This year, we spent most of Easter with Denis in Heckington.
We left home fairly early (8.15am) and there was hardly another car on the road. As a result, we made record time and arrived just before 9.45.
We’ve got plans to catch-up with Bev too whilst we’re up here, but that’s tomorrow, as we’ve got plenty of jobs to do for Denis in the Garden to keep us busy today!
And it looked like we had perfect weather for it! After a quick coffee, we got to work. Our two major chlenges were…
…paint the newly installed fence panel…
… and (my speciality!) jet-wash the patio.
So, whilst Ann sorted the fence, I got stuck into the delights of a Patio that hadn’t seen a pressure-washer for a good few years!
Three hours later, it was ‘job done’ – the Patio had never looked so clean and in Ann’s case, all the fence panel needed was a third (or maybe a fourth) coat.
Another hot day forecast – this is turning into a very atypical Bank Holiday weekend!
We had a lie-in until the impossibly-late hour of 7.15am! Another day, another two challenges presented themselves – the shower attachment and (because it’s Heckington) a wildly unpredictable interweb signal of any kind (unless the wind was in the right direction). In fact, the strongest signal was actually in the bathroom, but juggling a mobile in one hand and the shower head in the other, was clearly not an ideal strategy! ☺
We somehow survived and spent the morning sitting out in the Sun soaking up the glorious sunshine!
11.00am: Time to get Denis ready for our Lunch where we’re catching-up with Bev too! Bev had booked The Swan Holme nearby, and after picking her up, we headed for our 1 o’clock table.
We were super-early (12.15) but we were seated without a fuss. Service was brisk and we were soon tucking-in.
1.45pm: After our feast, it was back to Bev’s for teas and coffees and to catch-up with neighbour, Lynne.
2.30pm: Time for goodbyes and then we headed back to Denis’s to appreciate the remaining sunshine!
3.30pm: Back at Denis’s where Ann re-organised the Kitchen and Utility Room whilst Denis took on the role of Observers!
5.00pm: Time to catch the last of today’s Sun and put another coat on that fence panel – will we EVER darken it down? (it’s now had about five coats!)
7.25pm: The Sun went down and it turned a lot cooler – so we retreated to the Lounge and watched a bit of TV for the rest of the evening.
8.35am: With another hot day in store, our plan today was to complete a few more of the smaller tasks in the Garden.
The extra coat we’d put on the fence panel last night, finally (finally!) seems to have done its job – it’s toned-in nicely!
9.15am: First job today is to turn the soil and plant ‘a crop’ of sunflower seeds
10.30am: Statutory tea-break!
10.55am: Final job of the day was to prepare the legendary ‘Gambles Dahlias’ ready for planting on our next visit…
11.30am: A quick vacuum, strip our bed and then prepare Lunch for Denis – and we’re done!
12.45pm: Lunch is served! 😉
1.25pm: We said our goodbyes and had one of the best runs home ever – 1 hour 15 minutes.
2.30pm: With the car unpacked, it was a quick cuppa, washing on…
6.00pm: …and then dinner in the Garden. I can’t recall the last time we had so many hot days in a row over Easter! 👍🌞 👍🌞 👍🌞
Ann went off to her volunteering morning at Kelmarsh Hall, whilst I caught-up with my reading. Tonight, Conor dropped by to have Dinner with us.
All-in-all, this has been a superb Easter break! Weather-wise, it couldn’t be beaten with wall-to-wall sunshine from Good Friday right through to Easter Monday! 😁
Reading Time: 7minutes...Christmas Eve (with Denis)
9.15am: The roads were pretty-much deserted as we headed for Heckington. We arrived in good time – just after 10.40am – where the car looked cleaner than when we left! After unloading (including the two new garden chairs we bought Denis for Christmas), we were soon tucking into Coffee… and the obligatory mince-pies, or two!
11.30am: Lunch preparations began. Ann had brought all the tools and ingredients for one of her (very tasty) Sausage-and-Apple-in-Cider casseroles as well as her Apple-and-Blueberry Crumble. With the unfamiliar oven’s controls conquered and with saucepans (and their contents) assembled, everything was in place for a tasty lunch.
1.15pm: And it didn’t disappoint! With over-generous portions all round (and even a few scraps of sausage leftover for Jet) we postponed Dessert until later.
2.00pm: We were all stuffed, so a short ‘sofa-break’ was called for!
In keeping with so many towns nowadays, sadly, one of the ‘Locals’ – The Oak – had closed permanently leaving it with just The Nag’s Head a little further down the road to fly the flag for beer-lovers.
3.20pm: It had been colder than it looked from the safety of the Denis’ Lounge window, so it was good to be back in the warm!
3.45pm: The rest of the evening was spent around the TV, including: ‘Back in Time for Christmas’; ‘Reindeer Family and Me’; ‘Under the Christmas Sky’; ‘Carols from Kings’, ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Only Fools & Horses’.
5.35pm: Dessert made its comeback – to everyone’s satisfaction!
The Dishwasher completed its second run and after Ann began to prepare the Table for tomorrow, we were all set for the big day!
1.15pm: And perfectly on time (well, a minute early Pedants!), it was all ready… Bev’s nameplates were a nice touch!
Dessert followed where Bev had made a Pear Frangipane tart and that was followed by a Cheese-board. It’s fair to say that predictably, again, we were all stuffed! Just one thing left to do…
2.00pm: …in the sink for me to do all the stuff I hadn’t managed to cram into the dishwasher! With Lynne on drying duties, it was soon all done and the kitchen was returned to its normal state of calm.
Just time for a final chat and to collect up all our bits and pieces!
3.25pm: We left just before 3.30 and hardly saw another car on the road on the way home! As a result, I set new personal record – 1 hour 20 minutes, without driving like a loonie too! That’s a five-minute improvement on my next best time.
When we got home, all that was left to do, was open the remaining presents and catch-up with some of the Christmas TV on Sky Q so far.
It’s been a great day and Bev worked really hard getting Lunch together! Great to spend a bit of time with Lynne too!
Back on the road tomorrow, heading for Roger, Jane and Oliver’s for a few days. I love Christmas!!!
A quick catch-up with a bit of Christmas TV before heading off to R, J and O’s until Friday.
10.15am: Wow! What a difference in the traffic compared to yesterday! It felt like the whole of Northamptonshire was out-and-about in their cars!
11.40am: After a busier journey than planned (including a re-fuelling stop at The Poplars, Stevenage) we arrived. It took a few trips to empty the car, but we were soon unpacking in our room.
12.00 noon: I spent the next hour with Oliver, walking him through his new laptop and led nicely into lunchtime.
1.45pm: A superb lunch followed – traditional Boxing Day fare – cold cuts preceded by Salmon Blinis and all finished off with Yule Log and a Cheese-Board, with the added bonus of some mini-presents…
2.00pm: More lessons on the Laptop followed lunch: this time we configured iCloud to upload all Oliver’s pics from his iPhone to his new toy. The main event followed – opening of the main presents. Oliver bought me some Guinness Truffles, a screen-cleaning cloth and a 1980s Trivia Book whilst the big pressy for everyone was a trip to London tomorrow with a ‘short historical discovery’ a ‘top dining experience’ and a ‘Blockbusting Movie-night Extravaganza’ (but the details are, at this stage, a bit ‘top secret’).
4.00pm: Drinkies all round with Ann showing Oliver how to use his new paint easel followed by the rest of the afternoon generally gossiping about this and that, but mainly Denis’s current health.
7.00pm: Evening Nibbles – A great selection of Asian/Chinese snacks!
8.00pm: An evening of TV followed! We watched episode 1 of ‘lost’ Morecambe & Wise episodes from 1968 (discovered in an old cinema in Sierra Leone in 2011) on BBC 2…
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the latest production as I’ve not read the book. These festive productions are normally quite family friendly for Christmas – but this was dark… very dark! – and just episode 1 of 3, showing over the next two days. For me, it turned out to be an intriguing episode with a genuine sense of mystery and tension about it, helped along by excellent acting with slightly quirky visual and aural design.
A lazy morning today with an afternoon of mystery promised… As I mentioned yesterday, our Christmas present from R, J and O was treating us to a visit to somewhere in London, but it was all very hush-hush. All we knew was that we were leaving just before 3pm.
11.00am: A legendary ‘Full English’ brekky.
12.05pm: Helped with the drying-up, whilst Ann and Roger reminisced over a couple of shoeboxes full of family-related photos and other memorabilia.
1.10pm: Time to apply a bit of slap (to the sounds of Oliver practising his scales on the double-bass in the background) as we got ready our ‘London Mystery Tour’.
2.45pm: We left to take train from Harlow to Liverpool Street on the Stansted Express.
…and 45 minutes later we arrived at a surprisingly busy Liverpool Street Station…
…and as we jumped in a Taxi, we headed for our first surprise, just 15 minutes away!
4.00pm: Our first surprise revealed: A trip round a relocated ruin of the Temple of Mithras right in the heart of the Capital – part of the new Bloomberg HQ that was opened in 2017! If you’re into that sort of thing – and we all are – it was a magnificent exhibition tastefully rebuilt/relocated using very appropriate sound effects and subtle lighting.
In a word: ‘WOW!’
With our dropped-jaws back in their rightful position (as was the Temple), we took a short walk to our next surprise. Whereas we’d been deep down in Roman ruins just 15 minutes before, we were now doing exactly the opposite! Jumping in a lift and heading skywards (at some speed) to our next stop.
It turned out to be the Duck and Waffle, at the top of ‘110 Bishopsgate’ some 40 floors later!
Needless to say, the views were amazing across the London night-sky…
After a slightly confused group of Bar-staff, we did eventually all get a drink. We paused awhile reflecting on our unique location (apparently it’s the tallest restaurant in London that’s open 24/7) before heading for the Restaurant itself.
5.35pm: We’d been getting used our dropped jaws by now and the location was truly unique. And it was certainly busy too given that we were eating early at just 5.30pm. I learned later that it’s actually London’s tallest 24-hour restaurants. The food was very tasty but we were very conscious of the time as we had to leave by 7pm.
…and we stuck t our timings… just!
Once gain re-locating our jaws as we descended in the express lift, it was a shortish walk to our final surprise destination…
A packed event where (just like everything else this evening, it didn’t disappoint!!).
The Orchestra was the London Concert Orchestra and they were outstanding! I think what made it extra special though was the way the Conductor – Anthony Inglis – involved the audience – and that’s not typical of his profession. It looked like the orchestra was enjoying every second of the performance, but I think with so many masterpieces, it would have been difficult not to! In addition, we spotted Thomas Fountain, brother of James Fountain (who played at our Wedding) on the trumpet.
And, as an extra treat for the kids (including me!) we had the pleasure of Darth Vader and supporting Storm-troopers appearing just off stage during the two (yep, TWO) encores! They thoughtfully moved to the auditorium afterwards to ensure a smooth retrieval of coats! … and maybe a chance to grab a few selfies too with the increasing queue!
10.05pm: As we (and a few hundred others) left, we headed back to the Liverpool Street Station just in time to catch the 10.22 back to Harlow.
11.25pm: The train was on time and we were soon back at base reflecting on our day. Well, Roger, Jane, Oliver and Ann did, whilst I crashed-out immediately!
What a treat! Our three surprises were exactly that and we’d been spoiled rotten! It had been a very memorable surprise for all the right reasons. Big thanks to Roger, Jane and Oliver for their generosity!
After yesterday’s surprises (not surprisingly) we slept well. We enjoyed a lazy breakfast before saying our goodbyes and heading home. Just in time to re-pack for our cottage adventure in Norfolk with Jo, Janet & Carol tomorrow…
Wow! that’s it for Christmas 2018 – and what a ‘busy’ Christmas we’ve had. It’s been unusual this year in that Ann has hardly cooked a thing, and we seem to have spent a lot of time travelling here and there (not necessarily a bad thing).
I normally exit the Christmas period knowing that I’ve eaten and drunk too much, but this year felt different – we’d both shown a fair bit of constraint wherever we’ve eaten, and I’ve definitely not consumed anywhere near as much alcohol. However, before we get too smug, we’ve both agreed to do a sort of ‘Lent-lite’ from early January leading up to our next big holiday in February.
For me, Christmas TV varied from atrocious (Death on the Tyne) to pretty good (The ABC Murders) to excellent (the ever-reliable Morecambe & Wise). And for the first time since 2005, there WASN’T a Doctor Who Christmas Special (it’s on New Year’s Day instead). All-in-all though, overall, it was all pretty disappointing – or perhaps I’m just getting old and crusty!!!???
We received a wide selection of gifts again this year and I’m always amazed at the generosity from our friends and family. Merry Christmas!!!