Calke Walk

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Calke Abbey

We took a picnic to National Trust’s Calke Abbey today. Our last visit was back in May 2011 when the weather was truly atrocious! Luckily, today, it was a little kinder.

What makes Calke a bit different from most other NT properties is that its name doesn’t reflect the building itself! As any local will tell you – there’s no Abbey!

"A novel take on presenting the past..." 
The Forecast – looks good!

It only took us just over an hour to get there and we were soon parked and ‘picnic-ready’ 😊.

But of course, under the ‘new normal’, we didn’t have complete freedom to roam, as the NT is operating a ‘timed entry’ system into the site. We were limited to Calke Park and the Gardens only. The café was open but we didn’t fancy that as we had already packed enough food for the whole of Derbyshire! 👍 😁

We began with a walk around the immediate area. Some of it was closed off so that limited our wanderings – but it was still very enjoyable, and we covered 2¾ miles…

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…taking in some great views, including a very well maintained kitchen garden too!

We sat down to our picnic around 1pm – and in spite of the forecast, the rain came (but not until our last mouthful!) 😋

Still, it was a great day out – even if was a bit damp, and we didn’t get to see inside the House this time.

Family Weekend

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Roger, Jane and Oliver joined us for the weekend! 😁


The last signs of Summer 2019?

The main event for today was a picnic at Belton House and then a walk around the historic Mansion and Gardens. I think it’s our most oft-visited stately home having been there recently (ish) with with Dennis and Sandra back in May, 2018 and Chris and Gill in July, 2017.

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!


4.00pm: Our final stop was St Peter & St Paul Church aka Belton Church.

Belton Church

4.20pm: A great visit! (again!) 😁. Even the weather didn’t really spoil our visit (even though it looked like it would!). We wandered back to the car and headed south.

Ooo, there’s creative! 😊

All of today’s photos at Belton House (with none of my chat) are HERE

6.15pm: It was a good journey home and we were indoors by 5.45. By 6.15, Ann had laid the table for a yummy table-buffet. All that was left to do was to choose a movie for the evening…

Excellent choice!
Bohemian Rhapsody (courtesy of Sky Store): Even better than I remember it the first time around in the cinema 👍
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! 😍😍

Bye all, it’s been great to catch-up!

Picnic Saturday

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A scorcher of a weekend is promised, so what better time than today for a picnic!

Click HERE for a live map and directions

..and what could be more perfect than Fineshade Wood (the clue’s in the name!) for some fine picnicking in a Wood in the shade! – and it’s only a thirty-or-so minute drive away too! The Wood is managed by the Forestry Commission and is part of the former royal hunting forest of Rockingham Forest. Part of the Wood is publicly owned and part-leased by the Forestry Commission – and we remember it well from our previous visit a few years back.

Looks like the weather is on our side!

Well, on arrival, first impressions (compared to our previous visit) were disappointing! 😮

Why? Gone was the series of mini car-parking areas shaded with trees and with plenty of picnic tables. Instead, a humongous great open parking area…

…and rather ironically, the Forestry Commission seeedm to have felled a load of trees to achieve the new look! It all felt very disappointing, but we hoped we’d still find some picnic areas on our walk…

The Smelter’s Walk – A modest two-mile challenge!

Off we toddled on our two-miler, but it soon became obvious that picnic tables were not part of the scenery! Still, it didn’t ruin our walk, where the combination of great weather and tranquil surroundings made it all very enjoyable.

Just under two miles

But this definitely wasn’t the place for our picnic, so we consoled ourselves with a couple of extra-large ice-creams instead! Two large scoops (scoop 1 – Chocolate, scoop 2 – Salted Caramel) for Ann, whilst I wrestled with a scoop of Strawberry and a scoop of Salted Caramel. Boy! they were large cornets! 😁 Almost a picnic in themselves!!!!

So, where to go for our official picnic? We headed in the direction of the quaint village of Wansford and had a quick wander round. There’s was nothing suitable here that we could find (having unsuccessfully failed to find the path to the river), so it was back in the car, crossing county boundaries, heading for Barnwell Country Park.

On arrival, we knew we’d made the right decision! Plenty of areas to walk and (more importantly by this stage) plenty of areas for a picnic!

Just under a mile

Wow! It was a really enjoyable walk. We took in some impressive views along the route, and I think in the end, we actually preferred it to Fineshade Wood!

Mission Accomplished!

And our picnic was well-worth the wait! 😉😁

That’s what days like these are for!

Sealed with…

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a Knot!

© Photograph courtesy of Julian Dowse

It was off to Deene Park for a Bank Holiday treat! It’s the home of the Brudenell family – pretty well-known around these parts, but probably best remembered for the 7th Earl (James) who led the charge of the Light Brigade.

Sealed Knot logo
The Sealed Knot Logo

Instead, The Sealed Knot (the re-enactment group) are in attendance, bringing the sights and sounds of the English Civil Wars (relevant, because ‘back in the day’, Deene Park was seized by the Parliamentarians).

We’d also brought the sights (and sounds?) of a picnic, so all we needed was some good weather and we’d got a good day in store! 😁

Well, the forecast looked good(ish) but unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out! We arrived just after 2pm, easily parked and then found a really good space to pitch our chairs. We’d just unpacked our picnic – and then the heavens opened! 😒

Still, with the Battle now in full-swing, it distracted us (temporarily) from the crap weather…

…and as you’d expect from the Sealed Knot, they were all taking it very seriously!

The Battle must have last around 45 minutes and when it was all over, as the ‘players’ left the field, they all looked thoroughly exhausted! A pity the weather kept a lot of people away, but still worth the visit!

La Picnic

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It was our annual trip to Lunaflix’s outdoor cinema presentation tonight – the Film? 2016’s La La Land; the venue? Boughton House. We’d been here last year to see Pretty Women and I immediately noticed this time, it was much better supported (with apparently, over 400 tickets sold – last year it was more like 200!).

August in Northamptonshire means keeping an eye on the weather forecast – constantly! – and although it was a dry evening, it got cool really quickly as the evening wore-on. Good job then we’d packed the right clothing! (in short: one of everything and a pair of gloves too!)

We made more of an event of this year as we were joined by our good friends, Paul & Sue and Geoff and Rhonda. With each of us taking a specific chunk of the picnic to prepare, we ended up with a table that was truly Olympic standard! – all that was missing was the candelabra! (Although we did see a group with solar lights surrounding their space!)

Just after 9pm, as the sun went down and we packed away our picnic, Simon, the organiser treated us to some bonus footage – the ‘Singing in the Rain’ scene from err, the 1952 film: Singing in the Rain (luckily, that was the only rainfall we saw tonight! – and a complete contrast to our recent firework event a few weeks back)

And then, it was the main event. Like last year, the picture and sound quality was just amazing (techy note: Blu-ray disc and a high-end front-projector)

And 128 minutes later, it was all over. Was it any good? Well, I think our Jury’s ‘still out’! Personally, I loved it! You can’t beat a good ‘Boy-meets-girl… Girl loses boy… Boy-gets-piano’ type story – everyone else in our group though had different views – a bit like Marmite then, this one – and fair to say it didn’t enjoy universal appeal!

  to  then!

If you’ve been living under a stone since its release, and you’re curious, I’d say give it a go. And if you do make it to the final act, don’t think of leaving before the credits roll, believing you’ve ‘got it’ – there’s a ton of ‘stuff’ going on in the final 10 minutes! One more thing to add: I think the outdoor cinema experience with everyone enjoying the (relatively) good weather, their food and their drink and of course each other, probably made the overall experience better!

All-in-all then, another great night out, with friends, with a picnic and a film – is there anything better?
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