We're just back from a trip to England, visiting family and friends. Always great to see people and come away with new impressions of the place, seen from a different perspective.
We spent the first couple of nights at my sister's near Fareham. Her hubby spent some time in Canada this summer, visiting an old school friend. He had a fabulous time, and came away deeply impressed by the quality of life to be had there, for people with his kinds of skills. He's taking my sister out there in 2019; I can see an emigration happening, if all the hurdles can be cleared. A lunch with mum was enjoyable, and it's good to see her partner looking to be in good health, much better than when we last saw him.
Overnight in Lewes, and a meet-up with a friend of Anita's. She took us out to Brighton where we went around the Lanes and had a delicious lunch in The Flour Pot. I also discovered a new and used CD shop. I succombed.
We went to the toy museum at Brighton. It's mostly dedicated to miniature railways, but there are other things there too, including a great display of Meccano models. I had huge amounts of the stuff when I was a kid, bought largely for next to nothing at jumble sales, in undefined assortments. I had lots of cog wheels of different sizes, and learnt from practical experience the meaning of backlash in gear trains, and the fact that you can't gear up rotational speed indefinitely.
Meccano was invented by Mr Hornby of model train fame, who kept making mechanical models for his son, and wished he could buy a standard set of components that could be used in multiple ways. It was marketed as engineering for boys. I reckon that these days if you re-launched it as engineering for girls, it would take off again like a rocket.
On to Wimbledon to stay with our friends there. I spent a happy hour or so at Top Wind, a specialist flute shop in London, chatting about the music world and flute world in particular. Bought some sheet music too. I was going to join up with my French flute tutor there, introduce her, but she couldn't make it.
Our Wimbledon friends led us to a new-ish and excellent Thai restaurant called Patara. They seemed to make all of their menu items from scratch, and featured many things that I had not seen before. The best Thai meal I have had outside of Thailand.
My impression of the retail environment was that is was slow. I'm used to having to push through crowds in Wimbledon at this time of year, but it was easy to get about. Fareham seemed sparsely frequented, and Marks and Sparks had closed. I can well believe that people are not shopping like they used to.
On the last lunchtime I was able to meet up with a couple of old schoolfriends in a pub. I hadn't seen Nick for ages, although Melvin I saw less than ten years ago. We had a good old natter, and Nick who still works full-time, was clever enough to take the afternoon off, so we talked long into the afternoon, until Anita and I had to leave to sort out some last-minute Christmas things.