Sunday, August 13, 2017

Leopard Quest Part 2.....

Before I get to part 2 of my goal to see a leopard in the wild, I had to take a short detour - two and a half weeks in the UK. Why would anyone spend that amount of money for a short trip like that you may be asking - well apart from wanting to see family I have split from V and I wanted to be away when the sh*** hit the fan. Sad as it is I decided that I was worth more than a long weekend a month and a nine o'clock phone call so I called it a day. Although I truly thought we were going to ride into the sunset together the decision to journey no further is my choice. I rode to Bliss with him and then took a sharp turn to Cancer-ville  and on to Remission but now I have got off the horse, slapped its backside and sent it on its way.
So I had a short break in the UK to have fun with my sister Julia and visit my Wiltshire family too. It was all the therapy I needed. Britain was at its absolute best and the gardens were magnificent. The weather was kind and we really enjoyed some outdoor time. We visited Chatsworth House in Derbyshire - our parents loved to take us here and my mom 'Oohed' and 'Ahhed' over all the treasures -- most of them still there but it doesn't seem as grand as it once was. We particularly remembered a HUGE vase made of Blue John stone which is mined locally. Its the largest example carved from one piece and we used to marvel at it. We couldn't find it so asked on the way out where it was and was directed back to the previous room to find it looking much smaller. Amazing how the mind works!
There was an exhibition of wardrobe pieces on display with beautiful wedding gowns, dramatic mourning clothes and elegant ball gowns. All very splendid. The gardens were looking great and then afterward came the highlight- afternoon tea. No dainty sandwiches though - rather Derbyshire doorstops! No tablecloth either milady's standards are slipping I am sad to report. Lovely Lapsang Shouchong tea  was served with fresh scones and delicious jam and clotted cream.
We also visited a smaller country seat - Arley Hall which is famous for its gardens and rightly so they were ablaze with colour and really beautiful in the gorgeous sunshine. The hall itself was not open as usual as there was a Bollywood Horror movie being filmed there - we managed a peek at a few of the rooms and saw the set for the scene they were about to shoot - all looking very austere and Dickensian which I suppose is perfect for a Bollywood Horror film.
We spent a weekend at the country home of my niece in Wiltshire - in a village called Great Somerford. We meandered around the allotment stopping to chat to village gardeners and we admired their produce and the country flowers being grown, It was my niece's prom and it was lovely to see her and her young friends dressed up to the nines taking off in a vintage VW camper van to arrive in style.
Julia and I managed a day at Corsham too - where Poldark and company swagger around when a street scene is needed. We had lunch at the local and chatted to a true Wiltshireman - "Wiltshire born and Wiltshire bred. Strong in th'arm and thick in th'ed." He was the village character - and the retired head gardener at Corsham Court. when he told us this I  had to dismiss the picture that popped into my head of a row of heads planted in the garden! Corsham Court is impressive - the hall was closed so we checked out the gardens where we spotted a man taking his peacock for a walk!

A lovely evening at a spa and golf club was just what we needed after that which included another afternoon tea - I was spoilt :-) Of course there was the usual shopping marathons and I made good use of my 46k luggage allowance - they don't call it retail therapy for nothing!
Sad to leave my UK family but work and duty calls and I headed home with a heavy heart and just a small spark of joy on the horizon - a weekend in a tent in Sabi Sands Reserve and the possibility of seeing the elusive leopard.
What I have learned:
* a lot about getting unmarried
* there is no place like home - Its complicated when you have two!
* junk status means things cost a lot more in the UK
* its not only your clothes that shrink as you get older!
* diamonds are not forever
* you can take peacocks for a walk :-)

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