Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday 31st May 2015

It was wet. I left at 8am and drove up to Chester for my swan song appearance at the MD105BS Cabinet Meeting,  some 30 years after my first appearance. There was drizzle all the way and occasional bursts of rain. I saw the blue Escort as it passed me on the motorway. I was on cruise control at 72mph. I didn't see the Police Car. Neither did the Escort driver till the blue lights flashed. In the next mile there were two more cars pulled over, by unmarked police cars. Thank you cruise control.

I enjoyed this last Cabinet. There was some lively and different discussion regarding 2017, the 100th year of Lionism worldwide. It was also a chance to say goodbye to some people I likely won't run into again, or only at Convention.

The journey home was lovely. The sun shone all the way and the countryside at this time of year is gorgeous. The trees are lusciously green (some still have blossoms) and the hedgerows are stuffed with wild flowers. I drove down the A51, for old time's sake.

Pauline had spent most of the day with Rita but she wanted to get back so she could enjoy a glass of wine and Britain's Got Talent.


We Serve!

Saturday 30th May 2015


The irony was that this was the brightest morning of the week though, paradoxically, not the warmest. We woke early, broke fast, loaded the car and made the house tidy. We exchanged keys at 9.30 and left to drive home.

This being a holiday week Saturday, it was inevitable that vital motorway exits would be completely shut. Whatever, we found a way round all obstacles and were home before 1pm. I went to the studio and determined how much hadn't been done. Lichfield had! That left Gwent, Stevenage and Scotland for Monday.

I subjected myself to the heartache that was Aston Villa against Arsenal. It was interesting that there weren't distractive TV programmes after the Cup Final, so an early night and a good book was in order.
 
Prepared? I don't think so

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Friday 29th May 2015

The debate when we saw the rain was whether to go home today or hope that the forecast of a better afternoon was true. We decided to wait until 1pm and then decide. By that time the rain had ceased and we took the short trip to Mottisfont.

On a better day this might have been a more enjoyable visit. It wasn't a disaster by any means but we have visited more impressive buildings.

An Abbey was founded at Mottisfont in 1201. When King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries the building passed to Sir William Sandys who rebuilt the abbey as a country house, but left the main nave in tact and built extra wings around it.

The house as it stands now was the work of Maud Russell who took over in 1934 and established a sanctuary for all manner of artists. Ian Fleming also stayed at the house whilst he was working on his new hero, who was to become Bond - James Bond.

We came back to Tudor Cottage and enjoed a last ramble around the town centre. Romsey is bigger than first impressions suggest but our location made everything ready to hand.

We decided to eat out tonight and the Three Tuns was just at the end of the road, so that is where we went. This is a lively pub restaurant. What we didn't expect was the quality of the food. This was as good a meal that I have eaten out in a very long time.

Mottisfont

Extensive gardens and beautiful roses

Tudor Cottage

Mythology says that all true blue blooded virgins lose their virginity to a unicorn, but they are very, very rare these days. You don't see many unicorns either.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Thursday 28th May 2015

It was quiet. We woke early and eased into the day. This wasn't going to be one of hyper activity.

We live as far from the sea in Britain as it is possible to be so whenever we are within hailing distance of the briny, Pauline is restless until we see it. So I said we would go down to the coast, which is only 15 miles away if all you want is salt water.

We drove down through Lyndhurst and this must be one of the hardest places in Britain to pass through. The queues start from well outside the town, no matter from which direction you approach.

Eventually we got to Milford on Sea and stopped for a walk along the low cliff top. The Isle of Wight is surprisingly close and it took a few attempts before I could persuade Pauline that the lighthouse we could see was The Needles (so called because if you got those lined up right you could thread your way through The Solent).

After a while we eased our way back through the New Forest, soaking in the scenery and enjoying the free roaming ponies. Then it was find a sheltered spot in the sunshine and read our books.

New Forest ponies
Milford on Sea

The Needles

I had planned a roast vegetables dish tonight but Pauline said the Arborio rice needed using up, soI bought marinaded scallops and shrimps, sautéed in some mushrooms and we had yet another risotto, albeit quite different from any other I've cooked to date.

I bought myself a universal remote control. I thought, "This changes everything."

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Wednesday 27th May 2015

Helen said that they would be leaving after dinner. She needs a day at home to prepare for a weekend camping, and the girls don't surface at the crack of dawn.

We gave options for today's entertainment and the girls wanted the New Forest Wildlife Centre, so off we went.

This is a place that keeps on giving. The further into the complex you go the more you see, much of it unexpected. One teenage girl was pushing another in a wheel chair. As they stopped momentarily a deer walked up and laid its head in her lap. That was a magical moment for the young lady, and everyone who witnessed it.

The reserve spreads out under the canopy of New Forest trees. Most of the animals have generous space to roam and strut, though we would have liked to see signs that the owls are sometimes let out to fly.

There was a lovely atmosphere throughout the park. Feeding times were well advertised and guides were around to give information, and there were also a couple of well stocked recreation areas for the younger kids, plus picnic areas. All in all an enjoyable excursion.

Back at the cottage, Helen cooked our meal and then it was time for their return to High Wycombe. The meal was lovely but they were on their way at 7.30 and rabg to say they were safely home at 9pm.

The cottage felt quiet and empty.

Bison

Jess with a new friend

Moufon

Unidentified interloper

How come when you dial a wrong number it's never engaged?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Tuesday 26th May 2015

The ladies felt the call of the shops and Salisbury is only 20 minutes away. So that's where we went. The drive through leafy Hampshire and into Wiltshire is uplifting. Lovely countryside.

Whilst the ladies answered their calls of nature, I went to investigate the impressive cathedral. The spire is the highest church steeple in Britain at 123m (404 feet). A cathedral was originally built in the north of the region but a move to a more central area was needed and a Catholic Church was chosen to be greatly expanded. Work began in 1220 and completed in about 30 years.

The size is not the only impressive feature about the cathedral. There are four original copies of the Magna Carta housed at the site and one of those was on display, if you had the patience to queue. The cathedral also has the oldest working clock in Britain. I heard it strike mid day - on time - and that was impressive for a piece of machinery that has been churning out the hours since 1386.

Conscious that the ladies were shopping together, without any male encumbrances, I next visited Mompesson House. A Mompesson was at the laying of the foundations of the cathedral and has a very colourful tomb, with his lady wife, inside, but the family did not live just outside the boundary of the cathedral until a building was established there in 1635. That original building last 66 years and then another Mompesson built the current building in the Queen Anne style and it was lived in by various tenants until 1975.

Now it is owned and run by the National Trust. There are some interesting exhibitions inside the house, but none of them belonging to the Mompessons. There were seven different tenant families over a 275 year period sand as one moved out, so did all their furnishings.

The day warmed up nicely. We returned to Romsey and Helen took the girls swimming at Romsey Rapids whilst we enjoyed the sunshine and peace for an hour or so.

Salisbury Cathedral
Mompesson House

Someone remonstrated that there is no I in denial. I thought, yes there is, otherwise it would be denal.

Monday 25th May 2015

Dave left us at 9.30. The rest of us took our time emerging from various degrees of slumber, though Pauline and I were awake from 7am.

We decided to stay reasonably close, given this was a Bank Holiday, so we headed down to Lyndhurst and the New Forest, which is at least 1000 years old.

Heathland is quite rare in Europe and the New Forest is the largest tract, and Lyndhurst is the main town. We spent some time exploring the museum and information centre and then dropped down to the Reptile Centre.

We walked a mile or so through the forest and took it all in. Then we stopped to look at the reptiles. Only six reptiles are native to Britain and they all live wild in the New Forest. We can find adders back home in Sutton Park but I haven't seen a slow worm for sixty years, but I did today.

adder

Asteraceae

Jess and Megan

I call these logs


Back at Tudor Cottage I asked what was for dinner. When Helen said risotto I said I felt safe there, so they could have the rum and cokes and I'd grate the Parmesan.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because if you like it today you can do it again tomorrow.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Sunday 24th May 2015

We decided that today would be another one of winding down. Dave could only be with us for one full day and so we stuck together. A good breakfast and then a walk around the centre and market place in Romsey.

After a while we ended up at Romsey Abbey. A religious presence has been on this site since 907AD but work on the Abbey really started 100 years or so later. The building grew and was finally completed in 1240.

It wasn't always loved and it no doubt looks better inside than out. We noted grooves in the wall all around the outside and decided there had been some kind of skirting or outbuilding. When I Googled information I found a picture of the Abbey with that outer building in place. It is known that visitors were complaining 300 years ago about neglect and on that basis we are lucky it is still in place.

Back at the cottage we settled down for a game of Qwirkle, an extended rest and another great roast dinner.

Dave & Jessica

Romsey Abbey



i phones are getting slimmer and smarter. People, on the other hand.....

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Saturday 23rd May 2015

There was no rush. The 140 mile journey would take well under three hours and we couldn't get into our cottage until 3pm, so, leave early and go and have a look at the Bull Inn at Fairford.

Pauline packed and I took more data to the studio. I loaded the car and we were off at 11am. Plenty of time!

I was pleased when the satnav told me to take the A429. This is a lovely straight Roman road that cleaves through the middle of the gorgeous Cotswolds. A mile short of Moreton in the Marsh the Sunday drivers were out in force - on a Saturday! The drive the short distance to Stow in the Wold took an hour so I cut left at the first opportunity and found empty roads all the way to Fairford, through the lovely Burtord.

We decided the place wasn't up to expectations, so we'll look for somewhere else to stage Reunion.

There was still 72 miles to go down to Romney and the drive was a delight. The A30 is the straightest non-motorway road I've been on in Britain.

We were 15 minutes late getting to Tudor Cottage, which proved to be just the ticket. A large stream runs parallel with the road opposite the cottage and all through the town. Tudor Cottage is an oak beamed house that was built in 1523. Under the floor is a Roman rough tiles floor dating back 2000 years.

All of the rooms are of generous proportions, albeit with low ceilings. The floors are so warped that if you drop a penny it won't stop rolling until it's in the next room.

Helen and the girls joined us around 4pm and Dave arrived an hour later. Everyone declared themselves happy with our choice of accommodation for the next week. The girls played in the large garden for a couple of hours, Pauline cooked a great lasagne, we opened a bottle or so of wine and closed the day just chatting.

Tudor Cottage




You should take life with a grain of salt. Then add a slice of lemon and a glass of tequila.