|From the side hatch at Stoke Hammond|
Well, today has been wonderful.
|My Dad's jersey, David's Dad's sheepskin hat and leather gloves - and when I got outside it wasn't that cold, but I couldn't remove the hat or there would have been a severe case of hat head! I have to say, I look a lot like my Dad ...|
|One of the views on the walk from the three locks up to Soulbury|
|On the bridge over the railway and the bypass is this sign - I am not sure why it says Caution though.|
|Coming back to make sure David doesn't trip in the hole in the bridge's footpath|
I knew that the guys who owned the other part of the semidetached house had bought Daphne's house to create a granny cottage downstairs for Simon’s mother and to add the upstairs rooms (3 bedrooms) to their home.
We went to see them first, thinking that it was possible they would be going out on a Sunday afternoon. Simon and James were home with their sons, were very welcoming and happily showed us around. Isobel, Simon’s mother arrived back from the garden centre and was also happy that we had come to visit and to see what had become of Daphne’s beloved house.
The granny cottage and amalgamation of Daphne’s home into Simon and James’s place have been beautifully done.
|Daphne's house used to be the RHS of this home - I am standing in front of her early addition: the front porch. She never used the original front porch apart from as a place to store junk.|
Isobel invited us for coffee after our lunch at the Boot, so on through the village we went admiring the wonderful gardens on the way. The Boot did not disappoint in any way.
I first went there with my mum and Daphne back in 1988, and again in ’90 with David and the kids, and on a few occasions since – Melita and I took Daphne for lunch there one day, and the last occasion I was there was for the wake after Daphne’s funeral back in 2007.
|Fresh bread before the starters, and a bottle of Argentinian viognier|
|Smoked haddock on mash and fresh steamed veges|
|Roast beef, yorkshire, roast potatoes, horseradish|
Today the ambience**, the food and the service were lovely. Some of the touches that make such a difference and are missing from many restaurants now are still in place at The Boot. Handcut slices of fresh baked bread are complementary and the staff come and ask if you’d like more. When they come to ask if everything is OK, it’s not just for form’s sake, but includes a suggestion/question re supplying more gravy, more bread. I couldn’t finish my roast beef and roast potatoes, so they were packaged up (with more gravy) for me to carry away. That wasn’t an issue for David as he’d scoffed all of his smoked haddock with a yummy sauce on mash …
If you are coming through Soulbury on your boat or by car, we would recommend the pub extremely highly. 10 out of 10, from both of us. It’s a mile’s walk from the 3 locks, and it is worth it.
** The music was playing softly and was melodic – chosen for the likely taste of the patrons, not the waiting staff.
So fully replete, we went to the churchyard to see Daphne’s grave. My cousin had told me that Daphne didn’t want a headstone, and a couple of years ago the vicar organised a simple wooden cross to mark the grave as he couldn’t find any family to ask. Seeing the cross today made me sad. Daphne didn’t have any Christian belief but she did participate in church things because it was the hub of the community, and that was extremely important to her.
|At Daphne's grave|
We then called in to see Isobel for tea (and yummy little chocolate rolls. Note self: FIND THEM at the next supermarket.)
We had already looked through the cottage before lunch but Isobel showed us more of the touches that were important to her. It was lovely to discover that Isobel collects owls, as did Daphne, she loves to garden, as did Daphne and she has managed to salvage a number of Daphne's roses, shrubs and old fashioned apple trees. She and Simon removed a giant wodge of brambles that had taken over part of the back garden as Daphne got past keeping it in trim, and they have exposed the end of the garden that looks out on to field behind.
|The old apple tree and the field beyond|
|Two of Daphne's roses beyond the new terrace|
The whole effect of the changes to the house and joining up of the gardens is beautiful and I am sure that Daphne would be pleased to see it all looking so loved and cared for.
Isobel kindly drove us back down to the three locks and came to look around the boat. We have each other’s contact details and will stay in touch.
|We are moored below the three locks for the evening - too tired to move further today!|