Saturday, September 21, 2019

So Many Places

Suddenly our time in England is coming to an end.

We have been to so many places, some were repeats, some were new but all so good.

The weather has been amazing.  Apart from buying ponchos for one day we have not had to worry about wet weather.

During our stay in Haywards Heath, Richard asked if we would like to go to Sheffield Park, a National Trust property.

One of the features is the water reflecting the trees in the grounds.

A well established area, beautifully looked after, with some trees well over 100 years old.

Thursday was our last visit to a place of interest.

Arundel Castle is a significant and well kept dwelling, clearly seen on the horizon as you approach the town of Arundel by train.

Well worth walking through the grounds and inside the castle.

We had the opportunity to go to the keep but when they told us it would be 130 steps we declined.

Our outings have meant quite a bit of walking, often 8 kilometres or more in any one day and we have enjoyed the challenge.

When we embarked on this journey we were talking about ‘if’ we come back but now we know it is ‘when’ we come back - there is a wedding to attend next June, so plans will have to be made.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Isle of Wight

I did wonder, before we left home, whether a trip to the Isle of Wight might be possible this time around and it was.

Richard and Hannah, Hannah’s parents and Linda and me.

Hannah’s parents kindly brought their people mover vehicle. We met them at Portsmouth and caught the next car ferry out of port.

An hour later, we were on the Isle of Wight.

Another delightful pub lunch was there for us before we went on to Osborne House.

We very much wanted to see Osborne House, the holiday home for Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children.

Such was progress in those times it took only ‘four hours’ on the steam train from London to Portsmouth.

It was such a beautiful sunny day one can only imagine that as a family, they certainly spent some very happy times here.

Apparently their children grew up, married and brought their children back here as well.  Such were their happy memories they wanted to pass them on to the next generation.

The gardens and grounds were absolutely superb with a beautiful outlook towards the water.

It was nice to get a glimpse of what was once a wonderful holiday residence for the royal family.

The Isle of White was right up there on our list of amazing places we have seen since being in England.

The weather has been extremely good.  Lovely clear blue skies without being too hot.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Epsom to Haywards Heath

After a week with Aaron and family in Epsom it was time to move to Haywards Heath to catch up with Richard and Hannah.

We have talked much about this part of the trip because Richard and Hannah have recently moved into their new build home and we were just as keen to see their new home as they were to show it to us.

Although terrace and semi-detached houses will always be a part of the English way of life we like the fact that Richard and Hannah’s home is free standing. Very nicely appointed, it is in a new housing development, very nicely laid out and landscaped.

We are happy to be with them in Haywards Heath for our last week before returning to New Zealand.

What would a new home be without a cat.

Kratos used to belong to Aaron and Marcele but he has been rehomed with Richard and Hannah and very happily so it would seem.

Another repeat for us

Last year we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum not knowing quite what to expect.

There is so much to see there, this year Linda did some research and found there was an exhibition celebrating Mary Quant.

Being teenagers of the 60’s this really struck a chord with us and we were not disappointed.

Although I very much liked her revolutionary fashion designs when they happened, I really gained a fresh appreciation through seeing what was on display.

Not only did she have new and fresh designs her attention to detail was pretty amazing.

Often she worked with wool and stretch fabrics, which are not necessarily the easiest of textiles to work with.

Bold stripes were a feature in many of her designs making sure that all seams were perfectly matched.  Top stitching and zips were also design features, again, perfect in detail.

Anyone for matador pyjamas?

Quite a few people commented on how comfortable her clothes were to wear and that they became favourites in their wardrobe.

I wasn’t sure about these, but they do look good.

All in all a well worth going to exhibition.

We have been so pleased with all the good things we have been able to see on this trip.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


From our visits over the past few years it has been a pleasure to watch the grandchildren grow from babies into young people ready for school.

With the commencement of the new school year, Anna-Clara is now in her 2nd year and she was so excited to return.  We were all surprised at her enthusiasm.

Although Caleb does not turn 5 until February, he qualifies to start with the new school year and so we were there to see him go to school on his first day.

We all set off for the walk to school and to see Caleb go to his classroom.  A bit tearful for him and Mum but they did it.

Anna-Clara is so happy about going to school we feel sure that Caleb will be encouraged to settle into the school routine very quickly.

We like the fact that they don’t expect the new ones to go for a full day for the first week or so and gradually ease them into their new routine.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Hampton Court

Last time we were in London we saw Hampton Court from the River Thames but did not go into the grounds or castle.

This time we decided to go to the castle itself so we caught an Uber from our hotel and went straight there.

The staff at Hampton Court have created a 45 minute 2 person act that incorporates conversations around Elizabethan times.

I did not take any photos but they were dressed in period costume and did make it an interesting presentation of the history of the times.

After watching The Spanish Princess at home we had hoped to see the rooms of the palace where the young Henry VIII lived but unfortunately these rooms were closed for renovations for a future event.

There were notes at various points that told of life around the palace in Tudor times.

Making palace staff work around the clock to meet deadlines put me in mind of some modern high tech companies that have high expectations of staff meeting deadlines for important events.

We wandered through the palace kitchens which were displayed as they would have been under the Tudors.

It was a cold day outside and the kitchen area of the palace was cold too.

This large open fire was a very welcoming warm spot for us.  Nice to linger for a little to soak up the warmth.

There were more spaces like this for open fires but they were not lit but all with fittings in place for lots of spit roasts to feed the large population of Hampton Court - the kitchen staff alone numbered 400+.

Opposite the palace we found The Mute Swan and had a very nice pub lunch there before saying goodbye to Hampton Court.

Something familiar..........

Time for a change in our travels.

We arrived in Epsom and it was time for visits with eldest son, Aaron, and his family.

So nice to see the quilt again that Linda and I made for Caleb being loved and much used.

We nearly walked our feet off this day.

Aaron, Marcele, Anna-Clara (now 6), Caleb (now 4), Linda and I went to Dorking by train.

We then walked through the parks where there was plenty of temptation for children along the way.

Fortunately, after all our walking we were rewarded with a lovely meal out with family.

Some more soft play for the children in a play centre before we walked and walked some more back to the station and home.

Such is the stuff of family life.  Good to be back in Epsom and to share time with them like this.

After all the walking we had no trouble sleeping that night.  We had intended to watch the first episode of the new series of Strictly Come Dancing but I really had trouble staying awake.  Maybe I will do better for the next episode.

Friday, September 13, 2019

That extra touch

One of our favourite things about coming to England at this time of year is the flower boxes and hanging baskets that adorn so many buildings.

Admittedly the ones featured on this bicycle are artificial but they do add a touch of difference to this boutique shop in Kings Road, Chelsea.

The windows were appropriately adorned with similar flowers.

We had never been to Kings Road, Chelsea before and thoroughly enjoyed our morning there.

Once more for Kaffe Fassett

When we were at the American Museum in Bath we enjoyed the textile exhibition by Kaffe Fassett.

Whilst the focus was quilts he also had other textile items for sale.

These buttoned beanies caught my eye.

I used to have quite a button collection myself so I did find this concept very appealing.

At GBP275.00 each they were somewhat out of my price bracket but I did appreciate the amount of work that went into creating each one.

I can only imagine what size button collection would be needed to give them their individuality.

On to Chelsea, London and amazingly another Kaffe Fassett exhibition (on a much smaller scale), was being prepared at shop called Anthropologie on Kings Road.

More of these amazing buttoned beanies on display along with other textile items.

Some needlepoint as well included in his array of textile skills.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This time round in London town

We were fortunate to be able to find a hotel to stay in that was just a couple of minutes walk from Trafalgar Square.

Close enough to everything that is important about London but quiet enough to not be bothered by the hustle and bustle at night time.

I lived and worked in London in my late 20’s for 7 months but never visited Westminster Abbey.

On our previous visits, Linda and I had found the queues to be too long so opted not to go there but this time seemed to be different.

With the commencement of the new school year here the tourism numbers seem to have dropped and so we noticed the queues weren’t so bad.

Linda found out online that there was to be an Evensong service at 5pm and so for the second time in one week, after so many years of not going at all, we attended Evensong.

Although we knew the queues were not so bad we still opted to get there early so we could be up front.  It turned out to be very worthwhile as we were seated right next to the choir stalls.

It felt quite something to be in this Abbey, location for important royal events and burial site for many an important person in British history.

What a joy to be able to hear The Westminster Abbey Choir for ourselves and to once again listen to the familiar words of the Evensong Service.

On comparison we think we liked the intimacy of the Chester Cathedral service better but considered it a privilege to be able to attend both.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What would Mr Selfridge think?

Linda and I enjoy discovering new things on our travels but we also love going back to the old when we have happy memories of particular locations.

London will always is a favourite for us and we like going back to Oxford Street to see what the shops look like and what changes have happened since we were last there.

An interesting shop to go to Primark and watch the shoppers buying up like there is no tomorrow.

We have seen it before but it still happens - customers buying so many items that they have to buy a suitcase as well to take home all of their purchases.

We like to have a look at what is happening at Selfridges too.

Selfridges opened in the late Edwardian era and I am not sure what Mr Selfridge would think of the very latest adornings for their window settings.

The ‘mannequins’ appear to be dressed in a multitude of garments that have been folded into a variety of shapes.

Not quite my cup of tea.

The mish mash of bright colours would appear to be what might be the next change in fashion - either that or murky browns for the coming winter.

Really, what would Mr Selfridge think of this?

I don’t think he would be at all pleased.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The challenges of travel

After being spoilt with our stay in The Chester Grosvenor we were moving on to an apartment in Bath with a locked box arrangement for key access.

We had to change trains twice to get to Bath from Chester and the last one was particularly crowded.  It was after 5 pm when we arrived and we were a little weary.

To access our keys we had to go to the foyer of another building and then we found the locked box with a combination lock was so far up the wall neither of us could reach it or read the combination.

To add that the foyer was dimly lit which did not help at all.

Solution?  I lay my suitcase on the floor, Linda climbed on top and then used the torch on her trusty iPhone to read the combination and, at last, gain access for us.

Just as well the apartment was very nice, when we finally got there.

Our visit to Bath was not just about the accommodation and the next morning we set out for the American Museum on the outskirts of Bath.

A magnificent Victorian dwelling with magnificent views out over the valleys and beyond.

We went early in the morning and it was so peaceful with hardly another soul in sight.  We walked through some of the garden area and had a nice chat to one of the gardeners attending a rose bed.  What a wonderful location to be a gardener.

The purpose of our visit was to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition and we were not disappointed.

An extremely talented textile artist the emphasis here was his quilts.

He had drawn on inspiration from historical American quilts and done modern interpretations.

Great exhibition in a great location.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Chester, Chester, what a lovely city

Being able to stay in the city centre and soak up all the charm of the Tudor style buildings was a real tonic for us.

Once again, I found it very hard to leave a place which really captured a little of my heart.

Once we settled into our hotel we stepped out on to the street to be greeted by this busker playing The Impossible Dream on his violin.

We just had to stop and listen for a while, he was so good.

Philip Chidell, the violinist, has been playing since he was 6 years old and although he plays as a solo artist for orchestras he still likes doing busking.

Ever so glad that was the case.

He even had CD’s for sale and I have one in my bag ready to be played and to take me back to happy memories of Chester when we get home.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Anyone for Evensong?

When Linda and I walked the Roman Wall around Chester City we could not help but notice Chester Cathedral and decided that after our walk we would have a look inside.

Linda got talking to one of the members of staff who suggested we might like to come to the Evensong Service at 5.30.

Linda and I are Anglican girls from way back and Morning Prayer and Evensong were services we attended and knew all too well so we decided we would return as suggested.

It was a delightful trip down memory lane.  With only about 20 people in attendance and a very small male choir it was quite an experience for us.

The acoustics in the cathedral were amazing and it was such a pleasure to listen to the voices of the male choir as they chanted their way through the Evensong service that we knew so well.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Oh, the stories those walls could tell

What would a trip to Chester be without a walk along the Roman wall that surrounds the city centre.

Linda and I had both been to Chester many, many years ago but not together at the time.

It was one of our determinations that we would walk the wall on this visit and so we did.  Some of it is in a state of disrepair and it did seem to disappear back to land level in parts but we think we did a pretty good job.  Nice to achieve.

I am sure this tower could tell a few stories too, called the King Charles 1 Tower and apparently he watched his troops being defeated from here.  How sad.

We didn’t get to climb the tower but even from the wall just here the view around Chester was pretty amazing - very good look out spot to keep an eye out for would be invaders.

About 2/3rds of the way around the wall my legs were begging for a rest.

We found a pub in peaceful surroundings and had a Guinness each to revive us before continuing on.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Back tracking a little

Even with the wonders of modern technology things seem to go awry at times.

I have been sourcing my photos from my phone and that has been working well on the whole but not today so I thought I would back track just a little.

Spotted at Bridlington - a good old fashioned Punch and Judy show.  The stuff of children’s books when I was a girl but still being played out in real life for holiday makers at the beach in Bridlington.

We went to what is called the “Old Town” in Bridlington.

Popped into a little shop selling all types of art work along with some lovely little crafty items like these baby booties with beanie.  Very sweet.

Along the beach front were these very long flower beds still looking quite magnificent with autumn just around the corner.

When we were in Bridlington there were lots of families enjoying the last few days of holidays before school resumed on Wednesday.

A few days later we stopped at a beachside town in Wales called, Rhyl, and the beach was deserted.  The holidays were definitely over for some but not us, yet.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

One last time for Eccleshall

You can’t come to England without having a ‘proper’ Sunday pub lunch somewhere along the way.

Linda is pictured here with her sister-in-law Ruth, making decisions about the wonderful freshly cooked meat on display.

Our Eccleshall family said we just had to go to the The Royal Oaks for their Sunday carvery and we were not disappointed.

The landlady gets up at 5.30am on a Sunday to make sure she gets the meat cooked in time for commencement of the lunch session at 12 noon.

The meat comes from the butcher who just happens to have a shop next door and he just happens to have his own slaughter house so that was a pretty good guarantee all would  be well.

The man serving the meat was an engineer by trade.  He works his regular job in Manchester Monday to Friday and considers it worth his while to travel to Eccleshall each weekend to do this job so he can save money for a deposit on a house.

Pictured here he is serving roast lamb to Linda.  He apologised that the meat was falling apart but that was probably the best thing that could have happened.  It was beautiful and gave our New Zealand lamb a run for its money.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The signs are out but is anyone at home.

We stayed in a delightful B and B over a typical English style pub whilst in Eccleshall.

On our first morning there was milk provided so making our first coffee of the day was not a problem.

The next day was Sunday and we had been told that nobody stirs in Eccleshall before 10am on a Sunday.

After 7am I went to make morning coffee but the housekeeping had forgotten to replenish the milk for us.

I went downstairs but there was nobody available.  I decided on a walk to the local supermarket which was not far but true to type it was not opening on a Sunday until 10am.

I walked up the Main Street, sill hoping that someone may have opened their doors for a bit of business activity but it was not to be.

What was interesting to note was that the business owners do not appear to be bothered about leaving their signs and chairs out overnight regardless.

We had been told that the police station has closed down in Eccleshall.  Crime rate must be at all time low for neither chairs or signs to meet with damage or theft.

In the end I returned to our room and we had black coffee for starters.  Eventually the local coffee shop opened, at 10am of course, and we were able to have coffee with milk.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019


Over the past four years Linda and I have been very fortunate to visit several times with relatives in a lovely little Staffordshire village called Eccleshall.

It never seems to lose its charm and we enjoy revisiting the shops and surrounds.

On Sunday morning Linda and I went for a walk up the street.  Hardly anyone stirs before 10am on a Sunday in this part of the world.

We stopped to take a photo by Peg’s Cottage and a gentleman paused and asked if we would like him to take a photo of us together.

He proceeded to tell us that he had worked in Stafford for 30 years but had always wanted to retire to Eccleshall.  He has been able to do this and is so happy to be living the country life, going for Sunday runs with fields and animals just a few minutes from where he lives.

We thought his accent indicated that he was from further afield and, indeed, it turned out he was from Melbourne, so we are not the only ones it would seem that have a special liking for the village of Eccleshall.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Loving the train travel

In spite of a few hiccups, like missing trains, train delays and transfers from one platform to another, we are enjoying travelling around England by train.

Leaving Bridlington to go to Stafford involved two changes of train and on one segment these two ladies sat across the carriage from us.

I am not sure that it was midday even but they were all set up with alcoholic beverages and glasses, not to mention fresh strawberries in the glasses as well.

This was a mother and daughter travelling to Leeds to buy a wedding dress for the daughter and they were celebrating their outing in style.  There was more to come as they were going to be given cocktails when they arrived at the bridal gown boutique.

As we conversed with them they offered us a ready to drink can of pink gin and tonic.

We said we did not have glasses but this was not a problem.  The daughter dug into her travel bag and found a packet of make your own glasses, where you joined the stem and glass together to make little wine glasses.  They also handed over the remains of their strawberry purchase so that we could have fruit in our drink as well.

A fun addition to our day that never would have happened if we had not been travelling on the trains in England.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Anyone for a taxi?

Our stay in Bridlington was memorable for a number of reasons.

We walked a substantial few kilometres that day (12 kilometres in fact), one of the reasons being we could not find a taxi to take us to our required destinations.

Additionally, on that particular day, we did not seem to be able to get any internet connection which did not help.

A young lady from the information centre directed us to a local taxi company where we would be able to book a taxi.

When we arrived we were not sure if we were in the taxi office in Coronation Street, or maybe one of the many the police had to attend for enquiries in the police drama The Bill.

The lady who ran the office was in her 80’s and kept an old fashioned hand written ledger - no modern technology at this office.  One of the drivers told us she had worked for them for 40 years.

Nevertheless she did order a taxi for us and before we left Bridlington we had used the services of this company quite a few times.

Regarding the world of Uber taxis, virtually unheard of on the Yorkshire Coast.  When we asked, the word Uber seemed to be totally foreign.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Once more for Whitby

I already mentioned the keys we were given at the Saxonville Hotel but thought I would share a few more images from there before I say goodbye to Whitby altogether.

The grandfather clock was there to greet just near the reception area.  Looked the part but never heard it chime.

The dining room with white tablecloths and silver service dining.

Not just good looks but the food was just the best.

The waitress was there for our every need, if required.

Making bookings on line for accommodation can be ‘very interesting’.  Not all places live up to how they are publicised but the Saxonville did not let us down we are glad to say.

What would you prefer?

The Saxonville Hotel in Whitby was set up in an old world style and to go with the style we were given this set of keys with a very heavy brass key and tag.

Quite a contrast to the electronic key cards that are given out in a lot of accommodation places these days.

After carrying the keys around in my jacket pocket all day I decided I definitely preferred the modern day electronic device.

Which do you think you would prefer?