Visited Upton House to see it dressed for Christmas. We try a different house each year, staying clear of the busy Waddesdon Manor which has the cheek to charge National Trust members.
The house was nicely decorated and had been done by the National Trust volunteers. Nice to know our money is being wisely spent. We must look to see where the baubles come from, they seem so much better than the ones sold in shops.
We also ate lunch in their cafe. This was rather disappointing. Previous meals have been good. I could not fault on quantity, my baked potato with tuna could have fed a family. It must have had a least two cans of tuna, and a huge potato. The potato was stale, presumably from another day, the tuna lacked enough mayonnaise and also lacked chopped spring onions. Nope, I did not finish eating it, unappetising and far too much. Rosemary did not fare much better.
Today we travelled to Fillongley to scatter Margaret and David’s ashes. It had been arranged with the new owners of Margaret & David’s former house that we could scatter their ashes in the garden. Very gracious of them.
We arrived in time for cakes and coffee in the neighbouring farmhouse belonging to the Bagleys who had been so helpful to Margaret and David in the days before M&D left their house and went into residential care. Ron and Mary, Gilly, Dan and Audrey, plus Brenda also came.
Suitably fortified, we made our away across to M&D’s house & garden and chose two trees to scatter the ashes around and marked the places with a scattering of carnations.
After the scattering we all went for a very enjoyable Sunday lunch at the Cottage Inn, where we toasted Margaret & David.
Rosemary wanted to see a National Trust house dressed for Christmas. The most dressed house is Waddesdon Manor which we have seen many times. Last year we went to another house because Waddesdon started charging NT members to go around the house at Christmas. (This is probably the intention of the National Trust, so they can get more non-members in paying the full price.) R was outraged (even though she’s heard all about people booking free NT members tickets and then not turning up) so she insists we go to another house. So, this year we went to Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire.
The house was decorated in various different styles based on one of the many eras when the house has been lived in. The helpers were all dressed up in appropriate costume for the various eras of the house decoration. We wandered around playing with the children’s toys. Of course, the day ended with tea in the cafe and a search through the secondhand bookshop.
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 with 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.
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.