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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Where to start?

I am so far behind with posting about all our adventures but first the best news of all was received last Sunday morning when Ian looked at his emails and learnt that he had passed his exam., not just scraped through either but a respectable pass so we are now reconsidering our future plans yet again. Just added to the joy of our Cornish holiday, we went last Thursday and returned yesterday.

We stayed at the Fieldhead Hotel in Hannafore, West Looe, we were delighted with the service, food, ambience and small details that make a holiday. Just one tiny example, there were facecloths, this pleased me as I like to give my face a good scrub and rarely do hotels includes these as well as bathrobes and slippers for their guests. So lovely again not to stay in a chain but a family hotel with a manager who worked so hard to ensure all was well for his guests. HIs wife was the chef, the meals were of a very high standard, lots of fresh fish, looking back I have had just one meal with local sausages at a National Trust café, all the rest have been fish based so it didn't matter I forgot the cod liver oil tablets.

This was the view we encountered on our walk into Looe last Friday morning, very steep coming back up, in fact there were quite a few steep walks and roads, even worse for driving that I chickened out and left it to dear Ian. Am just so unfamiliar with narrow country lanes, especially with no passing places, farm traffic and cloudbursts on our way to Fowey. Much as we like to leave  the car behind as we did on Friday, to reach places such as Lanhydrock, Fowey, Mevagissey and Heligan Gardens driving was the only way.

In Looe found a lovely second hand bookshop, one of our criteria for a good holiday along with good food, and this one was good, we purchased four books between us.

Our visit to Lanhydrock was fascinating, especially the kitchen areas, even spotted scales identical to mine, indeed much of the equipment is similar to modern kitchens, perhaps made of modern materials that won't rust though. We didn't realise just how big the house is, that meant a very late lunch so we didn't have time to see the grounds. Perhaps next time we go to Cornwall a return visit will be in order. 

Another enjoyable aspect of our holiday was the spontaneous conversations that sprung up between holiday makers so we received an invitation from one couple to visit them  in their  Florida home; in the National Trust café we learnt about teaching maths to infants (sorry KS 1) is best done by teachers who don't find the subject easy for they see the difficulties from the child's viewpoint.

Our return visit to Heligan Gardens was to link up with an architect friend with whom Ian had worked in the Middle East. David Rowe is a watercolour artist based now in Falmouth so the gardens were a convenient meeting point where we could catch up whilst seeing some of the extensive gardens. We were presented with one of his watercolours, so delighted both to have one his paintings as well as the memories it brings back for Ian as a colleague and friend. Whilst in the café there was a fascinating conversation with the parents of three delightful little girls, Dad was German, Mum was Japanese, the girls had been born in Russia and now Dad worked in England. Dad kindly took this picture for us, in spite of the poster behind we weren't waiting for Godot.

Just to end, on our way back yesterday we stopped in Honiton for lunch, and found a proper wool shop, The Wool Stack  where I bought a hank of creamy coloured Artesano definition sock yarn. Some luxury yarn for hexipuffs, for a brief second I thought shawl, but having made 236 hexipuffs I would like to concentrate on completion. Joining up this number will take time. Honiton is full of antique shops, found a basket with four divisions for bottles, just £8.50 so handy in the car when shopping, plus an illustrated  book about London between the wars.

A few weeks ago we watched a TV programme about the A303 road so I'm chuffed to say I drove the whole length of it yesterday, even noticed the insignificant parting from the A30, fortunately the journey homeward was better than the jams we encountered going west.

Will end my rambles aware that I haven't mentioned Fowey, the boat trip on which I took more photos than any other time, the bistro and cake shop with dog. Well, another time.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Even more catch-up

I think the quickest way of catching up on what I can tell you of the Pixie family activities is to use pictures to embellish my ramblings.

Anyway, Wednesday last week we went to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, courtesy of Compostwoman, who has the most amazing and useful blog here ....  . when you read back on her blog you will see that she ran a competition aided by Ecover, your blogger was a fortunate recipient of tickets - Exhibitor tickets no less. We drove part of the way to the show, then caught a local bus to Hampton Court Green. Although the traffic was light, it would have been quicker to walk, a long wait for the bus, a lost missing driver's key, service halted after two stops. Let us just say there has been correspondence between us and TfL.

First surprise were the scarecrows as we saw the exhibit for the primary school Martha and Adam attended, we hadn't known their entry had been chosen. Why no publicity in local papers or media?

Another personal incident, cheered by my success in this competition I entered as many as I could at the show, needless to say haven't won anything, but I wouldn't have noticed another competitor doing the same. It was our daughter in law's mother, neither of us had known the others were going so it was a pleasant surprise to see her, her husband, sister and niece. We had time for a brief chat, we'll be meeting up next month to celebrate DiL's birthday anyway.

So what did  I think of the show? An improvement on previous years with the concept of three zones. Of course we didn't see everything, but was mighty impressed with Ecover, not because of the tickets, but because their prize winning garden gave out a sustainability message without being heavy handed. Would love our attempts at a bee friendly garden to look like this.

There were famous people around Ecover garden, it was interesting to see the filming although didn't spot this when we watched the TV programmes later in the week,

Monday, 8 July 2013

More catching up

The other week dear Ian and I were in our local High Street, walked passed the TV/white goods/electricals/gas shop, known to all as Jones's and spotted a cream colour gas cooker. Neither of said anything, we had chosen our gas cooker, a Cannon Carrick, for all its safety features, the finish was poor, the enamel wore away very quickly, the ignition was slow to spark and the grey colour looked wrong in our cream kitchen.

About a week later the top oven ignition stopped working, one could get a flame but it immediately went out so we trundled off to Jones's to ask about repair costs. These would amount to at least £100.00 so we decided to buy the cream cooker, although similar to our unloved one, was apparently a much higher spec. Installation was delayed till after the East Anglian adventures. The old cooker will be recycled into lots of other useful products, it would have gone on Freecycle if not.

The gas engineer told us he was installing large range cookers in households where the children had moved out, the family had managed with the standard 60cm size cooker for over 20 years and now wanted larger cookers. We don't have the space for a range cooker, unless we removed our original dresser and completely rearranged a kitchen design that works so well.

We are very pleased with it, I've made cakes, we've cooked meals but so far, and this will be the big test, no one has baked bread in it. By the way, the green scales to the left of the cooker were my mother's, I suspect they are older than me, one has to give them a little encourage to balance so nowadays not good if one has to extremely accurate in measuring ingredients but we do have electronic scales hidden in a cupboard.

Our son didn't notice the cooker when he visited, his sister who came a couple of days later was quicker off the mark, both approved of our instant decision.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Catching up

Well, we have been very busy in the last ten days, hence the delay in blogging about a blog party, a mini-holiday in East Anglia, a new cooker, strawberries and raspberries. Was going to start this earlier but the aforementioned soft fruit needed watering, and so did the front garden, especially where we emptied out flower seeds from packets with a long gone use by date.

So chronologically, we left the big smoke and spent a couple of days, well an afternoon, evening, whole day and morning with my second cousins in Suffolk. This visit coincided with cold and wet weather, so a day trip to Southwold concluded at lunch time but not before we had ventured onto the 21st century pier and watched the water clock at noon.

Saturday was Blog party day, others have written more eloquently than I can about this social event that must not be missed. There was much laughter concerning a tortoise, a motor bike pillion rider and meeting Ben, who I had forecast would be at the party and was bigger than his owner.

All I will say is a big thanks to Z, the Sage, their family and to all who attended, provided food, chat, laughter and for Ian a possible introduction to the art of thatching from a fellow mathematician.

The above was written on Saturday, because of sunshine and a certain tennis match I am coming late to the laptop to continue. This may turn into bite sized entries instead of one long post of what we did last weekend.

After staying with the relations we spent two nights here in Wingfield or Room 2 at The Castle Inn in Bungay.Cannot praise the accommodation, cleanliness, food and great service enough. Very stylish decor, cushion envy, good free wifi too, I tried to add an entry on Trip Advisor but it hasn't appeared. Here's a corner of the room ....

As Sunday was the first day of warmth we decided against a trip to the north Norfolk coast but found an historic house and garden instead at Somerleyton Hall.  will give a better idea than my efforts. Although the house wasn't open it didn't matter, it was lovely to be outside, ambling around the different gardens, sitting and contemplating, enjoying an excellent light lunch in the Tea Rooms. Needless to say we spent much time in the maze, a very good one with really thick hedges and seats in the centre for a rest.

The above photos were taken using my iPad, an experiment that seems to have worked, so now can use my camera, phone and iPad for pictures, bring them together in one album on my laptop for editing. Love learning new skills.

Just noticed I have a photo of our Sunday evening meal at The Castle Inn, we shared a carafe of the house red, (not sure where the second glass is) to accompany the pizzas, made with local ingredients.

We pottered around the shops in Bungay before we left, in Wightman's, a very old fashioned shop I found buttons I needed for a cardigan, and some very reasonable sock yarn, may use it for hexipuffs rather than socks though. Did you think there would be a blog that didn't mention knitting? Managed to make three hexipuffs whilst away.

On our way home for we diverted towards the Huntington area to visit one of Ian's cousins who has moved from London to the country so spent the afternoon admiring her new home and large garden, providing adult company as she has pre-schoolers catching up on family news, especially of her 101 year old grandmother.

As I have 81 emails from our local recycling group to read I am going to end here, after may even take our coffee in the garden before turning in. Thereby hangs a tale, one day may talk about the effect this mini holiday has had on our thinking.