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We’ve just come back from a wonderful weekend away with friends in Bristol. We had glorious weather, the end of an Indian summer, and travelled up on the train on Friday morning staying for two nights in the Royal Marriott and Spa hotel (thanks Mr Tesco!). The hotel was perfectly located close to the harbour in the city centre and we enjoyed a lovely room and a great breakfast.
The photos are just a few of the things we saw. The famous Bristol grafitti artist Banky’s work on Frogmore Street, Bristol Cathedral, the harbourside, Brunel’s SS Great Britain and Cabot’s ship The Matthew.
With loads to see and do I’d recommend Bristol to anyone wanting a weekend break. We’ll be back!
We were up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, this weekend for my friend Adam’s 40th. We stayed at a lovely guest house which we highly recommend for anyone staying in the town. Saturday was spent looking around which included tea and cake at the world famous Bettys.
Harrogate is a lovely place and well kept; the flowerbeds, packed with summer bedding, are all over the town and its open spaces and parks are treasured. Harrogate also plays host to some great horticultural shows, the Autumn Show is September 17th-19th.
It was a great party with 30 of us in full medieval fancy dress, a traditional banquet served in a bread bowl, (which you ate after the last of the main courses was served), in an amazing medieval setting. We had soup, salmon and prawns, lamb shank, chicken & pheasant, the King’s stew, poached pear & ice cream and cheeseboard (I think there was also a vegetarian option!). More food than we needed really with large jugs of ale, cider and wine on the table. Fantastic night courtesy of our hosts.
And by popular demand here we are in our medieval garb!
In the garden you turn your back for a couple of days and courgettes become marrows!
In the flower bed the asters are now in full bloom.
And my last variety of Gladioli, Mexico, are finally out. Thank you to all who entered my free giveaway competition, prizes will be despatched soon. Have a great week!
Glastonbury, Reading, Isle of Wight and now………Firsdown! 25 years on from Live Aid the 5th annual Firsdown Music Fayre was rocking. We didn’t have to go far, about 500 yards, to the end of the village where a neatly mowed field with a stage erected at one end played host to around 500 local revellers. The festival started on Saturday evening with bands and fireworks and then from midday to 7pm on Sunday with more bands, BBQ, bar etc.
There was an ecclectic mix of music, mainly rock and pop with a bit of blues thrown in and a Shadow’s tribute band, “Vintage Echoes”. Other bands included “22nd Street”, “Tramps & Amps”, “Stiff Joints”, “The Livery Road Blues Band”, and an amazing 4-piece of 13 year olds called “The Jalapenos”.
The crowd enjoyed some great music under clear blue skies, a glorious afternoon. The girls loved it, a great family day out!
Today we were at the River Bourne Community Farm Open Day in Salisbury. The girls loved all the different animals and activities.
Here’s the piglets enjoying the sun.
And the baby ducks with their own little pool.
A great day out.
Brownsea Island lies in the heart of Poole Harbour, the world’s biggest natural harbour (or second biggest if you listen to the Aussies). We took a picnic with us and caught the ferry from Poole to the island. Brownsea, which was host to the BBC’s Autumnwatch in 2008, is owned by the National Trust and famous for two things, the first ever Scout camp in 1907 and red squirrels, one of the few places in the South you can see them.
The island is 1 1/2 miles long and is a great place to stroll around for the afternoon with a mixture of pine and broadleaf forest, heath and wetlands that are home to a variety of wildlife. With only 250 red squirrels we’d be lucky to see one. It happened within 5 minutes with one scurrying along a wall just behind the castle. Then no more all afternoon, we were lucky as most visitors don’t see any. It was too quick for my camera though.
During our picnic we were visited by this Peacock who put on a fabulous display for us.
This is the Baden Powell stone commemorating the first ever Scout camp.
The views from the southern edge of the island were glorious.
Chloe was worn out by the time we got back to the ferry, we saw about half of the island so there’s plenty to do for a day, we didn’t go to the Nature Reserve. Then it was back to Poole Quay for fish and chips and home. A great day out!
38 years old today meant I’d earnt a day off work. We dropped the girls at nursery for the day and drove down to Portsmouth to do some shopping round Gunwharf Quays, take a look at the Spinnaker Tower and the Historic Dockyard. About 45 minutes from home means we don’t normally go to Portsmouth, unless we’re catching a ferry, so it was good to find quite a bit to do for a day out.
The weather was great, a lovely sunny day and Gunwharf Quays was a good place to wander round for a couple of hours with a mix of shops that both Rachel and I were interested in. We had lunch on the waterfront courtesy of Pizza Express (those Tesco Clubcard vouchers again!) and then went to visit the Spinnaker Tower.
I remember this being one of those doomed Millenium projects but I was impressed by the structure of a sail right on the water’s edge near the harbour entrance. Fraught with problems the tower finally opened in 2005 and stands at 175m high. There are 3 viewing decks the highest being the Crow’s Nest at 110m and from here you can see around 25 miles an area covering Chichester to the east, the Isle of Wight to the South and Southampton and the New Forest to the west.
Just across from the tower is this building in the shape of the funnel.
Another great day out. Now I must get back to some gardening!
This weekend I met up with friends in Cambridge and took a trip to Newmarket races for the first time. The home of horse racing Newmarket is world famous and hosts the classic races the 1000 and 2000 Guineas in early May. This meet was not quite as important but still a great day out for anyone who likes horse racing. The Rowley Mile course, named after King Charles II’s favourite horse ‘Old Rowley’, is perfectly kept and was well attended with punters for the 7 race event.
We studied the horses as they were walked round the paddock and then over to the bookies to place our bets before each race. We pooled our money and each chose a horse per race and by the end of the day we’d doubled our money which paid for the entrance fee and taxi, not enough for the beer though! One of our winners was Klammer who is now bound for Royal Ascot later in the season.
Back in Cambridge we went to the Kingston Arms a great little pub serving real ales and, by coincidence, a great Perry (7.5%) from Broadoak in Bristol which I’d first tried last weekend in Bath. We reviewed the days winners and losers over a few pints of Perry and the odd bag of Pork Scratchings. Just about able to walk by the end of the night we staggered down the road to get a taxi back home. A great day out!
We had a lovely weekend away in Bath, our first weekend together without the girls since Chloe was born nearly 3 years ago. If you’ve never been to Bath before it’s a great place to visit, a beautiful city renowned for its Georgian architecture and Roman Baths.
One of the most famous streets in Bath is The Circus.
But the premier address must be The Royal Crescent.
Pulteney Bridge is one of the few bridges in the world with shops built into it.
We stayed at the Francis Bath hotel which has a great location right in the city centre. We ate out courtesy of Tesco Clubcard points in Strada, Cafe Rouge and Pizza Express. On Saturday night we ate at Jamie’s Italian to celebrate Rachel’s birthday and had a fantastic meal. It’s the first time we’ve queued up to get into a restaurant but it was worth it. Whilst we waited for our table the cocktails went down well and then we were guided past the kitchens through to the back dining area which was really bustling with a lively atmosphere. We had the Anitpasti Meat Plank to share, Rachel had steak and I had lamb for main followed by Tirimasu and Chocalate Brownie for dessert washed down with a bottle of wine. A great evening.
There are loads of restaurants and cafes in Bath but the oldest is Sally Lunn’s where a pot of tea and a Sally Lunn bun is the done thing. We shared half of one, toasted with jam and clotted cream which was more than enough for late morning bite.
We had a fantastic weekend in Bath and being just an hour away by train I’m sure we’ll be back soon.
The plot has been a bit neglected last weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday we were in Surrey for our nephew’s birthday party at Surrey Steam Model Engineers in Leatherhead. We had a great time with lots of rides on the different trains, not sure who enjoyed it more the children or the Dads! It rekindled a few memories for all of us and the old boys who maintain and drive these minature trains where in their element. A great day out!
Another family day out today in the New Forest which started with drizzle and ended by the coast in glorious sunshine. First we went to Hythe farmer’s market. There were quite a few stalls at Hythe and it was a good market to stroll around for a while. I bought some Loosehanger cheese, ‘bustard with mustard’, ‘chilli and nettle’ and a soft cheese, which had been recommended by a friend who lives near the farm where it’s made (Lover, near Salisbury, which was probably best known for its Post Office which becomes very busy at Valentines). Also picked up some nice Lyburn cheese, ‘Winchester Mature’ and a couple of pints of ‘Easter Bunnies’ which is going down well as I type.
Lovely plant stall, I resisted buying the kiwi fruit!
Hythe is ‘famous’ for its pier which is home to the world’s longest pier train. The pier is 640 metres long and was completed in 1881, the train being introduced in 1922. Chloe and Rachel enjoyed the train while I walked with Emily in the pushchair. A very bracing walk indeed, one nice feature was the messages on the planks, you can pay and have a message engraved on them.
Eventually the train caught up with me!
Then we went off to Lepe Country Park which is on the coast opposite Cowes (IoW).
We made sandcastles on the beach and had a picnic which Chloe finished off with an ice cream.
We were in a cow jam just outside of Beaulieu.
And then we enjoyed a bag of chips overlooking Lymington harbour in glorious sunshine.
Another great day out!