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! 😰😰 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 £16.95 for Mains, it was good value too!! 🙂

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!

The Prisoner of Stamford

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Time for my annual catch-up with my friend and film director, Eric Mival. We normally choose August because of the potential for good weather, but these past few days has just been appalling – rain, rain and more rain! 😭 So, it wasn’t really the ideal weather for taking the XKR for a spin, but luckily, it didn’t! 👍😉 We met at our usual haunt, The George Hotel in Stamford and also, as usual, they didn’t disappoint! Sandwiches all round (enough to feed a horse!) and quality ale – what more could a traveller ask for!! We spent the time chatting about my favourite subject – the TV series ‘The Prisoner’, that Eric worked on (as well as other less important topics like family and holidays!) All-in-all, a really enjoyable catch-up!

Brampton Halt for Six!

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Today was my second visit to the newly discovered The Brampton Halt Pub & Restaurant, about a 30 minute drive from ours at Chapel Brampton. I’d accidentally discovered it with John C a few weeks back when he and I met at Sedgebrook Hall (it was almost next door!).

This time, we met up with Geoff & Rhonda and Paul & Sue for a late lunch. And in spite of the familiar location we had a torturous journey there courtesy of a slightly confused Google Maps that in effect, sent us round in a big loop. The estimated 20-minute journey turned out to be closer to 45 minutes!
Sad smile

On arrival, the car-park was full, so we proceeded to the overflow area where there was plenty of space. We all arrived about the same time and after a quick natter outside, we headed for the Restaurant. I had a bit more time to study the place this time round and it certainly has plenty of character – there’s a volunteer-driven railway station & track nearby and acres of eating space outside!

Service was as good I remember it (luckily it wasn’t too long ago!) and we were soon seated at a rather cosy table-for-six inside (it was a bit blowy to be eating outside!). The place was already heaving – a good sign perhaps!? We were soon looking through the menu and more especially the ‘Specials’ board that had at least another dozen dishes on it – yummy! IN the end, after much indecision, we all skipped Starters, and I settled for the Duck as a Main and the Chocolate Brownie as my Dessert – all good food, served with a smile!

We also had plenty of time to catch-up with everyone’s news too, AND have an initial discussion about our communal picnic at Boughton House on the 12th August where there’s an outdoor showing of La La Land.

It was good to see everyone again and after a slight detour home due to a problem on the A14, we were home just a few seconds before Steve from Jaguar returned with the XKR (it’s got an intermittent fault with a headlight, that wasn’t couldn’t completely solved, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed!)

See you all soon at Boughton House!

Sedgebrook Hall

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What a perfect evening! I took the XKR and drove over to Sedgebrook Hall to meet up with John Cullwick, a business associate from my early days as a self-employed Management Trainer. We had a quick drink outside before taking the short walk to the Pub next door – Brampton Halt.

It was a perfect evening for the XKR – especially the return journey through Pitsford with lots of twisty-turney bits plus some glorious (empty) straight stretches! A perfect evening too for catching-up with old friends.

All-in-all, an English Summer’s evening at its best!

First Visit: The Marquess of Exeter

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We headed off to The Marquess of Exeter in Lyddington tonight to meet up with Mick and Jane S. The Pub/Restaurant/Hotel boasts: “One of the finest restaurants, pubs and hotels in Rutland” – so expectations were high!

On one of the hottest days of the year so far, what could be better than taking the XKR out for Summer evening spin and enjoying a meal with friends in an English ‘local’. Ann was convinced we’d been to this Pub before, but as we arrived and headed for the car-park, it all seemed very unfamiliar (and we soon realised that had in fact been to The Old White Hart just down the road).

Perfect timing as Mick and Jane had arrived just seconds before us! We strolled into a more-or-less deserted restaurant and were quickly shown to our seats. We were soon perusing the (slightly restricted) menu after ordering our drinks.

There was also a ‘Specials’ board – and it certainly was special if Fish was your fave (as everything on it was fish-based). Eventually, Ann and I settled for the ‘Lamb to share’ option. There was about a twenty-minute wait, but at least that showed it wasn’t being defrosted and microwaved!

..and it gave me a chance to enjoy my Guinness (note to the Menu designer – there are two Ns in Guinness!)

When the lamb arrived, we weren’t disappointed! The supplied carving knife and fork was redundant as just the thought of what was on offer seemed to allow the meat to fall off the bone! The joint itself was massive and could have easily served four or even more!

The food experience was excellent, but as the place filled-up, we were soon flanked on both sides by two groups of ‘young things’ celebrating their respective birthdays – and, maybe not surprisingly, the noise level increased dramatically! At first, we thought that it was just us four being ‘boring old fruits’, but this was more than loud, it was deafening! – and so much so, we couldn’t hear each other across the table. We soon realised that it was simply the acoustics of the restaurant, combined with a very low ceiling. It slightly ‘took the edge’ of the evening, and we skipped dessert and coffee because of the challenge to converse (in truth, we were stuffed anyway, so maybe, for the sake of our health, not a bad thing).

We said our extended good-byes in the car-park and headed home. It had been a great evening – a chance to catch-up with some long-known friends, a perfect drive on some lovely Rutland roads and a good meal too! We love the English Summer!!!

Bank Holiday Rush

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I picked up Lee on Sunday and Nicki joined us today for a lazy Bank Holiday. We’d quite forgotten that Nicki still had our Christmas presents so that got the day off to a great start! I’ve now have some high quality cleaning products for the XKR, so they’ll be put to good use in no time! – and a rather appropriate kitchen apron!

We took Nicki and Lee though the photos form Cuba before eating in where Ann had prepared a delicious Chicken Salad. We all sat down to watch Rush, (a DVD I’d bought back in April 2014, but never got around to watching) and actually, we all thought it was a great movie, and much better than we thought it was going to be!

We spent the afternoon chatting and not doing very much at all, before I dropped Lee home and Nicki went onto Northampton.

A great lazy day!

A Tale of Two Shuckburghs

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In the morning, I popped over to The Olive Grove – a Garden Centre in Oundle, to catch-up with Alison W, a colleague from my days in the 90s at Nokia. This was our first visit, since it opened its expanded eatery – and it didn’t disappoint: great food, great menu and very (very!) pleasant and professional waiting staff. We even sat outside taking advantage of that rare yellow thing in the sky!

Then it was back home to get ready to travel back to Oundle again in the evening – and catch-up with Jane and Mick. We see each other about three times a year and take it in turns to book a  suitable venue. This time was no exception and as we all knew ‘The Shuckburgh Arms’, this seemed like a good choice. Lucky we chatted beforehand then! as it turned out that there were TWO Shuckburgh Arms, both fairly close to one another and ‘our’ one (in Stoke Doyle) was NOT the one that Mick was thinking of (in Southwick). Surely, Google Maps would clear up the confusion?! Well, it didn’t! Google maps list THREE, in three places, although two of them sport the same postal address – but in different places on the map! These are both ‘PE4’ post-code and have the same area code for their telephone number.

Confused? You will be!

The TWO Shuckburgh Arms (in three places!) ‘A’ is definitely right, but either ‘B’ or ‘C’ is wrong. Click HERE for the actual map

Still, what could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty actually!!! I popped the postcode into the sat-nav and the XKR burbled in the general direction of Oundle. Clearly the technology had been ‘on the sauce’ and began to take us in the completely the wrong direction, so we switched to my other sat-nav – far more reliable and attractive – and headed in the direction of where we thought the Pub might be. After a while, we realised we were in areas of ‘PE4’ that we’ve never seen before, and luckily, at that point, the original sat-nav got a grip on reality, and began to point us in the right direction – eventually, we arrived at the Pub.

It was packed! Full of locals talking about local issues (but mainly, the Election result!). There was a roaring open fire and a plenty of good beers on offer. We arrived slightly ahead of Mick and Jane and settled in the corner of the Bar where the owners had reserved us a large table. M and J arrived shortly afterwards and we all began studying the beautifully hand-written boards for something to eat.

Probably the most important hand-written board of the evening was the one saying ‘the card machine is broken – cash only!’. A quick scurry around the darkest recesses of our pockets and purses revealed that we had only about £25 between us. Even at these reasonable prices, it looked like it was going to be ‘half a Cumberland sausage to share’. Luckily, the Bar staff were pretty chilled-out about the whole thing and let us stuff ourselves and then send them a cheque. Phew! No need for us to exercise our washing-up skills then!

The Pub got busier… and noisier, whilst we got fuller. By 9.15 we were all done. All-in-all, I’d say the food was ‘OK’ rather than ‘great’, but we had a great time, as we always do, when we meet up. We said our goodbyes and took a slightly different, but more direct route home. Without the aid of the Jag’s sat-nav, we were home in around 25 minutes.

An eventful evening – but it wasn’t planned that way!!