‘Oarsome’ times…

12 04 2012

It’s around 6.00pm and in around 12 hours-time we’ll be setting off for Heathrow Terminal 3 and a long haul, Thai Air – smooth as silk – flight to Ho Chi Minh City, changing at Bangkok!

I’m not quite sure where the last week or so has gone. I notice I haven’t posted for nine days. It’s not for lack of subject matter, more a case of so much happening and too little time to tell the tale.

I’ve set myself the challenge of recording an edited highlights recount of recent events, while Chris is off in search of our fish and chip supper. That probably gives me about 30 minutes, as she’s taken off to the ‘Kingfisher’ in Tewkesbury, which I’m reliably informed is an award-winning  ‘local gem’ on Quay Street, back of Avon, ranked in the top twenty ‘chippies’, nationwide. I hope it lives up to the hype!    

The glorious early summer weather had to give, and did, just in time for the Easter weekend. Temperatures plummeted to more seasonal norms and bang on cue the pump in our central heating boiler breathed its last.

So it was a case of extra layers, strategically placed fan heaters and hot water bottles all round. Never the less, with both girls back in the Shire, for the first time since Christmas, it did not detract from an enjoyable extended bank holiday weekend, which mostly seemed to revolve around food and drink – no surprise there then!

We started the egg rolling with a ‘Good Friday’ evening meal at the Oak Inn, Defford – a pub restaurant I would highly recommend, if you’re ever in the Shire. The baked Camembert starter (to share) was divine, my pate topped Tournedos Rossini, mouth-watering tender, and the lemon cheesecake I forced down, just to help out number one daughter – don’t you know, perfectly hit the spot.

Saturday’s post ‘boat race’ supper was an ‘oarsome’ rib-sticker, a bangers, mash, mushy peas and onion gravy affair – in celebration of a Cambridge victory (no matter how hollow) by our very own Cantabrigian, journalistic Gem.

Sunday was all about a leisurely pint or two at our local ‘Blue Bell’ watering hole followed by Chris’s Great British Menu – traditional Welsh lamb, with roast potatoes, leeks, carrots, peas, swede and Yorkshire pudding. Not bad for a latter-day ‘vegetarian’!    


… Yum – the Kingfisher certainly did live up to expectations. And yes that is the only thing the Daily Express is good for! Anyway, on with the show…  


On a hectic Easter sporting front it was hard to keep up with all that was happening. For me the three high points of the last week were:

Finally, a winter win for the England cricket team, by 8 wickets, against Sri Lanka in Colombo, to share the two match series. The pivotal performances from an England perspective, a back in form  ‘KP’ smashing 151 (with his full repertoire of strokes on display, including the controversial switch hit) and a 10 wicket match haul for ‘Swanny’.


The Tricky Trees, edging seven points clear of the Championship relegation zone, and hopefully to safety. They followed up an undeserved, televised, Saturday tea-time, 1-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers ‘Bristawl’ City – a game they dominated from start to finish – with an Easter Monday comeback at Peterborough. It was my first visit to London Road (another, of the 92, ticked off) home of the Posh, currently managed by Darren, son of ‘Fergy’. Forest ran them ragged and could easily have been 5-0 up by the break, but had to settle for one, a superb pirouette and finish by Dexter Blackstock. In the end a controversial sending off for flying winger Gareth McCleary still couldn’t prevent the Reds comfortably closing out a 1-0 away win.

I’m away for the next three games but I’m pretty sure we’ve done enough to survive now. I look forward to a party atmosphere at the City ground for the final game of the season against Portsmouth. Pompey will almost certainly be singing the relegation blues.  


The 158th Boat Race dominated the front and back pages of the Sunday papers. I never thought I’d be writing that! Who says the annual Oxford v Cambridge, university show down on the Thames is ‘boaring’? This year’s event had it all. A crazy Aussie self-publicist, an ‘anti-elitist’ elitist (himself a product of the private education system and a graduate from LSE) was lucky not to be decapitated as he swam into the path of the on-coming boats. 

The race was stopped, half way along the four mile course, and resumed 30 minutes later, only for the boats to crash, causing an Oxford rower’s oar to snap. The umpire ‘waved play on’, as the  Oxford crew were judged to be at blame, and Cambridge surged on to record their 81st victory (hip-hip hooray!) However the light blue celebrations, were somewhat muted, in respect for the Oxford oarsman who collapsed at the finish, with exhaustion, and was rushed to hospital. Thankfully he has now recovered.

I’m afraid that will have to do. My bed is beckoning, if I am to be up bright early for tomorrow’s great adventure.                                      

Our S.E. Asian tour will commence in the South Vietnamese city, formerly known as, Saigon, from where we’ll take time out to explore the mighty Mekong delta. After flying north, to discover the vibrant capital of Hanoi, we’ll be spending a night afloat on mystical Halong Bay – a World Heritage site.  

After leaving Vietnam, we take in another UNESCO World Heritage centre, Luang Prabang, in Laos, before flying south to yet another, this time, the  ancient Angkor Wat temple complex  in Cambodia.

It’s an intensive itinerary but one  we’re looking forward to. It promises to be ‘oarsome’!                  




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