We're joining the M6 somewhere north of Coventry, in the vicinity of Nuneaton. It's a proper nostalgia-fest for me, as I have strong childhood memories of travelling from Cov to Nunny; from one set of grandparents to another.
We used to go along the Foleshill Road, which had a phenomenal number of traffic lights on it. If we caught the first on red, we'd be scuppered for the entire length of the road but if the first was green, we'd sail down it like a pleasure cruiser on the Nile! I can hear my father now, slamming his hands on the dashboard if it was red...
The Foleshill Road was a very Asian area. I remember being intrigued and a bit frightened as a child; a fear that wasn't helped by my Grandparents' slightly less than enlightened views on the subject. The game we were always encouraged to play as as we drove along was called "count the white people."
There were a lot of chip shops in the area as well. My Grannie would drive for miles looking for a chippie with a queue outside because it meant they were being freshly fried. I remember thinking it was really cool that my Grannie ate chips. Being the child of a CND supporter, who preferred to cook with wheat germ and carob, chips were always something of a forbidden fruit!
We went to see Grannie's grave and I was horrified to find there were no flowers on it, not even plastic ones. I should have thought to take some with me, but the weather was foul and we were pushed for time. Entering Stoneleigh (which is where she lived) felt very natural. We went there every Christmas of my childhood. We were listening to ABBA as we turned right at the hunting lodge and dipped down into the village. I could have been ten years old all over again.
We're on our way to Shropshire for Christmas and stopped off in Coventry to see Mother Goose at the Belgrade theatre. Our friend Ian was playing the evil king, and he did it beautifully. I'm gonna hold my hands up and admit to getting a little teary-eyed when, during the obligatory UV lighting sequence, Mother Goose flew through the sky on an enormous goose. I thought how amazing and magical it must have looked to the kids in the audience. I over heard one in the interval asking her mother if the fairy was ACTUALLY magical! Oh to be young again! We all need more magic in our lives...
A busy day for Pepys 350 years ago which saw him up before the sun to call in at the Lord Privy Seal's private residence in Chelsea. He needed some last minute emergency signatures before LPS vanished into the country for Christmas.
In the early evening, Pepys went for a quick browse in the bookshops in St Paul's churchyard. It was here that he met, by chance, one Mr Crumlum (fabulous name), who was with the second master of St Paul's school, Pepys' former school. The three men went to a tavern and had a lovely evening, which ended with Pepys bequeathing 5l to the school to be spent on books "of their choosing."