Yummy Mummy

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11.30am: I’m off to the capital today with Ann to meet up with Janet and Carol. We’re all visiting the recently opened Tutankhamen Exhibition at the Saachi Gallery and whilst we’re in the area, home of the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ too — the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

For the King Tut Exhibition, it’s £24.50 for the young ones (off-peak) to get in, and £22 for us oldies. Off-peak generally means weekdays whilst peak is the weekends (obviously!) and school/ public holidays.

For the Royal Hospital, there are two choices for visitors — a guided tour or a DIY independent visit. Best of all, both are completely free (although certain parts are off-limits between noon and 2pm for the Pensioners to enjoy their lunch in peace!)

And to finish our day-out, Janet has booked us all a Chinese meal. Where else, but in London’s Chinatown! 😁

The Royal Hospital

We caught the 11.52 train out of Kettering and then it was a short trip by Tube to Sloane Square, followed by a twenty-minute walk, we were at our first stop!

After a quick stop at the on-site café (that would appear to have also doubled as the local sauna — boy, it was hot in there!) we headed back to the main building…

…by way of some very attractive garden displays!

Wowser! A Harley Davidson Mobility Scooter!

…and a particularly attractive mobility scooter! 😁

There were two areas we were particularly interested in once we got inside the main building — The Great Hall and The Wren Chapel.

First stop: The Great Hall. What a location for lunch! It reminded me a bit of the dining scenes from the Harry Potter films. Seating 270 for lunch and 400 for drinks, it didn’t disappoint on any level — superb attractive architecture in a light, bright airy space! What a great place for the old soldiers to enjoy their meals!

Oh, and you can get married there too as it’s available for private hire!

The Wren Chapel

If we’d been impressed by the Great Hall, nothing really prepared us for the splendour of what followed: The Wren Gallery. Simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

A Mighty Organ!

We were under a bit of time pressure, so we probably didn’t stay as long here as we would have liked. However, in spite of our shortened stay, I think we were all blown-away by how beautiful it all was! Add to that, everyone we passed, spoke to us and passed the time of day — it was like going back 50 years! 😁. Our verdict? Definitely the ‘surprise of the year’ in our book, and a great way to spend an hour or more if you’re in the area.

They’ve even got a museum there that traces the history of the building – excellent! 👍👍👍👍👍

The clock was ticking as we walked in the direction of our final stop for the day: The Saachi Gallery and our 3.30pm timed entry slot for the highly-anticipated Tutankhamun Exhibition.

The Exhibition

Ahh, a queue!

We had already been advised on the tickets that we should allow for possible queueing whilst the security team did their thing, but as it turned out, it was all managed very efficiently. We were inside just slightly ahead of our time-slot and the entry-in-batches certainly helped avoid any sort of crush as we approached the myriad of displays

The spooky voiceover set the scene nicely for what was to come…

“According to Egyptian beliefs, they say you die twice. Once when you stop breathing and the second, when somebody mentions your name for the last time.”

Our first impressions meant you could probably hear our collective jaws dropping as we encountered the displays. Given that this stuff is close to 3000 years old, the condition was amazing… and the detail on the carvings too! How did they achieve this all those years ago — no Dremel drills or laser cutters to rely on!

Spread across multiple galleries and on two floors, it all felt very spacious. Together with the slightly subdued lighting and the ethereal music, it felt very relaxed and un-hurried.

It was all a real treat for the eyes!

All-in-all, it took us around an hour-and-an-quarter to get round, and we all felt it was a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition — maybe the best we’ve seen in many a year! Get along there before it closes in May next year.

Our final stop of the day was for our Chinese meal. All we needed to do was to get to Chinatown. Even for a Friday late afternoon, the Tube was even more manically busy. We learned that not only were there serious delays on the network, but there had been a terrorist incident on London Bridge causing extra congestion in and around the area.

The Meal – Yummy!

Starters!

We arrived (eventually!) where the Chinese restaurant of choice was an old haunt for Janet, Jo and Carol but a first visit for us. Opened around five years ago in the heart of Chinatown, The Orient is a slightly more upmarket affair — and it impressed us from the moment we arrived. Lightning-fast service, piping hot food, a varied menu, all served with a smile. It a great end to our day of culture.

As expected, we all ate far too much and as we waddled our way back towards St Pancras, the Tube network was now even busier! We squeezed ourselves into the carriage, and it wasn’t long before we were looking for our final train home. In a rare case of perfect timing, we caught the 7.35pm where its first stop was Kettering!

We said our goodbyes in the entrance to Kettering station as Janet and Carol were in the North car-park whilst we were in the newer, south parking area. By now, the temperature had dropped significantly meaning that the car was covered in frost. Luckily for us, one of the many benefits of an EV is that heating is instantaneous and although we couldn’t remotely trigger it (like many other EVs), we didn’t have to wait long until we had a frost-free motor! 😁

What an incredible day! Considering Chelsea Hospital was on our schedule as a ‘filler’ before the main event, it turned out to be probably our highlight of the year. The King Tut exhibition exceeded all of our expectations and I’m sure it’s going to be a great success!

Beer Diary…

Reading time: 3 minutes...

..by Steve P (aged 61-and-a-bit).

The Great British Beer Festival 2018
Well that’s a first – a visit to a Beer Festival – my first ever, and a boys’ day out too! 

The venue? London’s Olympia and to give the event its full title: The Great British Beer Festival.

This is a superb opportunity for a piss-up taste of fine ales. The event began on 7 August and is staggering through until the 11th – and it would appear it’s an annual event too. I got into training for this a few days earlier, by sampling some selected stock in the cupboard at home, and I now felt I was match-fit*!
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*Time would tell – I clearly wasn’t!

On arrival, I met up with a few seasoned visitors who were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction, both figuratively and literally. Activities started at 12 noon, and I managed to stay on my feet (and still feel them) until around 3ish.

So, what was it like? Well, for me, I assumed it was simply an extended pub-crawl without the need for a pub or any crawling, but it turned out to be so much more!! The official website described it as:-

“The Great British Beer Festival isn’t just about beer. We have a whole host of entertainment such as rock, pop and alternative bands which appear alongside auctions, traditional pub games and Saturday’s Big Pub Quiz. A full programme of book signings and tutored tastings will be available to enhance your festival experience”.


First stop was the Glass counter, where after depositing a small err, deposit, I was given a glass-for-life. Actually, if I’d chosen to take it back afterwards, the deposit would have been returned. Still, this was the perfect date-stamped memento of the event.

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Once inside, the enormity of the event was obvious. Not only by the number of ‘Bars’ but the numerous food pop-ups, AND the queue going in – including most of inner London, it seemed! Boy, it was certainly well supported!! A perfect balance of food and drink, although I wasn’t sure about the Pickled Egg counter though – so many variations on Egg and Pickledness, it just not natural!
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Big fluffy and wispy-bearded folk were my expectation, with a higher-than-average number of pot-bellies, but actually, it wasn’t the case – the majority were all very normal looking folk, and there were even GIRLS too… all five of them (plus possibly the one on Security, but it was difficult to tell! Still, that didn’t count as s/he was on the staff).

First stop (because it was the closest and just because we had walked at least a mile to the venue) was the Cornwall-based St Austell Bar… and a swift half of ‘Proper Job’, a 5.5% IPA followed. It slid down very well!


My voyage of discovery (and gradual inebriation) continued, gradually upping the ABV, but carefully avoiding the American Bar, whose Beer range included one that was 10%. – yep, 10%!

I guess, in total, I must have sipped my way through five or six types of beer – but maybe only three pints in total, but it certainly felt more, a lot more! Sensibly, the Bars were dispatching their wares not just in pints and halves – but also uniquely thirds – and this variation suited my under-trained body perfectly. Luckily Walkers Crisps also were doing their bit for humanity by giving away free bags of crisps to anyone who was interested – in short, everyone! Unusual flavours too…

  • Jalapeno and Cheese
  • Hot Chicken Wings
  • Chilli and Lime

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All very welcome! and in massive 150g bags too – proper mansize bags. Blotting paper never tasted so good!!

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I was now finding my feet, and swift thirds of Schrodinger’s Cat, Marmalade Porter and D-Day Dodger followed. From then on, in spite of additional (and regular) supplies of free crisps and even a cheeseburger about the size of Corby, my world was increasingly becoming a tad fuzzy. It was that wonderful feeling where you’re just ‘merry’ and can still feel all your limbs – and where joining words together was still perfectly possible! If I’d drunk anymore, my guess was that my slightly under-trained torso would have quickly deteriorated. Must do better next time!
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So, with the chiming of the 3 o’clock bell (or was that just my head), I said farewell to my better-equipped colleagues, and headed for the Station. Luckily, the Station was immediately opposite – and even in my slightly blurry world, what could possibly go wrong!!??

Well, it did..! slightly! A technical fault on the Tube meant that even allowing just over an hour to get to St Pancras International, it wasn’t quite enough. My smugness in buying my original rail ticket for a little over £20 return (which I’d now missed by about 10 minutes) was replaced by the reality of the need for a single at short notice – at the princely sum of £62.50!

I was now heading for the Platform. At this stage, with the recently introduced new timetable in operation, I couldn’t equate why my next Train – that only stopped at Wellingborough & Kettering – still took around the same time as the one it replaced (that used to stop at least another half-dozen more stations). Thanks East Midlands Trains; another of life’s mysteries or maybe just the effects of the alcohol on my mental arithmetic?
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Luckily, Ann, aka ‘Chauffeur-for-the-day’ was waiting, and I was soon home.

Trains aside, it had been a great day. It wasn’t quite what I expected (in a good way) and I’m pretty sure I’ll go against next year – but if I’m going to last the course, more training is required in the drinking department!
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