Deedie and David in the Queen’s Realm

Tuesday morning, August 6th.

On this day Deedie and David are in the Queen’s Realm. The sun has come up bright and is reflecting off the green house roof and the glistening dewy grass of the back garden at our house sit in Wokingham,  England.  It’s not yet 7 and Emmy, the three-legged golden retriever, has been fed and taken up her post on the patio. Deedie is still in bed as it’s her morning to sleep in.

Deedie and David in the Queen’s Realm

Slowly we are adjusting to a new routine.  I can’t say it’s been easy, mostly due to the eight-hour time difference, driving on narrow roads in a small car on the left side in unfamiliar territory and getting our cell phones to work on a different system.

We arrived Friday afternoon at Heathrow and were met by Fran and Alan, the nice owners of 11a Rickman Close, Arborfield Cross, Reading, Berkshire RG2 9PS.  Wokingham is the town.  Our briefing was given over an extended evening of friendly chat, drinks and dinner around the kitchen table.

Before retiring earlier in the year, Alan’s IT work took him to the States many times and when their four children were young the Newsons and their next door neighbors owned a place in Orlando for regular trips. After Deedie fell asleep in the middle of a sentence, we bade our good nights. It was one in the afternoon our time, but we had not had much sleep on the Airbus.

Saturday Alan gave a tour of his extensive garden in the back of their acre before setting out for the garden center for a replacement watering control device.  Or so we thought. Our departure was delayed by two flat tires on the Citroen. Had kids slashed them, Alan wondered. Out came an inflater that he plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter and the tires were blown up in no time.  Or so we thought. More on this later.

We were off with David at the wheel not exactly handling the roundabouts to Alan’s satisfaction, nor staying far enough away from the curb. But we made it there and back. After the installation of the watering device we were off again for a brief introduction to the local grocery stores. David again at the wheel and a concerned Alan beside and Nervous Nellie Deedie, in the back.

Several hours later, Fran and Alan departed for their monthlong trip to Thailand after last-minute advice on getting insurance info from any traffic encounter we might have while in their car. We stayed “home” for the evening after a visit from Karen and Jeff, the next door neighbors who offered to assist at any time.

Deedie and David in the Queen’s Realm
Wokingham Meeting House

Sunday morning we decided to attend the Wokingham Quaker meeting, leaving we thought lots of time for the four mile  trip.  We got to the end of the street when a weed sprayer on a three-wheeler came aside to point out that we had two flat tires. The inflator Alan had carefully placed in the back of the car again worked again and we were on our way with  directions from Google maps.  We were ever so late and considered not going at all. But we pressed on, summoning our inner courage and light as well.   An older (!) man with gray hair and pink cheeks greeted us and showed us into the meeting room with a dozen chairs arranged in a circle. We sat, doubling the attendance. It was a silent meeting that morning, but both of us benefited. Thoughts were of Ro, celebrating her 13th birthday in Portland and the 13th anniversary of Deedie’s participation with the Rogue Vally Peace Choir’s Hiroshima visit.

After a coffee shop stop we went to the Vodaphone phone store with mixed results. A helpful clerk was able to install a new SIM card in David’s phone for service in the UK, but found that Deedie’s phone was locked by AT&T. Nothing could be done there or at the “hackers”  cubby hole shop a block away.  Efforts to reach Ro for a birthday greeting failed as we needed to “tup up” our new English account on David’s phone and Deedie didn’t have service on hers. Darn.

Returning to the car after several hours, we needed to inflate our two problematic tires before heading back to Rickman Close. On the way we pulled into a tire place. A nail was found in one tire and the second was found to be losing air to a faulty rim which could not be fixed.  We bought a new tire and inflated the other.

First thing Monday morning after using the inflater again, David was off to the local tire place recommended by Jeff. The rim was worked on but a leak was found in the tire.  That had been the problem. David pulled the tire that had been Sunday’s problem that he had saved out of the back. Although it had been declared unrepairable Sunday, it was fixed on Monday. One problem solved.

Off we went to downtown Reading where there was an Apple store on the second level of a busy shopping mall. Alas, Deedie was informed they could not unlock the phone. Only AT&T could. Lunch along the river during a peak people watching parade salved our spirits and frayed nerves.  The people sitting next to us were great-grandparents who’d just launched their Christmas shopping. After a return to Rickman Close during traffic hour, a determined Deedie managed to switch  SIM cards and initiate the unlocking process. This may turn out to be a new niche career.

For dinner, our plates were heaped with sweet corn, string beans and tomatoes picked from Alan’s garden less than half an hour earlier. Delicious. We’re feeling pretty fortunate. Finally, we suspect you’re wondering why there’s been no mention of our local Pub. Today’s challenge is to find it! We think we’ll ask our neighbors for a guided tour, so stand by for news.

Ah, Britannia…we are here!

P.s. This gig was supposed to include chickens, but a month ago, a fox got every last one!

The Newson's garden