Christmas 2018

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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!

2.30pm: Time to walk of that Lunch! Whilst Denis stayed behind, we headed for a wander round the local area (a first for me). First stop was Heckington Cemetery to pay our respects to Mae before taking a stroll into Heckington ‘town centre’. In truth, there wasn’t much to see – the local Co-Op, the Town Green and a shop that would give Arkwright’s a run for its money. Joking aside, in its favour, Heckington must be one of the few town left with an active Blacksmith’s (Nicholas Marshall).

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!

Christmas Day (with Denis & Bev)

7.45am: Merry Christmas! We had our annual lie-in (until 8am). A quick glance out of the bedroom window revealed a damp day was in the making…

We did our own thing for Breakfast – Denis headed for the cereals, Ann, the fruit, whist I finished off the mince-pies!

10.15am: A slight re-arrangement of the furniture to accommodate our extra guests was followed by the first TV of the day – Morecambe & Wise re-runs on Gold

10.35am: Bev and her friend Lynne arrived and having agreed to cook the Christmas Lunch, got straight to work! Her boot and back-seats certainly reflected the task ahead. 

After a quick cuppa, we exchanged presents and had a good gossip!

12.45pm: Ann put the finishing touches to the Christmas Table…

..including the hand-written nameplates by Bev

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!!!
Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile

Boxing Day (with Roger, Jane & Oliver)

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 that 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…

…followed by the BBC’s Christmas Agatha Christie offering: ‘The ABC Murders’, starring John Malkovich and an almost unrecognisable Rupert Grint.

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.

10.15pm: Off to bed!

27th (with Roger, Jane & Oliver)

7.55am: Morning all!

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…

The Barbican

Roger, Jane and Oliver had arranged tickets for the Best of John Williams concert.

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!

28th (with Roger, Jane & Oliver)

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!!!???
Sad smile

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!!!

Christmas Past


Film: Mary Poppins Returns

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It was off to the local Odeon tonight with Jo and Janet to see the film: Mary Poppins Returns. The cinema was optimistic of plenty of punters like us showing-up  with performances every 30 minutes.

It’s always a bit of a gamble with ANY sequel, but one as iconic as 1964’s Mary Poppins – could it possibly deliver?

Well, I’m pleased to say it did! With standout performances from all the stars – Emily Blunt as the eponymous character, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Meryl Streep, it was definitely a film from the they-don’t-make-them-like-that-anymore school of cinema (except of course, they just had!)
With an easy-to-follow storyline, where everyone looked like they were having fun, it featured the two essentials of any blockbuster sequel – dancing penguins and Colin Firth. And, if that wasn’t enough, the surprise appearance (providing you don’t read the Poster above too closely) towards the end of two much-loved Hollywood greats (combined ages – 186!) completed the feel-good factor.

Standout moments? The lamp-lighters’ song-and-dance routine and overall the integration of live and cartoon scenes.

Any disappointments? hhhhmmm… the first few scenes dragged a bit and for me, and it didn’t really get into its stride until the talking animals appeared (obviously!) The songs were good, but none of them left me humming them on the way out, the way they did when we saw The Greatest Showman almost a year ago. Meryl Streep’s character was a bit weird and didn’t add much to the narrative. And just to be really pedantic, I think I heard an Americanism in one of Mary’s ‘English’ songs (but I’ll have to wait for Sky to show it, to find out). Oh, and it all felt about 25 minutes too long – I can’t see many kids sticking with it!

Having said all that, it was a perfect film for this time of year. In a word…


Mexican Fave!

Reading time: < 1 minute... John, Trish and Conor came round tonight for one of our Mexican Evenings. No donkeys or sombreros, but plenty of good food… Homemade Chilli Apple Crumble … and the obligatory Cheese-board Plenty of time to catchup with everyone’s news (given that we’d missed Trish’s Christmas get-together last week). Trish & John bought us a lovely vase as our anniversary gift whilst Conor surprised us with a bottle of Tia Maria and a Cheeseboard. After a lot more nattering together with a cuppa, at just after midnight, we said our goodbyes.  A fab evening with some great friends!  👍 ☺️ 

Our Anniversary Weekend 2018 (34/7)

Reading time: 8 minutes...Friday, 14th (Our Anniversary) It’s our 7th Anniversary (or 34th in ‘old money’) and we’ve a busy few days ahead. There was just enough time to open our cards and presents before we left, heading north. Thanks for your kind words everyone!       Ann bought we a very classy watch! These days, we normally go away to celebrate – and today was no exception. Ultimately, we’re heading for Pink Panther’s favourite town – Durham (groan!), and finishing at The George Hotel of Stamford. But first, as part of the celebration, we taking a slight detour to Beamish. If you’ve not visited (and we haven’t, for over 30 years) Beamish is a world famous open-air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s & 1940s. 9.10am:  We left home after the main nine-to-five rush, and enjoyed a jam-free journey. This was helped by a newish part on the A1 from Wetherby to Scotch Corner. Wetherby Services saw us take our first pit-stop where we tucked into a bucket of homemade sandwiches and some piping-hot coffee. 11.30am: After a fifteen-minute pitstop, we’re almost halfway to Beamish. 13.05pm: We arrived in good time. Wow! This place now seemed so unfamiliar (it was over 30 years ago, so that’s my excuse!). The first thing we noticed was how larger it had become – and consequently, there was so much more to see. Additionally, the (very) cold day added some extra character to the place and together with the period-dressed staff interacting with visitors, this made the whole thing feel very alive and authentic.    It was all excellent.. and that was just the Town/High Street part. We took a walk to the nearby Railway Station I definitely don’t recall this last time! It was now turning colder, so our pace was quickening. Next stop was was the Home Farm set in the 1940s. Last stop for us was the School. This was rescued from demolition in the late 1980s, and had been tastefully restored to whisk us back to a bygone era of 30s schooling, Apparently some class sizes were in the nineties! Sad smile Good job OFSTED wasn’t around then! 3.15pm: By the late afternoon, it was turning even colder, and so we decided to call it a day. A quick check of the sat-nav put us one junction (and just 20 minutes) away from our final destination – The Victoria Inn – and after some faffing-about finding a parking space, we were soon fighting our way to the Bar to check-in. This was the local’s local and it was packed! A traditional ‘old-style’ Pub… no food… no satellite TV – just half the population of Durham in the Saloon Bar quaffing ale! 4.05pm: Our four-poster bed for the night (two nights actually) is the attached B&B with just SIX rooms – and the building is Grade II 2 listed. The reason we chose it was that it put us within easy walking distance of the City centre… and the parking (as challenging as it was) was completely free (pretty rare round these parts!).. and the room itself was a steal at just £87 per night! 4.45pm: Our Anniversary meal was booked at Zen, a Thai Restaurant. Being the penultimate Friday before Christmas, booking a table (as we did a few week’s back) at a time to suit, was impossible. We were offered 5pm or 8.30pm – so we settled for the former. Luckily the Restaurant was just a short walk from the Pub – in fact, we were there in less than 10 minutes. Initially it was fairly quiet, but 5 minutes after being shown our table, it started to fill-up. And that continued all the time we were there. By the time we left, it was heaving! Service was pretty swift given how busy they were – and it all turned out to be delicious. Ann loved her peanut sauce with her Lamb and my Red Thai Curry was probably the best I’ve tasted in a long, long while. Smile 6.35pm: 90 minutes and £55 later, we were done. We’d skipped Desserts and minimised the alcohol, so we considered it all good value. As we left,  it was now even colder than when we arrived (and that had been really cold!) Still, it didn’t stop us taking the short walk over the Elvet footbridge and up to the Cathedral. A beautiful building, even in the darkness! As we shivered our way back and passed the gazillion of Eateries beginning one of their busiest Fridays of the year, it looked like they’d got off to a good start! Every one was really busy – and just like Zen, some were already full… …and it was only 7pm! Back to our Room, Ann had put-by a small bottle of Champers and a box of chocolates – what an excellent way to continue our Anniversary celebrations! Smile 10.15pm: zzzzzzzzzzz!
Saturday, 15th8.15pm: Our day began with a rather superb full English Breakfast, courtesy of the Pub/B&B. Suitably stuffed, we were ready to take on the day (and the freezing weather). The highlight of the weekend was our planned visit to Durham Cathedral this evening to see the performance of The Messiah by the Durham Cathedral Choir helped along on period instruments by The Avison Ensemble. Ann was even able to get us a couple of seats in the Cathedral’s Restaurant – The Undercroft – for the pre-event meal. Perfect! But first, we wanted to look round this rather wonderful construction during the day, before the really bad weather arrived. 10.15am: We took the short walk back into the City heading for one of Durham’s main attractions. As per the weather forecast it was cold… very cold – or, as we overheard one local describe it: “Colder than a frozen pizza…”. Apparently, it’s all down to Storm Deirdre and even the hardy locals were wearing hats and gloves – it made these two southern-softies feel less, err, soft! Confused smile On arrival at the Cathedral, the first thing we noticed was the splendid Norman Arches (conveniently NOT shown in the photo above! Doh!) …And as we wandered into the main part of the Cathedral, we were reminded that no photography was allowed. A real shame, because the interior was beautiful! So beautiful in fact, I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures on my phone! Yep! Very impressive! Next, we booked some tickets for other main attraction – Durham Castle for the 12.15 Tour. To to kill a bit of time before our slot, we headed into the City to have a look round. There are lots of small shops here, and it didn’t take long to get a sense of the shopping scene. The famous Market Square was buzzing and freezing in equal measure! 11.25am: It was getting even colder (if that were possible!) and so we probably didn’t spend as long looking in the shop windows as we planned – there’s a shopping centre here somewhere, but we didn’t get round to finding it! In fact, after almost 5 miles of walking, we took refuge from the biting wind in the Palace Green Study Library, whilst we waited for our Tour Guide. 11.45am: The Library also had some free exhibitions to wander around and (because it was the nearest) we chose Catch your Breath that outlined the ‘life of breath’ (yes, really!). It wasn’t really our sort of thing, but it gave us an opportunity to improve our daily step-count (slightly) – and it was warm too! 12.15am: Our Tour Guide arrived and introduced himself as Rupert, who had been in residence at the Castle as a Student the previous year. He was a confident and competent speaker and we learned a lot about Durham Castle (including the fact that it’s now owned by Durham University). Rupert kept us interested for the whole of the Tour, but unfortunately, just like the Cathedral, no photography was allowed inside…    But unlike the Cathedral, it wasn’t possible to sneakily snap any photos, without being spotted. Just take our word for it then; if you like castles with very interesting histories, if you’re this way, then this is is a must-see! We really enjoyed the Tour, and as we finished in the Dining Room, Rupert wished us well and we headed back to base-camp… ..and the warmth of room 6! It was time for ‘feet-up’ for a few hours before heading out, back the Cathedral, for the Dinner and evening Concert. A quick re-check of the weather forecast for later showed: freezing rain forecast from 3pm onwards running into the evening. 4.15pm: A ‘quick lick’ and we’re ready for all that the weather can throw at us! (Actually, NO, not really, as it could have been very tempting to stay in the company of the piping hot radiators helped along by the electric fire we found in the wardrobe). The sound of splattering on the window ledge outside meant that the weather forecast had (unfortunately) delivered on its promise. As a result, not only were coats, hats and scarves the order of the day, but the addition of an umbrella too! IMG_20181215_171944 5.30pm: After a battle with the elements as part of the walk back into town, we were now safely seated at our table for the evening meal at the Cathedral. IMG_20181215_172928 IMG_20181215_175840 IMG_20181215_183127 We joined a Table of around a dozen and were soon chatting. The Meal turned out to be absolutely delicious, and after a quick trip to the loo, we headed back to the Cathedral to get our Pew (A poet and I didn’t know it!) Smile IMG_20181215_185303 It was well supported and we were around 25 rows from the front (with another 20 rows behind us, and another group to the side) – all in all, we reckoned it was a congregation of around 600+. 7.35pm: The Concert began five-minutes late, but they were soon into full swing. I’d quite forgotten how long The Messiah piece was and although the top-half of me was enjoying it, my bottom-half was suffering – specifically, my TWO bottom halves! Those wooden pews were a real pain in the a** literally! Thanks goodness for the interval at around 8.35. For me, Part two dragged a bit, but my bottom had helpfully switched into auto-numb mode – and that helped the time pass more quickly. The part that most people know – Hallelujah Chorus – was delivered with energy and enthusiasm. Everyone stood as per protocol (my bottom thanked King George 2nd for establishing this tradition!) Smile 10.05pm: Part 3 followed and 35 minutes later, it was all over, to hearty (and well-deserved) applause from the appreciative audience. It was time to leave – and as we headed outside, we could see, and feel, the weather had now deteriorated to snow-turning-to-slush-with-a-strong-wind. It made our short walk back to the Pub more than a little treacherous, but we arrived back without injury or embarrassment! 10.30pm: With every radiator taking on two roles: heating and drying clothes, we reflected on the recent performance (the music not our walk back!). We concluded that it was excellent, but the acoustics were variable. Many of the solo-males’ voices hardly made it back to row 25, and that, together with a slightly dominant orchestra, robbed us of some of the male vocal qualities of the choir. All that was left now was to heat the room to a satisfactory temperature and then call it a night.
Sunday, 16th8.20am: The day began as yesterday, with a full-English – Yummy! 9.30am: As we left Durham (and Storm Deirdre) behind, we headed south for the final part of our anniversary celebration – the quaint town of Stamford and The George Hotel. We haven’t stayed here for many years and it’ll good to experience the oldey-worldey charm of this fine establishment again. But first a 45-minute diversion to visit Boyes Museum was in order. Ann had visited over 30 years ago, but I’d never been before… or even heard of it. Plenty of information on their website, but here’s a potted history… It’s located in Barnard Castle, a town in County Durham, and looks like it’s landed from the Loire Valley in France. The building was never designed as a house, the philanthropist John Bowes and his wife Josephine, decided they wanted to build a museum, stuff it full of pictures and art, and then give it to the people of the North East. Very generous, even by Victorian standards. They clearly had deep pockets and enjoyed shopping on a monumental scale. Its most famous piece though, is probably the mechanical swan…
10.15am: As we arrived, with the weather improving, it made the Museum look even more stunning in the morning light… With the building built specifically to house Bowes’ collection, this was an impressive sight. And once inside, it didn’t disappoint! Today, it also housed their Christmas Market – and that added to the vibrant feel of the place, as carol singers were chirruping away up on the second floor..    First impressions were excellent. A wide range of collectables from paintings to pottery, carved altar panels to catwalk creations through the ages – there was something for everyone! Add to that, a choir singing live, a Santa’s Grotto and a Merry-Go-Round in full-flow – and there was even more for everyone! An excellent experience and I’m sure we’ll be back again before too long! Smile 11.30am: As we left, the weather improved further and it was now a blistering 5 degrees! Next stop was Downtown, on the A1, for a quick pitstop and a look round the shop. Then it was off to our final destination. 2.55pm: We arrived at The George Hotel with perfect timing! Check-in was from 3pm and we parked in the car-park at 2.55! We were soon shown to our room, which being an old building and full of old staircases, needed Sat-Nav to find your room! This is our home for just tonight and we’re taking advantage of the great food here and eating in the Garden Room later. 7.00pm: Garden Room here we come for our final celebratory meal… Blade of Beef for me… …followed by Peanut Parfait 8.55pm: We staggered back to the room having eaten and drunk too much – in other words: An evening of perfection! As we attempted to find our room along the identical corridors and staircases, we reflected on the past few days. It’s been a varied, busy and very enjoyable celebration, but because of the way the dates fell this year, if there is a downside, it’s that it stopped us catching up with some close friends and also to attend the local annual Salvation Army Carol Concert. However, we’ve got plans to put that right next year. We’re home tomorrow, after another big Hotel breakfast. Smile
Some more photos and none of the chatter HERE
Previous Anniversaries 2017 – Spain 2016 – Amsterdam 2015 – The Crown, Stamford 2014 – Malta 2013 – The George in Stamford 2012 – Thailand 2011 – Married (Australia) 2010 – Engaged! 2009 – The Wheatsheaf in Titchmarsh 2008 – Manchester 2007 – Home 2006 – Home 2005 – Indian Takeaway

Christmas TV (2018)

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Radio Times Christmas Cover 2018 292 pages/£4.90 (+40p)

TV Times Christmas Cover 2018 196 pages/£3.75 (+25p)

We’ve all got different prompts for when Christmas celebrations officially begin – is it when the Supermarkets start putting out their Christmas lines?, the first Christmas lunch?, receiving your first Christmas Card? or the BBC Christmas ident being seen for the very first time? Or even when the Sales start being advertised on TV? Sad smile For me, it’s when the Christmas TV Times and Radio Times first go on sale. This year they should, in theory, have been available, from the beginning of this week – week commencing the 9th, but it was tricky finding any… anywhere! In the end, I picked them up at ASDA on the 13th.

I think the love of these two fine magazines, is a throwback to my childhood, when Dad used to bring them home after finishing work for Christmas. First job back then was to frantically search through the schedules, circling our favourite programmes.

It’s much the same now – except we use a highlighter pen – or go online!!! Smile These days, both publications are massive, mainly down to the fact that they both list (more-or-less) the same information, unlike back in the stone-age (1990?) where RT listed only the BBC stuff whilst TVT did the same for the commercial channels. Add the multi-channel universe that we live in today, and you have them both running into hundreds of pages. Both had a slight prices increase compared to last year too! The page count remains the same though!

So, all that’s left to do now is to plough through them both, highlighter pen at the ready, and our Christmas TV preparations are sorted!

Previous Christmas Publications











Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 10 – ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’

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Doctor Who, Series 11, Final Episode: 'The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos'
OK, tonight is the final episode of this re-booted series, and after some mostly crappy episodes, they’ll need to do something really special to get me back on-side!

With last week’s big reveal that the monster-of-the-week was a… frog!!!, can we have something really serious now please Mr Chibnall? Here’s hoping! After tonight – and in a break with tradition – there’s no Christmas Special, instead there’s an episode on New Year’s Day. Rumour has it that contrary to  Mr Chibnall saying there will be no ‘old’ monsters in this series, the new year edition will apparently feature…


Well, I suppose he’s right in that the new year’s day episode ISN’T part of the ‘series’ as such!

Anyway, back to tonight’s hard-to-recall title…

…and they mucked about with the timings again – a 6.25 start!

6.26: A promising start as the opening scene contained some very ‘lofty’ dialogue

6.29: How many years later??????

6.32: A well-known actor appears!

6.35: A previous villain returns! (maybe?)

6.39: Some serious s*** from Graham

6.48: Well, after a run of lack-lustre episodes, I can’t complain about the seriousness of this one!

6.50: Am liking the music too – very appropriate

6.57: I’m starting to enjoy this episode (so no spoiling it with the appearance of say, a frog!)

7.05: A seriously tense final 10 minutes!

7.12: The story neatly tied-up and the bad-guy dealt with appropriately by Graham and Ryan

7.14: …and suitable words of wisdom from the Doctor to round off the series

Yep! This episode, much to my surprise, really worked for me! Proper Doctor Who ‘stuff’. If the next series (and the new year’s day episode) are anywhere close to this one, I’m back onside!

…and the short clip of the new year’s day one-off looks to be just the ticket!

4.5 Stars!

Birthdays x2

Reading time: < 1 minute...It was off next door tonight to celebrate not one, but TWO birthdays from earlier this week – Paul R and Julie T. It’s become a regular occasion over the years and with everyone contributing something to the Menu, what’s not to love! With all the ‘usual suspects’ present and correct – John and Trish; David and Rosi; Birthday Boy Paul and Karen, Tom and Birthday Girl, Julie T, we knew we were in for a good time. And the food did not disappoint! Starters (courtesy of Julie and Trish)   Mains (Karen) Desserts (Ann and Karen) Cheese and Biscuits (Trish) …and with Paul on Drinks duties throughout the evening, everyone was well-cared for. Bobby (sans Stella) dropped-by, and stayed for the rest of the evening As you’d expect, the hours flew-by and we said our goodbyes just before 12.45am. And as always, after these sort of events, we were shattered – but in a good way! Great friends and great food! It doesn’t get much better than that! Great friends and great food! It doesn’t get much better than that! 👍😊