Brideshead Visited

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Castle Howard


It’s another cultural day-out with our friends, Dennis and Sandra, this being our eighth adventure.

Together, we’ve previously enjoyed:-

The Royal Armouries Museum (March 2019)
Bolsover Castle (October 2018)
Belton House (May 2018)
York (February 2018)
Burghley House (October 2017)
Hull (May 2017)
Leeds (February 2017)

Castle Howard is a private residence, north of York and has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 years. It’s probably best known though for Granada Television‘s 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and 2008’s remake for the cinema. You can read more about this stunning home on Wiki HERE.

Getting there was pretty straightforward, with part of our journey by car, and part by train. It was an early start from home though, leaving just before 7am in the dark and the damp to join our York-bound train from Peterborough at 8.18. Gosh, it reminded us of our working days! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ …and maybe not in a good way!

As things turned out, our journey was about as good as it gets! In spite of joining the rest of mankind on the A14 heading east, we had a straightforward journey… no queues… no jams.. in fact, it was all perfectly normal! A text-book travel experience, with only the ‘car park full’ sign at Peterborough causing a momentary ‘wtf?!’ moment (before ignoring it altogether and finding plenty of spaces!).

All aboard from platform 4, and we were soon looking for our seat for the 80-minute journey. The rail-franchise was previously operated by Virgin Trains, but they’ve fallen from grace in recent months and LNER has picked up the baton.

A ‘Full English’ for Ann, whilst I wrestled with a big decision

Ann had bagged us a bargain and bought 1st Class seats for just a few extra shekels. Super-comfy seats, a ‘proper’ full English breakfast/Bacon Butty with attentive staff were all part of the deal – OK two-out-of-three isn’t bad I suppose! ๐Ÿ˜‹ where the most difficult decision for me was whether it’s ketchup or HP*???

*HP obviously! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our train slipped into York just two-minutes late, and we headed for our pre-arranged meeting point, the rear car-park, where we met up with Dennis and Sandra and their new family member โ€” a BMW i3. Ahh, another experienced motorist joins the EV revolution! ๐Ÿ”Œ

Twenty-five minutes later, we were parked and heading for the entrance. It’s clearly a popular destination (based on how full the car-park was, even at 10.15!) and although this was my first visit Ann had been here some 40 years earlier! The extra attraction for the Christmas period in 2019 was that the House had been decorated using the theme ‘A Christmas Masquerade‘. It’s running from 16 November until 5 January 2020, and as we were to find out, it wasn’t to disappoint…

Wow! What an experience! If you like your colours, vibrant and varied (we do!) and complemented by the ‘olde worlde’ charm of an old House, this is THE place to spend time. Each room was drenched in colour either though the displays themselves or a range of cleverly positioned lighting.

Sunglasses should have been an optional extra, but it all worked beautifully! Take a look at the pics below…

It was real assault on the eyeballs (in a good way) where every successive room seemed to be bolder and brighter than the previous…

The old and the new working very well together…

…and no Christmas theme would be complete without err, a tree would it..?

…or the table set for Christmas..?

…and even in places where there wasn’t a Christmas theme, it was still very beautiful!

We were all impressed by how lavish the House looked. After a well-deserved coffee break we headed outside….

Brrrrr!

It was a cold day, and were all glad we’d packed gloves – it was VERY muddy too where we found ourselves constantly checking the ‘road ahead’ to avoid sinking! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Having said all that, it was a lovely day to wander round with the winter sun, a bright blue sky and occasional breeze.

Bracing but beautiful!

It was now approaching 1.30, so we decided to have lunch at the Courtyard Cafรฉ on-site. After a short wait for a table, we were soon served and tucking-in. The food was delicious and a perfect end to our visit.

We finished our visit with a brief look round their Garden Centre and then it was back to the i3 and the short journey returning to York station. We said our goodbyes and located our train back to Peterborough. Toasty-warm on of the 16.03, we arrived back at Peterborough station just after 5.30, and we were soon on our way home.

It had been a great day. The House had impressed us all – inside and out – and it was good to see Dennis and Sandra again!

All the photos and none of my chat HERE

๐ŸŽ… Merry Christmas! ๐ŸŽ…

Party, Party!

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Well, we haven’t done this in a while! It’s fair to say that many of our immediate circle of neighbours have all had significant things to ‘deal with’ these past few months, so tonight was the perfect opportunity to get together.

We played to our strengths, Ann weaving her magic in the kitchen and creating a couple of cheesecakes and me – washing the car! ๐Ÿ˜

With our strengths played-to, we picked up Paul and Karen and headed off in the direction of long-time friends, Tom and Julie (Georgina was celebrating her birthday today – and we’d all been invited!).

At the last minute, Trish and John couldn’t make it, but it still felt like a house full with aound 40 people there!

Safe to say, Ann’s cheesecakes went down a storm!

We stayed until around 10.30 leaving everyone else to finish the food and drink! It had been a really good ‘do’ although Eileen – Tom’s Mum – did manage aggravate her her knee along the way resulting in some much needed TLC – and an extended period on the sofa!

I’m tempted to say tonight was a great ‘knees up’ – but that wouldn be sooo corny! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cambridge-sur-Mer

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Ann and I drove over to Cambridge today. I say ‘drove’ as ‘sailed’ would have been more appropriate I think! – so much rain! ๐Ÿ˜ณ And add to that, the mega-roadworks as they transform the A14, meant slow progress!

Still, we made it in around an-hour-and-ten! ๐Ÿ‘

Gone are the days where I used to drive into the city itself and take pot-luck with parking! It’s all too stressful in 2019, and so, instead, our destination was Trumpington’s Park and Ride!

And whilst Ann then jumped on the bus and headed for the city in full shopping-mode, I took the gentler approach and met up with Sal for Lunch!

Sal and I took the bus to right opposite our destination – Brown’s in Trumpington Street – in fact, it was such a quick journey we arrived too early for lunch! ๐Ÿ™„

Brown’s Coffee area and Bar

A perfect excuse then, to try out their coffee area and begin our catch-up until lunch began at midday!

Twenty minutes later, having no doubt bored Sal rigid with news of our China trip, we then grabbed a table in the restaurant.

We haven’t been here for a while, and we both wondered if the food and service would be as good as we remember it! We needn’t have worried as Brown’s easily maintained its reputation for good-value food that was delicious, together with service that was efficient and friendly! Top marks!!

After our excellent Lunch we wandered back to John Lewis to meet up with Ann, before catching the Park-and-Ride Bus back to where our day began. It was still raining! ๐Ÿ™„

We said our goodbyes in the car-park, and as the weather deteriorated further, we headed off towards the M11 – Sal heading south whilst we headed north!

We’d all had a great day – Ann bagged some bargains whilst I caught up with Sal, who I haven’t seen in a while. Ducks would have also enjoyed the day! ๐Ÿ˜€

Film: The Lion King

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We headed over to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes this evening to catch the latest cinematic incarnation of ‘The Lion King‘.

Featuring the voice-talents of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncรฉ Knowles-Carter (as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original film) the movie is directed by Jon Favreau.

But more about the movie itself a little later!

And what could be better than seeing a movie in a spanking new(ish) cinema? Well, seeing it in 3D… And what could be better than seeing a movie in 3D..?
…seeing it in 4DX of course (whatever that is!).
Everyone knows that 3D is a well-worn tactic for getting people to go to the Cinema, but what about this new fangled ‘4DX’?

What is ‘4DX’ anyway?
According to Cineworld: “With stimulating effects like water, wind, scent and strobe lighting, that thrill you in your moving seat. It’s fun on your own, but better with friends โ€“ 4DX is Cineworldโ€™s most exhilarating way to watch a film”.

This was our first experience of this technology to augment a film, and we roped-in good friends Jo and Janet to share the experience! Ahh! that’s what friends are for! ๐Ÿ˜

And after our now familiar routine of plugging-in ‘Robert‘ for some free ‘leccy’, courtesy of Pod-Point, we headed for the special ‘4DX Screen’. Given the promised reality of this ground-breaking multi-sensory experience, I noted they don’t provide sick-bags! ๐Ÿคฎ

But what about the Film?

Much has already been written about this new release – and it’s only been out for a few days! After all, it was as recent as 1994 that Disney released ‘the all new The Lion King Animated Movie’. So, is the world ready for another remake so soon? Well, if they can do it with SpiderMan, and pull in new audiences, surely something as cuddly as a lion-cub is going to be easy! With visuals touted as ‘hyper-real‘ and ‘photorealistic‘, we’re going into this with high expectations! ๐Ÿคฉ

And we weren’t to be disappointed! With those two particular adjectives ringing in our ears, and just when you think animation can’t get any more real, along comes this movie, that blurs the lines between ‘real’ and CGI.

OK, I think everyone knows the story, so I won’t re-tell it here. Instead, let me concentrate how it all felt...
Breathtaking is an under-statement – and that would have been our view without the addition of 4DX. With every hair of the lions clearly possessing a life of their own, you have to wonder what the next big jump in screen animation will be like. At times it really was impossible to tell that none of these animals were actually real (apart from the fact they talked!) With the addition of the 4DX effects (strobe lighting, vibrating and pivoting chairs, scents and smoke), it made a brilliant movie totally unforgettable!

Go see! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

PS…

Even if the movie doesn’t break records, the weather is heading that way! Up here in Northamptonshire we’ve got it cooler (relatively) than those in the south-east, and across Europe, where temperatures are promising to hit the high 30s! ๐Ÿฅต

Coolio! (relatively)

Pheasantly Spicy

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The first outing for my XKR this Summer as we took the short drive to The Pheasant in Keyston.

It was a beautiful evening – a very warm 23 degrees. Pity then, the car decided that this was the moment for the AC to fail! We may have looked cool in a classic Jaaaag! but with its five-litre beating heart, the interior was a lot warmer than it was outside! ๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ˜ฐ Phew!

Since I last blogged about it back in August 2015, this well-known award-winning Pub/Restaurant looks like it’s changed hands (again!) and they’ve now (re)introduced ‘themed evenings’. Tonight was their Thursday Curry Night – and it didn’t disappoint! At ยฃ16.95 for Mains, it was good value too!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Curry Night Menu - The Pheasant (July 2019)

And clearly, many others felt the same, as by the time we left, the place was packed! What a great way to spend a Summer evening!

Charging towards Uppingham!

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It was a welcome return to one of our favourite towns today – Uppingham. Being a Friday, it’s Market Day too, so there was even more to enjoy! Last time were here was back in February 2018 – and that was Market Day too!

…and me being me, it wouldn’t be a normal day without squeezing a bit of tech into the experience! So, we took Robert for a spin, with a plan to try out Uppingham’s one-and-only EV Charging Point, with its two ‘Type 2, 7kW’ charging bays – all courtesy of the mighty Polar Network. Somewhat weird then, that a town so small would have any charging points at all, especially as the device is located in the town’s equally small public car-park.

Recent chatter on Zap-Map suggested that the chances of finding the point available were very slim – all down to a combination of it being the only one, as well as a bit of hogging on multiple occasions by a PHEV owner, who parked his in the EV space and didn’t bother to charge it for three hours!

However, we were in luck today, no sign of any VW ‘ICEing’ (explanation HERE) as both charging bays were empty. We were soon plugged-in – and getting juiced! This one’s not free though, and we spent a whole ยฃ2.81 topping-up! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ (Actually, at 35.4p/kWh, it’s on the dear side, compared with other charging points we’ve experienced).

Breakfast, Uppingham Style!

Pit-stop for us humans was for breakfast, courtesy of Don Paddy’s Brasserie. Although the whole experience was a bit lack-lustre, it went down very well, simply because this was our very first meal of the day – and it was already past 10am! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜

Next, we picked up some flowers and veg in the Market and went on the search for a suitable ornament for the Bathroom window-sill. On the plus-side, we saw some pieces that confirmed that we knew what we wanted, but on the down-side, nothing really jumped out at us! Oh well, onwards and upwards, and I’m sure we’re find something before too long!

Back to Robert, who by now had received just over an hour’s charge gaining around 30 miles range. We headed home by way of a short diversion to nearby Weekley

St Mary the Virgin in Weekley

…and our diversion was well-worth it. In spite of this Church being on our doorstep for over 20 years, we’ve never looked round it! The nearest we ever got, was looking in the Almshouse next door, a few years back.

Well worth it – especially the tombs! A day of charging and churching – with breakfast too! For me, a great day out!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜

Film: Spiderman: Far from Home

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We travelled not far from home today, returning to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes.
This time, to catch the latest Marvel Super-hero Movie: Spiderman: Far from Home.

4.5 stars

And not just any old film presentation! We chose the iMax version (and in 3D too!). What a feast for the senses! ๐Ÿ˜ต

What is ‘iMax’ anyway?

An iMax presentation is a superior film presentation technology showing on a much larger screen (both width and height). A standard iMax screen is a whopping great 72ft by 53ft, but even larger ones exist around the world (see below). iMax movies also feature a sharper picture with superior sound quality, normally across (at least) six separate audio channels.

Special cameras are used during the original filming to capture the much higher-quality picture and soundtrack. To leave more room on the film track for maximum picture quality, the audio is recorded separately. Cameras are costly, at around $12000-16000 per week to rent – and there are fewer than 100 of them in total around the world.

The iMax screen ratio is different from a typical widescreen TV (normally 16:9 ratio) and most other cinema film formats – as iMax favours a unique 1.90:1 ratio. Two separate projectors are used, and in the case of 3D presentations, it’s one projector for each eye! In a typical iMax Cinema, the seating is more highly-raked to give the audience a more immersive feel – but the seats do not recline in order to optimise the iMax 3D effect.

As I write this, Germany is about to open the biggest iMax screen in the world (a massive 122ft by 72ft) but Darling Harbour in Sydney is re-building their iMax cinema to regain the title (due for re-opening in 2020).

For those who appreciate iMax nerdiness, there’s a longer article HERE

We picked Jo and Janet up at 3.45 and headed for our destination and the 4.20pm performance. A typical Saturday at Rushden Lakes meant that parking was err, ‘challenging’ – and that included the majority of the electric charging points too! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.

Luckily (and pretty close to the cinema itself) we spotted an empty charging-bay and we parked-up quicker than you can say ‘kilowatt’.

After grabbing some drinks, we headed for the iMax screen armed with our free 3D glasses. We were soon seated in row ‘M’ (almost at the back and perfectly central to enjoy the best view). Surprisingly, I’d say that the Screen was only about a third full (but maybe other fans had seen it earlier in the week when it was first released).

Unlike other screens here, the iMax seats DON’T recline, but even so, they were very comfortable! Word to the wise! – avoid Row L for a while, as a Marvel fan in front of us managed to completely spill her two-gallon bucket of Coke on the nearly new seats! ๐Ÿ™„ – and that was before the Movie had started!! Even Spiderman’s hands are that ‘sticky’! ๐Ÿ˜‚

On the dot of 4.20, we slipped on our 3D glasses and we were off!

Wow! The 3D effects were amazing, and the picture itself was pin-sharp! Apart from our first visit here earlier in the week, I can’t recall ever seeing such a clear picture (maybe apart of the film: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ that we’d seen at the local Odeon back in November, 2017).

As the story unfolded, it became clear this wasn’t a typical super-hero yarn, and it therefore required a fair bit of concentration. There’s a massive plot-twist around an hour in, but it’s OK, I won’t reveal the details here; suffice to say, it’s not a good time to pop to the loo!

The SFX were simply outstanding – but that’s becoming the norm these days! Even so, we were still mightily impressed! As an example, if you have a familiarity with London’s Tower Bridge and the surrounding area, then prepare to be amazed… and some! ๐Ÿ˜›

Like all Marvel films, it’s wise to sit through the end of the credits, not just to see the sheer amount of talent it took to get this latest blockbuster to screen, but to gain a clue-or-two as to what’s next for the Marvel-verse.

Even without any 3D effects this is a must-see movie for Marvel fans – and even if you’re not, it’s a very engaging and watchable adventure. Go see!

On the way out, we slipped into Heavenly Dessert nearby for some err, heavenly desserts! By the time we’d finished eating, Robert (our e-Niro) had been on charge for a little over 3ยฝ hours – it turned out to be have been enough time to completely ‘top the car up’ – and best of all, for zero cost! Happy days!! ๐Ÿ˜