Christmas Day

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25th December 2018

After a hearty breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs there  was time for a quick walk to clear our heads before the preparations for Christmas dinner began.

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We had prepared a lot of the vegetables before-hand so with Jane, Charlotte and myself all working together it all went very easily.

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Zena was pleased that her Aunt Bessie had made the yorkshire puddings (everything else was homemade!)

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Dad really enjoyed having everyone around…………and he managed a huge meal!

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Eleanor seemed a little distracted………but after a little gentle persuasion she put her phone down and joined in with everyone else!

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A rare picture of Eleanor without her phone!

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I’m not saying that Zena and Esme are posers……….but a picture paints a thousand words!

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You can’t believe the noise that 6 women can make whilst playing cards…………so much so that Dad, Paul and I retired to the lounge to watch yet more Morecambe and Wise!

We all had a great Christmas and I hope you all did too!

 

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Geocaching With My Nieces

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My nieces Esme and Zena seem to like geocaching as much as I do, so I found a circuit of 12 caches close to us in the village of Braishfield.

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We managed to find all 12 of the hidden caches, but I think the most fun was had on a rope swing that we found !

Everybody had a go…………..except Jane and I (boring I know!)

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Even Paul had a go much to the amusement of Zena!

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Sally took her turn a lot more demurely than everyone else!

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Golf to Clear the Head

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Friday 28th December

An early start on the golf course is required to beat all the interlopers who are on a festive break and trying to disrupt our normal smooth running routine of a quiet game of golf!

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The weather was bright and well worth the effort of getting up early!

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A quick 18 holes is a great way of burning off some of the extra calories that I had taken onboard during the last week or so!

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Peterborough

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Friday 22nd December 2018

The Bell Inn in Stilton near Peterborough was our home for a couple of nights. I had stayed here many years ago when I was promoted whilst working for Nurdin and Peacock.  My then boss John Cover arranged for me to stay here whilst I looked for a house, and I have very fond memories of my time here. John and his wife Carol, along with their family, welcomed me with open arms and I immediately felt at home. John is sadly no longer with us but I have still stayed in touch with Carol, and I was delighted to receive an invitation to her 70th birthday party.

We drove up on the Friday so that we could have a bit of time exploring and visiting some of the places from my past. Along with traveling down memory lane we took time to visit a National Trust property .

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Lyveden New Bield is an unfinished Elizabethan summer house in the east of Northamptonshire, England, and looked great on a cold crisp December day.

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We had to wrap up warm to fully enjoy this house and grounds, and I think next time we come it should be in the summer!

Mind you at least we had blue skies which helped with the taking of photographs!

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The party was in the Bell so all we had to do was walk downstairs at the beginning of the evening, and then stagger up to bed at the end!  As well as it being Carol’s birthday it was her daughter Heidi’s 40th birthday and her granddaughter Charlotte’s 18th. Charlotte looks the splitting image of her mum Lucy and when I first saw her I thought I was in a time warp and that it was in fact Lucy I was seeing!  It was great seeing all the family and catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen for 25 years or more!

We will have to visit again…………but next time in the summer when its warmer………did I mention it was cold?

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Christmas Preparations 2018

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Wednesday 19th December 2018

Christmas has now become something that I actually look forward to now that I am not working. When I had the shop all Christmas meant to me was a lot of hard work and then 2 days off and then back to work! Now I can get out and see some of the Christmas attractions and get in to the festive spirit.

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We took dad out for a visit to the National Trust property of Mottisfont which is just down the road from us. We are frequent visitors here due to the proximity and it is great to see the flowers and trees as the seasons change. They also have different exhibitions throughout the year and on this trip the house was set up as it would have been for a 1930s Christmas.

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It was interesting to see how the other half enjoyed their festive season between the wars!

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The chandelier in the picture was very similar to the one we used to have at home…………but I got fed up with dusting it so we changed back to a normal light bulb!

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Outside the house were a family of reindeer ………

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…………and the red shiny nose really brightened up a rather overcast day!

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I wouldn’t have minded getting that car in my Christmas sack all those years ago……..come to think about it I would quite like it now!

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I’m not so sure on the book, I would have been a little disappointed if I had not got my usual copy of the Beano annual !

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So we had a short but sweet visit to Mottisfont.  The next exhibition is of Thelwells paintings (young girls on plump ponies) and that starts on January 5th.

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A Christmas Carol

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Wednesday 12th December 2018

We were invited to an evening out in London by my cousin Adrian and his wife Ang…………details at this stage were very sketchy, apparently  we would be given more details the closer we got to the time of the event……….

The Great Christmas Feast

Dress code
Neither Victorian dress nor eveningwear is compulsory. However, either would put Mr Dickens in the most sparkling and effervescent of moods. This can only add to your evening’s entertainment. So if you are of a mind to dress up in your finest, please do. We would absolutely love it and can promise you won’t be alone…

LOCATION You will find the Great Christmas Feast at 47-49 Tanner Street, SE1 3PL. Search for the Sign of the Wreath and enter… TIMINGS Doors will open at 7pm each night. Because the event involves live performance we ask that you arrive no later than 7.30pm please.

All very intriguing ……………….

 

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Well the first thing that happened on entering the building past the sign of the wreath was that someone gave us a glass of champagne, well that was a great start to the evening!   We then saw the cocktail list, which all seemed very interesting, so a round of those were ordered.

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Mr Charles Dickens himself acted out the Christmas Carol between courses and he was very good………..

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This is the one and only photo taken that evening of us without a drink in our hands!

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Quite a few of the other guests had arrived in fancy dress!

There were great, round, pot-dash bellied baskets of chestnuts; ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish friars; Norfolk Biffins, squat and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons…

…Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, great joints of meat, long wreaths of sausages, mince pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, juicy oranges, immense twelfth-cakes and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam…

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian bravely volunteered to carve the pheasants, I’m glad he did as it wasn’t easy with the blunt knives they supplied!!!

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After a lovely meal it was time to celebrate with another drink……………

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And Mr Dickens himself was partial to a little drop of champagne…………..

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Jane and Ang were a little chilly in this victorian warehouse………..

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Even the glow from my beaming cheeks didn’t seem to warm them…………….

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Oh, and at the end of the evening I was a little bit on the merry side…….I think thats how Jane put it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Blenheim Palace

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Wednesday 21st November

What a difference a couple of days make, here we are back in England and its b****y freezing but you know what, its great to be home to see our family and friends…………. no really it is!

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I have to say it wasn’t particularly busy at Blenheim Palace so we virtually had the place to ourselves. It was lovely to explore the extensive grounds in relative peace and quiet.

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Did I tell you it was really really cold?

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The chilly weather gave Jane the opportunity to pack away her summer wardrobe and get her winter gear out!

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Although it was a lot less warm than we were used to it was great to see the sun on its fleeting visits between the clouds!

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Apparently this tree has been featured in a Harry Potter film……………

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Jane cannot decide who or what has the biggest mouth!

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We will have to come back here in the summer when it is warmer (did I tell you how cold it was?) We didn’t get chance to see around the inside of the Palace as it was being prepared for their “Christmas Experience” so maybe we should spend a couple of days here next time.

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Blenheim is close to the charming Oxfordshire town of Woodstock, and although we didn’t see any memorabilia from the famous 60’s open air concert it was still a lovely place to wander around and explore before having a warming lunch!

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Noja

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16th November 2018

The Picos de Europa are in the distance, once we have climbed over that mountain range it will be all down hill to Santander. (It seems strange writing this sat beside the aga at my dad’s house, these bright warm days seem so long and far away, and it was only a month ago!)

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The campsite we had chosen was a bit on the rustic side, but it had all we needed and great views as well. The main thing as far as Jane was concerned was whether the showers were hot and clean, and they were so that was ok!

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Whilst we were there we took a drive along the coast to Noja which was a small resort when I last visited there nearly 40 years ago……….it’s a lot bigger now!

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But the beautiful beaches remain the same………..

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This time of year they were virtually empty but there were a few hardy swimmers taking to the water!

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We chose to give the bathing a miss and instead walked along the stunning coast path making the most of this fantastic late November weather!

This was truly one of  the best ways to spend our last full day in Spain.

Especially when we stopped off at the local Tapas bar to sample their wares!

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While we were strolling along the beach I received a TXT telling us that the return ferry had been delayed due to bad weather on the Bay of Biscay, and that instead of catching the boat at 5pm from Santander we now had to drive to Bilbao and board at 11.30pm! Do I tell Jane or not, it will only worry her?

Well as we had nearly a whole extra day in Spain I thought I would go and  pay my respects to perhaps Europe’s most charismatic golfer, Severiano Ballesteros. What a lovely place he lived and learned to play golf in, I think I might come back and play this course…………maybe next year!

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Well thank goodness for that, the return crossing wasn’t as bad as I had thought.  It was the crossing on the way to Spain that had all the problems, poor them! Mind you there were times when it was a little choppy, at lunch time Jane didn’t feel up to eating all her chips so to save here blushes I helped her out!

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I think we managed to avoid the rough weather as we kept the French coastline in view most of the time!

Back home to the cold of England tomorrow!

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Burgos

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Wednesday 14th November 2018

After a fairly uneventful drive (with the exception of driving around Madrid towing a caravan!) we arrived in Burgos, a step nearer to our final destination in Spain (Santander), ready to catch the ferry home early evening on Sunday.  (STOP PRESS……..we have just been notified that due to bad weather on the Bay of Biscay the ferry has been rerouted to Bilbao and delayed until midnight on Sunday !!!!!)

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As always after a long drive I like to get out and stretch my legs if there is time.  The river Arlanzón flows close to the campsite, and as it was still light we set out for a walk.  It’s a lot colder here than it was in Aranjuez; time for long trousers and jumpers and coats!

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There is a “beach” on the river bank not far away from the campsite but it was a bit too chilly today to tempt me in…….mind you my wetsuit was back at the caravan……………..

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On second thoughts I decided to just enjoy the walk!

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Thursday 15th November 2018

A bit of an overcast day to explore the city of Burgos. We had been told not to miss the old town.

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It has many historic landmarks, and of particular importance is the Cathedral of Burgos which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.

Castilian nobleman, military leader and diplomat El Cid Campeador is a significant historical figure in the city, as he was born a couple of kilometres north of Burgos and was raised and educated there.  The photos above were taken in and around the Cathedral and the bottom right depicts El Cid and not Elsie as Jane thought (not really!)

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The colours of the many stained glass windows was amazing, casting many different shades of light all over the cathedral .

 

After an hour or two of exploring it was time to make that difficult decision on what to have for lunch ……….Tapas or Menu del Dìa.  As it was a little chilly a full blown menu of the day was decided on.  We had three courses each and a bottle of wine and a coffee and it was only €30 for the two of us, amazing value for money!

Jane was telling this lady about the great meal we just had but she didn’t seem to want to listen !

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Mind you this chap was a lot more interested in what was going on!

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Royal Palace of Aranjuez

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Tuesday 13th November 2018

We left southern Spain on Monday morning to embark on our long journey through the middle of the country towards Santander to catch our ferry home. We aimed to get the majority of the drive under our belts on the first day, leaving us two more leisurely drives to follow and to arrive near Santander on Friday evening.  Val had read about the Royal Palace at Aranjuez and that the gardens were a match for those at Versailles near Paris. The top photo shows you the view we had from our pitch on our campsite.

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The Palace was only a short walk from where we were staying and it was great to be able to stretch our legs after yesterday’s long drive.

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We had left the dry summery weather of the Mediteranean  with its arid landscape the previous day, and had arrived here in the  middle of Spain with its more more lush countryside in Autumn!

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The bright sunshine totally enhanced the brilliant colours of the Autumn leaves!

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Jane and Val got in to full modelling mode, I think this was due to the interest that Kev and I took in a glamour shoot that was going on nearby!

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Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a photo opportunity so I make no excuses on the  quantity of pictures on this particular blog!

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To get to the Palace we first had to walk through the local park………

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Aranjuez is a town on the River Tagus in central Spain, south of Madrid. Its Renaissance, French-influenced Royal Palace has an elaborate facade and a lavishly decorated interior, including a porcelain room.  On the grounds, by the river, are ornamental gardens like the Jardín de la Isla. In the Prince’s Garden is the Casa del Labrador, an ornate neoclassical mansion, plus an ornamental pond with a Chinese Pavilion.

(Ok I did copy that from Wikipedia, but I thought you might like to know!)

 

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Being able to visit these places out of season is great as you don’t have to contend with too many other people!

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Also without too many other tourists it’s easier to get the photos you want without too much waiting!

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Mind you the ducks are always happy to pose!

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These long avenues of shady trees must give some welcome relief from the sun during the height of the summer!

As would dipping your hands in the cooling waters of the many fountains that are contained in these extensive gardens.

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There is also a maze should the fancy take you, not too difficult as I was tall enough to see over the hedges!

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We didn’t get to go in to the palace on this occasion as it seemed a shame to waste this gloriously sunny day, and besides, the geocaches were all outside!  We will definitely be back to this area again as I have never visited Madrid before. I’m not so sure I would take my caravan through Madrid again, but thats another story……………..

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