After finishing off the grouting and applying another coat of oil to the floor, we bought a compact leather sofa for the corner of the kitchen. We also dusted off the coffee table Michael made for us a few years ago, from a large slab of hairy oak rescued from the offcuts of our local sawmill.

We also got to work in the cloakroom, refreshing the walls and floor then building the panelled basin cabinet.



Having worked jolly hard for the last few months to get the kitchen and dining room complete, we decided it was time to enjoy the summer with a few short trips away. First up was a couple of days in London, revisiting Greenwich to start a break with a maritime theme. Sadly the Cutty Sark was still covered up, undergoing restoration from the 2007 fire, but we were able to see enough though the peep holes to believe the claim she'll be finished and back on public view early next year.

 After Greenwich we headed to Tower Bridge, where we were lucky enough to see the drawbridge open for a passing yacht. We followed the yacht into St Katherine's Dock, an inner-city marina right beside Tower Bridge. Our hotel was right beside the dock too, so next morning we were able to see the boats again on the way to breakfast on the south bank of the Thames. We then completed our nautical London tour with a visit to HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy warship now permanently on display moored in the Thames.

 Next stop was Portsmouth, just a couple of hours down the road, thankfully in glorious sunshine. We headed straight to the Spinnaker Tower to make the most of the weather, with fantastic views over Portsmouth, the Solent and the Isle of Wight.

Next morning we headed to the marina to meet friends aboard their yacht, then cast off for a day's sailing in the Solent. As it was Cowes week we sailed through great fleets of race boats, including the astonishingly fast Extreme 40 catamarans featuring the Emirates Team NZ and Red Bull crews.

A couple of weeks later we headed north in the 356 for a North Wales adventure. First stop was IronBridge, where we found a nice cafe overlooking the restored bridge.

After an enjoyable afternoon winding though the back roads of north Wales, we arrived in the coastal resort of Llandudno and found a spectacular Victorian hotel, with silver service from a by-gone era.

Next morning we enjoyed the expansive beach and historic pier, before taking lunch in town then driving along the coast to Chester. This is another of our favourite historic towns, especially the medieval walled centre and the Rows shops and restaurants.

Finally, after a great night in Chester, we trundled along to Oulton Park race track to join a big classic car event. We parked up amongst a huge collection of old cars, including Porsches (although we were surprised to find ourselves the only 356), Alfas, MGs and a special 50th anniversary celebration of E-Types. On track was an equally impressive range of pre- and post-war racing cars, making a great day's viewing.