Scotland โ€“ Day 3(8)

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Photo of the Day: Huntly Castle


It’s our last full day here before we drive to Inverness tomorrow – and we’ve a busy one planned (nothing new there ehh?!) ๐Ÿ˜. After yesterday’s adventure that took us to the rather beautiful areas of Banff, Portsoy and Cullen (ending with a drive through next-door Buckie) today, we’re soaking-up more of the area to the north-west of base-camp, including:-

  • Huntly Castle
  • Baxter’s Highland Village in Fochabers
  • Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers
  • Spey Bay (Dolphins!)
  • Elgin Cathedral (and the cashmere shop!)
  • Auchindoun Castle

(Not necessarily in that order! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š)

Today’s ‘Area of Adventure’

Huntly Castle

10.15am: We arrived in town and were soon parked for our first stop of the day – a revisit to Huntly Castle (last visited in 2002/3?). We took the longer-than-we-thought walk down to the ruins and. First impressions? It was amazing how much was familiar considering we hadn’t been here for 20+ years!

The temperature was now a very pleasant 16โ„ƒ and we spent longer here than we planned. Next stop: The Walled Gardens at Gordon Castle.

Huntly and Palmers??

Gordon Castle Walled Garden

12.05pm: The Walled Garden should have been easy-peasy to find. It wasn’t! ๐Ÿ˜ In spite of having the correct postcode and based on the reputation of the excellent signage to anywhere cultural in these parts, we should have been there in no time. As things turned out, we first ended up down a dirt-track leading to a farm. Then a crop of new-build houses – and neither was anywhere near where we SHOULD have been! We’re still not sure what went wrong, but we did get there eventually!

It was definitely worth the trip (as convoluted as it was!) – it all looked beautiful! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

…and even sweet-peas in September – Amazing!

Johnson’s of Elgin Cashmere Shop

12.35pm: This is the kind of shop only for people with bucket loads of cash (and who have clearly lost their marbles). How about a cashmere jumper for the bargain price of ยฃ715 (reduced from ยฃ1915)? We didn’t think it was our civic duty to buy it! ๐Ÿ™„

Kerrching!

In complete contrast, the Restaurant was excellent value! Superbly well-organised and very COVID-19 compliant (as we tried to enter the EXIT door!). We tucked into Giant Haddock Goujons (Ann) and a Beef Burrito (me). And it would have been rude not to sample the Premier Cru in these parts that is… Irn Bru! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Premier Cru

Elgin Cathedral

Impressive!

1.45pm: We took the short walk (5 minutes) from the restaurant at the Cashmere shop to the Cathedral and for us, this next stop was probably the highlight of the day. The Cathedral, in ruins, dates back to the 13th century…

…and there was plenty to see here – inside and out! The staff were super-friendly and knowledgeable, and it made the visit extra-special. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘. Read more HERE

Baxter’s Highland Village

Souper!

2.50pm: Our penultimate stop for the day was Baxter’s Highland Village. We weren’t quite sure what to expect – all we knew was that Baxter’s is famous for its soups! Our love of all-things-retail meant that our weekly dose of retail-therapy was about to be served – in huge quantities!

Our first experience was their Museum boasting an impressive display of ‘old style’ retailing and merchandising. Fantastic!

…with their products taking centre-stage…

Just next door was the 2020 equivalent, with pretty much EVERY product they make on display (with a healthy 25% discount too!).

Old Scottish Proverb*: “Success comes in cans not cannots

..and the Queen likes them too apparently!

*Not really!

Auchindoun Castle

We didn’t quite make it to Auchindoun Castle, so maybe that’s on our to-do list for another time! Instead, we headed for where dolphins had been spotted…

Spey Bay

3.55pm: Well, what can I say about Spey Bay? Idyllic?, Ethereal?, Beautiful?
Well, today it was NONE of those! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
It was cold, blowing a gale, and its beach (the largest shingle beach in Scotland, in case you were wondering) was an ankle-breaker! Add to that, the main ‘porpoise’ of our visit was to see the dolphins, but they’d been sensible, and buggered-off to somewhere much warmer. Richard had lent Ann his binoculars and she thought she saw a couple of fins bobbing up-and-down, but I reckoned it was a two Nokia employees who got lost swimming! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Cold, blowing a gale and hard on the feet plus no sign of any dolphins. Apart from that…

The experience had all been a bit too close to nature for my blood and we retreated to the car and headed back to base, where Lynn soon served up some hot coffee to bring us back to life!

Melt in the mouth Venison – thanks Lynn!

7.10pm: Our final meal with Richard and Lynn was one not-to-be-forgotten. Locally sourced Venison in a casserole – and it really was melt-in-the-mouth.

10.15pm: With the world put right after the meal, it was time to say our goodnights and get packed for our departure tomorrow! It’s been a great stay here, and we’ve covered a lot of miles and caught up with some old friends. Brilliant!! ๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿ’Ÿ

Nighty-night!! ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด

Holiday: Scotland โ€“ Day 2(8)

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Photo of the Day: The Beach at Banff


I was up early, mainly down to me setting the clock an hour fast! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The weather forecast looks promising (although not quite as warm as it predicted yesterday) and so on Richard’s advice, we’re heading for the Moray Coast about a 40 minute drive from base-camp.

We’re heading for the Coast!

11.15am: First stop was Banff, a small town and a Royal Burgh since 1372. We were soon parked (are all car-parks free up here?) and taking in the sights…

Picture perfect

…A beautiful location sporting a very neat Marina and what it lacked in size, it made up for with its sandy beaches…

“Hello, my name’s Sandy…”

Incredible! And not what we expected at all! (in a good way). Contra-forecast, the weather was now improving and warming up a treat to a healthy 19โ„ƒ, so we decided to take the walk from Banff to nearbyish MacDuff – and back.

Although we didn’t walk ALL the way into Macduff, it was a very pleasant 2.25 miles and ticked the box for our daily walk quota!

12.30pm: Next stop was Portsoy, a quaint fishing village famous for its marble, which is a serpentinite stone that looks like marble. It was also the principle location for the 2016 remake of the movie: Whisky Galore.

Sunshine Galore!

By now, it felt like a proper Summer’s day, and we soaked up the warmth as well as the glorious views.

12.55pm: I’d like to say we only went there for the Church, but in truth, we were there for what was opposite… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

When in Portsoy…

…their famous ice-cream parlour! ๐Ÿ˜

Oh! OK then…”

Whilst Ann tucked into a combination of Blackcurrant Sorbet and Banana, I settled for Ferrero Rocher and Cadbury’s Flake. We returned to the Church, not to confess our sins, but to sit on their wall and enjoy our ice-creams, watching the world go by!

Think Skink!

1.30pm: Our final stop on today’s whistle-stop tour of the Moray Coast was another fishing village – Cullen. The location is famous for Cullen Skink and as every schoolboy and girl knows, it’s a soup made from fresh skink smoked haddock and potato. Lucky for us then, that the village’s Hotel – The Royal Oak – was serving it. After a quick rummage and fitting of our masks, we were whizzed off to our table. After filling in our contact form (much more comprehensive than anything we’ve seen in England!) we were soon tucking in to the local broth.

Yummy!

Wow! That was a hearty meal! There was only one thing left to do – try and walk it off! We headed in the direction of the harbour, where we enjoyed the view of even more sandy beaches! ๐Ÿค—

Cue the camels…

2.45pm: Lawrence of Arabia would have felt right at home here – and we’d only really seen a small part of the area. We headed back to Richard and Lynn’s for well deserved ‘feet-up’ in preparation for tonight’s evening meal – Shepherd’s Pie.

๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

7.25pm: All the exploring today had made us quite hungry! ๐Ÿ˜

Tomorrow is our last full day here and we’ve got quite an itinerary…

  • Huntly Castle
  • Baxter’s Highland Village in Fochabers (language!!)
  • Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers
  • Spey Bay (Dolphins!)
  • Elgin Cathedral (and the cashmere shop!)
  • Auchindoun Castle

10.05pm: Nighty-night! ๐Ÿฅฑ๐Ÿฅฑ

Holiday: Scotland โ€“ Day 1(8)

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We always go away for my birthday and this year is no exception. Although the official celebration is still a week away, we thought we’d start early! ๐Ÿ˜

What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago for my celebration, we were in central London, shoulder-to-shoulder on a sweaty tube-train! This year, we’re heading in completely the opposite direction, spending just over a week in the Scottish Highlands.

10.30am: But first, we needed to get there! We headed for our least favourite airport – Luton – and our 1.55pm EasyJet Flight – EZY147 – destined for Aberdeen Airport.

I really hate Luton Airport with a passion – it’s always so busy and the whole experience tends to feel like a rugby scrum at all points of the process! And to bring out my snobbish tendencies, I often seem to be in a queue somewhere behind the family that finds it impossible to speak quietly, whilst sporting the maximum number of visible tattoos! Yuk! ๐Ÿค” Given current Coronavirus-conditions, I wonder what it’ll be like today?

11.45am: Actually, it was almost pleasant! Outside, the place still looks like a building site, but inside, it was relatively peaceful and well-organised !

It was a shame that many of the eateries were closed, but we did find a Pret for a coffee and a sandwich; and for payment, the obligatory second mortgage! ๐Ÿค” The retail outlets looked a bit sad where some looked as though they’d not re-opened since you-know-what!

What could possibly go wrong?

2.55pm: We landed on time at just before 3pm and with only hand-luggage to slow us down, we were soon on our way to the car-hire point to pick up our ‘wheels for the week’. As we quickly discovered, it’s another of those airports where you need a car from the Terminal to get to the err, car-hire desk. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

3 miles later…

On arrival, oh joy! No-one on the Avis desk! ๐Ÿค. Luckily there was a mobile number to call. Apparently, ‘because of COVID-19, there are fewer staff on duty’ and the solitary member of staff, was elsewhere on vehicle returns and there had been some confusion over the plane’s arrival time.

What, no staff!

3.45pm: Just ten minutes later, we were sorted – sort of! Instead of the promised Vauxhall Astra, we were upgraded to a Mercedes A200. A car so technically advanced, even I couldn’t work out how to put it in gear! (that’s my street cred in tatters!). A quick training session from the Avis staff revealed that the ‘gear selector’ normally located in the centre console was, on this particular model, actually a fake and the gear ‘lever’ was on the steering column! Doh! I know what you’re thinking: why didn’t we just consult the handbook? Simples! There wasn’t one! ๐Ÿ™„ Apparently, Avis remove them as a matter of procedure! ๐Ÿค”

Top (no) Gear!

We were soon our own way to Richard and Lynn’s. It was a gorgeous day, pleasantly warm at around 18โ„ƒ. Under normal circumstances, our destination was just 40 minutes away. I say ‘normal circumstances’, because we dialled in the post-code only to find that when the sat-nav pinged to announce our arrival, we realised that the rural nature of the area meant the postcode is shared with about 30 additional locations! A few fumbled mobile calls to our host (hardly any signal at all here) and we were now pointing in the right direction. And luckily, Ann’s razor-sharp memory pinpointed the finish line. Lynn met us on the drive and we were soon bumping elbows at Culdrain House.

Perfect! (1)

5.30pm: With elbows retracted, we headed for the garden to enjoy the pleasant weather, oh, and Richard’s home-made very pleasant Rhubarb Gin! We reckon it’s close on 20 years since we were last all together here – and we some serious catching-up to do!

Perfect! (2)

Our hosts’ ‘pet complement’ has expanded since we were last here, and we were soon greeted (‘smothered’ actually!) by dogs: Dougal, Pippin, Merrie and Parker (Dot and Dash, their cats, were temporarily AWOL).

6.15pm: A quick unpack and we were ready for Dinner!

7.30pm: Time for our evening meal. Richard and Lynn had been busy in the kitchen and we tucked into Roast Pork and a very tasty vegetable selection followed by Lynn’s homemade Eton Mess. Our catch-up conversation continued helped along by some excellent wine choices! ๐Ÿ˜›

10.00pm: With the meal over, we were beginning to flag and by 10.30, we called it a day.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks good, just shy of 20โ„ƒ, so we plan to explore some places that Richard had helpfully pointed out on the map including the Moray Coast.

10.45pm: ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด

Mival-lous

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A boys’ get-together today! ๐Ÿ‘

I drove over to Stamford to meet up with ex-business colleague and film producer: Eric Mival. We’ve kept in touch ever since Eric shot a corporate video for Sainsbury’s (that I was responsible for) back in the late 80s.

Our venue of choice was, of course, the iconic George Hotel in the town – and more specifically, The York Bar.

The George Hotel from The York Bar

We haven’t seen each other since August, 2017, and it was good to catch-up with each other’s news!

The focus of our conversation was around Eric’s semi-autobiographical book: Cutting Edge: My Life in Film and Television (get it from Amazon HERE). For me, the enjoyable read had ticked a lot of boxes – my love of the process of film-making AND the fact that Eric had worked on a lot of programmes of my youth including Doctor Who, The Strange Report and of course, the iconic, The Prisoner (amongst many more!). I knew we’d have a lot to chat about, but with the food and service its normal high standard, the time just flew by!

A slightly torturous journey home though, where a major accident on the road to Stamford just after Collyweston caused miles (and miles) of traffic congestion. Luckily, I skirted around the back roads and was home just after 2.30pm (just 10 minutes later than my original ETA).

See you next year Eric! ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘

First Visit: The Old Pheasant, Glaston

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Our first visit tonight to The Old Pheasant in Glaston where where we met up with long-time friends, Mick and Jane for one of our regular catch-ups. We last got together at The Fox back in April, so it’s been a while, and there was plenty of news to catch up with! Tonight, our location-of-choice is a Hotel, Bar and Restaurant – but we were there primarily, for the food having seen some great reviews.

The Old Pheasant
Looking good!

Initially, it was very quiet when we sat down (but it was still early – 6.30pm). Happily, by 7.15, it was pretty full! Clearly, it’s a popular place!

The service and the food didn’t disappoint – I opted for the Ginger Soup, Hunter’s Chicken and to finish, Blueberry Cheesecake. It was all delicious, well presented and served with a smile! ๐Ÿ˜

I’m pretty sure, it’s one of those ‘finds’ that we’ll be returning too, before too long! ๐Ÿ‘

Best Nest!

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Ann and I drove over to Stratford-upon Avon for our regular(ish) get-together with good friends: Alan, Mags, Ian and Ann. Our eatery of choice this time was The Swan’s Nest Hotel opposite the River.

It was the in-house eatery Bistrot Pierre that was our ultimate destination and I thought we’d never been to it before, only to discover immediately on being shown to our table, it was all very familiar! ๐Ÿ™„ A quick check of this Blog revealed that Ian, Mags and I had been there as part of our regular Trainer ‘get-togethers’ back when we were earning: 30th August 2011!

Weather-wise, it was a glorious day! It would have been perfect for eating outside with a bright blue-sky and a temperature well into the low/mid 20s, but our table was already set inside and that’s were we stayed (although it was right by the big window in the corner, so at least we had a good view!)

Luckily, our table had been designed by King Arthur which meant it was easy to chat with everybody (most of the time). I say most because it was also very busy there, and very noisy too (technical term: ‘had atmosphere’). Still, we had plenty of opportunity to catch-up with everyone’s news, even though at times, we needed to raise our voices and it didn’t spoil the experience! ๐Ÿ˜ต

Food and service were both excellent – and the combination of the friendliest of waiting-staff and a wallet-friendly bill, did the trick! We all left with a full bellies (even though none of us had Dessert) and a big smile. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Unusually, we didn’t set a date for our next get-together – more forgetfulness than anything else – but Mags had picked up on it and started the ball rolling by email. Looks like our next jaunt will be next February/March sometime.

Unusually for me, I didn’t take photos of the food! No, I wasn’t asleep! I was without my mobile phone today as it’s new, and whilst I wait for a protective case, it stayed safely at home for fear of me dropping it! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘

Warner Weekend 2019

Reading time: 9 minutes...Well, this is a first for us! We’re off for a Warner Weekend with our like-minded friends: Geoff, Rhonda, Paul and Sue.
Littlecote House
We’re staying at Warner’s Littlecote House Hotel in Berkshire. location-littlecotehouse It’s a themed long-weekend entitled: โ€˜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? ๐Ÿ˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘
Plenty to see and do!
…with organised events (for those of us that need/want organising!)
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 ๐Ÿ˜ 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! ๐Ÿค”
Warner Brothers (and Sisters)! ๐Ÿ˜
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? ๐Ÿ˜ต 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ‘
Evah Morgan in full voice
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.
Sahara Blue working VERY hard to engage the audience
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’! ๐Ÿฅด

Saturday – Day 1

Ahh, a day of intense activity follows… ๐Ÿ˜ฏ 8.00am: But first, the most important meal of the day – Breakfast!
Very nice!
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 days weeks months, Sue, our newly appointed ‘Events Co-ordinator Supremo’, confirmed today’s agreed activities…
A packed Programme! ๐Ÿ˜Š
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! ๐Ÿ˜‰
To the Victors, the spoils!
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! ๐Ÿ˜Š
Initially, the safest place to stand!
Be afraid, be VERY afraid!
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!)
Crazy!
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!) ๐Ÿ˜’ 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! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ
My skills as a marksman!
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? ๐Ÿ˜• 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! ๐Ÿ˜Š We’d narrowly missed victory again but there’s always tomorrow! ๐Ÿ‘ 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!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ 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! ๐Ÿ™„
Almost dancing on the ceiling!
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! ๐Ÿ˜Š Afterwards, it’s every camper for themselves! 8.55am: Breakfast! For me, I had sausages in my sights! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.
The House
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.
Roman Mosaic – Littlecote House
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!)
Just like that!
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.
Sunday Afternoon Movie
Just the sort of Movie for a Sunday afternoon! ๐Ÿ‘ 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! ๐Ÿ‘ 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. ๐Ÿ‘
Our Final Dinner
9.30pm: Another day, another tribute act! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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! ๐Ÿ˜Š
David Kidd as Tom Jones
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! ๐Ÿค” 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! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
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. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š