Saturday, September 21, 2019
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Kratos used to belong to Aaron and Marcele but he has been rehomed with Richard and Hannah and very happily so it would seem.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
We had never been to Kings Road, Chelsea before and thoroughly enjoyed our morning there.
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.
More of these amazing buttoned beanies on display along with other textile items.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Close enough to everything that is important about London but quiet enough to not be bothered by the hustle and bustle at night time.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Once again, I found it very hard to leave a place which really captured a little of my heart.
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
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
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.
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.
We found a pub in peaceful surroundings and had a Guinness each to revive us before continuing on.
Friday, September 06, 2019
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.