Quite a few friends are back home in Blighty from Oz at the moment. We met one friend, now with a wife and three children in tow last week; this week it was the turn of my former colleague, now with wife and child.
FC and I used to work together and initially couldn't stand each other. However, we quickly bonded, probably because the dislike was down to us being very similar. We had a great laugh at work and used to go out drinking and partying a lot around Ealing. I found it hilarious that for our recent meet, we should both propose meeting at a National Trust property.
We met at Chartwell; home of Churchill. We met at the café where FC and his family were exceptionally behaved whereas the McBaby just wanted to run around and in some cases, push his chair around. I can't imagine members of the Churchill family would have done this.
The new Landemare café (named after Georgina Landemare, the Churchill family cook for more than 20 years) was lovely and clean with large black and white pictures of Churchill all around and there were some interesting menu choices such as mackerel and orange salad, and colourful sandwiches and cakes.
Then into the immaculate rose gardens (Built by Churchill for his wife) and woodland estate in the knowledge that it doesn't seem to have changed much. There are expansive grounds, beautifully kept lawns, lakes and koi ponds. Apparently one of the walls was built by the young Churchill himself.
We had a timed ticket for the house, but the McBaby wasn't having any of it. To be fair, it was incredibly hot and crowded in there but at least we had a glance at the drawing room. While FC and his family looked around the house, the McBaby and I headed to the studio where many of Churchill's paintings can be seen and we blew bubbles in the kitchen garden.
Sadly we didn't spy the Chartwell cat in residence but we'll be back to visit Chartwell properly.