The wind whispered through the wheat ears and our shoes crunched on the gravel as Jeremy and I strode out on the Cherhill White Horse walk. This part of Wiltshire has small, undulating fields of differing green and brown hues. A random beam of sunshine turned the wheat golden and gave grassy patches a lemony and limey tinges. At least behind my shades it did! We finished the day at Avebury; expensive car park! I blagged a used ticket off someone leaving as I had no change for the machine! We got to the café in time for scones and tea. Goodo! The girls behind the till looked exhausted. I can only guess they had served hundreds of tea and scones before ours!
A high point this week, haha, was going to the open air roof top spa at Thermae Bath with Shirley and Carole. The weather forecast was dubious. We met in the wet at the Holborne Museum and after looking around and having lunch we moved onto the Spa. With cloudy but dry weather predicted late afternoon we firstly tried out the indoor pool before venturing to the outdoor one. Then blue sky emerged and the sun shone on us for the remainder of our session there. What luck! No cameras allowed so I can’t show you my yummy chocolate brownie in their café. I had a hot chocolate drink too served as a glass of hot milk and a mini jug of melted chocolate on the side. Delish!
Another high point was a trip with Sue, Marion and Judy to Highgrove Gardens – yes the third time this year! We met at Lyndseys , a café in Tetbury, before the tour and I had a chilled millionaire slice. It had beads of condensation on so not fresh obviously! In Highgrove Gardens, the delphiniums were over and had been chopped back but the foliage gave structure to the beds which had varieties of pink flowering plants. Still looking good but June is best, I’ve decided. We ate there after the tour and had a Gardener’s Tea: half a sandwich plus scone with jam and clotted cream. I waddled back to the car!
Well, my MINI and I have been on an adventure this week to the coast starting at Emsworth where I visited my ‘secret seat ‘ at the end of a road called ‘The Fishermans’, and whilst drinking my take out coffee, a lady joined me there. ‘’ It’s bait to the soul’’ she said. Bait? Must be the fisherman’s wife!! It’s her ‘hidden bench’ and she loves the view too. Then a second woman came down the steps. ‘’I’ve locked my mother in the car’’ she said dramatically ‘’so she can’t wander off’’. She plonked herself down and gazed out as we were. Another in need of feeding her soul…..
Stayed at Langstone overnight and then visited Bosham followed by the stunning mosaics at Bignor Roman Villa. Here I have a slice of Victoria Sponge taking in the view of the Downs. It was a perfect summer day! Then on the way home I stopped off at Chawton and popped into Jane Austen’s house.
Such a shame that the Saturday Aqua classes at the Regency Leisure Club have stopped. Most of us on off-peak have cancelled our memberships and going elsewhere. Still Marj, Anne Marie, Chris and I met for a cuppa and natter at the Discovery Centre. I had the first slice of their lemon curd cake with a white icing topping. Very nice!
How do I get on with the oxygen and juicing therapy when I’m away you may be wondering? I’ve found Bioglan Supergreens/Green Boost – dried ingredients to add to spring water as a temporary fix til I get home to juice fresh cauliflower, broccoli and beetroot. And the oxygen concentrator is too bulky to travel so I really hope that deep breathing exercises will help….
Ever been to a tea room inside a reclamation yard? We did – Barrs Yard in Hungerford. The outlook from our table was garden salvage – rows of plinths, statues and pots. We had a sense of being in the garden of a stately home…Luckily, Mum didn’t want to purchase anything as most was too big for my car boot and much was bigger than my mother! Honesty cookery school own it but the cakes aren’t made by the students although my Mini Matcha Cake could have been – it was a particularly unspongy sponge! I think my eyes fell in love with the pink icing!
This week, Marion and I had a catchup at the Discovery Centre. We walked round the lake and saw plenty of mallards and coots but none of the less common but more interesting birds – pochards, grebes , etc – they’re either on holiday or miffed that the centre no longer sell duck food. But we were very happy with our huge slices of delicious home made coffee cake…
A high spot this week (haha), Julia and I went to the National Trust’s Vyne property to walk around the platform on the roof looking down over the chimneys as work was being undertaken to renovate the roof. The workmen below us had the hard hats presumably incase a lax visitor drops the contents of their handbag over the edge. I guess a lipstick dropped at height becomes a missile. And of course before leaving we enjoyed a cuppa and I had a scone complete with Rodda, NT jam and a delinquent wasp high on the smell of sugar. I took home a lovely bunch of dahlias fresh from their garden. Not pilfered by the way…
So Shirley, Karen and I met up at the Tollgate Tea Rooms on the A46 towards Bath. It was lovely meeting up for lunch but luckily none of us had soup for our waitress was a dead ringer for the Julie Walters character in ‘Two Soups’! But it was all part of the quaintness of the place! Karen was on her ‘lunch hour’ and with the dire weather it was great to just stay and chat.
It was lovely to see Nina and Chris for coffee this week. It seems like ages since we had a natter. Nina had made some delicious flapjacks. And I got to catchup with Penny at the Christian Aid coffee morning where I was helping out. I was asked if I could help out on the cake stall (of course not!) with Sonya which meant I had first pick of the cakes and purchased a delicious coffee cake to take home. It looked very professionally done and the baker hadn’t skimped on the icing. Nice!
The lemon drizzle traybake (bottom left of the photo was very tasty too) – lots of lemon and lots of drizzle! The coffee morning raised £468! Amazing! The bric-a-crap table did exceptionally well – it was like watching bees round a honey pot. No wonder we raised so much!
You know, Jeremy and I hooked up this week 19 years ago at a curry night; we belonged to a walking/social club. It was 2 Aug 1998. The date would have been my father’s birthday but he had died the year before. I remember wondering if it was prophetic….And did you know, spiritually, the number 2 is of union…
Don’t Give Up! said the invitation to a Jehovah’s conference lying on the doormat. I needed those 3 words; my focus has been faultering in the lead up to my second quarterly scan. Dr Jackson’s voice has been ringing in my ears ”the cancer will grow back in 4-6 months”. It is now 7 months. So it felt like a personal message to get me back on track.
Whilst at the hospital for the scan this week, I popped into the Blue Café and had the first slice of their gluten free carrot cake….Yum!
But the two high points this week were: the ‘flight’ on the Brooklands Concorde and a visit to the RA Summer Exhibition! Ron and Liz are members of Brooklands and we joined them to look around the huge number of exhibits there. The learned volunteers make interesting listening and consequently lots to absorb. Whilst there, we had a gander inside Mercedes Benz World next door – like everyone else. But the best was sitting inside Concorde and experiencing the multi-sensory simulation of a take-off! The next day, Fiona and I attended the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Another lovely day. We wandered round the rooms with a very civilised glass of sparkling wine in one hand and a guide book in the other critiquing the exhibits. A couple of hours viewing required some sustenance in the tea room after with a delicious Gooey Chocolate Cake!
I met up with Carolyn this week for a catch up at the Yew Tree Garden Centre and had the first slice of their Lemon Drop cake. Very moist. Very zingy!
Also this week, Mum and I continued with the Jane Austen trail and found another couple of ‘bookbenches’. One was at the Old Basing Tythe Barn – one of the largest Tythe Barns in the UK. Then onto Viables Craft Centre where we stopped at the delightful tea rooms there and shared an enormous slice of toffee cake. I’ve never seen so many freshly baked cakes on display. Funnily, it was empty of people when we arrived yet the waitress said, ”have you booked?” and ” I’ll just have to check if we have a table”. Fortunately, we were squeezed into the empty tea room successfully!
I’ve been very lucky to get 4 free aromatherapy sessions agreed by the Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust and had my second this week. I arrived for it already feeling very chilled from the session at the Global Retreat the day before so no surprise I floated out after the massage…
What a great week! It started in Matlock, Derbyshire. Jeremy and I visited Kenneth, Helen and Sarah who were holidaying there. I can tick 2 places off the bucket list: Haddon Hall (I used to collect porcelain of the same name so the house held some mystery for me). It’s a delightful Tudor house with many original features and I can tick off the beautiful Trentham Gardens, Stoke which we had passed many times over the years. Some of the original house remains but it is just that – remains…
Whilst in Derbyshire, we visited Bakewell and looked out for the original Bakewell Pudding. It actually looked inedible and very un-photogenic and no wonder Mr Kipling covered it with icing and stuck a cherry on top:)
A tea shop amongst the shopping village outside the Trentham Garden entrance had a great display of cakes. We abstained, having had a cooked breakfast and going only for Americanos, but the double decker salted caramel gingerbread cake looked fab!
I met Jenny and Julia in Basingstoke’s Willis Museum and enjoyed a cuppa and slice of lemon drizzle cake before seeing the Angie Lewin exhibition.
One of the nicest days this week was Pauline’s garden party when the sun decided to make an appearance. Mum and I, along with 25 other ladies, enjoyed tea and sandwiches plus scones that even Nadia would approve of! No need to cut a perfect scone in half she says just break it apart! Pauline’s scones were therefore perfect…..
So the week ended today with Lindsey and I going to the Global Retreat south of Oxford at Nuneham Courtney. We had a day of meditation with a tour of the fabulous Georgian house and extensive grounds which just 3 gardeners keep immaculate. I’m not a great fan of Indian food but their vegetarian lunch was delicious. A nice chilled end to a lovely week.
Had a great day at Fairford today. Jeremy and I took chairs and picnic and sat outside the perimeter fence at the end of the runway. Yes, the cheap seats! We parked in a sleepy village and walked across the fields, beside the river and through a posh estate built round some lakes. We had drizzle and low cloud which affected some of the performances. But my favourites were there – the Red Arrows and also their American counterparts – the Thunderbirds! Great flying displays! It was the best position at the end of the runway as the aircraft went directly overhead! Nice walk too!
Mum and I went on the Jane Austen trail this week and found 3 of the 24 ‘Bookbenches’ travelling to Steventon (her birth place), Overton and Whitchurch. They are beautifully decorated each by different artists and will be auctioned after the end of August We had tea in the Gallery in Overton and Mum had coffee cake and mine looks like cheese on toast but it was actually carrot cake. Disappointing – you need to see before you buy….
I was in Thatcham and popped into the Mug and Brew and had a slice of Lucy’s tasty coconut, lime and mango cake. That’s what a slice of cake should look like….Also this week I helped at the Falkland WI coffee morning and bought Pauline’s (my reiki practitioner) lemon butterfly cakes with homemade lemon curd. Delicious! I enjoyed one in the afternoon watching the tennis. It’s been a sporty week (on telly that is) what with the Tour de France too.
Another cake highlight this week was the arty crafty ladies afternoon tea at Esseborne Manor. Jenny, Judy, Eileen, Gill, Fenisia and me. The food there is superb and I can recommend it highly. We had our fill on some lovely savouries, scones and pastries.
It would appear that quite a lot of cake got consumed this week……
We’ve been to Russia visiting Moscow and St Petersburg this week! We had a great trip organised by the Russian Tourist Board with just one blip – we arrived in Moscow and our driver wasn’t there to take us onward. Luckily the couple standing with us in the hour long customs throng were also staying at our hotel – The Best Western Vega – but on a different tour! So we shared their taxi! How lucky were we!
It was hot and sultry when we arrived but the Russian weather then became un-seasonally wet and chilly….We saw all the key sites of Moscow by coach and had walking and metro tours. The latter is very easy to use actually and artistically fascinating. I enjoyed walking in Red Square, the Impressionist collection in the Puskin Museum and I enjoyed sheltering from the rain listening to the high standard of licensed buskers in one of the underpasses. The rain was torrential at one point, so inside the Kremlin we were very glad to get into its cathedrals and armoury with its magnificent collection of valuables which were even more interesting knowing it was torrential rain outside! There are no drains so the pavements are just running rivers. Never been so wet!
We took the Sapsan (”high speed”) train to St Petersburg and in the day light we saw the endless forests and waste land punctuated by hamlets of woodern houses of varying levels of dilapidation. Some hamlets had great mobile masts but not all had street lights nor tarmacked roads. Even in the sunlight the stations we glided through belonged to towns that looked grim. But then we got to St Petersburg. We came out of the station and thought we had arrived in Paris! The BA check-in lady said to us ‘are you going to see the White Nights? – pop group? armoured horsemen? No, she meant the long daylight hours. And yes we saw the sun still shining at 10pm in St P.
St P looks and feels European. There are endless roads of beautiful buildings of the early 18th century built by French and Italians for Peter the Great. The canals add to the attractiveness of the place. It is magnificent. The sights are stunning. In our free time, we walked lots and soaked (different context this time) the place up returning back to our hotel, the Demetra Art Hotel, some 10 hours later….
Included were tours of the Winter Palace and Summer Palace (1 hour drive away) which if you are familiar with them are sumptuously decorated and not to be missed. We chose to go to the Faberge museum. Also, we did a canal cruise and we queued to see inside the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood – another amazing interior. Nearly saw spilled blood in the throng trying to buy tickets to go in…
So to food, we ate at a range of places. The hotel buffet in Moscow, a canteen restaurant inside a supermarket with the locals, at a window in a wall where the locals order hot dog which came with a really, really nice cup of coffee – the best I’d had for ages actually. In St P we ate in local family run kebab restaurants, in a Russian Italian chain restaurant and snacked at open air snackeries trying cheese bread (bread with cheese inside) and potato pie (bread with potato inside). However, there were few opportunities to eat cake. In the Moscow hotel buffet they served little squares of traybakes for desert. In the supermarkets there were more biscuits than cake on offer. But I did spot this selection of special cakes in a supermarket (left) and at breakfast in St P we could choose a little traybake or even scrumptious macarons…. heaven……
Jeremy is recovering well after wounding his head when he took a tumble on Scafell last week. I recall that afternoon on our return trip to A’n’E the 3 black cats running out in front of the car; he was lucky, lucky, lucky – it could have been a lot worse…..
We popped into to the Mug and Brew this week and shared a Millionaires Slice. All the cakes look lovely there but a traybake is easier to cut into 2 portions! I went shopping (unsuccessfully) for a new soft fabric cap for Jeremy to protect his head, but driving home spotted a cap in the middle of the road!! I pulled over and waited. No one collected it so I took it home and washed it -it has been really useful! .Here he is looking very pensive…and suffering with his bruised back…
While I was in Newbury I had a coffee and raspberry macaron at Paul’s. Lush! I recall attending a mastercass last year in making macarons with Gill and Pam and chose raspberry with raspberry filling. I think they do look quite professional…
On the subject of macarons, we had our St George’s ladies do Esseborne lunch this week. It is always delicious and they too make very nice macarons which get served with coffee at the end of the meal. They got consumed too quickly to get a photo…Looking forward to afternoon tea there next month….
On the subject of afternoon tea, I had a cream tea to complete my tour of Highgrove Gardens. Yes, again! I got the only ticket left in June as I really wanted to see Charles’ National Collection of Delphiniums . They were fabulous – some 7 foot tall and quite a girth to them too. The secret has got to be in the compost. It was splendid to see the garden at this time of year. Looking forward to going again…. No cameras permitted.
Mum and I had a cuppa at the Hillier Garden Centre today and shared a tasty slice of raspberry and lavender loaf. She had the fit of giggles as I took this one so a nice one to finish the week on!
Well a week of ups and downs! The temperature for one: 30 to 14 degrees (a windy Windermere yesterday)! Also, Jeremy went off walking the Lakeland fells to recharge his batteries, so lots of ups and downs there too and unfortunately on his last fell of the week – fell…so we had an unexpected tour passing the Sellafield plant to Whitehaven A & E. He had his wound glued together and some strips applied plus his hand was xrayed and found to be OK. Bizarrely, 3 black cats ran out in front of our car on the journey from Greendale to Whitehaven and back and even Jeremy thought that was an omen…
Here he is, the following day at the Ravensglass miniature railway café – you might just be able to see the strips on his head. We shared a lush lemon meringue pie before heading off on a leisurely ride to Boot where we lunched. Lakeland Lamb Henry – delicious! We stayed in a cottage in a remote part of West Cumbria close to the beautiful Wastwater. I stayed for 3 nights having got the train mid-week and thoroughly enjoyed the ride from Lancaster. Some beautiful scenery. It sparked the idea of a Favourite Journeys page.
Earlier in the week I had a blood test at Basingstoke Hospital and so I had a slice of Lemon and Poppy Seed cake in the Blue Café. Very nice! Then there was the lush Victoria Sandwich at The Saddlebacks Farm Shop with lovely views over the fields but a swarm of little black insects attached themselves and it wasn’t such a pleasant place after all….Then today Marion, Judy and I went to the West Woodhay Garden Fair and I had a slice of cherry filled Victoria Sandwich. Scrummy…..
Hopefully there is less drama next week….
This week started in the New Forest at Milford on Sea. We had a blusteringly blustery time! We stayed at the Beach House Hotel which we knew previously as Westover Hall. It’s an Arts and Crafts House with magnificent pre-Raphaelite stained glass with views of The Needles. (Even on TV in our room we could gaze at the flashing lighthouse and crashing seas!) We fought the wind along the fast disappearing and still crumbling away coast path to Barton on Sea where we stopped at a caff for a cuppa to refresh ourselves. The flapjacks were minute and disappeared in 2 bites….too quickly to photograph….
On the return we walked along the shingle beach across prohibited areas prone to land slides…. Jeremy forged ahead and I stumbled along behind trying to avoid getting my feet licked by the sea on the narrow parts and keeping one eye on any potential land fall…..It was hard work on the legs but dessert made up for it. We had a fab sharing chocolate fondue for dessert at dinner….
Next day, we got blown along the coast path from Milford to Lymington which meandered through a lovely nature reserve where we spotted many species including humanoids with large dogs and lens. Or was it the other way round…We watched to ferry to the IOW which I recall getting many years ago. I recall thinking at the time that one day I would like to walk along the footpath through the marshes. So I am even ticking off things that I had forgotten I wanted to do…
I met with Marion and Judy at The Pineapple Palace and we had some delicious chocolate and orange cake sat out beside the river complete with hissing swan and cygnet. Then at a NGS afternoon with Mum at Dunsborough House, I had a slice of coffee cake. Someone had put a lot of effort in decorating the top. All in aid of charity.
Mum and I got a private tour at Dunsborough House as their website had advertised the cornflower and poppy meadow. However, it was out of bounds to the public (I agree – why advertise it?) So I asked a gardener if we could see it as cornflowers are my mother’s favourite flower. So Jose obliged and walked us through the private area of the gardens but said the meadow wasn’t as good this year due to the earlier dry season we had. Apparently, the cornflowers in his own garden on site are much bigger – thought it best not ask to go round his house…
On the craft side I have joined a team knitting a map of Newbury. Yes you read that right! We are starting with small beige squares for the background and later we add knitted landmarks. No, I don’t expect our house will be on it!
And I have signed up for anther online Future Learn course on Mental Health. Going to hypnotherapy has sparked my interest in the mind/brain. This has been the most interesting one so far as the comments show such a diverse group of people studying together.
Oh and the total for Christian Aid in Wash Common is £2.000.69 (which includes the gift aid element of those gift aided donations) . Not bad for just 15 collectors…..
This week started on the Isle of Wight! Julia and I wanted to see Osborne House and grounds – Queen Victoria’s estate.
We spent a few hours there exploring, reviving ourselves with tea in the garden, (no, the lady behind has not collapsed…..) before heading to our hotel, the devine Albert Cottage Hotel which was once a royal residence. We supped on delicious blanc-de-blanc and dined on fine food, walking it off along the prom at Cowes the following day until the wind was too much and we turned tail. We visited Whippingham and Victoria’s finely decorated church and can recommend the Folly Inn too, situated on the River there. The rain arrived as predicted as we drove up to the Brading Roman Villa and we dived in doors to look at the well preserved mosaic flooring and enjoyed the homemade cake and scones!
I’m posting this from Sandbanks Hotel as the last couple of days have been spent in Dorset. It is a strong on-shore wind and the grey sky has kept the tourists off the beach…I spent the last 2 nights with Sue in her new holiday home at Burton Bradstock, a sleepy town near the coast at Hive Beach where the National Trust have a wonderful café. Another windy spot….We explored Bridport and in West Bay we identified key Broadchurch (the ITV drama) locations; we stopped there for tea and Dorset Apple Cake at Sladers Yard an interesting art gallery, returning to West Bay to have dinner at the infamous fish restaurant – Riverside.
The second day we spent in Abbotsbury at the 600 year old swannery (more Dorset Apple Cake) and the tropical gardens. Both were thoroughly enjoyable and we whiled away a few hours at both. On the way to Sandbanks I stopped off at Monkey World to see the orang-utans – just incase I don’t get to Borneo….One of the babes was so cute and spent a lot of time doing roly pollies on the grass but then I noticed some juveniles using rolling techniques to descend from the top of their structure. I took it to be an innate movement…
This week I got my hair analysis results from Freddie the White Witch detailing my food allergies and the food types my body craves. What was interesting was the hair she requested from the back of my head above my neck was new growth this year, (it fell out from there if you recall) yet the results revealed I should eat more fruit, peppers and live yoghurt (which I have been this year but I didn’t historically). Umm. The foods to avoid were all additives and preservatives (found in processed foods I would have eaten once) plus white bread and rice which I’ve not eaten for ages…..Off to eat some yoghurt and fruit…..