BASINGSTOKE

Dear John

I’m on a train going though Basingstoke.

Aargh!  Basingstoke!

We always used to exclaim when we passed near it or heard reference to it.

There’s some story about some woman who had a phobia about it or something – I’m not sure of the actual source, it must be something you once told me about.  It was one of many little humorous customs between us.

Once we went to a place called The Vyne, near here – some sort of country house and grounds open to the public.

It was after we had been to a Bellowhead concert – some tickets that someone had given us.  An unexpected excursion we both really enjoyed.

The Vyne was where we sat on a bench by the lake and I had to admit to you that I had spent a thousand pounds booking a holiday online (without asking you first).

It was one of those moments when I had sat at work, considering the possibility of a trip, planning it all, and then finding I had actually booked it – so easy to click yes, so easy to spend money online.

It was a long weekend in Madrid, somewhere we had always wanted to return to.

Luckily you weren’t that annoyed.

I’m so glad we went on that trip now.  So glad I have memories of two different hotels in Madrid, loads of photos of you on the open top tour bus, and outside the Palace and the Prado.

The Prado was a major art gallery you’d always wanted to visit but we hadn’t done it yet.  For many years it was talked about as somewhere we must arrange to visit.

I’m so glad now you saw one of your favourite paintings, ‘in the flesh’ as it were – the Garden of Earthly Delights.

And also Picasso’s Guernica in the Renia Sofia.  That was a very significant painting to you, though I can’t remember exactly why.

At least you saw it in your lifetime, John.

At least I know that’s a fulfilling moment you had, seeing something you’d always wanted to see.

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