Yummy Mummy

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11.30am: I’m off to the capital today with Ann to meet up with Janet and Carol. We’re all visiting the recently opened Tutankhamen Exhibition at the Saachi Gallery and whilst we’re in the area, home of the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ too โ€” the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

For the King Tut Exhibition, it’s ยฃ24.50 for the young ones (off-peak) to get in, and ยฃ22 for us oldies. Off-peak generally means weekdays whilst peak is the weekends (obviously!) and school/ public holidays.

For the Royal Hospital, there are two choices for visitors โ€” a guided tour or a DIY independent visit. Best of all, both are completely free (although certain parts are off-limits between noon and 2pm for the Pensioners to enjoy their lunch in peace!)

And to finish our day-out, Janet has booked us all a Chinese meal. Where else, but in London’s Chinatown! ๐Ÿ˜

The Royal Hospital

We caught the 11.52 train out of Kettering and then it was a short trip by Tube to Sloane Square, followed by a twenty-minute walk, we were at our first stop!

After a quick stop at the on-site cafรฉ (that would appear to have also doubled as the local sauna โ€” boy, it was hot in there!) we headed back to the main building…

…by way of some very attractive garden displays!

Wowser! A Harley Davidson Mobility Scooter!

…and a particularly attractive mobility scooter! ๐Ÿ˜

There were two areas we were particularly interested in once we got inside the main building โ€” The Great Hall and The Wren Chapel.

First stop: The Great Hall. What a location for lunch! It reminded me a bit of the dining scenes from the Harry Potter films. Seating 270 for lunch and 400 for drinks, it didn’t disappoint on any level โ€” superb attractive architecture in a light, bright airy space! What a great place for the old soldiers to enjoy their meals!

Oh, and you can get married there too as it’s available for private hire!

The Wren Chapel

If we’d been impressed by the Great Hall, nothing really prepared us for the splendour of what followed: The Wren Gallery. Simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

A Mighty Organ!

We were under a bit of time pressure, so we probably didn’t stay as long here as we would have liked. However, in spite of our shortened stay, I think we were all blown-away by how beautiful it all was! Add to that, everyone we passed, spoke to us and passed the time of day โ€” it was like going back 50 years! ๐Ÿ˜. Our verdict? Definitely the ‘surprise of the year’ in our book, and a great way to spend an hour or more if you’re in the area.

They’ve even got a museum there that traces the history of the building – excellent! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

The clock was ticking as we walked in the direction of our final stop for the day: The Saachi Gallery and our 3.30pm timed entry slot for the highly-anticipated Tutankhamun Exhibition.

The Exhibition

Ahh, a queue!

We had already been advised on the tickets that we should allow for possible queueing whilst the security team did their thing, but as it turned out, it was all managed very efficiently. We were inside just slightly ahead of our time-slot and the entry-in-batches certainly helped avoid any sort of crush as we approached the myriad of displays

The spooky voiceover set the scene nicely for what was to come…

“According to Egyptian beliefs, they say you die twice. Once when you stop breathing and the second, when somebody mentions your name for the last time.”

Our first impressions meant you could probably hear our collective jaws dropping as we encountered the displays. Given that this stuff is close to 3000 years old, the condition was amazing… and the detail on the carvings too! How did they achieve this all those years ago โ€” no Dremel drills or laser cutters to rely on!

Spread across multiple galleries and on two floors, it all felt very spacious. Together with the slightly subdued lighting and the ethereal music, it felt very relaxed and un-hurried.

It was all a real treat for the eyes!

All-in-all, it took us around an hour-and-an-quarter to get round, and we all felt it was a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition โ€” maybe the best we’ve seen in many a year! Get along there before it closes in May next year.

Our final stop of the day was for our Chinese meal. All we needed to do was to get to Chinatown. Even for a Friday late afternoon, the Tube was even more manically busy. We learned that not only were there serious delays on the network, but there had been a terrorist incident on London Bridge causing extra congestion in and around the area.

The Meal – Yummy!

Starters!

We arrived (eventually!) where the Chinese restaurant of choice was an old haunt for Janet, Jo and Carol but a first visit for us. Opened around five years ago in the heart of Chinatown, The Orient is a slightly more upmarket affair โ€” and it impressed us from the moment we arrived. Lightning-fast service, piping hot food, a varied menu, all served with a smile. It a great end to our day of culture.

As expected, we all ate far too much and as we waddled our way back towards St Pancras, the Tube network was now even busier! We squeezed ourselves into the carriage, and it wasn’t long before we were looking for our final train home. In a rare case of perfect timing, we caught the 7.35pm where its first stop was Kettering!

We said our goodbyes in the entrance to Kettering station as Janet and Carol were in the North car-park whilst we were in the newer, south parking area. By now, the temperature had dropped significantly meaning that the car was covered in frost. Luckily for us, one of the many benefits of an EV is that heating is instantaneous and although we couldn’t remotely trigger it (like many other EVs), we didn’t have to wait long until we had a frost-free motor! ๐Ÿ˜

What an incredible day! Considering Chelsea Hospital was on our schedule as a ‘filler’ before the main event, it turned out to be probably our highlight of the year. The King Tut exhibition exceeded all of our expectations and I’m sure it’s going to be a great success!

Bulbs for Banstead

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An early start for us today as we spent Saturday and Sunday with Richard and Nicki at their place in Banstead.

Saturday

We left home just after 7.30 and drove over to Huntingdon station. Why not take the car? Well, it’s not the getting there, it’s the getting home part. Last time we tried it on a Sunday by car, it took twice as long to get back as it did to get there – Ahh! I’d quite forgotten how congested it can get ‘darn sarf‘ – and how busy the M25 was, even on a Sunday! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

As things turned out, it was a text-book journey there with all our connections on-time or slightly early! Rich & Nicky picked us up from Sutton station just after 10.30 and we were soon catching-up over coffee & cake at theirs!

Plenty of bulbs for Banstead!

But apart from the social aspect, we had a cunning plan in mind โ€” and that was to tidy up/prune their garden and plant as many bulbs as the space allowed.

We were reasonably optimistic about the weather having checked it daily for the past three days. Being November, it wasn’t going to be the warmest of days, but at least the forecast promised dry weather. I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic gardener, but with the appropriate clothing, I’d be OK… wouldn’t I? wouldn’t I??

…errr NO! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Soil – pre-turned

Everything started well: It was dry, 8 degrees and whilst Nicki and Ann turned the soil in the back garden, I concentrated on the pruning out the front.

In need of a haircut!

…and it certainly needed a haircut!

Post haircut!

After about an hour, with its new trimmed look, it was ‘job done!

…just as the rain started to come down in buckets (this wasn’t forecast!) together with a drop in temperature as the sun beat its retreat! Any one of those factors would have been enough to ‘down tools’, but not us four! ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ช

We soldiered-on, getting progressively wetter (and in my case, progressively grumpier) as the rain became more persistent. We pushed on, and eventually, the final bulbs were in by 3.45 but with no improvement in the weather, we called it a day and cleared-up…

Bulbs in!

…but not before admiring all our work!

With the ‘toiling of the soil’ over, it was time to turn out attention to… the evneing meal! Richard had planned ahead and prepared his signature dish: “Garlic Roast Lamb”, whilst the rest of us got cleaned up!

Cosy!

Whilst the food cooked. all that was then left to do was to chill-out warm-up in front of the log-burner!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The meal didn’t disappoint and after us all digging-in for seconds, we all agreed it had been a great reward for all our efforts today!

Next stop was a movie – and after a thorough review of Netflix and Amazon Prime we settled on Daddy’s Home from 2015 courtesy of the latter.

Starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, it was the kind of movie that (for us) was laugh-out-loud funny – we loved it! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Our day ended perfectly and as a bonus we appear to be slightly ahead with our gardening plans. Tomorrow, it’s pruning and numerous visits to the local dump

Sunday

Sunday’s weather promised a dry day and when we peeked through the curtains around 8am, it looked like the promise had been kept (although it was a little foggy!) – but at least it was DRY! In fact, as the morning ticked-away, the temperature eventually ‘soared’ to 10ยฐC by lunchtime! Happy days!!! ๐Ÿ˜

Today was about continuing the mega-prune and generally tidying up the garden as much as we could.

I say ‘mega’ as it required two separate trips to nearby Epson’s Green disposal site (about a 20 minute drive away) to get rid of our enthusiastic clippings! After all our previous visits earlier in the year, I think they’re getting to know us there by sight now – we’re be on first-name terms soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

After almost three hours, we downed tools around 11.45, satisfied with what we’d achieved. Whilst Richard and I headed back from our last disposal trip (for this visit anyway!), Nicki and Ann prepared a quick lunch that would allow us to get a slightly earlier train home.

It was all delicious, and we reflected on how much progress our hosts have made since they moved in! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Perfect timing! We finished lunch by around 1pm and having said our goodbyes to Richard, Nicki dropped us back to Sutton Station. Next stop Victoria, and then King’s Cross!

The 16.13 was on time (although we had a about a 45 minute wait) and we were soon on our way back to Huntingdon. A trouble-free journey along the A14 meant we were home just before 5pm. OK four hours is a long time on public transport and if the roads had been perfect, we could have driven it in two-and-a-half hours – but when was the last time the road conditions were perfect!

Ahh, that’s nice! โคโค

…and the above made it all worthwhile!