We drove over to Stratford-upon-Avon today – to The Bear Pit – to see Second Thoughts‘ penultimate performance of 2020’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a perfect excuse to leave a bit earlier to give us time to get some retail therapy in the town!
We chose the matinée performance at 2.30pm, and it was about 90% full. We ran into Ian and Ann who’d just returned from Australia and India. I’d studied the Play at school, and in spite of the excellent performance this afternoon, the story today was as impenetrable as it was when I was as a fresh-faced teenager! 🤔 OK, I got the main plot, but is it me – why is one of Shakespeare’s most popular Plays so tricky to follow? 😮
On a more positive note, being performed ‘in the round’ in contemporary costume with a very simplistic set made it a much more immersive experience 😁
Overall then, not one of my fave Shakespeare Plays, but the contemporary twist on the Bard’s original, with its tweaks to the scenes and dialogue, supported by a really enthusiastic cast, made it a memorable performance.
It was a welcome return to one of our favourite towns today – Uppingham. Being a Friday, it’s Market Day too, so there was even more to enjoy! Last time were here was back in February 2018 – and that was Market Day too!
…and me being me, it wouldn’t be a normal day without squeezing a bit of tech into the experience! So, we took Robert for a spin, with a plan to try out Uppingham’s one-and-only EV Charging Point, with its two ‘Type 2, 7kW’ charging bays – all courtesy of the mighty Polar Network. Somewhat weird then, that a town so small would have any charging points at all, especially as the device is located in the town’s equally small public car-park.
Recent chatter on Zap-Map suggested that the chances of finding the point available were very slim – all down to a combination of it being the only one, as well as a bit of hogging on multiple occasions by a PHEV owner, who parked his in the EV space and didn’t bother to charge it for three hours!
However, we were in luck today, no sign of any VW ‘ICEing’ (explanation HERE) as both charging bays were empty. We were soon plugged-in – and getting juiced! This one’s not free though, and we spent a whole £2.81 topping-up! 😲😁 (Actually, at 35.4p/kWh, it’s on the dear side, compared with other charging points we’ve experienced).
Pit-stop for us humans was for breakfast, courtesy of Don Paddy’s Brasserie. Although the whole experience was a bit lack-lustre, it went down very well, simply because this was our very first meal of the day – and it was already past 10am! 😲😁
Next, we picked up some flowers and veg in the Market and went on the search for a suitable ornament for the Bathroom window-sill. On the plus-side, we saw some pieces that confirmed that we knew what we wanted, but on the down-side, nothing really jumped out at us! Oh well, onwards and upwards, and I’m sure we’re find something before too long!
Back to Robert, who by now had received just over an hour’s charge gaining around 30 miles range. We headed home by way of a short diversion to nearby Weekley…
…and our diversion was well-worth it. In spite of this Church being on our doorstep for over 20 years, we’ve never looked round it! The nearest we ever got, was looking in the Almshouse next door, a few years back.
Well worth it – especially the tombs! A day of charging and churching – with breakfast too! For me, a great day out!! 👍😁
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…
…and no doubt, we’ll squeeze in some good food and a few Shandies along the way! 😁👍
8.51am: We like Trains that are on time! 😊 (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. 😕 (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! 👍
10.35am: With great views along the short route of the re-developed Docklands! 👍
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!
Design-wise, the layout of the Museum was very unusual – with lots of and housed in acres of space! A great first impression! 👍
..and did I mention it’s completely free to get in! 😁
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! 👍
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 😁) 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. 😕
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! 👍😁
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! 😉
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!
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
Off to Cambridge today to meet up with Sally B. We’re on a mission to seek out a replacement Laptop to replace ‘Isla‘ (who has enjoyed a great innings since February 2015, but it’s time to retire her!) 😮
First stop was to be John Lewis who had some cracking good deals and where we’d narrowed it down to just three models. But first we had to get to Cambridge.
These days, wisdom suggests that it’s foolish to try and drive into the city-centre (was it ever????!!!!), and so we both headed for Trumpington Park and Ride. A lot has changed there since I last visited; for a start, parking is now completely free (for 18 hours), but on the downside, they were ‘improving’ the layout, so there were far fewer spaces than usual, whilst a family of diggers and dump-trucks did what they do best! Cue a few laps circling the site before bagging a space.
Sal arrived just after 11 and we were soon on our £3 journey into the City.
One of the benefits of going ‘old school’ – actually visiting a shop! – meant Sal could try out the feel of the keyboards, and that helped narrow down the options even further! 😁
By 11.30 we’d reviewed our shortlist – and rejected them all! 😛 Instead a trusty Dell tempting us with £100 off the price, became the ultimate prize!
Two Courses, 90 minutes and a hell of a lot of catching-up later, we walked back the bus-stop and were soon back to our cars.
We both headed for the M11, where one of us headed south, the other northwards – and straight into the (now-daily) congestion due to the massive expansion of the A14). I’m sure it’ll be impressive when it’s completed, but at the moment, it’s a real pain every time I need to use the M11/A14.
It was a great drive over to see our friends Nick and Celina today – and to see what progress they’d made with their recently acquire property – and to see their new additions to the family: ‘Salt’ and ‘Pepper’ – two six-week-old black and white kittens.
Wow! what a transformation to the house since we were last there almost a year ago – and even though there’s still plenty to do, what they have done was very tasteful.
Then it was off to a local Garden Centre – Gates for a quick look round (fantastic!) before dropping into The Wheatsheaf in nearby Langham for lunch
Delicious food awaited in the shape of an ‘Indian Risotto’ and a ‘Mega Waffle to Share’
Then it was back to theirs for a quick cuppa before making our way home. Another fine day with friends!
Well, the weather is certainly better than yesterday, but apparently nowhere near as hot as home – Kettering is up in the the high 20s/low 30s at the moment!!
What to do? Fly home early? Maybe not!
Actually, as things turned out, neither of us felt ‘100%’ today and we didn’t get much sleep. We therefore decided to take it easy and stay local. it was therefore an ideal oportunity to visit the Shopping Village that we’d seen from the SkyTrain a few days back – and it was only a couple of stops down the line too at ‘Templeton’.
Well, it certainly is large…
…with plans to be even larger…
…it really did feel like a small English village…
…but there was a distinct lack of eateries…
…and even fewer bargains! In fact, comparing prices, even with the regular ‘80% off’ deals (and allowing for the poor ‘£’ currently), it was still cheaper back in the UK! After a quick bite to eat, we headed back to the SkyTrain and the Hotel. Overall, we’re a bit disappointed, but it proves that size isn’t everything, and it’s what you do with it that counts!
Last full day here tomorrow, as we’re flying home on Wednesday!
A relatively early for us today as we were bound for Leeds. That meant we were in the car and heading for Peterborough Station just after 7.30 this morning aiming for an 8.50 Virgin East Coast train direct to Leeds.
Even though the weather looked challenging (overnight frost accompanied by a wafer-thin layer of snow on the cars but fortunately NOT the road!) we enjoyed a hassle-free journey there.
The train was toasty-warm with the thermostat turned up to the max. Initially, this was very welcome, but by the time we got to our destination, we’d become Mr and Mrs Roast from Barbequeville!
As the train pulled in, it was a short walk to the exit where we met up with Ann’s work-friend, Sandra, with her husband, Dennis. It was the first time we’d all met as a group and we seemed to get on really well.
Those that know me, know that I like my shopping – and the bigger (and grander) the shopping area, the better. Well, shopping in Leeds was a first time for me (Ann and Sandra had done all this before) and it didn’t disappoint! Big names mingled with smaller names and there was a great mix of old and new architecture. The store that did it for me was the newish John Lewis – 42000 square metres of retail gorgeousness including a massive area devoted to the Smart Home concept as well as a cosy place for coffee!
Ann and I had a productive time and managed to bag some ornaments and lampshades for the forthcoming Lounge-makeover, whilst Sandra and Dennis browsed, but saved their pennies!
Lunch was at the city’s Brown’s restaurant – and they didn’t disappoint. We all squeezed in a Starter and a Main, but Dessert was out of the question, as were all stuffed!! It was a beautiful restaurant – the old Leeds Building Society building – tastefully restored in 2001, retaining the majority of the original features. It’s worth a visit, just to see the architecture!
And that was it! It was now just before 2.30 and our Train was booked for 3.15. We said our goodbyes and headed towards the Station, ducking the winter showers along the way.
The Train again had the thermostat turned up to 11 – but we coped – and we were soon back at Peterborough Station. We headed for home dropping in at Lee’s to pick her up for tomorrow’s lunch with David and Rosi.
What a great day! It was good to meet Sandra and Dennis at last, and we’re pleased we were able to pick up some more bits and pieces for the Lounge. Virgin Trains did a fab job in ferrying us to and from our destination – super-comfy seats, happy friendly staff, and genuinely useful OTA announcements – top marks!