The Saxon Mill is rapidly becoming our most regular restaurant-of-choice when meeting our friends ‘from the West’ – and today was no exception! (Either there or The Lamport Swan). The last time we met up with ‘the Westerners’ (Ian, Ann, Mags and Alan) for one of our regular three-monthly catch-ups was back in September last year. The observant amongst you will note it was actually SIX months ago! 🙄 We’re so busy being retired, this was the earliest date we could all make it! 😃
Once seated for our 12-noon booking, we were greeted with an abundance of menus! 😁, but being poor pensioners, we all opted for the fixed-price offer (£13.50 for two courses, £17.50 for three!). 😋 Rodriguez (from Mexico) introduced himself as our Server, and he did a good job of looking after us!! 👍
The food was its normal excellent quality, although it did take them a second try to get my Melting Chocolate Bomb to actually melt! 🤔
We left around 2.45 and that had given us all plenty of time to catch up with everyone’s news. Next get-together is on Thursday, June 11th at, yes, you guessed it – The Lamport Swan! 😋
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.
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).
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.
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, BlueberryCheesecake. It was all delicious, well presented and served with a smile! 😁
I’m pretty sure, it’s one of those ‘finds’ that we’ll be returning too, before too long! 👍
We last visited here back in August 2011 with Nicki, when it was known simply as Apethorpe Hall. Since that time, it’s been sold-off by English Heritage (December 2014) to one Baron von Pfetten, a French anglophile. English Heritage are still responsible for the day-to-day running as well as the marketing, but as part of the arrangement, the Baron has made an 80-year commitment of 50 days public opening a year (hurrah!). This is a far more extensive undertaking than the normal period of 10 years, in the case of English Heritage’s other grant-aided properties.
Simon Thurley, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, welcomed the purchase, saying:
Since 2000 English Heritage has consistently said that the best solution for Apethorpe is for it to be taken on by a single owner, who wants to continue to restore the house and to live in it; especially one who has experience of restoring historic buildings and is prepared to share its joys with a wide public, as Baron Pfetten will do.
Located west of Peterborough, the regular Tours are of the timed sort (you can’t just turn up and wander around) – and we arrived for our 10.30 slot just a minute ahead of the stipulated instruction: “Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes before the start of your tour”.
They still let us in! 😁 Parking was a smallish tarmac affair with a polite warning about the legion of cats in residence! Anywhere with cats gets our vote! 😍
According to Wiki: “Apethorpe holds a particularly important place in English history because of its ownership by, and role in entertaining, Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Elizabeth I inherited the palace from her father Henry VIII. Her successor James I personally contributed to its extension resulting in a set of impressive state rooms featuring some of the most important surviving plasterwork and fireplaces of the period”.
Back to 2019, and the first thing to note is that currently, the Palace is (still) very much ‘work-in-progress’. Last time we visited here it was mostly a building-site inside, whereas this time, it’s a lot more navigable, although no photos are allowed inside or out.
Our Guides David and Julie did a great job explaining the history of the Palace. Architecturally, it’s a bit of a mish-mash on the outside, boasting at least four architectural styles across four centuries! Inside, as I’ve mentioned, is now a lot easier to get around, but overall, it’s still very spartan with only the (rather well preserved) fireplaces and plasterwork in each room to act as a focal point. Those expecting a typical ‘old house’ full of authentic contents of the age will be very disappointed. We weren’t though, as a lot of good work has already been done to the ceilings to bring them back their former glory.
It’s a very large local attraction with years of renovation and repair still to do, and ffter the ninety-minute tour, we all agreed it had been very worthwhile. It’ll be worth re-visiting in a few year’s time to see the progress! 😉
All that culture gave us a thirst and an appetite, so we headed for The Queen’s Head in nearby Bulwick (pop: 152!) – The Village Pub is another establishment that’s been rescued in recent years and you can read more about their story HERE.
It was our first visit here and everything exceed our expectation! The service and quality of the food was excellent and I’m sure we’ll be back again before too long! Another fine eating establishment to add to our list of faves! 😁
It was then back to ours for a quick cuppa before saying our goodbyes. Nicki is due later and then we’re off to our weekly Archery Lesson!
It was a beautiful evening – a very warm 23 degrees. Pity then, the car decided that this was the moment for the AC to fail! We may have looked cool in a classic Jaaaag! but with its five-litre beating heart, the interior was a lot warmer than it was outside! 😰😰 Phew!
Since I last blogged about it back in August 2015, this well-known award-winning Pub/Restaurant looks like it’s changed hands (again!) and they’ve now (re)introduced ‘themed evenings’. Tonight was their Thursday Curry Night – and it didn’t disappoint! At £16.95 for Mains, it was good value too!! 🙂
And clearly, many others felt the same, as by the time we left, the place was packed! What a great way to spend a Summer evening!
Food-wise, in my case, it was a bit under-par. Clearly the regular Chef was off today, and in his place, they’d recruited someone who works at the local Crematorium! Let’s just say my chicken-burger was very north of ‘well-done’ and if they cooked enough of them, it would have solved the local pot-hole problem! 😕
Luckily, the Dessert was kinder on my teeth! 😊
2.15pm: Time for goodbyes as we returned to the baking heat outside. A short walk later we were on the platform. Some unlucky timing and picking the wrong platform for the ‘fast’ to Victoria meant we didn’t board until around 3pm. 😕
5.20pm: After a very sweaty journey home on the Train, we eventually arrived through the door! But perspiration waits for no-one and by 5.55pm, we were ready for our next jaunt – The Salvation Army’s ‘Concert for Ethiopia’ supporting their work there. We picked-up David and were soon parked, heading for the Kettering Citadel. It was already very busy when we arrived, and initially it was tricky finding three vacant seats – a nice problem to have though!
Concert for Ethiopia
The lack of seats meant tonight was a really well-supported affair – and the two-hour concert didn’t disappoint! For our entertainment: A Junior Brass Band (obviously), a Young Choir, a solo singer – Charlie Green and Kettering’s very own Thomas Fountain on the Cornet. It was all MCed by the Salvation Army’s ever-humourous-and-engaging Jack.
We know Thomas quite well – he played at our Wedding – and we’ve seen him in concert a few times since. With four separate musical pieces, he really made his instrument sing, and is clearly at the ‘top of his game’! In fact, everyone was simply superb in their own way tonight – and the applause confirmed it!
And so did people’s generosity! We’re happy to report that they raised over £1000 – and that was in addition to the ticket sales.
8.25pm: It all came to an end after the final upbeat number from the Band. As good as it was though, it had been very warm in there and we were glad to get out into the fresh air. We popped into nearby JS to pick up a few bits-and-pieces for tomorrow’s visit to Denis’s (first time EVER that I didn’t complain that the Store was too cold!) – and then headed home.
9.00pm: We sat outside, where the thermometer in the garden was still reading in excess of 30 degrees!