March and May, 2008
Right off the bat we should get out of the way the question of naming this page: why is it "Britain 2008" and not "England 2008" or "UK 2008". As all two of the American presidential candidates said in their televised debates, "I'm glad you asked (give me some time to think)" and "That's an important question (give me some more time to think)" and "The public really has a right to know that ("I've almost got the answer; too bad I can't try it out in private.""
The answer is that the UK is made up of not just England but also Scotland and Northern Ireland (and other little bits that don't get to see the Queen too often). Britain, of course, is all of the above except for Northern Ireland. And this time we were not just in England but also in Scotland (even if just for a few hours and even if we were never really farther than shouting distance from England). And, anyway, even if we hadn't gone to Scotland, the Prime Minister is from Scotland, and, well, in the final call, it's our web page, so don't complain.
This stay in Britain was mainly a family one, since we had flown all the way from Australia to be at Lindsay and Dave's wedding. It was a fantastic do with the whole Bates-Capstick family in attendance plus of course the entire Jones clan and friends and hangers on besides. The wedding was not held in a church. Not the first time in the family. After all, we got married in a judge's home, and Dave and Jhap tied the knot at the Darlington registry office. But still it was a departure for the current generation as our two nephews both got married in church. We will doubtless soon learn if hotel weddings are to become a habit as there are still four more neices and a nephew of marriageable age to take the plunge.
While in Darlo, we fulfilled a long-time ambition to visit the new railway museum, which is located in the former North Road railway station. We were lucky enough to be around on the day they re-opened the museum after a closure for refurbishment. For Jan it brought back happy memories of train journeys from her childhood to the seaside resorts on the northern coast of Yorkshire as well as the many train trips to and from Bradford in her student days.
We also finally managed to get up to the Borders to visit Jan's friend Cheryl from University. She and husband Bob have a house on the banks of the River Tweed, a delightful site with full southern exposure that even in these northern climes means lots of sunshine to help get you through the day. We got there courtesy of Jan's sister Sue who kindly came along as chauffeur and companion. Cheryl treated us to a slap-up lunch and a tour of the surrounding countryside, including Kelso, pictured above. It was a very pleasant outing indeed.
Apart from the wedding there was another reason to be in/near England in 2008. Our friend Dinah and Mick were to hold a joint birthday celebration in May. Dinah was turning 60 and Mick 65 and had laid on a big bash with food, champers, and a sixties band to celebrate flower power all over again. It was an event not to be missed and we had a great time catching up with old friends from college days and literally dancing the night away.
We had taken Eurostar from Paris for a long weekend and were lucky to be able to stay with another of Jan's college friends, Paloma, who of course was also going to the party. In case you hadn't realized, Cheryl (see above), Dinah, Paloma, and Jan shared a flat in Bradford for six months and have been fast friends ever since.