Blackberries = Autumn

They said it was a bonzer year for blackberries and they weren’t wrong……


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Location:St Leonard’s St,West Malling,United Kingdom

Three traffic jams, a wedding and a birthday. That’ll be a bank holiday then.

Three traffic jams, a wedding and a birthday. That’ll be a bank holiday then.

Traffic. Just the word can make my blood pressure rise and we had a belly full of it this weekend.We’ve always been careful to avoid bank holiday rushes when we can, but this weekend saw my mate Rajen getting married at the Oshwal centre near Enfield. We hit the first of our traffic jams on the way up, arriving late at the wedding.  He’s a Hindu, and although we have been to one other Hindu wedding, it was a while ago and we certainly hadn’t been with kids before. As a result, we were unsure what to expect. We were though made to feel warmly welcome by one old codger who looked after us. It helped that there was a scroll for everyone that detailed what exactly was happening at each part of the ceremony, but this guy also took time to show us around the temple as well.

Several things stood out for me at the ceremony. Firstly, they served Ice Cream during the service. You read right folks, a delicious vanilla and pistachio combination which considering the room was warm, was a piece of genius. We had two, Ifor guzzled one in about 2 minutes flat and promptly went outside looking for more. The ceremony was long, probably around 3 hours or so and hopping in and out was fine and dandy. I found out more about the particular type of Hinduim, or Jain Oshwals whilst there, their adherence to non-violence, respect for life and different cultures striking a chord with my Quaker values.

On one of our trips out to let Ifor burn off the energy that a three year old miraculously accrues, the chap we had got talking to came out and offered to take us across to look at the new temple they had built. Frankly, it was jaw droppingly beautiful, and delightfully different to see something so Indian in Englands green and pleasant fields. The pink stone used picked up the sun gently, and the intricate carvings were stunning, offset beautifully by the simple green of the gardens.

Sadly, we didn’t have the camera with us so we have a lack of photos, but inside was just as impressive with white marble and the detailed carvings on both the doors and the walls speaking of the time and effort that had gone in to it. All the work conveyed the deep sense of spirituality involved, and it was a good place to stop and reflect quietly with my family. Not that Ifor really understands the words “quiet” just now. So it was back to the wedding, and we took our leave at the end as the boys got hungry. It was with this journey that we hit the second traffic jam, not too bad, but not great when we were tired from the day. It was a relief when we wended our way back to Maidstone to see Mum, and chill out before heading up to London on the Friday to visit little bro.

It had been his birthday on the Thursday and we had hatched a surprise with his other half to turn up un-announced which we duly did. Loving the look on his face, we headed out for an early lunch at Eat 17. Both the previous day and lunch summed up the things I miss about London, it’s multicultural heart and food! Having the chance to catch up with my nearest and dearest was also priceless. We figured on getting an early get away to avoid the traffic so at 1:30 we hit the road. What should have been a 2.5 hour journey then turned in to a 7 hour mission from Hades. Heading along the north bit of the M25 we encountered a car park, the boys thankfully sleeping through most of it due to their exertions. 3 hours in and we made the junction for the M4 at which point we decided it was enough for that game of skittles and drove slowly down the M4. The traffic began to clear, our thoughts turned to actually getting home and we strode off down the A350 stopping every 200 metres for Ifor to do a wee. Did I forget to tell you we were potty training Ifor too? How silly of me.

Driving past Warminster, we stopped in to Focus to look at a kitchen, at which point Nookie, our ever trusty Honda Accord, decided that enough was enough and promptly wouldn’t start. How a) Cath and I didn’t have the mother of all arguments and b) our Children didn’t melt down was beyond me, but an hour later by the grace of Green Flag we were on our way home. Bruv, I love you, but don’t expect a visit on the Bank Holiday ever again…….