Arrival Day

Emma came to the airport at lunch time and picked me up. I ate my sandwich in the car. The journey was about an hour and a half. When we arrived Emma showed me around the house. The house is on a terrace with twenty houses. It is very tall and narrow with lots of floors and stairs. The house is very old, from 1842. It is located next to a railway which goes to London in one direction and Southampton in the other.

We went for a little walk around the town. The family lives really close to the centre of the city, it is really easy to visit. We saw the cathedral and main high street. When we got back we watched Wimbledon on the television, Nadal is doing very well!!! Then we had dinner all together, they eat very fast and very early! Emma has two daughters and two sons and a dog called Pickle. They also have a friend staying called Holly. We were a lot of people around the table. After I played cards with the girls.

Tuesday, 9th July

I got up and had some breakfast: ham and cream cheese bagel. This is an american speciality. After breakfast we worked on our blog and did some lessons. Then we did a short walk and ate a pasty for lunch.

We started with the military barracks. From the 17 hundreds this area was used as a military training base for soldiers. They marched around the base in their uniforms. In 1992 it was sold for private apartments and houses. It is a really well maintained area, with beautiful gardens and a fountain in the centre.

This is very close to Emma’s house at the beginning of the walkThe columns in the picture originate from the original king’s palace. That was built on this site.

Next we followed a walking tour of Winchester, we used a map which showed us different historical places along the way. We started with the statue of king Alfred, who was a famous king who united the south of the country during the 9th century. Next we passed a medieval mill, which still makes flour today. Then we walked along the river and saw a swan. Apparently swans belong to the queen.

Next we visited the bishop’s palaces, one from the 16 hundreds and some ruins from the 11 hundreds.

We continued on past Winchester College, it was really impressive and it is the oldest private school in England. It is a boarding school for boys and costs £40000 a year.

We finished our route with king’s gate, one of the two remaining from the original six medieval gates in the city wall.

Later we watched Wimbledon on the TV. We all ate dinner together again and played some cards and watched some television.

Wednesday, 10th

I had a bacon sandwich for breakfast and then we did our lessons and blog. After lunch we went to two museums. On the way we saw a church that was converted into apartments. The most expensive apartment is in the tower!

Church converted into apartments

The first museum was part of the military barracks and it concentrated on the First World War and Boar War. Next we walked on to the Winchester’s city museum.

There is a huge model that shows the city in the 1870s. It was built by a town planner and it took him nine years to complete. We could see Emma’s house and all the main historical monuments in the city, including the river and the cathedral.

The museum has three levels and it takes us through the history of the city, from the Iron Age to Victorian times.

Before going home we stopped at the supermarket to pick up a few things for dinner. Later we went to the tennis court. Molly had a lesson and we had such an intense tennis match! For dinner we were nine people so it was very lively. After dinner we played cards (Nico won for the first time!) and watched TV.

Thursday, 11th

We had croissants for breakfast followed by our blog and lessons. Then in the afternoon we visited the Winchester City Mill. There has been a mill on this location for a thousand years, but the present mill has only existed since 1744! It is the oldest working mill in the UK and it was rescued by the National Trust in the 1920’s.

We were able to see the water wheel in operation and see the mechanisms. There were thousands of spiderwebs!

We also learned that Otters have been introduced and are happily breeding and visiting the mill on a regular basis.

In the 1920’s it was a popular activity to jump from the wooden beam that you can see in the picture below and race down the fast-flowing river.

The mill still makes flour that you can buy in the shop.

Then we came home and watched some Wimbledon. It was the men’s doubles semi-final. Later we had some dinner, a traditional English sausage and mash.

After dinner we played some cards and I watched a film with Ted. It was an American action movie.

Friday, 12th

After breakfast we worked on our blog and lessons. Straight after lunch we drove down to the tennis club, parked our car and went for a walk. Behind the tennis club there is a hill which the site of an old Iron Age hill fort called Saint Catherine’s Hill.

We visited a maze on the top and then walked all the way around the summit so that we could spot all the landmarks of the city, such as the cathedral, the medieval hospital, the city prison and police station. It was a really good view from the top.

Back to the car park, we collected our tennis rackets and played a very competitive game!

We had Risotto for dinner and then Rob, Ted and I went to the cinema in Eastleigh to watch Spiderman . An other busy day!

Saturday, 13th

We left Winchester about 11 to go to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. The journey took about an hour in the car. Blenheim is the only palace in the country that does not belong to the Royal Family.

The land and the money to build the palace were given to the Duke of Marlborough by the Queen Anne in 1705 as a reward for his success on the Battlefield in Bavaria against the French. It is a huge palace and took over 20 years to build, it also has impressive gardens by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown.

I followed the audio tour in English, which gave information about the family and the history. The family still live in one section of the palace today.

When we got home we watched some Wimbledon and then later in the evening we all went into town to experience a traditional meal of fish and chips.

Sunday, 14th

Today we got up early to go to the beach. It was a family outing including the dog. We drove south east toward Chichester to a beach called West-wittering. The journey took about an hour. The weather was not fantastic but it didn’t stop us! We played cricket on the beach and attempted to swim, it was very shallow because the tide was going out. You can just about see us in the water!

For lunch we brought a disposable barbecue which was a bit stressful for Rob. The matches got wet and he couldn’t light it but Emma managed to borrow a lighter from another couple on the beach and some bacon!

Later we drove home and watched the men’s final at Wimbledon, it was a very long match! Molly made us pancakes for dinner, they were really good!

Monday, 15th

I had boiled eggs for breakfast after which we worked on our blog and on our English lessons. Then, after lunch, we took Pickle to the groomers to have her hair cut. She was so scared and she was crying and jumping at my legs! We then left the car at home and walked down to the bottom of the city to explore Winnall Natural Reserve. The objective was to create a haven for wild life and reintroduce lost species. It is quite an interesting geographical landscape because it is a natural marsh land where particular grasses grow.

We were looking for rare animals and birds, it was an English Safari! We did see a very aggressive swan because she was protecting her signets. We had to carry on and carefully pass the swan without disturbing her and avoiding eye contact. It was terrifying, our hearts were racing!

The reserve is an oasis in the middle of a noisy city

Later we went and rescued Pickle. She looked smart and really happy to see us! We had macaroni cheese for dinner and I played cards with Louise and I won!

Tuesday, 16th

I had a pancake for breakfast and then we worked on our blog and lessons. For lunch we had a halloumi and salad sandwich. After lunch we went into Winchester to visit the Westgate Museum.

This is one of the two surviving medieval gates to the city. On the first floor there are some medieval artifacts in an exhibition and the opportunity to try on some very heavy armor!

It was so heavy I couldn’t hold my head

The next floor was the ramparts of the old gate and we had a really good view down the high street

The gate was used as a defence against attack and later in its history, as a prison. We could see some examples of the prisoners graffiti.

Next we visited the Great Hall, which is the only remaining section of the original palace of the 13th century. It is also the home of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Later, some friends arrived from Belgium and then we went to the local pub to participate in the quiz night. There were two questions on Barcelona! It was interesting to see the local pub culture first hand.

Wednesday, 17th

I had a bacon sandwich for breakfast. After that we worked on our blog and lessons. After lunch we walked to the train station to take a train to Southampton. Southampton is the biggest city in the area of Hampshire, with a population of around 250,000. It is situated on the coast and has a large port where cruise ships dock. The Titanic started its maiden voyage from here. In its hey day it was a wealthy spa town that attracted rich people to take their holidays. It also has the remains of the medieval city wall. Unfortunately, the city was bombed during the Second World War because of its naval base.

From the train station we walked to Bargate , one of the original walls of the city. This is very close to the main high street. Southampton is the best place for shopping because it has a huge indoor shopping mall.

Then we continued walking along the ramparts of the old city wall.

From there, we walked on to the Tudor House, which is a black and white half-timbered house from the 15 hundreds.

From there, we walked to the water front. This is a quite exclusive area with nice apartment blocks and hotels. There was one really huge hotel that looked like a cruise ship.

Then we stopped in a cafe and enjoyed a well-deserved ice cream! After that, we had to walk all the way back to the station!

For dinner we ate Chinese beef noodles. After dinner I played Fifa and Rocket League with John and Ted. Another busy day!!

Thursday, 18th

Today we had croissants for breakfast. After that, we worked on our blog and lessons.

In the afternoon, we cycled to the tennis court for our and third and definitive game of tennis. On the way it was down hill so it was quite easy. We took little back roads and we hardly saw any cars. On the way back, however, after a very hard game of tennis, we had to climb back up the steep hill!

Each time I’ve got better and better and Emma has to work harder and harder and this time I managed to come back from 2-5 to equal her with a score of 5-5. We were too tired to carry on! We agreed to draw!

For dinner, we had Quiche and salad and a chocolate pudding. Later, I played some PS4 with Ted and watched some TV with the others.

Friday, 19th

Today was our fist rainy day, which is quite surprising in the UK. The weather has been really good, I can’t complain at all!

We had croissants for breakfast, followed by our blog and lessons. After lunch, we decided to watch a film because the weather was not good. Emma suggested “Eddie the Eagle” because it is an English film about a true story. Eddie was not the typical athletic boy but, despite this, from an early age, he wanted to participate in the Olympic Games. Although he had no support from his father, who wanted him to be a plasterer, or the Olympic Committee, who were prejudiced against his working class background, he succeeded in breaking the British world record for ski jumping. The film was a comedy but it was also an inspiring story about an underdog, who succeeds against the odds.

For dinner we had a curry, which the UK’s national dish! After dinner we played cards and finished our series “Stranger Things”.


Saturday, 20th

Today is the last day. We did some shopping in the morning. On the way, we saw a soldier dressed up in Napoleonic uniform.

Then after lunch, we drove south west towards the New Forest. This is a national park where animals are allowed to roam freely. It was an English safari and we saw horses, cows, pigs and donkeys.

A herd of horses in the background.Emma and Nico with a typical English blue sky!

On the way we stopped to look at a phone box, which had been converted to a public library. A new use of an antiquated device!

For dinner we are going to have chilli with the family and tomorrow we have to sadly leave for the airport.