7.50am: A relatively early start today as we planned to catch the 8.51 Train from Peterborough Rail Station heading for its counterpart in Leeds. We’re catching-up with Dennis & Sandra for one of our semi-regular day-outs together.
We’re starting to build up quite a history now, as this will be our seventh get-together, having already enjoyed…
…and no doubt, we’ll squeeze in some good food and a few Shandies along the way! 😁👍
8.51am: We like Trains that are on time! 😊 (hurrah!)
10.21am: Thanks to a squeaky wheel and a speed that suggested our Driver had left the handbrake on for the first 10 miles, we arrived around 6 minutes late. 😕 (boo!)
We met up with our friends at WH Smiths at Leeds Station and headed for our first stop – The Armouries Museum.
But who wants to walk or grab a traditional Cab, when there’s the Leeds Water-Taxi on offer??
…and it was free too! Brilliant! 👍
10.35am: With great views along the short route of the re-developed Docklands! 👍
Ten-minutes later, after enjoying a pitted history of the Dock area from our Driver err Pilot err Captain, we took the short walk to the Museum itself.
Think of everything that comes to mind about what a Museum looks like…
…and then immediately forget it!
Design-wise, the layout of the Museum was very unusual – with lots of and housed in acres of space! A great first impression! 👍
..and did I mention it’s completely free to get in! 😁
Five floors of virtually everything you could imagine about weapons and armoury – from the first bullet designs to modern warfare. And if that wasn’t enough (and it would have been!) there were various live demonstrations….
11.45am: Our first… (Floor 2)
This was how sword-fights were done back in medieval times. Very convincing choreography and a first-class explanation of the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’!
With the first Demonstration over, we wandered about the various Galleries. Currently, there’s a special Gallery all about the Victoria Cross (Floor 3). Great stories of courage! 👍
Next, it was another live Demonstration. This time, Normans v Saxons, with our ‘Saxon’ (David) firing-up the crowd beforehand (I’ve never seen kids so excited! – including us 😁) Armed with swords, shields and spears they showed us in great detail how these battles were fought.
Time for a trip the Oriental Exhibits. Nicely presented (again!) with plenty to see.
1.45pm: A spot of Lunch is called for. So we headed to the nearby ‘Dock 29‘.
…and what it lacked in customers, atmosphere, product knowledge and cutlery (that’s all!), it made up for with an incomprehensible selection of continuous music. With the tunes clearly aimed at the ‘yoof’, it was a pity then, there were none there. 😕
Still, it didn’t matter, we were hungry, and it all went down a treat. Suitably stuffed, we headed back to the Museum. It was clear now that we wouldn’t have time to do anything else today – but that suited us perfectly as the Museum had so much to offer! 👍😁
2.45pm: Our penultimate experience at the Museum was the rather excellent ‘Crossbow Range’. Yes, really! On the very top floor, for a paltry 3 groats each, supplied with 8 bolts per person, we were let loose attempting to hit the target. Surely, with our recent experience of archery and rifle shooting at our Warner Weekend would help us?
Err, no! Let’s say, it was fortunate that we didn’t get to keep our targets. I blame the uncalibrated crossbows! 😉
Last experience was another live demonstration. This time, that everyday task: ‘How to prepare for a jousting event’. Again, a first class presentation, expertly delivered!
4.10pm: Wow! It had been a full-on day, in a good way, and the time had passed in a flash. It was great to see Dennis and Sandra again and I reckon this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!
…this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!
4.25pm: As time was tight for 4.45pm, we all walked back to the Station rather than queue for the Water Taxi. Ironically, when we got there, there was a delay in announcing the Platform. After a delayed departure, we were on our way, reflecting on what had been an EXCELLENT day-out. Thanks to our friends Dennis and Sandra for getting it all organised.
6.15pm: We arrived back at Peterborough Station on time and were soon back on the road heading for home.
7.05pm: Shattered! (in a good way!). Time for a cuppa!
For your viewing pleasure, all the photos from today are HERE
We took the long journey (just short of 600m!) down to Jo and Janet’s tonight for some ‘nosebag’ and to watch the Film – Split.
The film is part of the trilogy that includes Unbreakable (2000) and the (very) recent Glass (2019) that we saw back in January. The Director M. Nigh Shyamalan is actually in the film too – see if you can spot him! 👍
But before a good film and good food, in our world, there’s always Gin – and with Jo, like me, being a lover of the ‘juniper juice’, there’s plenty of choice!
Whilst Ann opted for a raspberry-based tipple, Jo and I went ‘old school’ and sampled the French Naud at a cheeky 44%!
Food was of the normal ‘super-salad’, and we ate on our laps whilst watching the Movie…
…followed by Key-lime Pie 👍
How about the film? Well, some very tense moments, and it’s not one for those with a nervous disposition! Still, watching James McAvoy seamlessly switch between his characters’ different personalities was an actor doing what actors do best! Amazing stuff!
Nice twist in the very final scene too – don’t skip it because you think the film’s ‘done’.
It was a welcome return to The Tollemache Arms in Harrington today. We met David, Valerie and little Evie there – where my natural charm with children took a back-seat and reduced Evie to a mega-sulk for most of the meal! Young children and me? It’s NEVER an easy relationship! 😮
Today was to celebrate Ann’s Birthday. Last time we were here, back in January, the food was nothing short of excellent – and today was no exception! 👍
They must be doing something very right here, because the place was packed – and this was just Monday lunchtime! All-in-all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience (but maybe not for Evie!) 😕
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Well, here we are, I’m in my favourite city – London – and meeting with ‘The 5ive’ for Lunch.
We’re ‘The 5ive’ because there are 7 of us (I know! Don’t ask, it’s complicated! 😉) who met and collaborated on a training project back in 1999. We’ve met semi-regularly ever since – and just to keep our mental arithmetic sharp, today, there’s just four if us! 😁.
Our Restaurant of choice was ‘EV‘, a thoroughly reliable and enjoyable member of the TAS family of Restaurants – and one we’ve been to a gazillion times before. It’s a Turkish affair and located a short walk from Southwark Tube.
Our get-together was a perfect excuse for a belated birthday celebration for Angela too! 👍
The food and service was as good as ever!
I was first to depart around 3.10, in order to get across London and catch my Train – I made it with about 15 minutes to spare!
All-in-all a really good get-together and a chance to catch up with everyone’s news!
Reading time: 9minutes...Well, this is a first for us!
We’re off for a Warner Weekend with our like-minded friends: Geoff, Rhonda, Paul and Sue.
We’re staying at Warner’s Littlecote House Hotel in Berkshire.
It’s a themed long-weekend entitled: ‘Oh! What A Feeling‘, celebrating the music of Lionel Richie & The Commodores as well as Tom Jones. There’s also dozens of free activities to enjoy too!
Add to that, we’ve got a comprehensive range of breakfast options every day, a three-course dinner every evening, and complete use of the leisure facilities. What’s not to love? 😁
Friday – Arrival
After a brief stop at Bicester Shopping Village (surely more of a city these days as it’s grown quite a bit, since we were last here back in November 2014), we drove the last part to the Hotel in less than an hour, arriving at 2.50pm.
2.55pm: Paul and Sue were just ahead of us and given our unfamiliarity with the area, we drove in convoy through the Hotel’s (already very full) car-park. Boy, this place is busy! I think we got the last two spaces that felt like they were in Hungerford! Still, walking is good for you! 😁👍
We were soon settled in our respective rooms – we’re in 303 – and they’re pretty well-appointed.
4.10pm: Next stop was the daily ‘Teatime Teaser Quiz’, and Warner’s are quite well-known for them. The combined talents of the six of us meant we answered pretty much all of the questions with ease. We christened ourselves The Northants Nutters, but in spite of the fear-inducing nature of our name, we didn’t win (but we were close!) Still, the top prize of a solitary cup-cake made us feel that we could forego victory without too much trouble. Anyway, there’s another quiz tomorrow 😁
With the (slightly) sour taste of defeat still ringing in our ears (can ears ‘taste’?) we moved onto the most important activity of the break: booking places for the free activities. We bagged slots for Archery, Rifle-Shooting (what else do you do with a rifle?), Yoga, Swimming, Aqua-Aerobics, the Old House Tour and Skittles… but equally important, we ensured they had us booked-in for eating in the Restaurant too! 🤔
6.45pm: Second-only to ‘Restauranting’, the next most important activity was drinkies (tonight it’s at Geoff & Rhonda’s room). In preparation, we’d all come armed to the teeth with alcohol, and helpfully (just in case that wasn’t enough) the Hotel had put a free bottle of wine in each Room too! Oh dear! our first big decision…
What to do with all the booze? 😵
Luckily, we worked it all out before heading staggering to the Restaurant for 7.30pm. It was our first evening meal here and they’d reserved us a quietish table – Table 192 – near the window – it was ours for the duration and so we can eat when we like.
7.35pm: We must have been one of the last to arrive in the Restaurant – it was packed – they obviously eat early here. But the Table we’d reserved was waiting for us and we were soon giving the Menu the ‘once over’.
Wow! Our first Meal ‘punched well above its weight’ both in terms of presentation and taste. Considering how many they were catering for, this was a very pleasant surprise. Piotr, our Polish Waiter, worked his socks off, and kept us fed and watered throughout. Given that we were last to arrive, we were also almost the last to leave. Where had everyone gone? We were about to find out!
9.15pm: We all headed for the Lounge, where (luckily) Geoff had reserved our seating too! On arrival, it became obvious where everyone had gone! HERE!! for the evening of entertainment. Clearly, the ‘regulars’ understand the process – ‘Eat early, and then head for the Lounge as soon as you can so you can grab a seat with a good view’. We arrived just as another Quiz was ending and where everyone was taking it very seriously! 😉
We’d read the evening’s itinerary and weren’t quite sure what to expect in terms of entertainment, but if the number of people packed into the Lounge was a guide (I think 99.9% of the Hotel’s guests were there – we reckon in excess of 200!), we were in for a treat. 👍
9.30pm: First up, was Evah Morgan, a girl with a really powerful voice. I’m sure when she’s not singing, she’s using it to shatter concrete from 100 paces – what a pair of lungs! She easily filled the dance-floor by about her fourth number as she belted-out many Motown favourites. For extra entertainment, it was good to see a few dancing couples with worse hand/body co-ordination than me (and that’s saying something!). I felt like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever in comparison. Evah performed for about an hour – and the audience was very appreciative.
10.30pm: Following Evah was ‘Sahara Blue’. In spite of a good voice and excellent stage presence, it was all a bit slow to engage the by-now somewhat dwindled audience. By the time we threw in the towel at 10.55, just two couples were just about to take to the dance-floor. Paul and Sue flew the flag for ‘youngsters staying up late’! 🥴
Saturday – Day 1
Ahh, a day of intense activity follows… 😯
8.00am: But first, the most important meal of the day – Breakfast!
9.20am: There was something for everyone – and given our Australian experience with Sausages, it was good to see the return of the traditional banger (Crown Plaza, Canberra, please take note!). With enough fuel on offer to keep me going for daysweeks months, Sue, our newly appointed ‘Events Co-ordinator Supremo’, confirmed today’s agreed activities…
10.00am: First stop was Table-tennis, but the biggest challenge was actually finding the room. We eventually tracked it down to the Long Gallery where, apart from us, it was completely deserted. Still, with our combined table-tennis skills bordering on mediocre it was probably best we weren’t playing in front of an audience! 😉
Next stop was Archery lessons. Initially, the safest place to be when we had the bow in our hand was right in front of the target itself. As time progressed though, we all improved. Our results may not have been Robin Hood standard, but the number of shots on target (and close to the bull) meant we could leave with our heads held high (and the local sheep could, once again, safely graze!) Well done us! 😊
Fresh from our achievements at the Archery lesson, we headed for indoor golf chipping. This had a much less competitive feel about it, but amongst the dozen-or-so participants, it was easy to see who the proper golfers were (certainly not Geoff, Paul nor me!)
However, as the competition played-out, the distinction became less clear, and and the tension in the audience – all 7 of them – rose to almost fever-pitch, evident by the number of buzzing hearing-aids! The overall winner turned out to be a non-golfer! (but still not us though!) 😒
12.30pm: We all met up at the Bar for a ‘swift half’ before going our separate ways for the next batch of events. Geoff, Sue, Ann and Rhonda opted for the aqua-aerobics whilst Paul and I headed for the more manly pursuits of the rifle-range!
2.00pm: The rifle-shooting was a well organised affair and our group of nine was split into three teams. These weren’t (thankfully) AK47s, just air-rifles, but they packed a punch. Round 1 (of 3) required us to hit a large target, whilst round 2 was harder, with five smaller targets requiring a pellet in each – as close to the bull as possible. Crikey! this event should have been sponsored by SpecSavers given the wide variation in our collective accuracy! 😯
The final round was great fun! Shooting at ducks (plastic ones of course!). Each of us were given four pellets each – and AMAZINGLY I managed to hit 3 out of 4! It wasn’t enough to secure victory, but as a team, we tied top! In an effort to create a ultimate winner, they moved two ducks much further away and we were invited us to all shoot again. This time, victory was snatched away from us by Jenny, who (mostly to her surprise) winged the winning-duck with her final shot. Still, it’s not the winging is it? 😕
3.05pm: Just time for feet-up before the daily Quiz!
4.00pm: We, as the Northants Nutters limbered-up for the Quiz and after our blinding performance yesterday (where we were robbed) we were ready to take on anyone! However, within the first few questions, we realised today’s was harder… much harder (“What’s the only English anagram of tragedy?” and “What did Stevie Wonder lose in a car-crash in the 90s?” Anyone?).
But everyone needs a Nerd and thanks to some bonus points awarded for the Doctor Who question, we ended up in the top four! 😊 We’d narrowly missed victory again but there’s always tomorrow! 👍
6.50pm: Everyone came round to ours for drinks before heading to the Restaurant.
7.30pm: Yes, we were last to arrive again tonight where everyone else was already well into their meal. Still, we think ‘fashionably late’ is still de-rigueur in these parts, if you want to be noticed! It turned out to be another great meal, although our arrival time did impact on some of the choices.
9.00pm: Off to the Late Lounge where we caught the tail-end of the music-intro quiz. Given the lack of chairs and tables, this had clearly been a popular event. Once again, our pre-booking of seats was a must.
9.30pm: At last, the main event of the day – A Lionel Ritchie Tribute Act. Calling themselves ‘Oh, what a feeling’ (website HERE) they comprised of Malcolm Pitt and the Jonny Miller Band. Malcolm was ‘Lionel’ and what he lacked in lookalikeness, he more than made up for it with his voice! Amazing! If you closed your eyes, he simply WAS Lionel Ritchie!! 👍👍👍👍👍
Pretty much all Lionel Ritchie’s big hits were covered as well as a few Commodore classics too! The audience (including us) sang along to most of the tunes as it was a very participative experience. Just in case, the ceiling had been specially cleaned!! Fantastic! 🙄
If Lionel was great (he was!) The Band though were even greater! Drums (Charlie Kenny), Bass (Jonny Miller), Keyboards (Freddie Miller), Sax – alto and tenor (Alvin Davis) and Lead Guitar (Jack Griffiths) all came together to completely wow us with their musical abilities! They were a well-oiled collective whose talents almost (but not quite) outshone the main star! In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’d happily pay money to see just the Band performing!
10.45pm: All-in-all, ‘Lionel’ and the Band were very well received, but after 70 minutes, it was all over… almost… Not surprisingly, we had a encore (a two-track affair comprising of Say Me, Say You and Dancing on the Ceiling), which ended the performance nicely.
11.45pm: We were done for the day! Paul, Sue, Geoff and Rhonda flew the flag and moved next door into the Kennet Bar for the vocal delights of Carla Jade.
Sunday – Day 2
A less energetic day is promised! We’re all booked-in for the Tour of the House at a very relaxing 10am! 😊 Afterwards, it’s every camper for themselves!
8.55am: Breakfast! For me, I had sausages in my sights! 😉
10.00am: There has been a lot of good things to do here and for us, this was the highlight – a tour of the Old House. John, our Guide gave us a thorough history of Littlecote House as we wandered through the old building.
There were corridors everywhere and some very unusual rooms to look over. In fact, we thought it was all a bit underplayed as this place featured a King, Ghosts, WWII billeting, a Church, its own organ – the list goes on! There’s not enough room here to do the contents and its history justice, but take it from us, if you’re here, as even if you only have a passing interest in old Houses, it’s most definitely worth it!
Stand-out rooms for me? The Church and the Dutch Room. More information about Littlecote House and its history is HERE.
11.30am: As it was dry, we decided to take a wander around the grounds. It might have been dry, but it was perishingly cold (to me anyway!).
12.25pm: On our walk we took in the famous Roman Mosaic which was discovered in the grounds in 1728 as part of an unearthed Roman Villa. I think we were all impressed by the quality of the restoration.
12.55pm: …and then the obligatory celebratory ‘selfies’ followed…
1.15pm: Back in the warm, we headed for the Lounge for drinks and a quick nibble, whilst enjoying the legendary Tommy Cooper on the big-screen. Simple humour from simpler times (which suited simple me perfectly!)
2.00pm: We went our separate ways (temporarily) with Paul, Sue and I (plus Ann prior to disappearing to go shooting) settling down to watch the Movie: 2018’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Just the sort of Movie for a Sunday afternoon! 👍
4.00pm: Our final chance to bring honour to The Northants Nutters as the daily Afternoon Quiz beckoned! Even with the team down to half-strength (Paul, Sue and me) we did pretty well and managed to maintain our record of NOT winning, but at least being in the top three! Next year, we’ll clinch this! 👍
6.45pm: Round to Paul and Sue’s for final pre-dinner drinkies!
7.30pm: Our final Dinner here tonight. Again, the food and service didn’t disappoint. Piotr, our Waiter served us proud and we plan on tipping him tomorrow at breakfast. 👍
9.30pm: Another day, another tribute act! 😉 Tonight, it was David Kidd as Tom Jones. Ann sorted out spare underwear for the performance, but wasn’t keen that I did the same! 😊
This was a polished performance. He certainly sounded like the Welsh Megastar. The only off-putting thing for us was that he’d tried a bit too hard to look like the Star – and that ill-fitting wig was a real distraction! 🤔
David did one encore: It’s Not Unusual which got everyone up on the floor. By 10.35 he was done! All very enjoyable and worth seeing again (wig permitting!)
10.45pm: Back to our room for packing. Check-out time is an unhealthy 10am tomorrow which means an early breakfast.
Bye-bye Warner’s – it’s been a great experience!
Oh, What a Feeling!None of us were really sure what to expect when we arrived on Friday. As separate couples, this type of break probably wouldn’t have been on our radar as a getaway destination, but as a group of friends together, it turned out to be a VERY enjoyable long weekend. The activities were all thoroughly memorable in their individual way; the food had been well above our expectations; the rooms were well-appointed; and the service everywhere has been nothing short of excellent. Warner’s seem to have a very ‘well-oiled machine’ here! Simply managing this number of guests – feeding, watering and entertaining – must have been a logistical challenge, but they pulled it off with ease. Collectively we all feel that we’d do it all again together sometime in the future. 👍😊
Much has already been written about the significance of the arrival of Captain Marvel into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Happily by others! 😊
Welcome then, to my spoiler-free review of Captain Marvel.
The Film was released on March 8th and Critics (the paid ones) had already pronounced that although it was no Black Panther, nor Wonder Woman, they broadly gave it the thumbs-up. 👍👍
But hey, what do they know? Just a week after its release, it had already raked-in £347m globally, making it the sixth-largest opening weekend ever – just ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi – and more than halfway to matching Wonder Woman‘s total haul of a whopping great £626.7m.
In food retail terms that’s a hell of a lot of Beans! 😊 I think I’d quite forgotten how big the Marvel franchise is!
But actually, all I’m looking for is a great action-packed movie with an easy-to-follow plot (it’s my age and I’m still jet-lagged! – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!! 😁) In its favour, this is a super-hero origin story and they tend to, in my experience, be the better stories.
So, Jo, Janet and I headed for the local Odeon (via their Costa Coffee concession) to see this latest 124-minute super-hero romp from Marvel Studios. We caught the 7pm performance and perhaps, surprisingly, it wasn’t packed – just 24 of us! Perhaps we were the last to see it, given the mania for Marvel at the moment – or perhaps it was a turkey?
Curtain up!! Wow! A subtle (but great) tribute to the late Stan Lee as part of the opening credits. We’re straight into the action – so do pay attention as the first-act is pretty pivotal in terms of what’s to come.
It’s a good story, with a measured amount of SFX (for this type of movie); the acting is very credible, especially Brier Larson as our titular hero (heroine?). Probably though, amongst everything that’s going on, the stand-out moment is the digital ‘de-ageing’ of Samuel L Jackson and (to a lesser effect) Clark Gregg. This effect is now a semi-regular feature in MCU films – and it’s used to great effect this time round, especially given the amount of screen-time for SLJ. He’s been de-aged by around 35 years.
Just take a look at the photo below…
Impressive huh? 👍 How do they do that? More information HERE.
All-in-all then a very watchable movie. For me, perhaps not (quite) up there with with 2011’s Captain America, the First Avenger nor 2017’s Wonder Woman, but well worth two-hours of your time as it’s pure escapism at its best. Clearly they’ll be a sequel, but I don’t think that will surprise anyone!
Oh, and if you’re a lover of cats, you’re in for a treat! However, if you’re uncomfortable around these furry friends, take it from me, you WILL need therapy after watching this! 😉😺
Another staple of MCU movies is the post-credit scene and in more recent movies, the mid-credit scene. I won’t reveal their details here, but the former is surprising and clever (but perhaps a bit disappointing) whilst the latter is a MUST-SEE.
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Biscuit turned 14 today.
With Bon-Bon looking down on her sister, Biscuit continues to be ‘top-cat’. She’s still VERY vocal at times – quite spontaneously – and a year since it first started, we’ve still no idea what she wants. It’s amazing how such a small mouth can emit such a loud noise. Luckily, her ‘tantrums’ are over as quickly as they started and when it’s at 3am, that’s a welcome relief!
She continues to be a ‘sofa-cat’ and pops up next to us in the evenings when she feels like it (which is quite often – and something she NEVER did when Bon-Bon was around).
Once a lover of tinned Tuna (only Aldi’s!), she is now completely indifferent to it. She’s back on Senior Iams and fresh chicken. She’s also sable to resist a saucer of the famous Dreamies!
She’s sleeping a lot more and hardly ever wanders upstairs when we’re asleep – she seems quite content sleeping on one of the sofas.
Patsy, our nearby Groomer, still sees her every six weeks, (every four, in the Winter), and is keeping on top of her coat. And although she planned to close down her Persian Rescue business, a year-or-so ago (again!) she still continues to take in strays and provide ‘top cat’ with a first-class grooming and bathing service.
Health-wise, Biscuit is in fine form. Although we see her limping very (very) occasionally, we assume it’s just old-age and (perhaps) a bit of arthritis in one of her back legs. Other than that, given her age, she’s doing really well.
The Cattery continues to be a god-send. We’re travelling quite a bit more these days and Valerie the owner, is recognised by Biscuit now as her second owner!
Fourteen is a good age for a Persian, so we’re counting our blessings that she is still with us.