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‘

The Palace and the Pub

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Off to visit Apethorpe Palace today with Chris and Gill!

The Palace

Apethorpe Palace

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! ๐Ÿ˜ Parking was a smallish tarmac affair with a polite warning about the legion of cats in residence! Anywhere with cats gets our vote! ๐Ÿ˜

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”.

Work in progress…

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Pub

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! ๐Ÿ˜

Click above to read the amazing choices in detail

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!

Film: The Lion King

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We headed over to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes this evening to catch the latest cinematic incarnation of ‘The Lion King‘.

Featuring the voice-talents of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncรฉ Knowles-Carter (as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original film) the movie is directed by Jon Favreau.

But more about the movie itself a little later!

And what could be better than seeing a movie in a spanking new(ish) cinema? Well, seeing it in 3D… And what could be better than seeing a movie in 3D..?
…seeing it in 4DX of course (whatever that is!).
Everyone knows that 3D is a well-worn tactic for getting people to go to the Cinema, but what about this new fangled ‘4DX’?

What is ‘4DX’ anyway?
According to Cineworld: “With stimulating effects like water, wind, scent and strobe lighting, that thrill you in your moving seat. It’s fun on your own, but better with friends โ€“ 4DX is Cineworldโ€™s most exhilarating way to watch a film”.

This was our first experience of this technology to augment a film, and we roped-in good friends Jo and Janet to share the experience! Ahh! that’s what friends are for! ๐Ÿ˜

And after our now familiar routine of plugging-in ‘Robert‘ for some free ‘leccy’, courtesy of Pod-Point, we headed for the special ‘4DX Screen’. Given the promised reality of this ground-breaking multi-sensory experience, I noted they don’t provide sick-bags! ๐Ÿคฎ

But what about the Film?

Much has already been written about this new release – and it’s only been out for a few days! After all, it was as recent as 1994 that Disney released ‘the all new The Lion King Animated Movie’. So, is the world ready for another remake so soon? Well, if they can do it with SpiderMan, and pull in new audiences, surely something as cuddly as a lion-cub is going to be easy! With visuals touted as ‘hyper-real‘ and ‘photorealistic‘, we’re going into this with high expectations! ๐Ÿคฉ

And we weren’t to be disappointed! With those two particular adjectives ringing in our ears, and just when you think animation can’t get any more real, along comes this movie, that blurs the lines between ‘real’ and CGI.

OK, I think everyone knows the story, so I won’t re-tell it here. Instead, let me concentrate how it all felt...
Breathtaking is an under-statement – and that would have been our view without the addition of 4DX. With every hair of the lions clearly possessing a life of their own, you have to wonder what the next big jump in screen animation will be like. At times it really was impossible to tell that none of these animals were actually real (apart from the fact they talked!) With the addition of the 4DX effects (strobe lighting, vibrating and pivoting chairs, scents and smoke), it made a brilliant movie totally unforgettable!

Go see! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

PS…

Even if the movie doesn’t break records, the weather is heading that way! Up here in Northamptonshire we’ve got it cooler (relatively) than those in the south-east, and across Europe, where temperatures are promising to hit the high 30s! ๐Ÿฅต

Coolio! (relatively)

Pheasantly Spicy

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The first outing for my XKR this Summer as we took the short drive to The Pheasant in Keyston.

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ˜ฐ 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 ยฃ16.95 for Mains, it was good value too!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Curry Night Menu - The Pheasant (July 2019)

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!

Palmers and Bricklayers

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Palmers Reunited

The hottest day of the year so far!

A scorcher of a day, as we headed down to Bromley to catch up with Neil, Debbie, Alfie and Frankie.

Just to make a change, rather than our normal haunt of ASK, at the top of the high-street, we chose The Bricklayers Arms, just a five-minute walk from Bromley South station. Last time we all got together was back in August last year, and it was great to catch-up with everyone’s news.

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! ๐Ÿ˜•

The Chef’s other job was in a Crematorium!

Luckily, the Dessert was kinder on my teeth! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Better, much better!

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. ๐Ÿ˜•

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 ยฃ1000 – 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!

Phew! What a scorcher today! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

Joseph – And the Pub of Many Burgers

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We headed for Kilworth Theatre today to see their latest outdoor production
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Joseph

Running from 26th May until 5th July 2019, this production was back by popular demand. Given the track record here, we knew we were in for a treat!

Starring Jacob Fisher in the titular role; Carole Stennett (Narrator); Matthew McKenna (The Pharaoh) and Craig Armstrong (Jacob/Potiphar) with supporting cast: Rhianne Alleyne; Alexander Archer; William Atkinson; Ashley Birchall; Nicholas Collier; Hywel Dowsell; Nia Jermin; George Lyons; Owen McHugh; Ben Oliver; Matt Overfield; Marianne Phillips; Holly Prentice; Molly Rees Howe; Billy Roberts; Heather Scott-Martin and Lashane Williams

We picked-up Jo, Janet and Carol and enjoyed a hassle-free journey there. Thirty-five minutes later we were soon in our seats at the Bar ordering our drinks!

“Just the one to quench our thirst…”

As always with Kilworth, it was very well supported, and I think I only saw a few empty seats.

Well supported!
The Stage was set…

It turned out to be a really good performance – great songs (of course!) and great energy from all concerned – maybe a few too many sprogs in the production for my taste though! ๐Ÿ˜ The resident Orchestra were outstanding – as they always are! Boy! George Dyer and his eleven-strong band of musicians certainly knew how to belt out a tune!


Pub…

Next stop was the oft-visited Tollemache Arms in Harrington.

The Tollemache Arms, Harrington

We were early, but they were able to seat us straight-away!

Madames who Munch!

Collectively, we opted for Shared Platters to start…

Shared Platters

…and then we all did our own thing. Jo and Janet chose the Fish & Chips, Carol, the Sea-Bass and Ann, the Roast Chicken…

A Burger too far…

I chose their ‘Red Lion’ Burger – a monster of a creation, featuring TWO burgers plus about every other filling known to man including cheese, bacon, gherkins, tomato and lettuce. I can see now why the guy on the adjacent table capitulated halfway through and left with his as a takeaway! None of us could manage Dessert… not even Teas or Coffees… and that’s a first (for me!) ๐Ÿ˜

We dropped the Girls back at J & J’s and we spent the evening admiring the Garden and enjoying a rather large G&T each! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

Saxon Mill – The Return

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Today was a welcome return to The Saxon Mill Gastropub in nearby Warwick.
Last time we were here (back in July last year) was for the same reason – Lunch with friends!

The Saxon Mill, Warwick