Sun, Seagulls and Castanets

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Ahhh, a rather late start of us two – 7.30am – and it was off to Eastbourne (to check out a Hotel) then Worthing (for a birthday party) and then finally to our overnight stay in Arundel (a return to the aptly named Comfort Inn).

This was possibly our longest trip so far in the XKR – about a 325 mile round trip. As we set off from Kettering, it was a beautiful day, but by the time we got closer to Eastbourne, it was hammering it down. On a more positive note, the car returned 28.4mpg before dropping back to a more characteristic 24mpg once we started poodling around the towns.

First stop was the Hydro Hotel in Eastbourne. It’s the venue for OCA Members’ informal get together in August, and as we were in the general area, it was worth checking out. What a lovely surprise – a quaint olde-worlde type establishment that I feel is going to be just right as the meeting venue. After grabbing a table that overlooked the lawn and the coast (although we couldn’t see the latter because of the weather) a coffee, toast and slice of cake before we were back on the road heading for Worthing.

Ooo, what a grey day!

By now, the weather was brightening up, and by the time we got to the outskirts of Worthing, it had turned into a very pleasant, warm day. We mooched around in Worthing for a bit, with Ann bagging a few bargains.

What is with seagulls and my car?!?! There are thousands of cars to choose from in Worthing, and these flying feathered fiends choose mine by deciding to relieve the total contents of their bottom all over the back window and boot. Having got caught out with just a few wet-wipes last time this happened, on this occasion I was well prepared with spray cleaner and a ginormous cloth. And whilst Ann grappled with Worthing’s latest car-parking ticketing technology, I ‘pooper-scooped’ in no time!

Then it was off to Philomena’s surprise party. And what an event it was. You can always rely on Sharon and Ian to organise a great event – and this afternoon was no exception! Professional ballroom dancers were followed by a Flamenco demonstration – Mum, son and daughter – who simply danced their hearts out, accompanied by the noisiest shoes and the loudest castanets, I think I’ve ever seen (heard?). Add to that, great food and a chance to catch up with old acquaintances – Pete, Diana, Julia and Paul S – and I’d say that was pretty fine event!!!

Philomena (left) enjoying every moment of her surprise Party

Then, it was back in the car, that by now, was down to a quarter tank. Luckily, we found a petro station on our way to Arundel, and after relieving myself of £53, we were ‘running on full’ (for a while anyway1).

Fifteen minutes later, we were parking outside the Comfort Inn, Arundel. We stayed here for the first time last May, and its sensibly priced rooms, hearty breakfast, free wi-fi and convenient location, meant it was the obvious choice this time around. Parking was challenging, but we managed to squeeze it into a space not far from the entrance.

The evening finished with feet-up in front of the TV (the ill-fated series, Atlantis), before calling it a night.

We’re heading home tomorrow after breakfast.

Guinness and Prosecco Party

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Guinness and Prosecco Party - Courtesy of of Trish and John
A great way to start the evening…

Those that know us well, know that our two fave things are being with friends and eating out –  if we can combine the two, then it’s the makings of a great night out!

So, tonight was a simply the perfect evening, just waiting to happen. Trish and John had prepared a Guinness and Prosecco Party – and it really hit the spot!!! All the usual suspects were there (minus just 2 – Karen was away sailing and Paul had an early call the following morning, so they missed-out) – Tom, Julie, Rosi, David plus Rosi’s friend Penny.

John was good enough to pick me up around 7, together with Tom and Julie, whilst Ann made her way back form a strenuous day at Ragdale Hall!

The gossip was great – and so as the food: Onion Soup, Irish Stew, Fruit Pie, Bread & Butter Pudding and finally a Cheeseboard with enough cheese to feed the whole of Northamptonshire!!

...and finally, the Cheeseboard

Ann’s busy week caught up with her towards the end, so we left about 11.30 – my guess is that the party carried-on for a few hours more!

Thanks for a GREAT evening Trish (and John for his onion-peeling skills), you were the perfect hosts!

The perfectly poured Guinness?
The Perfectly Poured Guinness?

Oxford/Silver Party

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We started the day by driving over to Oxford to meet up with Nicki C. We did the smart thing and took the Park-and-Ride, both arriving there at about the same time.

Oxford was fab. The weather turned out to be better than forecast – hot! and we had a great meal in the roof-top garden at the Ashmolean Museum – just a pity that part of the museum was closed for some reason! We later found out that a man had injured himself the day before, and somehow the injury had involved numerous police cars and an unmarked car. Where’s Inspector Morse and Lewis when you need them, ehh?!?!


20130907_111854_St Aldate's

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In the evening, it was off to Trish and John’s Silver Wedding Anniversary party. Luckily, it was walkable – the Ise Lodge Community Hall. Unluckily, just before leaving, there the mother of all rain-storms! so we jumped in the car!!! We left in such a rush, to dodge the flood, that I left my phone and my camera behind – bugger!

The was loads of people there, most family, and friends of family, and the DJ tried his hardest to fill the dance-floor, but I think guests were more in a chatting/eating/drinking mood, leaving the floor mostly empty except for a few die-hard disco divas – and Tom – and occasionally us two!

We had a great time, and managed to get some quality gossip time in with Paul (Karen’s away), Tom and Julie – brilliant! Trish had organised a great food spread – enough for the whole of Kettering lasting probably for the rest of the week!!!

Ann’s very busy week caught up with her, and by 11pm, she was flagging, so and we headed for home!

Trish/John – Congrats on your 25th, we had a fab time, thanks for the invite. See you both again soon!!!

Bev’s 40th

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Together with Lee, we travelled up to Lincoln FC’s VIP suite in err, Lincoln to celebrate Bev’s 40th.

On a positive note, it was a great event – yummy buffet, good range of music and a spacious venue. There must have been over 50 people there, and everyone had a good time.

Open-mouthed smile Party smile Birthday cake Gift with a bow
On the negative side, my duties as the ‘resident photographer’ came to an abrupt halt after the SD card in my camera failed and I lost all the evening’s photos.

Camera Embarrassed smile Crying face Baring teeth smile
Don’t you just love technology!!!????

(in spite of this, I do – but you know that already!!!)
In love

Saturday is for… socialising

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The Olive Branch - superb!










A busy, but very enjoyable day socialising today!

We picked up Nick and Celina at around 11.30 and headed off to The Olive Branch in Clipsham for lunch. it was our first visit there, although Nick and Celina had been before. Wow! what a treat!!!! The menu was varied (including fish finger sandwiches!) whilst the professional waiters (who didn’t put a foot wrong) and the food quality and presentation were probably the best we’ve experienced in a long, long while! Excellent stuff!

We went back to Nick and Celina’s afterwards and over coffee, took a look at their photographs of their Dubai and their recent canal holiday – then it was back to ours before getting ready for John and Trish’s party in the evening.

Thanks both – it’s been great to see you and hopefully, we can catch-up again before Christmas.

7.15pm: Party time! Armed with Ann’s cheeseboard creation, we picked up Tom and Julie on the way there. David and Rosi were there when we arrived, so we all got into party-mode pretty quickly. The food was terrific – Julie had organised Starters, Trish the Mains, finishing off with Ann’s cheeseboard – oh, and everyone brought quite a lot of alcohol!




It was a riotous time and we haven’t laughed so much in ages. We were all in top form and no doubt Facebook will reflect that later today!! 🙂

Ann's Cheeseboard










We talked and talked – from ‘bedroom intruders with cameras(!)’, ‘School Exam Timetables’, ‘Rosi’s legendary photography skills’ and the ‘true meaning of friendship’ – we covered it all!
I’m not sure which is more scary – Ann or my shirt!!





I’m not sure which is more scary –
Ann or my shirt!!

Midnight: I was flagging fast, and Tom was right in predicting that I’d be first to give-in to the temptation of a snuggly duvet. In fact, as often happens, it became the cue for the rest of the gang to call it a night. We said our goodbyes and headed home.

1.15am: I’d forgotten that this time existed – we are well and truly trashed!

Thanks for hosting it all Trish, thanks everyone for your good humour and good food!

Phew! What a night!!!

Oxford/Rosi’s Party

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Gosh, we haven’t been to Oxford for ages!

The Ashmolean Museum - Oxford

We left around 8.30, had a good run, and caught the park-and-ride into the city centre (that’s me on a bus TWICE this year!!!!). A quick look round the shops (where I got my dress shoes for the wedding and a couple of pairs of jeans) and then it was off to meet Lynn at the Ashmolean Museum.

Lynn had managed to bag some tickets for the hour-long tour and it was brilliant! I hadn’t realised this museum had such amazing stuff! – the lantern used by Guy Fawkes (how appropriate for today!); the first and last pound note and plenty of other curious exhibits. We definitely need to go back there again and do the place in more detail!

Lynn treated us to lunch at the Museum and we got home around 4pm. Just in time a for a chill-out before Rosi’s Birthday bash tonight.







Rosi’s birthday party was at the Red Lion in Cranford. The neighbours were there too (Paul, Karen, Tom, Julie, Stefan, Debbi, John and Trish) and with the rest of Rosi’s family and friends, we filled the place nicely. A live Band – just the two of them (think they were called ‘Liaison’ – a female lead and a male guitarist were excellent – especially the guitar breaks on Hotel California and Another Brick in the Wall) kept the evening going and the dance-floor busy. Chilli on demand went down well in the packed room, although queuing at the Bar for drinks was a bit of a challenge because of the number of people. There was even a firework display too – brilliant!

Fun was had by all, including Tom, who slipped into a Dick van Dyke black-and-white number and entertained the audience in the final hour – how does he do those falls without squashing his goolies????

It was a great evening, but when the music switched to ‘90’s Techno’, we saw it as our cue to leave! Where’s the Ovaltine :)))

We got home around midnight – thanks Rosi, we had a great time!

Now, that’s a shame

Reading time: < 1 minute...It looks like Club Diana, where we held Ann’s surprise 50th Birthday Party has called in the Administrators