Beer and Antiques

Hook Norton brewery was not too far away so we booked a tour.

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A small team brew beer the old fashioned hands on way and we had a thorough and informative guide.

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“Where progress is measured in pints”.

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These are hops that are delivered vacuum packed. I love their names, I hope you can read them!

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Alan appreciated the various beers we tasted. I’m afraid, like the whisky at the distillery we visited in Norfolk, I didn’t really like any of them!

After that we explored the Aladdin’s cave which is the Deddington Antiques Centre. Full of interesting things including a copper kettle going for just under £200, must sell mine, and the coffee and tea containers that we still use! I found a beautiful bag for a colleague who is retiring.

Our route back to the hotel took us through Banbury, past Banbury Cross which is more of a spike, and a statue of that fine/fyne lady on her horse.

We had another fantastic meal in the evening. The music selection was good too, Rumer, Barbra Steisand, Jamie Cullum, a bit too much Rod Stewart !

This hotel is so impressive, the staff so attentive and friendly. We hope to visit again, and it’s only an hour or so from MK.

Cosy in the Cotswolds

We wanted a weekend break and found that the Wroxton House Hotel in Oxfordshire had glowing reports on t’internet .
Thankfully they had a vacancy so we booked and headed off there after work on Friday.
The sat nav took us a direct and pretty way through some heavy showers.

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Our room was on the ground floor and well equipped. We had booked an evening meal, and had forgotten that a glass of champagne each was part of the weekend package. A good way to relax as we sat by a crackling log fire.
The meal and the wine were something special and as we drank coffee and nibbled fudge, we got chatting to a couple from Northumberland on a return visit to celebrate a birthday.

A good relaxed start to the weekend.

Chilly at Claydon House

Followed my sat nav this morning along the winding pot-holed Buckinghamshire roads to a National Trust property, Claydon House.

Celia and I decided to meet there. We got there early and had a good catch up chat.
We bought our tickets from a man in a tiny gazebo. This was the shop too, biscuits, raspberry curd and very little space for anything else. I wanted to get some damson gin, ah well!
Turned out there was a guided tour so we joined 6 other visitors and made our way round the large, beautiful and extremely cold ground floor state rooms.

Celia and I warmed up a little by having carrot and coriander soup for lunch and chatted some more.
We then explored the upper rooms which are only open in the afternoon. These rooms are more interesting, more fully furnished though still unheated. Have I mentioned we were cold?

Florence Nightingale’s sister was the lady of the manor and she had her own set of rooms here, so there is much memorabilia about her, photographs, letters, etc.

We enjoyed the Chinese room, sumptuously furnished.

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A view from an upstairs window over the Verney estate. The snow shows up evidence of medieval strip farming.

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The beautiful main staircase, now unused.

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An observation from Florence!

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This bust is in the first state room you visit, one of four. It represents America. No, me neither. I love how shocked she looks at her exposure!

More snow

The promised snow fell overnight; we had about 2″ of the stuff. The table had another layer and looked even odder.

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Alan went out and replenished the bird feeders.

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The temperature has risen to a balmy 4 degrees so the thaw is starting, thank goodness.
Mum’s garden is looking so pretty:

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January trip

We’re up in Norfolk visiting Mum for the weekend.
The roads are clear but the fields and pavements are covered in snow and ice.
I took this photo in Mum’s garden- the snow is slipping off her patio table like a fringed tablecloth.

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We had planned to travel to Diss tonight for a British Legion meal, but the forecast is for several centimetres of snow to fall here later this evening.
So instead we will have an Indian take away and a bottle of wine.

In which I confirm I don’t like whisky.

We are in Norfolk for a few days staying with Mum.
When we were visiting last time we came across the St George’s Distilleryin Roudham so this morning we popped over there with a view to buying some Christmas presents.
We found a beautiful building with a very interesting shop, and were just in
time for a tour.

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It was very interesting to learn about the processes and the history of this very new distillery. It only started in 2006 and began to sell whisky in 2009.
We were shown the stills

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And the various processes the ‘wash’ goes through.

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The effect of different barrels was demonstrated, and the bottling procedure.
Then we had a tasting of various whiskies, with and without water.
Alan enjoyed them all but it wasn’t till we tasted blackberry liqueur and cream liqueur that I began to appreciate them.
My favourite was the sherry and whisky mix, made with the sherry within the barrels that they import to use for the whisky.
Several Christmas presents have been sorted plus a tipple for the cook!

Bewilderwood

4 generations of my family visited Bewilderwoodnear Wroxham in Norfolk on Sunday. It was Jos’ third birthday and a really hot one.
The temperature was around 30c and humid with it.

Bewilderwood is an innovative adventure playground in a beautiful wooded area which includes a ‘scary lake’ and river . You can enter or exit by boat, pink, purple or green. Jos avoided this trip as he was scared by Mildred the crocklebog.

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As well as Mildred various characters inhabit the wood, though you don’t see them.
We learnt about them in the story time which Jos just soaked up while Niamh preferred to play nearby.

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The story came to an abrupt end as a thunderstorm sent us looking for shelter. We got fairly wet but soon dried off and it added to the fun!

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We all had a go at climbing into a treehouse, walking rope bridges and getting lost in a maze.
Really a remarkable place.

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Southwold.

It was showery as we drove through Norfolk and Suffolk to Southwold.
We used my sat nav for the first time on a long journey. It seemed to think that a sharp bend and a junction were the same thing which was quite confusing.
The car park we we aiming at was choc a bloc full so we meandered round and did find somewhere to park, free.
It was still cloudy but we walked along the front admiring the prettily coloured beach huts.
Was tickled to find a Mr Blue Sky one as this was our big Rock Choir song in the past year.

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Walking into the town we found Mum’s favourite shop, the Amber Shop, where she bought a beautiful ring, three different amber colours, for Dad to give her for her 80th birthday on Thursday.
Lunch was at the Crown, an Adnams pub restaurant . Mum and Alan had sea trout beautifully cooked and presented.
I had crab risotto and samphire.
We had puds too. I had 3 different sorbets, so tangy. Gooseberry and vodka was my fave!
Exploring the high street we had fun in the Adnams shop and I bought a dress in fat face.
The sun had started to shine by now. ☀
So back to the beach we went for a walk along the pier.
What a pleasure Southwold pier is with shops, a cafe, little metal plaques with personal messages and a rather rude clock!

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It was very windy by now, though sunny and warm.

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Mum and I both have holiday hair de luxe.
Meandering slowly back along the promenade we enjoyed watching the brave few in the sea . Most were soaking up the sun on the beach. Children were playing and digging to Australia just as we used to.
Those lucky enough to have a hut were sitting outside them in the sun; there was a lovely atmosphere.

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A day in Oxford

Today I spent a day exploring Oxford with Celia who is a greeter at Christ Church cathedral.

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We walked along the river from Magdalen street enjoying the view of ducks, ducklings , punts and a pedalo and a beautiful view towards the college.

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We went into the dining room first where there is this window with several characters from Alice in Wonderland in the corners.
More information about the college here Christ Church
Then to the cathedral where there are more beautiful windows.

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Jonah contemplating Ninevah.

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Detail of window by Edward Burne Jones.

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Spot the toilet!

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This cross was carved from the base of the altar. Remarkable.
The plaque in the floor is for George Bell who spoke out against the British bombing of German cities.

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I loved this feminine window.

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Plaque commemorating the Wesleys.

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Alice’s garden. Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll lived nearby. This garden looked so peaceful . Pity we couldn’t explore it, but then the peace would have been broken!
I had a fascinating day. There’s so much to see in Oxford and over the years I’ve seen a small proportion of it.
Thanks to Celia for showing me round!

In My Life

The next day we made our way over to the Jury’s Inn hotel for a tour round Paul and John’s houses which is run by the National Trust.
Outside the hotel is the Peace and Harmony Lennon memorial.

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This was a smaller group than the previous day, a dozen or so of us in a minibus.
To John’s childhood home in Menlove Avenue first where Colin the guide welcomed us on Yoko’s behalf. She bought the house and donated it to the National Trust, knowing how much the house meant to John.

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Aunt Mimi wouldn’t have let me in at the front, everyone used the back door!
The tour was amazing. Even John’s bike was in the back garden.
The house has been recreated faithfully, using lodgers as consultants .
Colin told us about the family’s life there, including the tragic death of John’s mother Julia just down the road and of his uncle George.
We could wander around the house – it is a very nice one, in a good area. Apparently it wasn’t used in the film Nowhere Boy as the road is too busy.
I sang a snatch of Fixing a Hole in the porch as I left to test the acoustics where John and Paul would try out new harmonies.
Then on to the terraced house in Forthlin Road where the McCartney family moved just a year before Paul’s mother Mary died.

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Here Sylvia told us about the family’s life. There was a taped welcome from Paul. The ground floor layout is just like ours, enabling you to walk from room to room in a circle.
There were framed family photos on the walls taken by Paul’s brother Mike.

The rosemary bush by the back door had been planted by his father Jim.
The house was simply furnished, but so full of music. Once again it was so good to hear anecdotes about Paul’s life here.
Apparently he is making arrangements to show the house to Nancy.
In the afternoon we went to the Slavery museum which pulled no punches.
Then I had a ride on the Liverpool Eye. Couldn’t get Alan to go with me!

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We didn’t get to either of the cathedrals, that’ll be for next time!
We ate at Yee Rah in Liverpool One, a lovely fresh meal.
Then back to the Cavern, where, oh joy, Jimmy Coburn was being John Lennon.
Had a fab evening singing and dancing!

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