Tea for Three

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We picked up Helen, and headed to the ever-reliable Beckworth’s for one of their Afternoon Teas! Yumminess predicted! ๐Ÿ˜

Yumminess exceeded!

The food and service didn’t disappoint, and judging by the fact that the rest of Northamptonshire were also there, others were equally impressed!

Helen and Ann

Afterwards, we took a look round their Garden Centre and chose one of their excellent Hanging Baskets…

We dropped Helen back to hers just after 4.15 and after a quick tour round her garden, we headed for home. Perfect timing then, as the heavens opened, and the rain returned! ๐Ÿ˜’

Can we have some sunshine please? It is June after all!

The Weekend – Sponsored by the letter ‘f’

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A weekend of fun, friends, fine food, F1 and err, a fone!

Friday

Ralph and Karen are joining us for the weekend. We haven’t seen each other for a while and there was plenty to catch-up with! Probably the most important task was to begin finalising details for joint trip to China including understanding the Visa process.

Arriving just after 10am, they’d had a remarkably good journey from theirs – and they’d also managed to not get stuck in all the local mega-roadworks! After a quick natter, whilst Ann and Karen then went into town to sort out some bits-and-bobs, us boys took a closer look at Ralph’s new phone – the rather impressive Huawei P20 Pro. (Pity it wasn’t called the F20 though! ๐Ÿ˜Š

It’s an impressive beast of a phone with a spec to die for… and more! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘

In other phone-related news, we also fashioned a plan to beat the internet restrictions in China by using a VPN and we’re going to firm-up the specifics nearer the time, after narrowing down the various providers. Given that the Chinese State is pretty active in blocking/restricting use of the internet – especially with social media and blogs – it’s a challenge and a half!

…but we do like a challenge! ๐Ÿ˜‰

11.55am: Just before Noon, the girls arrived back from town and we sat down to a sandwich lunch. A lazy afternoon followed (for some of us!) leaving Ann busy in the kitchen, weaving her magic for tonight’s meal!

6.30pm: David and Valerie arrived bang on time to join us for the Meal – and Ann’s hard work didn’t disappoint… ๐Ÿ‘

Starters 1: Tartlets with Asparagus, Chorizo and Manchego Cheese
Starters 2: Mackerel and Rhubarb Salad
Mains: Tray-bake Chicken
Dessert 1: Blackcurrant Clafouti
Dessert 2: Elderflower and Lemon Posset

10.25pm: As expected, it was all delicious – and only David managed to resist NOT having TWO Desserts! ๐Ÿ˜. It was good to catch-up with everyone’s news and the first time we looked at the clock, it was almost 10.30! Time to say good-bye to David and Valerie, quickly followed by us all calling it a night.

11.00pm: zzzzzzzzz!

Saturday

8.15am: Me, still in bed? Surely some mistake! ๐Ÿ˜

10.30am: Next stop? Breakfast! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜‰

12.10pm: Following our my long lie-in, after breakfast, we took the short drive to Kirby Hall (where we last visited back in July 2009).

Kirby Hall

It was good to re-visit the Hall after all these years, I’d quite forgotten how interesting a place it is – and it’s especially quirky given that the roof was err, ‘liberated’ to pay off gambling debts! As expected, nothing much had changed, but we were surprised by the welcoming committee on arrival! We quickly moooooved on!๐Ÿ˜Š

Moo!
A spooky-looking Kirby Hall

2.45pm: After a quick Lunch, Ralph took us through their photographs from their trip to India – all the more impressive as they we beamed wirelessly from his phone to our TV.

3.45pm: Movie time! Courtesy of Amazon Prime, we (re)watched The Imitation Game having originally seen it at the cinema back in November, 2014.

4.5 stars
As good as we remember it first time around!

Tonight, to give Ann abreak from kitchen duties, we ate out at our fave local Pub/Restaurant… The Tollemache Arms in Harrington.

6.35pm: We were last here for Ann’s Birthday back in March, and it was good to looking over their excellent Menu again! We arrived earlier than our 7pm slot and it was already heaving! (Surely a good sign!) – but they were still able to seat us. Service with a smile was clearly in evidence and we were soon making our foody-choices.

A couple of Sharing Platters to start…

…and then when it came to the Mains, we naturally did our own thing: Karen chose the Salmon with a Lemon Citrus Dressing; Ann munched into the Macaroni Cheese; Ralph, the Pub’s signature Tolly Burger, whilst I managed the truly melt-in-the-mouth Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon

Each dish proved to be delicious, and combined with their excellent service, this, our latest pub-find is becoming our regular haunt! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘. Room for a Dessert? Well, it would have been rude not to – but I forgot to take any photos, so here’s the Dessert menu instead! ๐Ÿ˜•

Desserts – Tollemach Style!

Ann chose to skip the sweet stuff, whilst Karen wrestled the Raspberry Sorbet (I say ‘wrestled’ – it was so cold it caused her some short-term brain-freeze); Ralph, the Sticky Toffee Pudding and me, the Affogato.

9.30pm: By the time we left, the place was (still) pretty much full in the Restaurant – well deserved! All in all then, a great experience (again!) – a habit we could get used to!! We headed for home and spent the rest of the evening listening to Amazon Music via the TV.

Killer Tracks

10.45pm: Here we go aga…. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด – we left Ralph watching the recorded F1 Qualifier highlights (I’ll catch it tomorrow!)

Sunday

8.30am: I caught up with the F1 Practice from Barcelona – another good result for Mercedes! ๐Ÿ‘

10.30am: We discussed our China holiday itinerary in detail and double-checked the visa requirements. Time well spent, as the visa paperwork is a nightmare with the added complexity of the Chinese State now insists on personal visits to one of their four UK centres where they will also require fingerprints! ๐Ÿ˜ต

12.10pm: Lunch at our other favourite local Pub/Restaurant – The Olde Victoria in Burton Latimer. We haven’t been here for a while but it was good to see that the service and the food was as good as we remember it. By 1 o’clock is was heaving, with only a single empty table for two left in the restaurant.

Five-star Sunday Lunch

1.55pm: We said our good-byes to Ralph and Karen and whilst they headed north, we briefly dropped-in to John and Trish’s on the way home

2.30pm: Just time to drop off Karen R’s birthday present before catching up with a few house chores. It’s been a full-on weekend – but a very enjoyable one! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜Š

Two Locals and Two Towneys

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We caught up with Nick and Celina today.

After a quick look round their local Garden Centre, we headed off to another local for Lunch – The Black Bull, in nearby Market Overton.

A Great Menu!
Pate for Starters
Chicken Balti in a Pie! Genius!
Banoffee Pie

Then it was back to theirs for a coffee and to admire how much they’ve done with their Home since we were last here back in 2017.

Then, back to ours to prepare some of the food for the neighbours’ gathering round at Tom and Julie’s to celebrate Lewis’ 30th. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fab Food!
Almost 30!

It’s all go! …and in a good way! We had a great time and stayed until about 11ish – and then dropped-off John and Trish at theirs. Catch-up again soon neighbours! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜‰

Out… Foxed

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The Fox Inn

We went to The Fox Inn at Thorpe Waterville tonight to meet up with Mick and Jane.

Last time we all saw each other was back in November last year for our Christmas get-together at Loch Fyne in Elton – and the last time we were here was back in January 2014.

We went to The Fox Inn at Thorpe Waterville tonight to meet up with Mick and Jane. Last time we all saw each other was back in November last year for our Christmas get-together at Loch Fyne in Elton – and the last time we were here was back in January 2014.

Memories from last time include… generous portions and excellent service. Let’s hope tonight is no different! ๐Ÿ˜

We arrive just before 6.30 and headed inside. First job though, a pre-dinner drinkie! – a pint of Eagle IPA for me whilst Ann settled for a half of Stowford Press Cider! ๐Ÿฅด

A Pint of IPA
That’ll do nicely!

Mick and Jane arrived just a few minutes after us and there was just time to drool over their new Mini before being heading for the Restaurant.

The Service was brisk (almost too brisk, if that were possible) and we were therefore soon tucking into our respective choices in record time…

The food certainly didn’t disappoint! Packed with flavour and beautiful presented too! Together with a pre-dinner drink and a bottle of wine, the total bill was under ยฃ60 per couple, which was great value.

We had plenty of time during and between Courses to catch-up with everyone’s news and we’re going to do it all again in the Summer and try out a Pub/Restaurant we’ve not been to be before – The Old Pheasant in Glaston.

A great evening with great friends!
๐Ÿ‘โคโœ”๐Ÿ‘โคโœ”

Leeds, Feeds and Boats

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Leeds

7.50am: A relatively early start today as we planned to catch the 8.51 Train from Peterborough Rail Station heading for its counterpart in Leeds. We’re catching-up with Dennis & Sandra for one of our semi-regular day-outs together.

We’re starting to build up quite a history now, as this will be our seventh get-together, having already enjoyed…

Today, they’ve organised a day in Leeds for us, and we’re planning to visit

…and no doubt, we’ll squeeze in some good food and a few Shandies along the way! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

8.51am: We like Trains that are on time! ๐Ÿ˜Š (hurrah!)

10.21am: Thanks to a squeaky wheel and a speed that suggested our Driver had left the handbrake on for the first 10 miles, we arrived around 6 minutes late. ๐Ÿ˜• (boo!)

We met up with our friends at WH Smiths at Leeds Station and headed for our first stop – The Armouries Museum.

But who wants to walk or grab a traditional Cab, when there’s the Leeds Water-Taxi on offer??

…and it was free too! Brilliant! ๐Ÿ‘

10.35am: With great views along the short route of the re-developed Docklands! ๐Ÿ‘

Ten-minutes later, after enjoying a pitted history of the Dock area from our Driver err Pilot err Captain, we took the short walk to the Museum itself.

Think of everything that comes to mind about what a Museum looks like…

…and then immediately forget it!

Wow!

Design-wise, the layout of the Museum was very unusual – with lots of and housed in acres of space! A great first impression! ๐Ÿ‘

..and did I mention it’s completely free to get in! ๐Ÿ˜

The view to the top from the ground floor

Five floors of virtually everything you could imagine about weapons and armoury – from the first bullet designs to modern warfare. And if that wasn’t enough (and it would have been!) there were various live demonstrations….

11.45am: Our first… (Floor 2)

This was how sword-fights were done back in medieval times. Very convincing choreography and a first-class explanation of the ‘whats’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’!

With the first Demonstration over, we wandered about the various Galleries. Currently, there’s a special Gallery all about the Victoria Cross (Floor 3). Great stories of courage! ๐Ÿ‘

A very comprehensive Museum!

Next, it was another live Demonstration. This time, Normans v Saxons, with our ‘Saxon’ (David) firing-up the crowd beforehand (I’ve never seen kids so excited! – including us ๐Ÿ˜) Armed with swords, shields and spears they showed us in great detail how these battles were fought.

Time for a trip the Oriental Exhibits. Nicely presented (again!) with plenty to see.

1.45pm: A spot of Lunch is called for. So we headed to the nearby ‘Dock 29‘.

…and what it lacked in customers, atmosphere, product knowledge and cutlery (that’s all!), it made up for with an incomprehensible selection of continuous music. With the tunes clearly aimed at the ‘yoof’, it was a pity then, there were none there. ๐Ÿ˜•

Still, it didn’t matter, we were hungry, and it all went down a treat. Suitably stuffed, we headed back to the Museum. It was clear now that we wouldn’t have time to do anything else today – but that suited us perfectly as the Museum had so much to offer! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜

Stand in front of the target – you’ll be safer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

2.45pm: Our penultimate experience at the Museum was the rather excellent ‘Crossbow Range’. Yes, really! On the very top floor, for a paltry 3 groats each, supplied with 8 bolts per person, we were let loose attempting to hit the target. Surely, with our recent experience of archery and rifle shooting at our Warner Weekend would help us?

Err, no! Let’s say, it was fortunate that we didn’t get to keep our targets. I blame the uncalibrated crossbows! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Be afraid, be very afraid!!!

Last experience was another live demonstration. This time, that everyday task: ‘How to prepare for a jousting event’. Again, a first class presentation, expertly delivered!

Don’t call me ‘Lance’!

4.10pm: Wow! It had been a full-on day, in a good way, and the time had passed in a flash. It was great to see Dennis and Sandra again and I reckon this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!

…this had been one of our best Museum visits ever!

4.25pm: As time was tight for 4.45pm, we all walked back to the Station rather than queue for the Water Taxi. Ironically, when we got there, there was a delay in announcing the Platform. After a delayed departure, we were on our way, reflecting on what had been an EXCELLENT day-out. Thanks to our friends Dennis and Sandra for getting it all organised.

6.15pm: We arrived back at Peterborough Station on time and were soon back on the road heading for home.

7.05pm: Shattered! (in a good way!). Time for a cuppa!

For your viewing pleasure, all the photos from today are HERE

Birthday Girl 2019

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It was a welcome return to The Tollemache Arms in Harrington today. We met David, Valerie and little Evie there – where my natural charm with children took a back-seat and reduced Evie to a mega-sulk for most of the meal! Young children and me? It’s NEVER an easy relationship! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Today was to celebrate Ann’s Birthday. Last time we were here, back in January, the food was nothing short of excellent – and today was no exception! ๐Ÿ‘

They must be doing something very right here, because the place was packed – and this was just Monday lunchtime! All-in-all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience (but maybe not for Evie!) ๐Ÿ˜•

Happy Birthday Ann! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

Lunch: Return to the Lamport Swan

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The Swan at Lamport
It was a welcome return today to The Swan at Lamport (or the Lamport Swan as it’s also known). We haven’t been there for about a year (1st February 2018, in fact) and today we were catching-up with Ian & Ann, Alan & Mags for Lunch.
The Menu
Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup
Goan Fish Curry
Tiramasu Cheesecake
And our verdict? An impressive experience all-round! ๐Ÿ˜ Julie, our Server, was clearly very experienced and looked-after us exceptionally well throughout our meal – Top marks for that! The food itself was just as good as we remember it – generous portions, full of flavour and well presented too! Another fine Lunch at another venue that’s being added to our (very) short shortlist of GREAT places to eat!