Rosemary and I visited Valerie and Norman in Leicester, staying the night. Rosemary was persuaded to walk around the Botanical Garden, something I have already done. This time we entered the cactus hothouse to see some fabulous specimens. The sculptures in the garden intrigue me.
Ravi and Simon arrived for a pub lunch at the Cradock Arms. The place was heaving and we were lucky to be able to park. The pub was the start and end points of a club’s monthly walk trip. We all departed and went our own way after lunch.
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.
Met up with Valerie and Norman, their daughter & her fiancé, for lunch at the James Figg pub in Thame. They had been attending a wedding at Notley Abbey nearby. We had never been to the James Figg, and to be honest we have not been to most of the pubs and restaurants in Thame. Steve frequents Costa when Rosemary is doing her round of charity shops.
The James Figg is themed on boxing, named after James Figg an English bare-knuckle boxer. He is widely recognized as the first English bare-knuckle boxing champion, reigning from 1719 to 1730. He was born in Thame. It’s a good pub, with a good choice or real ales, or is that cask ale, or the new trendy phrase of craft ale. In any case, it caters well for beers. Extensive menu, though we wanted to eat relatively lightly, so we all went for starters, each choosing three starters for £10. This was a kind of tapas meal.
Yes, I can quite recommend the James Figg, maybe Costa is going to see a lot less of me.
We departed for home, Norm and Vallerie driving over to our house for the weekend, while Rosemary and I quickly dropped into Waitrose to buy some more Monkfish. We had decided tonight’s menu was Monkfish. I was looking for a Kilo for the four of us. My first shop the previous day was Tesco in Bicester where they had one filet, just under 350 grams. I bought this, at the same time phoning Sainsburys in Bicester. They too had one small fillet in stock, so I reserved that and walked over there to buy their’s. Good thing I had reserved it because someone else wanted it. It was small, 250 grams.
Waitrose had masses of Monkfish, and large fillets. I bought 400 grams to make up my dish. So, Waitrose came up trumps, but a high premium. Sainsbury was £16 a kilo, Tesco was £20 a kilo and Waitrose £26. Quite a difference in price