Archive for July, 2008


July 29, 2008

Newmarket Gallops

Newmarket Gallops

Henley, Didcot, Deanshanger (near Milton Keynes) and Victoria, London were done in a day. But we did travel seperately, Martin to collect passports and Alison to call on friends. Martin’s trip to London was so fast by trains and buses, he was at our next destination Deanshanger by 3.30. Alison had made good time as well and we enjoyed an overnight stay with Caroline.

Next day we headed for Newmarket to friends Travis and Erica who had moved here from Marlow. To our surprise we discovered their house overlooked the gallops, where everyday hundreds of racehorses are exercised.

We spent two days here, visiting Cambridge, going to the National Stud and the National Horse Racing Museum, where Alison impressed by riding the mechanical training horse at full gallop . Thanks Travis and Erica, we enjoyed it all.

We returned to Alison’s parent for the last few days and finally unwound.


Dorset, Hants and Surrey

July 29, 2008

Cousin Nick and family live at the head of a valley overlooking Charmouth. Neither of us are that familiar with the South West corner of Dorset, so the views from his house came as a surprise. It’s a delightful neck of the woods with the benefits of the sea near at hand and beautiful countryside on the doorstep.

This was our next stop on the tour and we enjoyed catching up with family news and munching our way through a handsome lunch of assorted goodies. We were surprised to learn that Nick is on call for Coastguard duties. His in depth knowledge of the coastline and hinterland was accued through his love of X-country running. He gave us a quick tour of his patch, showing us more glorious views. Hmm! Thoughts of what we are missing out in Goa.

On to Hampshire and an overnight stay with a fellow McTimoney in Fleet. Thank you for the most comfortable bed on the whole trip, Betty. And of course for the excellent dinner.

On to Headley Down in Surrey and another McTimoney and close friend. Thanks, Nicki and Anthea for your hospitality and a great party. Again the English countryside was a huge attraction. We managed to get lost (going in ever-decreasing circles… just like dealing with Indian bureaucrats) on the common while on a run.


July 29, 2008

Thank you to Tamaris and Samantha, Martin’s twin daughters, for making room for us at their cottage in St Merryn, Cornwall. It was here that we learned that our passports were ready for collection, not in the 7-10 days as we were told, but in 3 days. The High Commission of India works over the weekend! Wonders will never cease. So with the assurance we could return home to India, we were able to concentrate on relaxing.

Cornwall was not at it’s best and we were regretting having not sufficient warm clothing and wet weather gear. Pity the heat wave didn’t come earlier! We splashed around Newquay and Padstow for a bit, but otherwise we stayed at the cottage and took a trip to Plymouth with the twins. It’s not often Martin enjoys shopping trips; he usually gets a bit fed up with looking at stuff nobody has any intention of buying, but this one worked so well. We bought most of what was on our ‘not available in India’ list, particularly CDs and bras and bikinis (the latter for Alison, we hasten to add). Indian women are built differently from European women and Alison sometimes buy clothes which are labelled XXL in India. Tamaris and Samantha took us to a great pub in Plymouth (The China House) overlooking the Barbican where the beer and food was good and relatively cheap; only £2.40 a pint.
Then there were two convivial evenings at the local (Cornish Arms) with friends and family. We were sorry to leave, the time seemed too short.


July 25, 2008

Continuing from Clows Top we travelled on to Berks, Bucks and Oxon and our thanks go to Beverley Speir who did us proud with her hospitality and friendship in Lane End. We were hoping to get through the visa application quickly, but you’ve heard it before, India doesn’t do ‘quickly’. One error in our paperwork set us back for one day, involved an extra trip to London and then we were told that the process would probably take ten days rather than three. In the event our papers were processed in three but we had already changed our itinerary.

We met many friends during the BBO visit and each time we were reminded of the cultural differences we experience in India. It was great to see friends at the two impromptu pub sessions and were sorry to miss those who couldn’t make it. Martin enjoyed his beer but felt that the pub scene was not as good as 18 months back before the smoking ban. Groups of people huddled outside in the cold ‘enjoying’ their smokes put a damper on the general atmosphere. Was it really not possible to have non-smoking pubs? We guess not in our nanny state. India has followed suit with no-smoking bans and whereas smoking is rarely seen in public spaces, restaurants etc, the law is universally ignored in bars.


July 24, 2008

from Clows Top

from Clows Top

One of the things we found that we had missed was the English countryside. The first and last parts of our visit were spent in Clows Top, Worcestershire home of Alison’s parents John and Jude. The views from their house are spectacular overlooking the Malvern Hills, the Teme Valley and in the far distance the Cambrian Mountains mountains. Never mind the cold and the rain, for with them came great cloudscapes and clear views. We particularly enjoyed hedgerows full of flowers. After eighteen months away we felt there was less traffic on the roads but the roads were not being well maintained.

A big thank you to John and Jude, and to Philip (Alison’s brother) for the loan of the porsche.

Back home

July 22, 2008

3 in the morning

3 in the morning


Our return journey was tedious but without glitches. It’s warm, not raining and with hints of sunshine. So it’s now down to sorting the problems caused by monsoon humidity in the house and the treatment room. And once we have sorted the inevitable paperwork, RBI Survey of India’s Foreign Liabilities and Assets: 2007-2008 Form 1B being the first (we haven’t seen Form 1 or Form1A yet), we’ll write up some of our UK experiences.

In the meantime, many thanks to friends and family who put us up and put up with us and a ‘ Sorry we missed you’ to those who we didn’t get to see.


July 4, 2008

Some of you may remember IWA stands for ‘India Wins Again’. Our first attempt at submitting our visa application fell at the first fence when the clerk spotted a missing signature, which couldn’t be added there and then. So that was one trip to London without a result and another day of R&R down the pan. Our mistake of course.

Success on the second attempt was tempered with having to face a near fourfold increase in fees (from July 1!) and only one year instead of the two requested. Thirdly instead of being able to collect documents on Monday there could be a delay of 7 to 10 days.

Do you get the sense that they don’t really want us?

Well apart from the above, our holiday is going well. Alison’s brother has lent us his 1985 Porsche which is going well. We have started to meet up with friends and family and even a friend from Goa who was on the Bakerloo platform at Paddington wondering how to get about London because the tubes weren’t running.

Our friend Beverley in Lane End near High Wycombe is coping with us in her overburdened house. Although husband Fraser is away, both daughters and granchild have returned. Great fun! We’re off for a beer at our old haunt the Royal Oak and meet up with more friends.

It’s cold

July 2, 2008

Back in the UK after being away for eighteen months and we are finding life a little chilly. We had a long-winded journey from India, predictably not without its excitements.

We had booked our flights online and so had an ‘e ticket’ (so you don’t actually have a physical ticket as the booking goes straight to the airline). The thing is, you cannot get into an Indian airport without a ticket. Try explaining ‘e tickets’ to the armed police at Dabolim and Mumbai. Having successfully gained entry to the aiports, we were delayed checking in because the airline wasn’t happy with our visa extension paperwork – they thought we should have had a new visa in our passports. Exasperated comments of ‘you go to Delhi and explain that to them’ followed.

Then the machine for scanning the baggage wouldn’t work and all bags had to be processed by hand. Finally we made it to immigration. He was happy with our visa paperwork (big relief). And our bags did make it successfully through the transfer from Mumbai to Schipol to Birmingham (even bigger relief).

We were met by Alison’s Dad at Birmingham and whisked away to the depths of rural Worcestershire. So how does it feel to be back? First impressions are that it’s cold and that we get a speed rush travelling anything faster than 30 mph. However we went into town yesterday and got four jobs done in one hour, with great service and no stamps, forms, or identification in triplicate. And we’re off to submit papers for our new visas tomorrow. Fingers (and everything else) crossed.