I arrive at the cottage at Shillingford just as brunch is about to be served. Perfect timing, although there was no way I was going to surprise the grandkids or miss a chance to stoke up for a walk. Today Barns and other cub leaders are taking the cubs and scouts on an 8-mile walk across Oxfordshire countryside which takes in a short bit of the Ridgeway. Rendez-vous happens at a pub in the village of Compton then our way takes us north up onto the downland where we cross the Ridgeway at Lowbury Hill and continue north to Aston Tirrold and then turn east to Cholsey. Eight-year old Charlie is my companion and he manfully completes the trek. At the end of the afternoon we collect Nick from the station and all that exercise is rewarded with a hearty stew cooked by Lukie.
On Sunday morning Nick, Barns and I take a walk down from the cottage and along a stretch of the Thames which runs along the eastern boundary of the land owned by the Earth Trust.
But there is a surprise is in store for Sam who celebrates his 14th birthday. He has chosen a Chinese Buffet lunch in Wallingford and the presence of Nick and me has been kept under wraps. All his grandparents are present, as are aunts, uncles, Andrews cousins and siblings. And all that exercise of mine will come to naught after I have self-indulgently tucked into fritters and spicy prawns, noodles and chicken curry and a sticky, sesame-seeded apple beignet! But who ate 15 pancakes?!!