Cottesbrooke Hall and Brixworth Church

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Cottesbrooke Hall

Fresh from our soaking at Deene Park a few days ago, we braved the elements and headed off to Cottesbrooke Hall today. The Queen Anne style House dates from 1702 and enjoys Grade I listed status. It has Gardens too!

It’s not the first visit for me (apparently, we came here 20ish years ago), although it might as well have been, as I don’t recall any of it! ๐Ÿ˜.

The House opened at 2pm and when we arrived at around 1.45pm, there was already a queue.

True-to-form, just as we got out of the car, it began raining – but as we were on the first guided tour of the House (2.15pm), it didn’t matter much initially.

The House

The House is still occupied by the owners – The MacDonald-Buchanans – and because of that, no photography is allowed inside the House. That’s a shame because there’s plenty to see here, including a massive collection of paintings of race-horses. Unfortunately, our Guide wasn’t the most interesting we’ve met on our travels, and we were slightly relieved when the Tour ended after its allocated 40-minutes.

The Gardens

Next stop was the Gardens. That’s more like it – an opportunity for photographs! Unfortunately, the weather continued its cold-and-damp-plus-rain, which took the edge off our visit! ๐Ÿ˜’

Then we had even more rain, so we hurried round. I’m sure if the Sun had been shining (or, at least if it wasn’t raining) we would have stayed for longer!

It was turning colder too! Time for a ‘strategic withdrawal’. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I think overall, as lovely as the House and Gardens were, the experience had been a tad disappointing. Perhaps on another day, when it’s hot(ter), and with a Guide who’s a bit more engaging, we might have a more positive view. See you again in 2039!!

Click HERE for the Website

Brixworth Church – ‘All Saints’

We headed back to the car and on the way back decided to take a short diversion to nearby Brixworth – more specifically, the Anglo-Saxon Church: ‘All Saints’. It’s pretty old, dating back, in parts, to the 7th century. Wikipedia comments: “It is the largest English church that remains substantially as it was in the Anglo-Saxon era. In all the time we’ve lived here, we never visited this village – and Ann confirmed the fact too! A truly impressive structure!! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ

All Saints, Brixworth
An impressive entrance

It certainly boasted some impressive stained-glass windows!

Approach to the Altar

It is the largest English church that remains substantially as it was in the Anglo-Saxon era – Wikipedia

This had been an impressive visit – definitely worth a look if you’re in the area! ๐Ÿ‘

Click HERE for the Website

Sealed with…

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a Knot!

ยฉ Photograph courtesy of Julian Dowse

It was off to Deene Park for a Bank Holiday treat! It’s the home of the Brudenell family – pretty well-known around these parts, but probably best remembered for the 7th Earl (James) who led the charge of the Light Brigade.

Sealed Knot logo
The Sealed Knot Logo

Instead, The Sealed Knot (the re-enactment group) are in attendance, bringing the sights and sounds of the English Civil Wars (relevant, because ‘back in the day’, Deene Park was seized by the Parliamentarians).

We’d also brought the sights (and sounds?) of a picnic, so all we needed was some good weather and we’d got a good day in store! ๐Ÿ˜

Well, the forecast looked good(ish) but unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out! We arrived just after 2pm, easily parked and then found a really good space to pitch our chairs. We’d just unpacked our picnic – and then the heavens opened! ๐Ÿ˜’

Still, with the Battle now in full-swing, it distracted us (temporarily) from the crap weather…

…and as you’d expect from the Sealed Knot, they were all taking it very seriously!

The Battle must have last around 45 minutes and when it was all over, as the ‘players’ left the field, they all looked thoroughly exhausted! A pity the weather kept a lot of people away, but still worth the visit!

Bow Guest

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Target setting!

After last Friday’s and Saturday’s expert coaching, tonight, we headed down to town for 6.30pm to enjoy some more archery practice, as guests of Kettering Archers. It was great fun, and the weather was on our side – a beautiful evening!

It was very well attended with around 20 of us on recurve bows, a few on compound bows and even two using longbows.

Well, after two hours and around 10 rounds (60 arrows) I suppose we didn’t do too badly with our shooting. Both John and Lee helped us a lot with their one-to-one advice and we’re gradually ‘getting there’ with our technique. Next week, we’re both moving up to ‘heavier’ bows that we’re told will help with our accuracy and distance.

My green tights are on order! ๐Ÿ˜

15 Years a Blogger!

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15 Years a Blogger

In what seemed like a quirky and innovative exercise back in 2004,
today marks 15 years exactly since I began blogging. Back then, actually publishing anything online (especially whilst out-and-about) was definitely NOT the norm! Still, those that know me, know I was always one to ‘push the envelope’ with my tech! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since that first Post on Sunday at 11.10am, I’ve now bored the pants off you online 3334 times – but plenty of you seem to like it, so I’m carrying on for a few more years yet! ๐Ÿ‘


Quivering in Kettering

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With the local residents advised to stay indoors, and the adjacent roads closed or on diversion – it can only mean one thing!

No, not another major crime in Kettering, just Ann and I taking archery lessons! ๐Ÿ˜

The coaching is split into two-parts. Part 1 is a class just for us two (as we couldn’t make the official first lesson, last Saturday) whilst Part 2 is where we join the rest of the group to fine-tune our skills. We’d already had a ‘go with a bow’ at our recent Warner Weekend and motivated by the fact we both actually hit the target (and no livestock nor humans were harmed) we’re ready for this!

But are they ready for us? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜

Part 1 – Friday

4.00pm: We met John Bosworth who will be our Coach. He’s pretty well-known rounds these parts for his archery skills being Chairman of Kettering Archers as well many other archery-related activities. We’re in very safe hands then! We spent a generous two-hours with John at the local Cricket Ground, and learned a lot about the art and science of this sport. We also met a lot of other Club members too! A great evening! ๐Ÿ‘

Ann with Bow
Double-top to finish!

Part 2 – Saturday

10.30am: We arrived at the local Catholic Church (St Edwards) for the concluding part of our Beginner’s Course. It was a full-house, with around another dozen-or-so willing delegates – all ages, from kids to oldies, like us – taking part. Full-marks to Lee for leading today’s session.

Plenty of Bows on hand to practise with

There were a number of the Archery Club staff there too – and everyone was very generous with their time.

Club staff on hand for 1-to-1 tuition too!

The three hours passed really quickly, and by the end, we’d had plenty of practice-time to develop our technique. Hats-off to all the Coaches offering their expertise! Plus, we got some very professional handout materials too, to remind us of the key learning points from today…

Training materials too!

1.35pm: The Session finished with the presentation of our Certificates… ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

Overall, it had been a very impressive couple of sessions. First-class tuition from some very nice people too! The next stage is to visit the Club (they meet on Fridays and Sundays) to carry on practising! We’re both up for that!

A Nagging Thirsk

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The Golden Fleece Hotel

We’re ‘up north’ for a few days
and taking in the sights! This includes a visit to the Nags at York Racecourse on Thursday! (Extra shirts packed!). I’ve only ever betted on a horse twice before in my life – back in 2004 and again in July 2006 – the former returned me an embarrassment of riches (a whole ยฃ67) but the less said about Market Rasen, the better! ๐Ÿ˜

Our new home, during our northerly pursuits is the Golden Fleece Hotel in Thirsk, a lovely ‘olde-worlde’ hotel, parts of which date back to the 1500s. Lovely!!! ๐Ÿ‘


Well, it looks like the weather is on our side!

That’ll do nicely!

9.02am: We left home around 9am, dropping-off Biscuit at Valerie’s and her ‘cat hotel’ on the way out.

11.18am: A trouble-free journey north on the A1 meant that we arrived at our scheduled stop on time – Ferrybridge Services – time for a wee break (and a wee-break).

The ‘iconic’ Ferrybridge Services

12.14pm: En-route was National Trust’s Nunnington Hall – a beautiful Yorkshire manor house, nestled on the banks of the River Rye. We’d not been here before, so we dropped-in (boy, it was busy!).

It’s fair to say, it’s not the largest country-house in the NT portfolio, but it was definitely worth looking around. It’s the sort of small Mansion that looks lived-in and of a practical size! ๐Ÿ‘

Nunnington Hall

1.40pm: Both the ground and first floors are accessible and there are plenty of rooms to see; but given that the Hall isn’t too large, it didn’t take us long to see it all. Unusually (and I think it’s a first for the NT) the Gift-Shop is on the 1st floor. The upside of this smaller-sized residence was that we had longer for our planned picnic in their Gardens!

Ahh! Picnic next to the Croquet Lawn! How English!!

2.35pm: Two Salads, a few little ‘dwinkies’, and an hour later, we were ready for nothing to move on to our final destination – our Hotel! A shame really, as it was definitely hotter than the forecast – it must have been 25 degrees C!

3.07pm: A beautiful drive through the Yorkshire countryside took us eventually into the equally picturesque Thirsk. And it was busy too! Some skilful navigation by Ann, led us to the Hotel‘s car-Park (cunningly, but sensibly, concealed round the back of the town’s bustling market-square). Ten minutes later, we were checking into our room – Room 2.

Room 2 is beautifully decorated, if a little snug in places. The bathroom especially, brings a whole new definition of the word ‘compact’! Still, as a whole, the room had been tastefully upgraded – it even had USB charging points built-in the mains sockets! ๐Ÿ˜‰ A super-comfy bed and a premium widescreen TV added to overall positive experience. The creaky floor reminded us of the room’s authenticity though! ๐Ÿ˜

7.00pm: For our first night in Thirsk, we decided to try out the Hotel’s restaurant. The Menu was pretty varied and the service, efficient. I was pretty pleased with my Lamb Burger but Ann’s Caesar Salad was ‘a bit floppy’ (Ann’s words). And “we’re not at home to Mr Floppy!” (Apparently, it was the wrong sort of lettuce).

My ‘non-floppy’ Lamb Burger

8.05pm: We finished the evening with a stroll around the Market Square…

Thirsk’s Market Square

9.30pm: No concrete plans for tomorrow yet, but we’re going to head in the direction of the North York Moors.


Not quite as warm as yesterday

OK, we now have a plan for today…

  • Eden Camp – a large Second World War-related museum near Malton in North Yorkshire in England. It occupies a former Second World War prisoner-of-war camp of 33 huts
  • Helmsley Castle – a medieval castle situated in the market town of Helmsley, within the North York Moors National Park, owned by English Heritage
  • Rievaulx Terrace – a site located in the North York Moors National Park, overlooking Rievaulx Abbey and owned by the National Trust

9.50am: Off we go then! Even without the benefit of any dual carriageways, it was a slower journey than we would have liked – and that was down to the car, three vehicles ahead, who obviously thought that ’38’ is the new ’60’! ๐Ÿ˜ .

10.45am: Eden Camp – We eventually arrived. First impressions, as they say, are lasting impressions – and this place certainly impressed us! All the more because this is a family-owned Museum, built inside (and around) the 29 Huts of an ex-WW2 POW Camp. It demonstrated a very imaginative use of the available space, and all credit for the sheer quantity of related bits and pieces on display.

It was all pretty varied too! Rationing, Bevin Boys, Women at War, Evacuation, Civil Defence, 1940s Fashion, RAF, Army, Navy and plenty more was on offer to transport the visitor back to a bygone age. There was so much to see here, that complemented the tremendous amount of thought that had gone into the design of the exhibits within the Huts. Not only static displays, but authentic sounds too – and in some cases the smells! A pity it’s so far away for a lot of our southern-based friends! ๐Ÿค”

Plenty to see! (Click for larger view)

It’s another of those Museums that almost certainly needs a second, third or maybe even fourth visit to take it all in!

A quick wander around the town of Helmsley

12.50pm: Next, we headed for Helmsley where we took a quick walk around the town. There’s clearly money round these parts based on the types of shops and the goods displayed. Yummy!

1.15pm: We found a picnic area adjacent to the Castle, and settled down to our second outdoor lunch in two days – Summer certainly has arrived – and the temperature seemed to agree!

Picnic near the Castle

We toasted the fact that it was exactly 10 years to the day, that Ann said goodbye to Sainsbury’s! A lot has happened in that time, and we reflected on the other milestones along the way! ๐Ÿ™„

All about the Castle (Click for a larger version)

1.45pm: Helmsley Castle (last visited in March 2005). As usual, I had no recollection of visiting here ‘back in the day’, but Ann did, and my Blog-posts for that time confirmed we’d visited it on 29 March!

Although the Castle hasn’t changed much, English Heritage has installed a much-improved Visitor Centre – gone was the old timber hut, and in its place, a shiny ticket/shop combination.

The Tower at Hemsley Castle

2.25pm: Rievaulx Terrace was our final stop for the day!

The ‘Ionic’ Temple on the Terrace

Nope! I definitely don’t recall this either, and I’m surprised as it was as beautiful on the inside and it was on the outside! The ceiling was breathtaking! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Just like yesterday, the weather forecast under-estimated the temperature. It felt like it was now mid-20s as we walked ‘the Terrace’ between the two Temples. We took in some beautiful views of
Rievaulx Abbey too! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

Pigs might, but around here, apparently so do sheep!

Our walk ended with a view of the second Temple, a 10 minute stroll away…

The ‘Tuscan’ Temple

3.05pm: And that was it for today. We had taken in some gorgeous sights, but for me, the Eden Museum was simply out-of-this world.

5.00pm: Time to get ourselves sorted for tomorrow’s racing at York! When I first better back in 2004, there was no such thing as a ‘betting app’. But there is now and after two practice wagers, I’ve enjoyed some modest returns. Maybe we’ll be lucky tomorrow? ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘


11.15am: A day at the Races! Travel-wise, it all worked out perfectly. A short taxi journey to Thirsk Station (that’s NOT in Thirsk!), a 15-minute Train ride to York, and finally, the 20-minute free shuttle-bus to the Race-course.

Specifically, it’s York Racecourse for the seven races running today and the “going” is “good to firm” (whatever that means!). We’ve placed some small wagers online prior to arriving (based on my only other experiencing of betting back in 2004 and 2006 – and my brief practice-run yesterday) ๐Ÿ˜Š

We were soon settling in the Melrose Lounge and we met Terry a 20-year-race-going veteran, and over the course of our visit, we learned a lot about the art of betting (but as the day progressed, not necessarily always learning about winning!)

So, here is our list of selected Nags… (there’s no science here, just a quick look at the odds and a random choice!) The results are either going to be more rocking-horse ๐ŸŽ  than pedigree๐Ÿ‡!!!!

  • 1.50pm: Saaheq 10/1
  • 2.25pm: Rawdaa 5/1
  • 3.00pm: Japan 7/2, Surfman 4/1 Dark Vision 25/1
  • 3.35pm: Kynren 7/1, Indeed 7/1, Cape Byron 7/1
  • 4.05pm: Garrus 4/1
  • 4.35pm: Hong Kong 11/4 EW
  • 5.05pm: The Cashel Man 5/1, Carnwennan 11/2

..and this is how they did…

  • 1.50pm: Saaheq 10/1 – It came 12th! Not a great start!
  • 2.25pm: Rawdaa 5/1 – That’s better! A credible 2nd
  • 3.00pm: Japan 7/2, – Still running (somewhere!) Surfman 4/1 – 3rd Dark Vision 25/1 – Missing on the Race-Card
  • 3.35pm: Kynren 7/1, Indeed 7/1, Cape Byron 7/1 – All missing on the Race-Card. Bet on Beringer 4/1 instead (ended up somewhere towards the back) and What’s the Story 13/2 who came 1st! ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • 4.05pm: Garrus 4/1 – 1st ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • 4.35pm: Hong Kong 11/4 Each Way. Turned out to be an official non-runner. Replaced with When Comes Here 7/2 (it didn’t run!)
  • 5.05pm: The Cashel Man 5/1 – 9th, Carnwennan 11/2 – 1st ๐Ÿ˜Š

5.15pm: Well, after today’s results, I don’t think we’ll give up the day job! – but we didn’t do too badly with three first-place wins.

Would we go Horse-racing again? If it’s as well-organised as York’s event was, most certainly! Easy transport links, excellent hospitality, great food and a fun atmosphere! A great day! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‘

Well, that’s it for our short stay in Thirsk. It’s been great and I’m sure we’ll be back before too long. We’re leaving after breakfast tomorrow and should be home mid-afternoon.

The Weekend – Sponsored by the letter ‘f’

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A weekend of fun, friends, fine food, F1 and err, a fone!


Ralph and Karen are joining us for the weekend. We haven’t seen each other for a while and there was plenty to catch-up with! Probably the most important task was to begin finalising details for joint trip to China including understanding the Visa process.

Arriving just after 10am, they’d had a remarkably good journey from theirs – and they’d also managed to not get stuck in all the local mega-roadworks! After a quick natter, whilst Ann and Karen then went into town to sort out some bits-and-bobs, us boys took a closer look at Ralph’s new phone – the rather impressive Huawei P20 Pro. (Pity it wasn’t called the F20 though! ๐Ÿ˜Š

It’s an impressive beast of a phone with a spec to die for… and more! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘

In other phone-related news, we also fashioned a plan to beat the internet restrictions in China by using a VPN and we’re going to firm-up the specifics nearer the time, after narrowing down the various providers. Given that the Chinese State is pretty active in blocking/restricting use of the internet – especially with social media and blogs – it’s a challenge and a half!

…but we do like a challenge! ๐Ÿ˜‰

11.55am: Just before Noon, the girls arrived back from town and we sat down to a sandwich lunch. A lazy afternoon followed (for some of us!) leaving Ann busy in the kitchen, weaving her magic for tonight’s meal!

6.30pm: David and Valerie arrived bang on time to join us for the Meal – and Ann’s hard work didn’t disappoint… ๐Ÿ‘

Starters 1: Tartlets with Asparagus, Chorizo and Manchego Cheese
Starters 2: Mackerel and Rhubarb Salad
Mains: Tray-bake Chicken
Dessert 1: Blackcurrant Clafouti
Dessert 2: Elderflower and Lemon Posset

10.25pm: As expected, it was all delicious – and only David managed to resist NOT having TWO Desserts! ๐Ÿ˜. It was good to catch-up with everyone’s news and the first time we looked at the clock, it was almost 10.30! Time to say good-bye to David and Valerie, quickly followed by us all calling it a night.

11.00pm: zzzzzzzzz!


8.15am: Me, still in bed? Surely some mistake! ๐Ÿ˜

10.30am: Next stop? Breakfast! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜‰

12.10pm: Following our my long lie-in, after breakfast, we took the short drive to Kirby Hall (where we last visited back in July 2009).

Kirby Hall

It was good to re-visit the Hall after all these years, I’d quite forgotten how interesting a place it is – and it’s especially quirky given that the roof was err, ‘liberated’ to pay off gambling debts! As expected, nothing much had changed, but we were surprised by the welcoming committee on arrival! We quickly moooooved on!๐Ÿ˜Š

A spooky-looking Kirby Hall

2.45pm: After a quick Lunch, Ralph took us through their photographs from their trip to India – all the more impressive as they we beamed wirelessly from his phone to our TV.

3.45pm: Movie time! Courtesy of Amazon Prime, we (re)watched The Imitation Game having originally seen it at the cinema back in November, 2014.

4.5 stars
As good as we remember it first time around!

Tonight, to give Ann abreak from kitchen duties, we ate out at our fave local Pub/Restaurant… The Tollemache Arms in Harrington.

6.35pm: We were last here for Ann’s Birthday back in March, and it was good to looking over their excellent Menu again! We arrived earlier than our 7pm slot and it was already heaving! (Surely a good sign!) – but they were still able to seat us. Service with a smile was clearly in evidence and we were soon making our foody-choices.

A couple of Sharing Platters to start…

…and then when it came to the Mains, we naturally did our own thing: Karen chose the Salmon with a Lemon Citrus Dressing; Ann munched into the Macaroni Cheese; Ralph, the Pub’s signature Tolly Burger, whilst I managed the truly melt-in-the-mouth Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon

Each dish proved to be delicious, and combined with their excellent service, this, our latest pub-find is becoming our regular haunt! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘. Room for a Dessert? Well, it would have been rude not to – but I forgot to take any photos, so here’s the Dessert menu instead! ๐Ÿ˜•

Desserts – Tollemach Style!

Ann chose to skip the sweet stuff, whilst Karen wrestled the Raspberry Sorbet (I say ‘wrestled’ – it was so cold it caused her some short-term brain-freeze); Ralph, the Sticky Toffee Pudding and me, the Affogato.

9.30pm: By the time we left, the place was (still) pretty much full in the Restaurant – well deserved! All in all then, a great experience (again!) – a habit we could get used to!! We headed for home and spent the rest of the evening listening to Amazon Music via the TV.

Killer Tracks

10.45pm: Here we go aga…. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด – we left Ralph watching the recorded F1 Qualifier highlights (I’ll catch it tomorrow!)


8.30am: I caught up with the F1 Practice from Barcelona – another good result for Mercedes! ๐Ÿ‘

10.30am: We discussed our China holiday itinerary in detail and double-checked the visa requirements. Time well spent, as the visa paperwork is a nightmare with the added complexity of the Chinese State now insists on personal visits to one of their four UK centres where they will also require fingerprints! ๐Ÿ˜ต

12.10pm: Lunch at our other favourite local Pub/Restaurant – The Olde Victoria in Burton Latimer. We haven’t been here for a while but it was good to see that the service and the food was as good as we remember it. By 1 o’clock is was heaving, with only a single empty table for two left in the restaurant.

Five-star Sunday Lunch

1.55pm: We said our good-byes to Ralph and Karen and whilst they headed north, we briefly dropped-in to John and Trish’s on the way home

2.30pm: Just time to drop off Karen R’s birthday present before catching up with a few house chores. It’s been a full-on weekend – but a very enjoyable one! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š