Weekend with Ralph and Karen

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Friday


11.35am: Ralph and Karen arrived after a trouble-free journey from theirs. With hardly a moment to catch their breath, we whisked them off to The Old Forge for a pre-arranged lunch at 12.20. ๐Ÿ˜. We hadn’t been here for a while (July 2012 according to my Blog, but I definitely think we’d been more recently), but even with the restrictions of social-distancing, it was a great experience, however you choose to measure it – as good as we remember it! A great experience, and good to support a local business! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

2.15pm: We spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden soaking up the Sun. Boy! was it hot!! Apparently, the hottest day of the year so far and the third hottest on record according to the news. Here in Kettering, it was into the mid-30s… and extremely humid! ๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7.45pm: We eventually retreated to the coolness of the lounge and (literally) chilled-out for a few hours. Ann prepared a simple supper of cold meats (followed by a not-so-simple Baked Alaska) and we watched Triple Frontier on Netflix. Starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal as a group of former U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers who reunite to plan a heist of a South American crime lord, for me, it got better and better, with some great actio sequences and high production values.

10.15pm: With the movie over, we caught up with the news headlines – NOT good news as we learned that planned relaxation of some of the lockdown rules were now postponed due to an increase in confirmed cases.

10.40pm: Nighty-night! ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด

Saturday

9.25am: A simple breakfast of fruit, yoghurt followed by toast!

10.35am: I took Ralph and Karen out for an extended walk taking in the top meadow, St Botolph’s Church, the bottom meadow…

ยฉ Ralph

…and then Wicksteed Park…

Lamb Prepped!

…leaving Ann and Karen to weave some magic in the kitchen ready for tonight’s meal!

Boys’ Stuff!

1.30pm: Ralph and I caught up with the British GP Practice and Qualifying laps from Silverstone that we recorded earlier.

2.25pm: A snack for lunch – Toasted Cheese! ๐Ÿ˜ followed by not-very-much for us boys, but the girls were busy in the Galley!

5.30pm: Nick and Celina joined us. We haven’t seen them for well over a year and we all had lots of news to share. Ann and Karen had done a great job in the kitchen turning out a menu that was ambitious as it was delicious (unsurprisingly!) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Lovely Lamb!

7.15pm: All the food was ready… WE were ready… and so we tucked-in. The only BIG decision was whether to eat inside or out – and so we took a vote and the (almost) unanimous decision was ‘OUT’, but carefully socially-distanced, of course. It was a bit blowy to start with, but it soon settled down. Not surprisingly, the Lamb took centre stage! ๐Ÿ˜

…closely followed by those very Summery desserts! We all did the menu justice and there wasn’t much leftover by the end, save a slightly thinner look lamb! – I feel some meaty leftovers coming on for next week!

11.20pm: Well, the evening flew by! We sank a few litres of the grape and caught up with everyone’s news. Before we knew it, it was past 11 and getting colder, so we headed for the Lounge.

After (ahem!) testing and tasting some more grapes, we found ourselves watching highlights of the cricket! As the wickets tumbled, we were all too well-mannered (or tired, or drunk, or something) to call it a night ๐Ÿ˜‚

00.07am: …and then Saturday became SUNDAY! Collectively and individually, we were all shattered – socialising is such an exhausting activity but eventually, just like the Irish cricket team, we eventually admitted defeat.

We waved goodbye to Nick & Celina and staggered to bed. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด. Even for me, I felt a lie-in was going to be necessary… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Sunday


7.45am: Well, that was the lie-in sorted. Ann continued though, whilst I got on with some faffing (and writing this!)

9.35am: For breakfast, we ate outside – again, blowy but warm!

10.55am: We said goodbye to our best friends, and they headed for home by way of a Sunday lunch somewhere!

A great weekend catching-up with great friends! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Return to The Saxon Mill

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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! ๐Ÿ™„ We’re so busy being retired, this was the earliest date we could all make it! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Once seated for our 12-noon booking, we were greeted with an abundance of menus! ๐Ÿ˜, but being poor pensioners, we all opted for the fixed-price offer (ยฃ13.50 for two courses, ยฃ17.50 for three!). ๐Ÿ˜‹
Rodriguez (from Mexico) introduced himself as our Server, and he did a good job of looking after us!! ๐Ÿ‘

The food was its normal excellent quality, although it did take them a second try to get my Melting Chocolate Bomb to actually melt! ๐Ÿค”

Never seen the River level this high!

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! ๐Ÿ˜‹

First Visit – Salvatore Ristorante Italiano

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Bev and Julie recommended we take a trip over to Finedon to sample the delights of Salvatore Ristorante Italiano. It opened in May, 2019, but we’d not heard of it.

We picked-up our dining-chums just after 7.10pm for our 7.30 booking and battled though the pouring rain heading for nearby Finedon. If the restaurant was to turn out to be as good as our friends’ previous recommendation (Frank’s Pizzas in Kettering), then we were in for a treat! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‹

As we arrived, the area felt immediately familiar! Salvatore’s was on the site of (the now defunct) Lovejoy’s where we’d enjoyed a meal with David and Valerie back in 2008.

Clearly, Lovejoy’s hadn’t survived, but on entering, we noticed the interior hadn’t changed too much! It still looked like someone’s lounge with all the rooms knocked through! We were soon seated and studying the extensive menu. All 100% Italian!

With our choices made, we caught up with everyone’s news, whilst the food was being prepared. It was worth the wait, as when it arrived, it looked ‘properly home-made’. It all tasted delicious, and we weren’t to be disappointed! ๐Ÿ˜

All-in-all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – friendly staff, a not-too-noisy environment with an authentic Italian menu offering generous portions! (My calzone was about the size of Corby!) ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

And to round off the evening perfectly, we were treated to a free glass of limoncello! ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was very wallet-friendly too! – Starters x4 + Starters-as-Mains x2 + Mains x2 + Desserts x2 + Alcoholic drinks came to ยฃ96 including the tip. I have a feeling we’ll be back before too long! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Valentine Meal 2020 โฃ

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The Attic Restaurant, Lutterworth


It’s Valentine’s Day!! Usually, either I cook the meal, Ann cooks the meal, or we share cooking duties with David and Valerie and get together as a foursome.

So, with cards, flowers and gifts on display, by way of a change for this special day, the four of us left our kitchens behind and headed off to The Attic Restaurant in Lutterworth for lunch! ๐Ÿ˜. David and Valerie had already eaten there on more than a few occasions, so we knew we were in for a treat!

Apart from the howling gale in the car-park, it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience. The service was spot-on, and the food delicious! We were seated with a great view across the Golf Course and looking at the weather conditions, we agreed we were definitely in the better place! It was still blowing a gale outside and it looked pretty cold too judging by the number of beanies being worn by the brave golfers!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The Menu impressed us! I opted for the Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup followed by the Braised Short Rib of Beef (definitely melt-in-the-mouth!)

Whilst Ann and David managed to muster-up the necessary will-power, Valerie and I succumbed to the temptation of a Pud (just!) – in the shape of White Chocolate and Cranberry Bread & Butter Pudding.

Two hours later, all that was left to do was pay the bill, head home and try not to fall asleep during the journey! ๐Ÿฅฑ We just caught the school traffic as we got nearer to base, but were home just after 3.30pm.

A great restaurant experience! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Happy Valentine’s Day!
โค๏ธ ๐Ÿ’š ๐Ÿงก ๐Ÿ’™

Lunch with Nicki

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Nicki joined us last night and after a lazy(ish) morning today, we headed off to our fave ‘Local’ – The Old Victoria, for lunch.

As usual, the food and service didn’t disappoint! Matthew was off today, but with Joanna running the show, we knew we were in safe hands! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜‹

Yummy! (Obviously)

We were all too full for Dessert though! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

A serious discussion about whether (or not) to squeeze-in Dessert!

We headed home, spent a bit more time working through Nicki’s paperwork before heading out for a walk!

Phew!

Nicki left us just after 5pm, and we spent the rest of the evening catching-up with the TV.

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 โ€” the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

For the King Tut Exhibition, it’s ยฃ24.50 for the young ones (off-peak) to get in, and ยฃ22 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 โ€” 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! ๐Ÿ˜

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 cafรฉ (that would appear to have also doubled as the local sauna โ€” 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! ๐Ÿ˜

There were two areas we were particularly interested in once we got inside the main building โ€” 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 โ€” 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 โ€” it was like going back 50 years! ๐Ÿ˜. 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! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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 โ€” 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 โ€” 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 โ€” 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! ๐Ÿ˜

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!

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‘