paul and Jean have asked us to come and see them before the parade. So tomorrow looks like being quite a good day. And we’re going to Iris and Ivor’s for dinner. Wales will wait.

At this very moment, we are watching Inspector Morse. It’s the episode called Twilight of the Gods where a Welsh diva gets shot. She is in a parade on the way to collect an honourary doctorate when she gets shot from an upstairs window of the Old Bodlean Library. Well, we’ve been there. Barbara Tearle took us on a tour of the Old Bodlean Library. We went through the archway, into the courtyard then into the little room where the gunshot came from. It’s the communication room, where all the letters are delivered down these long tubes fed with compressed air.

When they get to this room, the messages are redirected up other pipes to their chosen destination. The library desperately needs updating, but this system is an institution.  We also had to have a special pass to go there, because it’s a staff-only area and Barbara had organized the passes before we got there. Later we went up onto the Library roof and then onto the roof of the Radcliffe building. We also walked along the canal where Grimshaw was found murdered, and we explored the ruins of the nunnery that formed the backdrop for the scene. We followed the canal all the way to the Trout, a most beautiful pub on the banks of the Evenlode River overlooking a low weir surrounded by huge trees in full summer dress, where we had a plate of hot chips with a cup of coffee and a pint of lemonade.

As far as my running is concerned, it seems that it’s very difficult to make real progress. I seem to be stuck at this level; I can do 3 or 4 miles at 7min/mile, but I can’t get any further. Next weekend, I’ll be running my second Garden City 10mile and I shall be lucky to get inside 72min, which really is only 4 min faster than last year’s time. I am hoping for 70min, but …. it seems unlikely on present form. I suppose I have to remember that I’m only in week 5 of a 12-week sked for a 1/2Marathon in late October, so a 10mile at this stage is a bit premature. But a good result would still be very nice.

I hope that Mum is still enjoying herself at Matapa.  It’s not long till Christmas and we are very much looking forward to seeing you.

Lots of love …. Ewart