Family Weekend

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Roger, Jane and Oliver joined us for the weekend! 😁

Saturday

The last signs of Summer 2019?

The main event for today was a picnic at Belton House and then a walk around the historic Mansion and Gardens. I think it’s our most oft-visited stately home having been there recently (ish) with with Dennis and Sandra back in May, 2018 and Chris and Gill in July, 2017.

On arrival, the weather was disappointing to say the least (Summer’s not quite over surely???) Oliver was sporting shorts and I was in a short-sleeved shirt. Consequently, both of us were woefully ill-dressed for the conditions – a plummeting temperature followed by rain! ☔ ☔

1.00pm: However, It didn’t stop us enjoying our picnic though, as we sandwiched ourselves between ‘Robert‘ and the car next door to act as a wind-break! Brrrrr! 😁

1.55pm: I think the c*** weather made us eat more quickly, and we soon made a significant dent in Ann’s extensive picnic.

As soon as we’d cleared up our bits, we headed straight for the House. Word to the wise: Since our previous visit, there’s been one major change here! ALL VISITS ARE NOW TIMED, so it’s not just a case of turning-up and hoping to get in straight away. But, as it happened, it was perfect timing on our part, as there were five slots on the very next admission – the 2.15!

2.10pm: We’re in! 😁

Given our previous visits, from a photo point-of-view, I decided to concentrate on the less well-known/seen pieces on show inside, together with less obvious views of the property and surroundings.

3.05pm: Time for a cuppa, especially as the damp weather from earlier had returned, but this time it was torrential!

A quick, but determined sprint to the nearby tea-shop got us more-or-less to the front of the queue (followed by the rest of mankind) and we were soon seated in the Stables enjoying our cuppa and cake!

3.35pm: Next stop was the Gardens where the weather, perfectly on cue turned from rain to warm sunshine! 😁 At last!

Beautiful!
Ditto!

4.00pm: Our final stop was St Peter & St Paul Church aka Belton Church.

Belton Church

4.20pm: A great visit! (again!) 😁. Even the weather didn’t really spoil our visit (even though it looked like it would!). We wandered back to the car and headed south.

Ooo, there’s creative! 😊

All of today’s photos at Belton House (with none of my chat) are HERE

6.15pm: It was a good journey home and we were indoors by 5.45. By 6.15, Ann had laid the table for a yummy table-buffet. All that was left to do was to choose a movie for the evening…

Excellent choice!
Bohemian Rhapsody (courtesy of Sky Store): Even better than I remember it the first time around in the cinema 👍
9.45pm: And what could be better than a good film to finish the evening? The answer? two films! Choice-wise, the consensus was Thor: Ragnarok (in 4k DVD). Although it’s not my favourite from the Marvel stable, it’s still a very good yarn with everyone acting their heart out, helped along by outstanding SFX and a comedic theme (that in spite of all the death and destruction, seemed to work). The day however, eventually got the better of us, and we only got about two-thirds of the way through it – still there was always tomorrow to finish it off!

11.05pm: That’s it! 😴😴😴😴😴 Nighty-night!

Sunday

A lie-in for me until the unearthly late hour of 7.15 whilst the others slept-on.

9.10am: A little bit of Queen, courtesy of Spotify to get the day started!

9.45am: Breakfast is served – Porridge with Strawberries followed by a Bacon Butty! 😁

10.30am: Jane, Oliver and I watched the rest of Thor: Raganarok, Roger caught up with the Daily Telegraph, whilst Ann put the finishing touches to lunch – this was a real family-foodie weekend, and just how we like it! 😍

12.15pm: Pre-lunch drinkies!

1.00pm: Lunch is served. Roast Chicken with all the bits!

2.30pm: Lunch over! A bit of clearing up followed by a long natter.

whilst listening to something a little more relaxing!

3.45pm: Well, where did that weekend go? It passed really quickly – a great sign of a great time! 😍😍

Bye all, it’s been great to catch-up!

Swan Bake

Reading time: 2 minutes...The Swan at Lamport
It was off to The Lamport Swan tonight to catch-up with Mags. Unusually, this time, we were without Ian, our partner-in-crime, as he’s recuperating. However, Mags’ hubby, Alan joined us for the first time and more than evened-up the numbers.

The last time we were here was in November 2016 for lunch, as part of my extended 60th Birthday celebrations. The difference this time was that the place was heaving! Judging by the number of Aston Martins in the car-park, it looked like that the swollen numbers was mainly down to a car enthusiasts’ meeting of some kind.

Mags and Alan were already there and after some quick ‘hellos’, we were soon getting down to the serious business of studying the menu and ordering our drinks.

Cloudy Cider on Draught – I’ve not had one of these for a while!
The Menu’s had a makeover since our last visit, and it all looked very imaginative… and ALL very tempting! Julie was our effervescent and enthusiastic Waiter and she did a great job given that the place was probably the busiest I’d ever seen it.
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In the end, I settled for…

Baked Halloumi Chips

Thai Green Curry


Mini Chocolate Brownie
We did all our individual choices justice and had pretty much clean plates all round – it had all been super-yummy! The only difficult part of the evening was with our chats – straining to hear each other over the noise from the table next-door. No, not the Aston Martin group, but a foursome of ladies obviously practising for Foghorn-of-the-Year. Yeesh! what a racket!!
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Towards the end of the evening, Mags came up with a brilliant suggestion for our future get-togethers. For all the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve always met in the evening, but now that we’re all working fewer hours (very few in some cases!), why not meet up at lunchtime? Well, it certainly makes sense, so ‘watch this space!’.
With the bill paid, we said our goodbyes, carefully manoeuvring around the posh cars in the car-park and then heading for home. We were home by 9.30, so just time to digest our meal and catch-up with the ever-expanding list of TV programmes accumulating on Sky Q.
It’s a busy life!!
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Long Weekend with Ralph & Karen

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The Clock-tower in Stratford-upon-Avon

Ralph and Karen are staying with us until Sunday! Yay!!!
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Thursday

Ralph and Karen arrived just before lunch and after a quick nibble, it was off for a sight-seeing afternoon around picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon





…we dropped into Rick’s place –  Hathaway Tea Rooms for a quick nibble, but no sign of Rick though! (That, unbeknown to us was to change later on!)

Next stop? Pre-theatre nibbles were in order in the shape of Lamb’s of Sheep Street conveniently located in err, Sheep Street, where we’d booked a table for 5.30, giving us plenty of time before the performance started.

..a great menu…




…with great food! A superb meal in every sense – great service too, all served-up in very comfortable and enjoyable surroundings.

Then, it was off to the Bear Pit Theatre to see ‘Into the Silence’ directed by our mutual mucker Ian.

The Play was a bit ‘deep’ for me, but you couldn’t fault the acting – powerful subject matter, delivered in a powerful way by all concerned. In a spooky coincidence, it was there, we ran into Mags and Rick! And in an ‘are you sure’ moment (and especially delightful for me as a Who-fan) David Bradley! Yes, THE David Bradley! sitting in the audience.
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The Play finished around 10.15 and we had a trouble-free journey home. A few night-caps later and we ready to ‘hit the sack’, ready for tomorrow’s adventure!


Friday

We’re in ‘tourist mode’ again, and today, we headed for Uppingham and Oakham for a look round. Parking was a nightmare (as it usually is on Uppingham’s Market Day), but we eventually got a space. However,I was too pre-occupied with returning my MD802 back to China to appreciate it all – and went into shock when the very helpful Assistant at the Post Office that it would cost £72.40 to send it back! After a strong coffee at The Falcon, we headed off to Oakham. I’d calmed down a bit by then, and fortunately, parking was a lot easier!
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First stop was Oakham Castle, you know the one that doesn’t really look like a castle! We haven’t been here since July 2015, and it’s had had a makeover since then (the smell of fresh paint was evident) with everything looking a lot brighter.


Then it was off to All Saints Church

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…followed by a quick nibble in The Wheatsheaf


…and then onto Rutland Water for a look at Normanton Church


…before heading off to Nick & Celina’s quaint little cottage for Dinner in nearby Teigh.

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Celina and Nick had cooked-up Moroccan Lamb, that was truly melt-in-the-mouth, followed by Raspberry meringue with Butterscotch Sauce and/or Bread & Butter Pudding – and all of us opted for ‘and’!
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An evening of wine, women and song followed (luckily, without the song) and we had a really good time!


Saturday

The weather forecast for today, was as forecast – rain, rain and more rain! That really scuppered our plans for walking down to Wicksteed Park to watch the annual firework display. Instead, we decided to go to the flicks instead! There was quite a lot of new films out this week, and we opted for Kenneth Branagh’s production of Murder on the Orient Express – that also starred him in the titular role With a lot of the pre-publicity focusing on the ‘hairy elephant in the room’ in the shape of that moustache, we weren’t sure what to expect – surely no-one can really displace David Suchet as Poirot could they? …could they?


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Well, in our eyes, someone did! Kenneth Branagh has successfully re-invented the character and produced a masterpiece of a movie! Totally hooked from start-to-finish, we didn’t miss a beat and the supporting cast of movie-megastars added to our overall enjoyment – I’ve never seen Johnny Depp looking so menacing! (and not an ounce of mince in sight!!!)

Additionally, speaking technically, there was something very special about the film – very bright, an ultra-clear picture together with exceptionally crisp dialogue. If this wasn’t shot in 4k, I’ll eat my hat! All-in-all, probably the best film we’ve seen this year, but I’ve dropped it half-a-star because that moustache was, to me, a little distracting.

Roll on Death on the Nile.

With the film over, all that was left to do was relax for the rest of evening at home, helped along with Pizza, Gin, Dessert Wine and Beer! Ironically, the weather did dry-up but we were too comfy to consider taking the short walk to ‘Wicky’!
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Instead, we watched a film I’d recently downloaded from Sky – Live by Night – directed by and starring Ben Affleck. Wow! that’s two-in-a-row, as this turned out to very good too!


Sunday

If it’s Sunday, it must be breakfast at Tiffany’s Beckworth’s Emporium – and what it lacked in Audrey Hepburns, George Peppards and Mickey Rooneys, it made up for in good grub and superb service (and they were busy too!). By complete coincidence, who should get seated at the table just opposite us? Jo and Janet! What are the chances ehh?!
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After brekky, we had a quick look round the Garden Centre (including their new range of Christmas decorations) and the Shop before heading our separate ways – Ralph and Karen heading for Pub-lunch near theirs whilst we had a few chores to catch-up with back at ours. Ann concentrated on the garden whilst I sorted out the ironing!

It’s been a fantastic long weekend! Great to catch up with Nick & Celina, take in a couple of good movies too, and spend some extended time with Ralph & Karen too. By the time we see them both next, they’ll be moved into their new home in Matlock – we can’t wait to see it!
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