Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. Its is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wild life. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
Driving to Embrun
We headed off today for Embrun, taking the toll road to cut the journey by an hour or so. The périphérique around Lyons was fun (well, I thought it was) with continually changing lanes and large quantities of traffic. Not so fun was the French driver on his mobile phone gesticulating in a very Gallic manner, but who suddenly decided to move into the same lane as me at the same point along the road. A very quick and hard brake saved the day. Despite blaring at him he seemed totally oblivious to the near accident and was still gabbling on his phone and gesticulating. I expect he was steering with his knee! Where are the Gendarmes? There are signs to them at turnoffs. Maybe this is why?
A short stop to buy a loaf of bread and then later to eat, during which time R got herself stung by a wasp, to add to her collection of mosquito bites.
As we approached Embrun we had a quick rethink about which campsite to visit. One with a washing machine and tumble drier was high on Rosemary’s list. So we ended up staying in Baratier a couple of K from Embrun in Camping Les Deux Bois. The Madame was not in residence so we did a quick tour of the site and discovered the washing machine and tumble drier, so they were still in service despite the season.
But Madame found us, and ladened us down with pamphlets, maps, the wifi code & her phone number lest we get lost. She was very helpful in finding a pitch with the correct sunrise and sunset positions. She was also very careful to ensure all temporary residents were not on top of each other. Delightful lady.
This night we had a meal of pork strips (cannot describe them), onions and celeriac and a bottle of Provence rosé.
Friday walking around Baratier
Friday was a bright and sunny day, Thursday had mainly been sunny, but a short shower had occurred as we had reached Embrun. We went for the short walk on the Baratier map where we saw some Roman ruins and Meadow Saffron flowers. (Typically, R insisted I photo these at great inconvenience to me. When we returned to our pitch, there they were.) This walk was mainly on the level and started from the Place du Village.
Arriving back, we had lunch in the Bar La Cantine, a three-course meal starting with salad (fish, or gizzards) and then mains of Lasagne or Moules Frits. (Also dessert which only I managed.) All were very good, you can guess who had which main. R, yet again, managed to find a cat, a pretty long haired tabby with white stockings. Wretched animal did not like moules! Can you believe it? She’s French for goodness sake. I had to leave that one on the side of my plate.
After lunch, R vegged out whereas I went for a quick walk 7K walk with a 420meter rise. I managed to just beat the suggested duration of 2 hours 30 minutes, but was pretty knackered when I got back. R had read several chapters of “The Essex Serpent”.
Neither of us fancied anything to eat for supper.
Saturday walking to Embrum
Today we decided to explore Embrun, and took the rash decision to walk there. Most of the way was on a fairly busy road. Our first stop on arrival was a gallery with an exhibition called the Bleu Nuit, sic, not Nuit Bleu. This took place in the L’Abattoir, an exhibition space for the community. The building was small and old and I assume not now used for its original purpose. There were some fabulous tables for sale, at fabulous prices. R liked the metal animal sculptures, again with fabulous prices.
We then wandered into the old part of the town, and enjoyed a beer at Jack’s Bar, before more sightseeing. At another bar we watched the market being dismantled and the street cleaner come in and clean up the mess.
By this time, we were thinking of lunch, though many of the cafés were busy serving they seemed to set a time of 13:15 to stop new customers. Alas we had missed lunch, so we continued our walk back home on another route, across a small bridge and along some quieter roads (being taken unaware by a chap resembling a Hare Krishna monk plus his dog) and accompanied by much moaning from R re her knees, the sun, etc etc. (I recalled her moaning re the lack of sun when we were in NZ. Do not understand women, or at least my example.)
Sunday French Lunch
Decided to stay on for another day and have a French Sunday lunch. Disaster – the café where we had eaten on Friday was closed on Sundays. Quick inspection of various sights in the village. I walked up to the Hotel des Peupliers and booked a table for two for lunch in my bestest French. (Phrase ready on my google translate.) Well that went well, except I seemed to make a bog-up of the time.
Arrived for lunch before others, but soon the restaurant was full both inside and outside. Our orders were taken by a delectable woman who had lived in England for a couple of years so spoke English very well.
I do like the simplicity of the menus, one decision removed is the cost, all the contingents for a course are the same price, and there is none of the 50, 90, 95 or 99 cents business to try and fool you into thinking the price is one euro less.
After we were seated, we had our aperitifs, beer for me and Perroquet (pastis, Ricard, with mint syrup) for Rosemary. We’d seen this as a new bottled Ricard offering in the supermarkets and wanted to try it. R said it smelt very much of Ricard, but tasted much sweeter. A homemade version with a less sugary syrup could be the solution. Our orders were then taken by the same delectable waitress. While we waited, we were served a good amuse bouche, which we decided was a thick vegetable soup.
I had: Fish in a package (but not called en papillote) with basil plus a salad of (much to R’s approval) double-podded broadbeans and cabbage. Confit Alpine lamb with an aubergine and cumin (oddly translated as caraway) caviar, and potatoes. Followed by a selection of local cheeses.
R had: Poached egg atop Mediterranean vegetables. Veal with quinoa salad & sage, followed by faisselle (a local cream cheese) served with a portion of very fragrant Baratier honey
The pink Provencal wine was delicious; whenever we drink it in a bar or restaurant, it is good, whenever we buy it in a supermarket, it leaves something to be desired.
Back at the campsite and vegging out for the afternoon. Ah, R has finished another book and is worried at this rate, she may have to read one of my Asimovs. I do not see a problem. We watch out for Red Squirrels.
We had a long drive today, setting off at 10:19 from Jen and Bev. A stop on the way at the supermarket, a few minutes before we arrived at Villerest where we were stayed at the Camping L’Oree du Lac.
The campsite was open, but most of the facilities had closed the previous week. No bar, no shop and no swimming pool. Only a small loo & shower block was open, and I had to cross my legs in the morning waiting for a cubicle to become free.
But R found the camp cat and was suitably impressed. Later she spotted Puss with a harness and quizzed the owners. Seems they were to go on holiday and wanted Puss to be trained to a lead, so she could go too. Fat chance, thought R, especially as Puss was seven.
The morning was spent walking around the area, first along the lake in a pretty deserted resort area with beach, swimming pool. One restaurant was open and we stopped for a pleasant beer. We followed a walk and ended up in the town of Villerest. Some quaint houses, but no shops and no real bars. We did chance upon a tabac / post office / bar (Le Grand Logis) where we drank a couple of glasses of a very pale rosé from Provence. Very good. R managed to buy “stamps”.
Stopped off at the Marie where there was a loo, with a nearby well. We continued our walk which took us down to the river Loire. You couldn’t actually get to the river, just fleeting glances through the trees. Here it appeared to be flowing fast, the only water would be from the outlet of the hydro electric dam further up, immediately below the campsite.
I walked over the dam, to take some photographs. The bright sunlight was now blotched by clouds and a thunder storm started to brew, followed by much banging & flashing. After darkness we did get a few drops of rain, but we’d eaten and were secure.
The dam appeared to temporarily stop flowing both nights at 18:00.
Packed up from Arcais in the dry and set off for Jen and Bev. First stop was fuel as we were low, Google maps allows you to plot a route and then you can ask it for fuel stations on route. It also has helpful information as to whether the fuel station is open, (important information on a Sunday in France), and also a rating as to its popularity. So we chose a fuel stop on the way and replenished our empty tank, some 110 Euros.
On the way we stopped at a popular Aire Claude Bonnier where we had stopped previously and ordered chips and steak hache from a van. Masses of trucks down the road stopped for their enforced Sunday rest day.
Hardly a kilometre down the road, R (eagled eyed for such things) spotted a “Bric a Brac” aka “vide grenier” aka “car boot”. We stopped. R not impressed by the only Ricard glasses & carafe on sale, but she did buy two old cast-iron laundry irons. She wants them as bookends, for her newly culled library. The owner felt she needed his gas fuelled offering, but she quickly demonstrated its uselessness in supporting “livres”. He regarded us with a “nutty tourists” air.
Arrived at Jen and Bev’s and parked the van with some dexterity on their gravel in front of their house. R delighted to renew acquaintance with Jen’s cat Wilma, who must be 16. Lotty dog ran around in tight circles at 90 mph in great delight, full of joie de vivre. Hector dog retained his dignity.
This year, our bbq outside, cooked by Bev, with many accoutrements supplied by Jen, was not cut short by a thunderstorm.
On the Monday we set out to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. This village has been preserved with its ruined buildings from June 1944 when the German SS rounded up all the men, women and children in the village and murdered them. A very few managed to escape. 642 of its inhabitants were massacred. Dreadful. A sombre reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.
Afterwards we had a beer in a local bar to brighten us up and then headed on home. The evening meal was at a British restaurant which served large beers and had a British menu. We all ate curries of various types. Mine was a hot curry, and it was definitely a hot curry, not catering for the French taste.
Today we packed up the van and left the campsite for Arcais, some five hours drive. A short break, with an hour left to drive, where we went to the loo and drank a coffee.
We arrived in Arcais at 16.21. We chose a pitch in the usual location by the lake and watched a man wade around the pond trying to retrieve his fishing tackle. The van was soon readied, so we walked up along the water ways to see the Eatons who gave us a very good pork supper.
Our next day was a lazy stay at home day. We walked up to the Eatons after breakfast, spent time on the Internet and at lunch. Linda and Rosemary disappeared off to a charity sale, come car boot sale. R ended up buying 4 glasses to replace the one she’d broken on our first day. In the evening we walked back to the campsite along the canal with bat detector on. We heard bats, but also some other strange sounds at 20Khz which sounded more like a throbbing engine. (I have heard these since and they are quite localised in a tree. Some insect I expect. Wasps fanning in a nest??)
On Saturday we all went into Niort and searched for somewhere to eat. On the walk into town we passed books being given away, (for a donation if you wanted, R never saw the donation bit). R bought a Simenon, and was amazed to see it was first published in 1931 and Maigret was portly. Mike was keen to eat at a particular Thai restaurant, but it was alas closed on Saturdays, but said the patron with great pride, open on Mondays. Does that actually help?? We discovered a new Thai restaurant which did takeaways, and had some tables on the street. The food was fine, but not chilli hot, instead toned down for the French pallet.
Walked around the city and ventured into the old part where there were some fine buildings.
Back in Arcais for the evening, we all ventured to the “hippy bar”, which is open three months a year and has some live music. Tonight, we were entertained to some French Hip-Hop music. R surprised herself by thinking some of it was not bad.
Beautiful bright starlit evening in the campsite.
Cloudy and warm day when we set off to Giverny by a route which took us up out of the river valley across some very flat arable land with huge fields and then down back into the river valley and into Giverny. The rain started, or rather the heavy mizzle descended requiring the wipers to go on full time. We parked in the Camping Aire next to some large motor homes. Nearby were some ten coaches, so we realised we were not going to have the gardens to ourselves. The rain had stopped, it was warm, but we did take rain jackets to ward off further rain.
A short walk, via Monet’s bust, took us to Monet’s gardens where we paid 9.50 Euro each to enter. You walk through the gift shop and into the main gardens. These had some magnificent flowers in closely planted huge borders. R was in raptures.
You cross underneath the road (with the signature green & pink colouring) into the Lily Gardens where you are met with a bamboo forest. We walked across the famous Japanese Bridge which is now covered with wisteria and looks nothing like it was when Monet painted his pictures of it and the pond. You walk around the garden, waiting and taking pictures where there were the least number of people. As the day progressed there were noticeable less visitors; must be lunch time.
Back across in the main garden we visited the house which was stunning. The yellow dining room was vividly yellow, a great display of copper in the kitchen. R wanted a particular chair in the studio area.
The village income seems totally geared around Monet, with galleries, gift shops, restaurants and gites. The narrow streets were one way, but some were even traffic free. We walked along the length of Rue Claude Monet, past the restaurants, past the bars, past the galleries to the church where Monet was buried. We also viewed the memorial to the impossibly young British aircrew who had crashed and died in their Lancaster, nearby during WWII.
Back to the van, we then drove home, via an Intermarche in a rather unsalubrious area of Les Andelys to buy some beers for the evening. The mizzle started again as we drove across the plateaux and it rained while we were shopping. The was the end of the rain, and we spent the evening eating and watching the river boats pass.
One cruise boat was moored at Les Andelys. Another came up stream and waited in the river to moor. It must have waited in the middle of the river for half an hour for the first boat to leave. The first boat left, we waved at the passengers as they all headed on towards Paris.
Tomorrow we are off the Arcais to see Mike and Linda. Weather forecast to have some rain, and then that should be the end of it. By the time we arrived we should have missed it, and then it’s looking good for the next seven days.
Off on holiday to France (Rosemary asks what is the meaning of a holiday when you are not working). Dismal day, cloudy in the UK and it turned out to be cloudy with some mizzle in France. At least it was warm enough to sit outside for drinks and supper when we arrived in Les Andelys.
The drive to the channel tunnel was a breeze, no speed restrictions on the M25 on the northern route to the tunnel, despite it being the rush hour. I presume the rush hour is a breeze, only experienced drivers and trucks are on the road at that time. We arrived in oodles of time and were resigned to buying a coffee and muffin breakfast before boarding the train. Google had come up trumps; she predicted a travel time of two hours and twenty minutes and so it was.
Once boarded, we sat and read our mobile phones and ipads and listened to the love overtures from the two channel tunnel attendants, luckily in French so we couldn’t understand. So soon we were arriving in France, and straight off on to the motorway.
Yes, it did mizzle on the drive the Les Andelys, which is on the River Seine, it is also about 20K from Giverny. Still we ate outside in a warmish, overcast evening and I am writing this as it turns to nine. Not so bad. We are staying at the Three Kings Island campsite or its French name of Camping de l’lle des Trois Rois. It is right on the River Seine where huge barges and Viking river cruises pass by. On the other side there is a small lake with Coots and Grey Herons. The pitches are all hedged off and we have quite a spacious one. There seem to be quite a few Brits and several VW campervans. The grass is green here in this part of France, lusher than at home.
After dark we had a walk around the campsite armed with the bat detector. There were a few flying around which we heard and saw. Over by the lake, there was an almost constant sound of bats, these we never saw because I assume they were flying low over the dark lake. We managed to disturb a mammal which plunged into the water, an Otter, or Coypu?
Tomorrow we will visit Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny which is some 20K away. It looks like a wet day with maybe 3mm of rain. I will be hoping for some fabulous pictures of rain drops on the pond and lilies. Afterwards we will have a walk around Les Andeleys where there is a ruined chateau overlooking the campsite and town. Another night and then off to Arcais to see Mike and Linda when the weather will be so much, better complete with sun.
Rosemary and I set off for Somerset and the Pilton Party in the campervan. We stopped off for lunch on the way at the Lion and Fiddle where we both had a pint and a curry for lunch. We were in plenty of time so we again stopped in Shepton Mallet. The High Street seemed to be in terminal decline with so many units unoccupied and decaying. We did manage to buy some bungee cords at a hardware shop. We then heard all about a hornets nest in someone’s garden! Weird!
We arrived at the Pilton Party car park at the Glastonbury Festival Red Gate. This year they must have been expecting more people because another field had been opened up for additional parking. When we arrived we were one of the first ten to park.
We queued for the gates to open and were soon in the party field. The Pilton Party is located on the site used by the John Peel Stage during Glastonbury Festival.
It was a perfect evening for the party, the ground was dry, the grass green and the sun was shining and a very light breeze. There was the usual huge bar and quite a few food outlets. We ended up eating at the same stall as in Glastonbury Abbey Festival and ate a Vegan Wrap.
Some Villians at Pilton Party 2018
There was now a long wait until the first band came on, They were an unsigned band called Some Villians and had gone through a selection process at the Pilton Working Mens Club. Sorry about the poor sound on this video
Katy Hurt at Pilton Party 2018
The crowds had now become to arrive and the field was heaving with people. I discovered the quietest place to go was on the right hand side of the stage. The next singer was Katy Hurt a country & western singer. A little better sound track on this one.
Liam Gallagher at Pilton Party 2018
Finally it was the turn of Liam Gallagher to finish the event. He went down very well, People keep saying there must be an Oasis reunion one day. I expect the odds have increased on Liam headlining one of the slots at Glastonbury 2019.
Strangely, R hated the whole evening, being appalled at the litter and general behaviour. Not like the Glastonbury Abbey Festival, she muttered.
The Morning After Pilton Party 2018
Back at the campervan we settled down for the night and were soon were asleep. In the morning we were the only camper van that had stayed the night, though a few empty cars littered the field. We were soon off to a local cafe called Hartleys Kitchen where the meet & greet dog Bentley was on duty. We ate excellent breakfasts of deviiled kidneys (me) and eggs benedict (R).
A last-minute invite for a weekend away by Bill and Viv. (We are always available at the last minute!) We were to meet them, plus Valerie and Norman at the National Trust’s Upton House and Gardens. There was to be music on the lawn. We arrived ahead of schedule and sat on the lawn in expectation. Eventually a solo singer female singer with backing music track came on. Not particularly inspiring. We then had a wander around the groundsbefore going into the house on our booked ticket. We had been to Upton House back in 2011. The theme of the house had been tragically changed. In 2011 it was very much themed on upstairs and downstairs. This time the theme was on how Lord and Lady Bearstead had upgraded the house. It was not so inspiring, and this time I could not play on the snooker table ☹. There were also an exhibition from the Country Life magazine, with one glaring error, where The Flint House on the “Waddestone estate” was located in “Bedfordshire”! Rosemary appalled. I must hasten to state this was not a National Trust error, but Country Life’s error.
Our friends arrived, and booked their tours, we all had tea and I don’t think anyone saw the solo singer on the lawn other than R and I.
My pictures this time were all from the garden, which we never looked at in 2011. The Garden is on a steep hill with some sharp drops. From the house you don’t see the valley and the ponds, when you walk out over the lawn you come to a six-foot unfenced vertical drop which then continues on down to the ponds. It is all rather fabulous.
After leaving the house we went on to the nearby pub / hotel of The Castle at Edghill where we sat and drank some Hook Norton ales, and looked out over the battlefield. Revived, we set of to Leamington Spar to stay the night at Bill and Viv’s where I was entertained with a Negroni and we all ate an excellent fish stew. Oh, and I was entrusted to choose the music!
Compton Verney and Rowlands Emett’s Marvellous Machines
So on the Sunday we all went to Compton Verney which we had visited will Bill, Viv, Norman and Valerie back in 2016. This time, there was an exhibition of mechanical devices, ranging from a minute, walking Faberge Elephant owned by the Queen to larger room-sized Marvellous Machines constructed by the artist Rowlands Emett. All highly entertaining.
Yeah, we were off to the Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 to see Paloma Faith, our third time attending and camping, AND the weather was going to be gorgeous!
The Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza is held every year, performed in the Glastonbury Abbey grounds and organised by Michael Eavis. This year it was a sell-out, and so was the camping ground. It was speculated this was because there was no Glastonbury Festival and that a few Glastonbury regulars had decided on this event. Yes, most of the campers we spoke with were Glastonbury Festival regulars.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Friday
We set off at 8.30am, forgetting about the roadworks in Bicester which delayed us considerably. We aimed for Pilton Farm office where we arrived at 11.32 for me to buy a couple of tickets for the Pilton Party. The tickets had gone on sale the week before and had sold well, but there were still a few available. Yippy! I was able to show Rosemary the carpark where we would be camping on the 31st after the party!
We drove on to Glastonbury and parked the van at the campsite. We parked at the top of the hill, sideways on to the slope. Then we walked into the town down the main A361 road. You do take your life in your hands on that road, large trucks, sometimes one of the trucks has to pull over to let one passing in the other direction pass by. The pavements are also very narrow, with poorly cut back hedges. W e made it alive! Looked at a few charity shops, bought a few CDs and headed for ‘The Who’d A Thought It’ pub. I’ve always had a reasonable pint and something nice to eat there, BUT it does seem to have gone downhill this year. Should have noticed the lack of people in the garden where it has always been busy before. Ah well, won’t be eating there again, everything seemed to have been cooked in old oil, and the craft beer was past it.
Lovely walk back by the back roads and up to The Tor before descending to the Campsite. The views were not quite as good as a couple of years ago, considerable haze, though you could still see Hinkley point. Interestingly, the fields were far greener than at home where they all look scorched. At the campsite we were asked to move our van to face up and down the hill so more vans could park. No idea why we weren’t told how to park when we arrived. We moved in the morning. At these events it is interesting walking around and checking on the other vans, seeing how they had been converted and h are being used.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Saturday
Morning, breakfast and a lovely day as we walked into town. Today we drank at the George Hotel and Pilgrims Inn. We had rejected this several years ago as it looked dirty and insalubrious. I don’t know why, it very quaint and interesting place to be in. It also had a very good selection of craft beers. We didn’t eat there, we had decided to eat at a Vegan restaurant called the Excalibur Café.
The Excalibur was very busy. We ate well, though Rosemary didn’t like the ‘fermented cabbage smelling’ shot; I did! After lunch I walked to Tesco to buy some camping chairs; . Yes, we’d forgotten they are needed at the venue. Then it was more wandering around shops before joining the queue for the show. We parked ourselves just behind the walk way from one side of the arena to the other. It’s reasonably close, and because of the walk way, you don’t get people standing right in front of you.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Glastonbury Town Band
First was the Glastonbury Town Band, recently reformed. Rosemary and I agree they chose the wrong music for the occasion, a more upbeat programme would have been better.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Yazzy
Next on there was an 19 year old solo singer, Yazzy, she had performed at the Pilton Working Mens Club and Michael Eavis had given her this slot at the festival. She was accompanied by a keyboard player and made many references as to how proud she was to be supporting Paloma Faith, and thanking Michael Eavis for the chance to perform.
Then came the bad news, Paloma Faith was not going to perform, she had laryngitis and apparently pulled out at the last moment. Yazzy implied she had been speaking with her only minutes before she had gone on stage. Were we going to be leaving early? Instead Michael Eavis had managed to contact Tom Odell. He was dragged out of a family BBQ and helicoptered into Glastonbury as a replacement. While we waited we sat, ate, drank and amused ourselves to a DJ Jason Bryant, ace photographer of Glastonbury Festival.
A performance from Yazzy, from Glastonbury Extravaganza 2018. This is her promotional video from the event..
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Rodney Branigan
The helicopter arrived in a nearby field, and then we were entertained for 20 minutes by blue grass guitarist Rodney Branigan, a Texan now living in Norfolk. He played Blue Grass, two guitars at the same time and had the crowd on edge. Fantastic performance.
A performance from Rodney Branigan, again not from the festival
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Tom Odell
On came Tom Odell playing piano and singing. He’s an English songwriter who won the Brits Award in 2013. He has a new album, Jubilee Road, out in October 2018. Tom, and Rodney before, were admirable replacements for Paloma Faith. Some and I won’t say whom, believe there were a much better substitute. The crowd, or at least those around us, were very pleased with the replacement. Well let’s face it, most of us had booked before we even new Paloma Faith was the headline. It’s a lovely event with lovely people and a great atmosphere.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 Fireworks
Finally, there was the usual fabulous firework display. Then it was back to the campsite on the free coach.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Sunday
Away early so we could pop in to see some friends who live near by for coffee. The idea was to have coffee with Sue and Ken and then go on home. Plans never quite go that way, so it was lunch in the pub across the road, from them, and then home. Good to see them both.
R and I were up early to attend the second day of the Game Fair at Ragley Hall. The event celebrates the countryside, shooting, fishing and hunting. We were inside the fair before the opening time of the stalls. Traffic was not too bad. We had a long wander around all the stores. Some neat outdoor cooking systems, including a wood fire semi-portable pizza oven. The price put us off it!
Of course, we checked in at D B Guns to say hello to Dawn and Brian. I am happy to say they were very busy, so couldn’t stop and chat.
We ate lunch on the food alley which has masses of vendors selling goodies, and of course beer and cider in one of the many bars. Food most definitely has improved in recent years. A few years back we complained is was only hotdogs and burgers.
We watched the dogs agility show. It was not a competition but a showcase from the Kennel Club. Fun, loved the longhaired dogs when the jumped. There were also a myriad of retriever competitions going on as well.
We missed out on the ferrets, only seeing a pile of ferrets sleeping at the bottom of the cage. Rosemary was interested in the fly tying, I have some photographs of the flies, she was interested having read a book about a thief who stole a whole load of old and rare bird skins from the Tring Museum and sold these to collectors. Many of which ended up being turned into fishing flies.
It was a hot day, though a rain storm arrived at the end, so we left mid-afternoon as did so many others so rather tedious getting out of the place. I think next year we may go for the three days and stay in the campervan. There is plenty of other entertainment in the evenings.
We visited Richard and Andrea at their home in Great Saling. We walked around Sudbury and visited Gainsborough’s House to see the many portraits & landscapes painted by this artist. Many were donated by families paying off their inheritance taxes. We even purchased a new frying pan for use on our portable induction hob.
In the evening, driving to our supper destination, we were alarmed to encounter fire-engines racing off to a shout, which was a parched, harvested field, up in smoke. Our evening meal should have been in a community-owned pub, but sadly, it was boarded up & for sale. Instead we ate in The Finchingfield Lion. We’d visited the same pub a few years ago to see the Tour de France procession go past.
The next day we walk around the Salings, taking photographs of some of the many interesting houses. Andrea whipped up a delicious salad lunch. The afternoon proved too hot to do much else, other than sit in the garden.
Rosemary and I visited Ann & Liz in Norwich for an amazing couple of nights. We took our own bed, Morrison the campervan, because the house was full with the residents plus Bob’s daughter and her son, who were also visiting.
The weather treated us well with yet more sun. Ann’s grass was brown from the drought, Earlham Park almost looked like a desert. Were the newly planted trees in the park going to survive? The cost of planting them versus then never watering them in the drought, was a tad odd.
On our second evening we went to watch an amateur production of Tomfoolery,(a musical revue based on the lyrics and music by American mathematician, songwriter, and satirist Tom Lehrer), at Sewell Barn Theatre. Very ably produced with magnificent performance from the cast. I soon understood the meaning of the many pigeon decoys scattered around the theatre. Only downside was the small theatre which was rather warm.
Earlier in the day we had gone to Martham Ferry Boat yard to see the work which Nick had been doing. He is building new electric day boats for hire, and of course hiring them out. We went for a cruise to Hickling Broad, then back and up to Horsey Mere. We were in one of his diesel-powered boats, all the electric boats having been hired out before we arrived. We did come across one of Nick’s electric boats; it glid silently past us like a ghost.
We had an invitation from Ravi and Maggie to see a Shakespeare play being performed in Ely Cathedral. Rosemary was very interested, I was a little dubious having fallen asleep in the last play I saw by the Bard. Well in any case it was a night away, Rosemary wanted to go and who am I to argue, and Ely cathedral is a beautiful grand building. Oh and the sun was shining.
We drove on up and got immediately were caught is some traffic delays around Cambridge, major works building a new interchange for the A14. Be warned this will take several years to complete. Checked in, at the Poets House Hotel and Restaurant, into a huge room, with huge copper bath and separate shower, overlooking St Mary’s Street and The Green. Car parked, and we walked down to the River Great Ouse and sat beside the river in front of The Cutter Inn with a pint in one hand and a very large BLT sandwich in the other. Just as we were settled, out host walked by, Ravi was on his way to Cambridge to give an Economics lecture but would be back for the evening.
We were not the only guests, Andrea and Richard were also on their way and met us at the Inn for lunch. Maggie the other host also materialised, and we sat and nattered.
We did a little shopping in Ely city centre, viewed some frying pans that might have been suitable for Morrison, but ended up not buying. R also rummaged through a few charity shops. I was barred from entering Fat Face. Next, we ended up back at the hotel, changed and made our way to the Cathedral for the play, Much Ado about Nothing. I didn’t realise how small and intimate this performance was going to be. I had incorrectly assumed we would be in the main body fo the cathedra. But no, there were about 40 of us watching, seated on either side of the chancel, with the actors in between us. Oh, we were so close to the actors we could reach out and touch them. Indeed, some lucky/unlucky audience members were picked on and used as props.
The play is quite complex, but luckily, we had read a Wikipedia entry as we were driving up to Ely, so we had some idea of what was happening. The actual play is set in Messina, but this performance was set in France after the WWII with a mix of French locals and English squaddies and commanders. It started off with a short farce all spoken in French, I became extremely worried, thinking I was going to have to concentrate hard to understand a complex play in a foreign language which I had failed four times at O-level. Luckily, it all became clear, the farce ended, and the play started with a mixture of English and French and a bit of Allo Allo! The company abbreviated the play a little removing a few characters, but the essence was there. It was fun and funny with no chance of me falling asleep.
The company performing the play [Antic Disposition specialise in showing plays in Cathedrals in intimate settings. They also perform the plays in the UK and France and have both French and English actors.
After an interesting evening we headed down to Ravi and Maggie’s home for a late-night repast before heading back to the hotel for the night. The next day we had breakfast with Ravi, bade Maggie goodbye and headed home for an even longer delay on the road around Cambridge.
It was bike night at Ludgershall again. Lovely warm, dry, sunny evening for the event. As is usual, a thousand or so bikes turned up for the event. Various bars, fish and chip stands and hog roasts materialised to keep us fed. As well as motorbikes, new and vintage, there were quite a few other vintage vehicles and some Steam Punk.
Andrea and Richard visited us for Friday and Saturday. We had an enjoyable afternoon in Oxford visiting the Bodleian library to see the exhibition of Tolkien’s work. Our journey to Oxford was interesting. Due to an accident or road works, the A34 looked rather busy, so car and bus were ruled out. Instead we opted for a return ticket to Oxford from Bicester Village. This is the first time I have used the new line. The cost of the ticket off-peak was very reasonable, and we were also given a group discount.
The exhibition was well worth visiting, especially as these exhibitions are free, It featured Tolkien’s books, his original art work, manuscripts and maps used in his books. There was fascinating stories of how originally he wrote his short stories for bed time telling to his children. When he came to write the Lord of the Rings, he plotted out the journeys on a map of Middle Earth. Tolkien was also a linguist and created his own language for the elves. One book, which defeats most who have bought it, is the Silmarillion. I have yet to find anyone who has completed reading it. I keep seeing the book on friends’ bookshelves, but when I ask,, they’ve never finished reading it.
Afterwards we headed to the Eagle and Child for a drink before heading back home on the train.
Hurry, you can still see the exhibition, it is on until the end of October.