However, many things are still the same as I remember them, especially where the family is concerned. It is interesting to spend time with each of Susan’s sisters as their husbands are all very different and do very different things.
Gary is a Physics teacher, Ted runs a farm and Darra is a CFO for an oil production company. The 3 places they live are all very different. Blackmore is a VERY quaint small English village where the food-liquor-video-hardware is all-in-one but there are 3 pubs! Blackmore never grew out of its ancient plague road bypass and the local church contains “plague pits” where presumably hundreds of 14th Century English are buried. The walk from the Dimonds house to the village is barely ½ mile! Ted and Sarah live near Cambridge. Cambridge is a college town with its oldest college built in 1284. The Clover Flat Road Farm where Ted spends at least 50% of his time living his dream raising rare breed sheep and cattle. Ted also does local planning work which keeps him very busy. My other brother-in-law, Darra is again very different. Living in Central London for one thing is a unique atmosphere in its own right.
Darra does very well and so the Comyn’s do live in a posh home in a nice part of the city. Darra is also a wine drinker which suites me very well. I both like and enjoy being with all of my brothers-in-law!
I arrived in England just a few days before the Stuffins family reunion (my mother-in-law Jane is a Stuffins). This year it was held in Charlbury which is not far from Abington (near Oxford)!! There a lot of Stuffins and their reunion campsite remind me just a bit like Woodstock. They get together for a family reunion every 2 years and 3 generations always show up. There is the older contingent (which I hang with), then Susan’s generation all born within a decade and the kids. My daughter Rachel (21) knows her cousins very well.
Friday night is sit and drink with the elders and I especially enjoy “Uncle John” who is 78, fit as fiddle and just a gas to sit and down a few with. John is a wild man! At midnight the campsite management came by and told us we had to be quiet so the first night’s party pretty much ended there. Saturday saw a local fair in Charllbury and the family feast which got underway about 5PM. The Stuffins army had erected several canopy-type shelters and a good thing too as it just poured down rain all evening. It was actually pretty funny because as I sat and again talked (well, “party” is a better word) with John and his wife Gill, I took in a scene of eating, a lot of drinking and laughing in almost a gale-force summer storm!! It was a hilarious scene as the weather didn’t dampen a thing!!!
England is expensive. The marginal income tax rate is 50% and the VAT (sales tax) is 20%. Utilities are high but the kicker is gasoline (petrol) where current prices range 1.40-1.45 Pound or about $8.50/US gallon equivalent. It’s also interesting to note that citizens pay a yearly 150 Pounds TV tax going to the BBC with amounts to roughly $6 billion dollars annually - an interesting government-corporate situation.
The Chicagoland MG Club is affiliated with England’s “MG Owners Club”. The HQ for the MG Owners Club is in Swavesey which is only a 15 minute drive from Sarah and Ted. The MG Owners boosts 45,000 members world-wide. They sell clothing, parts, and memorabilia and do extensive restoration of all MG makes and models.
NEXT: Story #2 - The MG Owners Club!