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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Family, friends and the giant sunflowers - Day 288

A day of catching up with family, friends and having a lovely walk around a beautiful English Village. England is a wonderful place to explore, so much history, variety of architecture and stunning views.

“Lindsey, Lindsey where are you?” I could hear a knocking on the door and two very sweet little voices calling me. I was coaching a client and Martin’s eldest daughter Charlotte had arrived with her 3 daughters under the age of 5, just like me and my sisters. After finishing the coaching session, I opened the door to find two delightful young girls with some form of Dawn’s jewellery draped around their necks – Dawn’s way of distracting them. At the same time, our dear friends Wendy and Michael turned up to spend the day with us. I have known Wendy since the age of 17, part of the family. We all trundled out to the garden, chatting away and watching the three bundles of joy, I can imagine it is tiring work for Charlotte…and Dawn when she is running around the garden with them, such active happy girls. So lovely to see them all. Charlotte and Martin went out for a run while Dawn and Tim were occupying the girls. Tim is so brilliant with children and instinctively knows how best to entertain them. I remember when our boys were little, often we’d be going on walks with friends and their kids. I’d be chatting away with the adults and we’d look back to see Tim acting like the pied piper with the kids. They all adored him. We’d decided to take Wendy and Michael to Shoreham, a small village just over 5 miles from Orpington, but like a different world. It is clustered in the valley of the River Darent with beautifully kept homes with an eclectic mix of architecture, some dating back as far as 15th century. This is surprising as the village is supposed to be the most bombed village in Britain; apparently, the Army took over a number of manor houses for operational use. We walked over the bridge where Martin had proposed to Dawn 14 years ago and along the river. A row of delightful tiny cottages had moorings and what looked like a communal area for entertaining. One was for sale if you are interested! Lunch and time for relaxing at The Mount Vineyard. It looks as if it has been a bumper year for them as the vines were heaving with bunches of black juicy grapes. We chatted away, reminiscing of times together and watching a couple’s puppy digging holes in the grass. Not too sure the owners would be enamoured with that! Our next visit was the Grade 1 listed Saxon parish church, St Peter and St Paul. This little church is stunning. The pulpit was once the principal pulpit of Westminster Abbey, transferred to the church in 1851 and 23 years later the exquisite organ case used at the coronation of George II was also obtained. The vicar at the time was the Canon of Westminster! The church committee is currently in the process of raising funds for a much-needed extension. It seems, from reading various pamphlets, that the funds required keeps growing, I am sure that, at first, it was £550,000 which has grown to £700,000! They are just £80,000 short of their target figure if anyone wishes to contribute. Wandering around the village, we suddenly came to a small white cottage with the tallest sunflowers we had ever seen. What made them so spectacular was that there were six all squeezed in the tiny front garden and most had multiple heads. As we were busy taking photos, the owner walked up and we stood chatting for ages with him. Ron, who has lived there for 36 years with his wife and family, has grown sunflowers for a number of years, keeping some of the seeds to replant. He told us his secret of how he gets such wonderful blooms (urine), however at 13 feet tall, these whoppers gave him a surprise this year. We had such a great chat, sharing a bit about our travels and he shared that in the early 70s, he and a mate travelled all the way to Kathmandu in a VW van with just £80 in their pocket. What an adventure. We could have chatted for hours with him. It’s wonderful finding these places full of history and great characters and in a way, lovely sharing with Wendy and Mike our typical day of travelling. It doesn’t matter what country we are in, we often meet such interesting people. What a lovely day, spending time with family and friends and visiting the very best of England’s green and pleasant land with a bonus of those happy blooms of sunflowers – Thanks Ron.

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