The Weekend – Sponsored by the letter ‘f’

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

Easy PC!

The Waiting Area at Trumpington’s Park ‘n’ Ride

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!) ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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 ยฃ3 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! โ˜บ By 11.30 we’d reviewed our shortlist – and rejected them all! ๐Ÿ˜› Instead a trusty Dell tempting us with ยฃ100 off the price, became the ultimate prize!

Dell i5, 4Gb RAM, 1Tb 15.6 inch screen

A real beauty! โ˜บ … and all for less than ยฃ500!

With our bargain bagged, it was off to Brown’s of Cambridge for a celebratory Lunch.

Impressive Menu!

Great (Meat) Balls of Fire!

Yummy Fish Pie!

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.