Last Friday the family travelled to the Cotswolds for a long weekend of camping. The journey however was predictably complicated by an unwritten law that governs Tomlinson family holidays; motor failure must play some part! This time the fault being a wheel, broken beyond repair by one of Kent’s numerous potholes. With no replacement available until after the bank holiday, the only solution was for Hayley to pile her tiny Citroen with the sleeping bags et al, whilst I took the children over by train. Rush hour with children is not for the feint hearted- but being in holiday spirit we enjoyed it nevertheless.
The weekend proved bitter sweet. The low of motor failure was compensated by glorious weather. We joined several of Hayley’s university friends and also spent some time alone. Our family excursion being to a crocodile zoo, which the boys absolutely loved. Feeding time was the highlight and any suggestions that the boys themselves might be dinner were laughed off.
We had planned to drive to one of the Ordinariate groups in the Oxford area for Sunday Mass but a fraught journey meant we opted instead for the local church in Charlbury. It turned out to be charming. A small faithful congregation whose liturgy was identical to our 11am in Pembury. I was incognito, having travelled light, but was soon rumbled by the parish server who reads this blog. A former Anglican priest, now senior staff member at the Reading Oratory school, it transpired he had employed my predecessor at St. Barnabas, Fr. Kenneth McNab, following his earlier conversion to Rome!
The nice thing about joining with other families on a campsite is that the children have lots of friends to play with. And with the sun shining they were having a blast. But the wonderful weekend took a sudden turn for the worst when Gussy fell awkwardly from a climbing frame and hurt himself badly.
Poor little chap was rushed to a local emergency room where a nasty fracture close to the shoulder was discovered. Fearing he might need an operation to align the bones the medics booked him into the trauma unit at the John Radcliff hospital for further analysis the following morning. An uncomfortable night ensued with only Calpol to dull the pain.
The photograph above shows a little boy’s face when he is being extremely brave in the face of pain because he wants to earn some ‘brave boy’s lego’. And earn it he did as we watched a much older child acting hysterically in the hospital whilst Gus bore his own suffering with stoic heroism…and a large packet of fruit pastilles. A masculine show that soon won over the nurses and ensured he was very much the centre of attention.
Meanwhile I had a serious logistical problem to solve. Here you see me discussing plans with a brighter person, or were we discussing the pitfalls of subjective Hegelian theology? I forget. Either way the problem was that Gussy would need one adult and a free car, lest he be kept in overnight, but the other family members needed to get home with a good deal of camping equipment. The train option was no longer feasible.
Step forward dear Father Nicholas who volunteered to drive from Kent and collect family and equipment, freeing me to focus on Gussy. What a star! In the end Gus did not need the manipulation, thank the Lord, and so was soon home and tucked up on the sofa where he can recover at leisure from his ordeal . Meanwhile I must now get about the business of ordering wheels and try to avoid Fr. Nicholas in the ale houses of Kent- I owe him more beers than my stipend affords!