Jo and Janet joined us for a night of munchies and a movie… Oh, and some G & Ts! Whilst I prepared the DVD player, the lemons and the limes, Ann got busy in the kitchen.
Our movie of choice tonight – Avengers:Endgame. There isn’t much that hasn’t already been written about the final film (for now) in this franchise – especially on a certain blog – so instead, I’ll concentrate on the food and drink! 😁
On the menu tonight was homemade Lasagne and that was followed by homemade Fruit Strudel. I think we all enjoyed it so much, none of us took any photos! 😊
The movie turned out to be as excellent as we remember it (and with its fairly complex narrative, probably benefited from a second opportunity to watch it again!) 🤔
At just over 3 hours long, the movie was a test of stamina, if nothing else! And as a result, we didn’t say our goodbyes until just after 11pm – very late for us two! 😊
A great night – and good to see Janet and Jo again!
On arrival, the weather was disappointing to say the least (Summer’s not quite over surely???) Oliver was sporting shorts and I was in a short-sleeved shirt. Consequently, both of us were woefully ill-dressed for the conditions – a plummeting temperature followed by rain! ☔ ☔
1.00pm: However, It didn’t stop us enjoying our picnic though, as we sandwiched ourselves between ‘Robert‘ and the car next door to act as a wind-break! Brrrrr! 😁
1.55pm: I think the c*** weather made us eat more quickly, and we soon made a significant dent in Ann’s extensive picnic.
As soon as we’d cleared up our bits, we headed straight for the House. Word to the wise: Since our previous visit, there’s been one major change here! ALL VISITS ARE NOW TIMED, so it’s not just a case of turning-up and hoping to get in straight away. But, as it happened, it was perfect timing on our part, as there were five slots on the very next admission – the 2.15!
2.10pm: We’re in! 😁
Given our previous visits, from a photo point-of-view, I decided to concentrate on the less well-known/seen pieces on show inside, together with less obvious views of the property and surroundings.
3.05pm: Time for a cuppa, especially as the damp weather from earlier had returned, but this time it was torrential!
A quick, but determined sprint to the nearby tea-shop got us more-or-less to the front of the queue (followed by the rest of mankind) and we were soon seated in the Stables enjoying our cuppa and cake!
3.35pm: Next stop was the Gardens where the weather, perfectly on cue turned from rain to warm sunshine! 😁 At last!
9.45pm: And what could be better than a good film to finish the evening? The answer? two films! Choice-wise, the consensus was Thor: Ragnarok (in 4k DVD). Although it’s not my favourite from the Marvel stable, it’s still a very good yarn with everyone acting their heart out, helped along by outstanding SFX and a comedic theme (that in spite of all the death and destruction, seemed to work). The day however, eventually got the better of us, and we only got about two-thirds of the way through it – still there was always tomorrow to finish it off!
11.05pm: That’s it! 😴😴😴😴😴 Nighty-night!
A lie-in for me until the unearthly late hour of 7.15 whilst the others slept-on.
9.10am: A little bit of Queen, courtesy of Spotify to get the day started!
9.45am: Breakfast is served – Porridge with Strawberries followed by a Bacon Butty! 😁
10.30am: Jane, Oliver and I watched the rest of Thor: Raganarok, Roger caught up with the Daily Telegraph, whilst Ann put the finishing touches to lunch – this was a real family-foodie weekend, and just how we like it! 😍
12.15pm: Pre-lunch drinkies!
1.00pm: Lunch is served. Roast Chicken with all the bits!
2.30pm: Lunch over! A bit of clearing up followed by a long natter.
whilst listening to something a little more relaxing!
3.45pm: Well, where did that weekend go? It passed really quickly – a great sign of a great time! 😍😍
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With almost all our preparation done for our forthcoming holiday, I took a breather and watched Skyscraper (one of the 4K DVDs that Ann bought me for Christmas). Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock‘ Johnson it turned out to be a cross between Die Hard (1988) and Towering Inferno (1974).
In my book, that’s a good pedigree! 😊
How was it? Well, it certainly wasn’t Shakespeare and the critics hadn’t been too kind to it when it was first released in 2018 (awarding it a lacklustre three-out-of-five).
Still, for a Saturday night, and with my brain set to ‘low’, it was an enjoyable romp, with some very convincing special-effects that probably out-shone the storyline (and maybe the actors too!)
Perfect Saturday-night-in fodder then! 👍
4.10pm: So, here we are at ‘2 Dix Cottages’, courtesy of Norfolk Hideaways in the village of Thornham. It took us around two hours to get here (10 minutes of that was the last 20 yards trying to find the place) and we’re staying here until the 2nd, seeing-in the New Year.
Jo, Janet and Carol arrived just ahead of us and were in the process of unpacking when we arrived.
First impressions were good: a spacious cottage with everything we needed, although parking was a bit, ahem, tight!
With the priorities sorted – drinks, cake and wifi password – and bedrooms allocated, we were all soon settled in.
8.00pm: We had booked our table literally next door at The Orange Tree, Norfolk’s Dining Pub of the year for five years running! Sadly, Jo wasn’t feeling 100% and opted to remain back at base.
We arrived early at the Bar for our 8.30 Table – and found ourselves competing for attention with two other customers and a dog (yes, really!). The latter had two paws on the Bar and seemed to be doing a better job than us in getting served!! We learned that the Pub actually specialises in Menus for our four-legged friends (yes, really!)
We became a close second to the Pooch and a quick word by Janet with the Restaurant staff saw us shown to our table ahead of of our scheduled time.
It was a varied Menu and the variety didn’t disappoint. We all fancied a Dessert, so we skipped the Starters. Whilst Janet and Carol opted for the Fish & Chips and Ann for the Halibut, I chose the Thai Chicken Curry. The Service was appropriately attentive and we waited just long enough to feel assured that the food was being created rather then simply re-assembled or (even worse) thawed-out. Desserts followed – and they were equally yummy!
9.55pm: We skipped beverages, preferring instead to make a dent in our alcohol stash back at the House. A short stagger across the road and up the kerb back to Base and we were soon slurping our fave night-cap.
We spent the rest of the evening round the TV watching/enjoying/suffering one of the Fast & Furious films on ITV2 – pure escapism and not a bit of it based on anything approaching reality!!
11.15pm: That’s it! Another Saturday night, another fine meal with friends!
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll probably explore the local area on foot.
Day 1 (Sunday, 30th)
In bed until 8.45? Surely some mistake?
After a lazy breakfast, we decided to keep it local today. We’re on a mission to locate some wood for the wood-burner (as the central heating is on a go-slow).
11.05am: Out and about heading for Thornham Beach and Holme Nature Reserve. It looked like a lot of other people had the same idea too! It’s obviously a popular pastime on Sundays round these parts.
The weather got warmer…and so did we. After a brief stop for the loo, we headed along the Beach and slowly headed back towards the Cottage. All-in-all we reckon we walked almost 5 miles!
But all that walking had made us a bit peckish! Thank heavens for Thornham Deli that just happened to be on our way back.
It seemed that the whole of Norfolk had the same idea and consequently, the place was packed, the car-park was full too! There was no chance of us getting a table INSIDE so we braved the elements outside and grabbed one of the tables around the perimeter of the Deli itself.
1.15pm: Their prompt service meant we were soon tucking into teas and coffees helped along with their own homemade Sausage Rolls!
2.45pm: The temperature in the Cottage had been a little on the cool side before we left this morning, so luckily the Deli also sold kindling and wood. I say ‘luckily’, but once we were back inside, even with Jo and I exercising our best fire-lighting skills, the wood-burner was having none of it!
3.00pm: So, whilst Carol and Janet prepared drinkies, Ann prepared the Veg, Jo and I gave up temporarily and watched the ground-breaking Bandersnatch on Netflix. Well, at least the heat from the oven heated up the room!
4.05pm: Movie time! We’ve got plenty to choose from here and after a bit of techy-bashing by Jo and me, we hooked up her PlayStation to the TV and we were all set for the film Christopher Robin on DVD…
A cute film and just right for this time of year! It was also an opportunity to try out Ann’s homemade Apple & Blueberry Crumble, BEFORE the main meal!
6.00pm: At last, after Jo had another go, the fire ‘took’
..a cosy evening ahead promised!
7.00pm: The main meal of the day! A full roast! Janet had slow-cooked a beef joint, for about 8 hours. Keeping it company, a vast array of Veg all washed down with a bottle of Red!
7.50pm: A fab meal… with minimal washing-up too! (thanks to the Dishwasher!)
10.05am: Breakfast (including a political discussion)
11.05am: Off to Hunstanton…, that sophisticated and refined resort on The Wash, marginally more up market than Clacton sur Mer…
11.25am: It was only a ten-minute-or-so drive and we were soon manoeuvering into position for our first stop: Le Strange Old Barns (after me over-shooting the limited parking right outside!). It was great inside – a real variety of ‘this-and-that’ shops with plenty of locally-produced creations from paintings to pretty jewellery.
12.15pm: Next stop was just half-a-mile away along the Cromer Road for some free-parking that put us in an ideal place to walk down to the beach.
As expected (perhaps for a cold-but-dry new-year’s-eve) it was pretty busy – plenty of locals and visitors braving the biting wind! You could tell the locals as they were ones in t-shirts!
After a bit more wandering, we agreed on a pit-stop…
…a quaint looking tea-shoppe of the ‘old school’ type: no fancy coffees, just proper table-cloths and a big smile! Unfortunately, there was no cake either, as their delivery was late – and the slices we saw on show were ‘reserved’. It wasn’t a great start, but 15 minutes later, all was forgiven as the delivery had arrived. We now had a hot beverage AND a slice of cake each – perfect!
2.05pm: After a wander round some more of the gift-shoppes, we took a last look at the views of the town before taking the drive back to the Cottage – but not before picking up a few essentials to help with the celebrations tonight from the local Sainsbury’s!
3.15pm: Movie time again! Whilst Ann took a nap to recharge her batteries for tonight, we dived into the stash we’d brought with us…
5.00pm: Film over, it was time to get prepared for the main event for today: The Lifeboat Inn’s New Year’s Eve Meal…
6.50pm:Time to brave the elements and head for our destination…
7.05pm: We’re here! And it’s certainly well supported. We were shown to our table and once we’d got rid of our coats, we chased-down the canapés! Yummy!
Well, six courses later, what did we think of the meal? Well, the seaweed was an acquired taste – and I really wish that someone else had acquired it! Yuk, it tasted just like err… seaweed! The Cucumber lollipop didn’t taste much of cucumber and it was minus the statutory stick that’s a feature of all the lollipops I’ve seen! Other than that, the rest was actually quite delicious! we couldn’t fault the service either – in fact, I thought our Waitress was going to take me home!
10.15pm: With the meal over and the DJ springing into life, the girls took to the dancefloor, whilst I, err, looked after the table! A few tracks later, it was getting progressively noisier on the nearby tables as the alcohol began to ‘do its thing’.
10.30pm: We decided to see the new year in back at the Cottage, so we took the ten-minute return walk back along the pitch-black lane with only our phones as torches.
11.15pm: To fill the time until the chimes of Big-Ben, we chose our next DVD from the batch…
We lasted until just after 1.30am (that’s VERY late for us two!) and then decided to call it a night!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We may go to Holkham Beach tomorrow, depending on how we’re all feeling.
Day 3 (Tuesday, 1st)
10.30am: After a relaxed start to the day with a late breakfast, and after checking the weather, we decided we would visit Holkham Beach.
11.30am: And in keeping with all the Beaches round these parts, it was popular destination! So much so, we were discouraged from turning into the official parking area and had to park a short five-minute walk away (using Janet’s local knowledge) from the official car-park.
If you’ve not been to Holkham Beach, its a longish walk (a mile/20-30 minutes) from the parking area to the sea, but worth it. It has the largest expanse of sandy Beach I’ve ever seen in this country! Amazing!!!
..and once we were there, as is the law round these parts, an obligatory selfie followed…
After getting as close to the water as we could get, it was ‘about turn’ and the walk back to the car. However, that didn’t stop other visitors actually take a dip in the water – it must have been freezing!
We took a short pitstop at The Lookout – a sophisticated water-hole for humans and pets alike… yes, by now we had every shade of wet Labrador and yappy-snappy terriers galore, overlaid by the fragrant top notes of gently ripening pooh bags and fractious two-legged offspring.
…and then it was back to where we’d parked…
…and we reflected on our travels!
2.00pm: After discovering that the Adnams Shop near where we parked was closed over the Christmas break, it was back to the car and time to head back to the Cottage. Twenty-minutes later, we were ‘home’ and whilst Ann weaved her magic in the kitchen adding more life to yesterday’s Apple & Blueberry Crumble, the rest of us played to our strengths and headed for The Orange Tree across the road for a ‘swift one’!
2.50pm: Predictably, given its reputation locally, and farther afield, it was packed inside. The service levels weren’t helped either by the Pub’s card machines being unable to connect to the outside world. The result was a temporary ‘cash only’ situation, sending post-Diners scrambling for alternative forms of payment.
Our needs were simpler – just liquids! But it was cold, very cold! – we survived until our glasses were empty (just 45 minutes) and then it was straight back to the Cottage for the Crumble-fest! It didn’t disappoint and Jo even managed to master the Wood-burner that was now doing what it should!
Today has been our last full day here and we have to vacate the property by 10am tomorrow. That’s going to necessitate us getting up a lot earlier than we have been during this special break. We’ve eaten (and drunk) well – we’ve also travelled around quite a bit and visited places that (Ann and I) haven’t seen for a good many years!
If you like your super-hero movies – and also cats – this then was the perfect combo! Tonight was movie-night at ours with the recent release of Black Panther (on 4K UHD* of course!)
Joining us: Jo and Janet with a few nibbles and some drinkies too!! – another perfect combo! Janet brought up a rather new Gin – Seville Orange!
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!), the FOOD and DRINK was top-notch, but what about the Film?
For me, the origin-story movies of the plethora of these Marvel’s super-hero outings, always seem to enjoy a better narrative – less full-on battles/violence/SFX – instead, more emphasis on a straightforward back-story. So, if you’re new to all of this peeps-in-tights stuff, before Black Panther, maybe try whetting your appetite on Captain America – The First Avenger and/or the more recent Wonder Woman – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Back to tonight’s presentation then, this was the origin story for Black Panther, Marvel’s first black super-hero, and here’s a short summary of the plot.
After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as King. When a known enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa – as King and as Black Panther – gets tested to the full, and where the future of the whole Wakanda nation is threatened…
A good old-fashioned ‘good-v-evil’ yarn then! – and it turned out to be a really good story! Great acting, stunning cinematography, a well-crafted soundtrack that made the best use of our multi-speaker set-up and finally, just the right amount of SFX to make it all believable. The deliberate NOT-by-the-numbers plot development kept us guessing, and as normal for Marvel’s movies, it was worth fast-forwarding to just after the credits to snatch a sneak-peak of what looks to be good signs for a Black Panther II
It’s also been one of the only films in recent years where Total Film magazine gave it a full five-stars-out-of-five – so definitely worth a watch! As it turned out, it was very good, and didn’t feel over-long at 2 hours 15 minutes. These days, all the super-hero franchise movies tend to be full of special effects (they are SUPER hero movies after all!) but thankfully, this was quite restrained. Additionally, some great acting, a solid script and, as a bonus, I think Gil Gadot did many of her own stunts!
Biggles? More like Giggles! as I took control of a real aeroplane courtesy of last year’s birthday pressy from Ian and Mags – a 45 minute flight over the skies of Northamptonshire!
Ian & Ann, Ralph and Karen and my Ann were there to witness my performance as just after 11am, I ‘took the stick’ after some calm but expert tuition from my Instructor, Phil.
First impressions? Wow and more wow! I was warned that the take-off would be quite quick and the rate of ascent very steep – and Phil wasn’t wrong, as we were in the air, looking at the beautiful countryside of Northamptonshire within seconds rather than minutes.
Maybe more surprisingly, once we’d levelled-out, it actually felt very calm and tranquil high above the airfield as we slowly headed off towards Kettering and then onwards to Pitsford Reservoir.
That’ll be Kettering ahead (apparently!)
I learned that rather grabbing the stick like my life depended on it, it was better to gently tweak it using just my finger and thumb – and it certainly worked, as the plane ascended, descended and banked with very little action from me in a rather graceful way. In fact, it all felt very unhurried, precise and just simply glorious taking in the whole of Northamptonshire – in less than an hour! For me, the most memorable part was when Phil demonstrated how the plane behaved if the engine stalled – BY TURNING OFF THE (SINGLE) PROPELLOR! My initial reaction was ‘Oh Dear’, as I could now see the single prop in all its detail, and it’s fair to say, l briefly, I had a ‘moment’. I shouldn’t have been worried though, as the laws of physics prevailed, and rather than a fateful plummet to earth, the plane continued on its trajectory – and for about 90 seconds we became a GLIDER! (and a perfectly manoeuvrable one at that! – Amazing!!!)
And then, in what seemed like an instant, my 45 minutes was up, and we headed back to base. Phil took the controls for landing (I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be expected to try and land the plane on my first lesson!) and we soon were shaking hands and saying our goodbyes.
Captain Biggles Giggles
Fantastic! It had been an experience of a lifetime and I enjoyed every second of it – even the ‘glider moment’. Safe to say, I haven’t found a second career as a test-pilot – but if any of you get a chance to do this for yourself, I’d thoroughly recommend it! It’s like nothing else
We then headed back to ours where Ann had laid on a salad lunch followed by her Sunken (deliberately) Chocolate Soufflé with a Prune and Armagnac sauce. Ralph showed off the videos he’d taken of my inaugural flight and then we watched a bit of snooker on the TV before Ian and Ann said their goodbyes.
With the dishwasher on overtime, we four dug out the garden seat cushions from the garage and soaked-up a few rays before it came over a very grey. We finished the evening, watching my first 4K UHD movie: Sicario – an ultra tense political thriller set in Mexico – all washed down with a few G and Ts!
This was a good movie, with some especially ultra-tense moments in it – I don’t think I’ll ever look at queuing at the Dartford Tunnel in the same way again!
Ralph and Karen are staying over and heading home after breakfast tomorrow.