Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Le Chateau

We had a wonderful and relaxing time staying at another Landmark Trust property close to the River Trent, just south of Gainsborough. As usual, we were able to divest ourselves of all the annoying 21st Century distractions like TV, Internet, & Phones and enjoy our immediate surroundings to their fullest.
Gainsborough has a wonderful Mediaeval Hall (but little else to offer), and being in familiar territory allowed us to renew our affinity with big skies and Steep Hill and even afforded us a personal airshow by the Red Arrows.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wet Weekend Watching Whales

We had a surprise and very welcome visit from Jon and Myles recently. The wet weather on Saturday gave us the ideal excuse to go and visit the Coventry Transport Museum. Unfortunately we arrived just too late to catch the ThrustSSC simulator ride, however the vehicles from the recent Alien film, 'Prometheus' were an added bonus.
Saturday we played games with Simon and ate pizza. (Nothing new there then!)
Sunday was sunny and dry but the recent rain meant that Whale Watching trips at the Red Lion had to be cut short, because no-one could reach the dinghy. Food was good as usual and the close-up magic was a real treat!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Alan Davies

Another comedic night out, this time with Alan Davies who gave a brilliant stand up performance. There was no particular theme although he did explain that his tour name came from the lips of a 6 year old child who calmly responded to her mother's chastisement with a sigh, and the first Buddhist truth that "life is pain." Other highlights included the ritual denegration of any latecomers, (particularly those from Nuneaton), and the public 'outing' of his mate Dave via the the medium of Facebook Pokes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Rhod Gilbert

For his most recent tour Rhod recounts the life-changing effects of having a flaming battenburg tattoo inked onto his shoulder. Topics range from the non-availability of egg & cress sandwiches ('Sorry sir, that one is for display purposes only, so that customers know we sell egg & cress sandwiches') to the futility of anger management diaries ('Given the recent incident that has made you angry; on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, how angry are you right now?')
Rhod claims that he is calmer and less angry nowadays yet he still manages to deliver his punchlines with as much scathing wit as ever.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jack Dee

Jack DeeIn an act of pure sponteneity, we decided to see if there were any returned tickets for Jack Dee's Stand-Up performance in Warwick Arts Centre. Surprisingly there were, so we scoffed our supper and headed across town for an evening of mirth. Jack's performance was pretty solid although some of the material felt laboured and lacking creativity. Highlights included his "where's the tent?" story which struck a chord and could easily have drawn parallels with my own tent story had it not recently been rediscovered!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Boston - Day 10

Our last day and we decided to explore those parts of Boston that we'd previously missed. Notably the parks, swan boats and the historic old state house where the Declaration of Independence was first read. Before too long however it was time to start our journey home and we had to leave New England for Old England. We had a fabulous time and may one day finish off the things we ran out of time for!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Boston - Day 9

We could hardly leave New England without exploring a little more of the history that formed a nation. We picked up the trail that led from Boston to Lexington and Concord and visited the towns where the first shots were fired. These initial conflicts led to the siege of Boston and ultimately the withdrawal of Bitish troops and the success of George Washington's Continental Army in 1776.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Boston - Day 8

On Friday we had the morning free to go and visit Salem. The House of Seven Gables is about as close to a National Trust property as you are likely to find in the US. Although it was the basis for Nathaniel Hawthorne's story in 1851 the home was extensively remodelled by Caroline Emmerton in 1908 after she purchased it to prevent its demolition.
We then walked into town and had a sandwich before visiting the Peabody Essex museum which had a special exhibition of work by Ansell Adams. The museum has a nice collection of Eastern art and  much more besides but we had to dash back for the Kidstock! performance in Winchester. The end of week show - Glee club goes to Broadway - gave all the kids equal opportunity to sing and dance and generally impress their parents (or Aunts & Uncles) accordingly.
In the evening we headed out for a meal in North End and took advantage of Restaurant Week; a fixed menu at $33 gave us each 3 courses. For dessert we could not avoid Mike's Pastry and each had a Cannoli which we ate under a full moon in Columbus Park. Perfect!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Boston - Day 7

Although it was a long drive, our GoBoston cards gave us free access to Six Flags New England. Free apart from the car park and cost of lockers and food and drink that is! However, the coasters are suitably impressive; the contrast between Bizarro and American Cyclone being the starkest. Perhaps the greatest use of computers is to design rides that provide fewer bruises than those of years gone by. Oh, and possibly advances in medical science, limitless access to all of human knowledge, etc. etc.
But we soon tired of all the thrills and excitement and returned to Winchester in time to join the 'wall party' with the neighbours who were all extremely friendly and hospitable. A nice ending to a busy day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Boston - Day 6

The day started off after a bit of a lie-in. We drove back into Boston after a spot of shopping at Target and shoe shopping in Woburn. Once again we found ourselves in the Northend ahead of our scheduled excursion so we had lunch in local restaurant and prepared ourselves for a Segway Adventure! I heartily recommend everyone to try a Segway. They're great fun, very easy to learn and the longer you spend on it the more familiar and enjoyable they become. Our guide, Captain Nemo, gave an informative account of the local sights and ensured the whole tour was a highlight of our week.
Afterwards we took the the T across town for a whistle-stop tour of the Museum of Fine Arts where two remaining Georgia O'Keeffes had been left behind from a tour of Japan. We then raced back to Winchester in order to meet the family at the China Sky restaurant.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Boston - Day 5

On Tuesday, the weather turned wet so we emerged from the T station and huddled under an umbrella whilst getting our bearings on the Harvard campus. After coffee in The Coop bookstore we walked across to the Peabody Museum and Natural History Museum. Both were very 'old school' and would have been ideal venues for another Night at the Museum sequel. The mineral exhibits were very impressive, but I expect it is only possible to look at a finite number of stuffed animals before starting to feel slightly despondent; we probably exceeded that quota. 
Walking back through the campus we saw John Harvard's [statue of three lies]; it's not him, he didn't found the university, and it happened in 1636, not 1638 (and the untold fourth lie is that it's not lucky to touch his foot particularly when you consider what freshmen are made to do when they start college!)
We rode the T back to MIT and met Andrew who gave us a guided tour of his office and recounted several of the MIT Hacks as we walked around their campus. We ended the day with a cruise on the Charles River and then joined up with Andrew again at TD Garden for the train ride home to Winchester. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Boston - Day 4

We had purchased GoBoston Visitor Cards in advance of our holiday so we kicked of the week with a trip to see some whales in the bay. The Boston Harbor Cruises catamaran takes about 1 hour to reach the feeding area where we were fortunate enough to see a Finnback and several Humpback whales. On the way back we saw The Bounty (a replica tallship built for the 1962 movie) that was leaving Boston to continue its tour along the East Coast. 
After grabbing some lunch from the White Hen Pantry in the Northend, we sat and ate under the trees admiring Paul Revere's statue. Next we visited his restored home and learned of his famous ride to warn the colonists that 'the Regulars are coming!'
Finally we returned to the harbour and New England Aquarium to meet Myrtle the Turtle, get close up with some Jelly Fish and hands on with some Rays. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Boston - Day 3

On Sunday the weather was perfect for a trip to the seaside; New England style. Rockport is about 40 miles east of Winchester on the peninsula that forms the northern part of the Massachusetts bay. Most of the shops along the front are aimed squarely at tourists like us, but this was not a problem when they are selling whole fresh lobster for only $10! 
After our light lunch I bought a bucket and spade for Iain and we headed back to the local beach to build Crab Castle. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Boston - Day 2

On Saturday we had a lazy start and enjoyed proper American Hotdogs on the grill (not barbecue!) Afterwards we headed into Boston and explored Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Shopping areas, then walked around the harbour to the Institute of Contemporary Art that had been repurposed as a 90ft cliff for the Red Bull Diving Championships.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Boston - Day 1

Almost all modes of transport conveyed us on our journey across The Pond; taxi, train, maglev, Airbus A318, Boeing 747, Hire Car and Shank's Pony. We arrived without any problems and were met by Andrew who guided us back to Winchester where we crashed crashed out almost straight away. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

London 2012

Whilst Coventry played its part in hosting the 2012 Olympic Games, the atmosphere and excitement in London was hard to ignore, so we took a trip to see our friends Jon and Hetty and experience the occasion first hand. 
The crowds at Tower of London were at least three deep but we found a good spot and cheered the athletes as they came by on their first lap of the Marathon. Afterwards we strolled along the river to St Catherine's Dock and took a river boat up to Embankment, where the crowds were even bigger. By the time we met up with Hetty, Evelyn and Myles we felt like we'd participated in the marathon, but we continued along the canal past Mile End Floating Market, through Victoria Park and on to Stratford Station before getting a bus home. A great day out!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Black Country Living Museum

We took a short drive West and completed the Kimpton Family reunion in a replica coal mine just outside Dudley. 
The Black Country Living Museum also has a tram, trolleybus, victorian fairground and plenty of working craftsmen and women to help bring the replica streets to life. 
We had a great day and despite one of the worst British Summers in memory we didn't even get wet!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Well, what a fantastic surprise! My birthday week got off to a flying start (literally) with the first leg getting us to Copenhagen, and the second to Billund: home of Lego. The weather did nothing to dampen our spirits as we enjoyed all the attractions that Legoland could offer. 
The Atlantis Sea Life aquarium made a great bolt hole when the sky turned grey, but for the most part it stayed dry enough for us to admire Miniland and get the most from the rides. An evening flight took us back to the capital, and although the landing was bumpy and wet, we arrived safely and managed to navigate our way to Ibsens Hotel via the metro. 

On Wednesday we headed out to explore the northern and eastern district. Our "cOPENhagen card" got us access to the palaces at Rosenborg and Amalienborg which both had interesting treasures on show. A short walk north took us to the fortified Kastellet, on past the Gefion fountain to The Little Mermaid, and back round to our hotel. 
Thursday was set aside for us to enjoy Tivoli park. The gardens and theme park rides are nestled right in the heart of the city. Found over 100 years ago, and known to be an inspiration to Walt Disney, the park still keeps the population entertained with free concerts, dozens of restaurants, an aquarium and of course a nice selection of thrill rides. The evening was rounded off with an enormous plate of house special ribs at the Promenaden restaurant. Yummy!

On our last full day we tried to tick off the remaining sights on our list; Christiansborg slot, Rundetårn, Nyhavn, Nationalmuseet, Vor Felsers Kirke and back to Tivoli for something to eat. Saturday was our last day, and after another "Breakfast in a Glass" at Ibsens we swung by a few shops and had coffee in the Paludan Bogcafe before catching the metro back to the Lufthavne, and our flight home. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Screw it! Not again...

Although I've been keeping a keen eye out for potholes again this year, the puncture magnet that is my nearside wheel, managed to accurately embed a screw in its tyre. 
Given the wear on the offside tyre this actually resulted in me purchasing two new boots, but at least I'm rolling again. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Sculpt 6.0

Finally decided to do something about my eyewear. Apparently my actual eye wear has not altered too much but a new contact lens package and new specs  means that I should be able to see what the future holds with even more clarity. 
Just as an aside, the optician who did my contact lens consultation had the most unusual character trait; she seemed unable to look me in the eye! It was quite odd that someone who so actively avoided eye contact would want to become an optician.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Monday 12th March

En route we called to see Carys in Manchester and had time for lunch in Sparkles café in the Northern Quarter. Then, after arriving in the city of Lancaster we picked up the keys to the Music Room, dropped luggage, bought supplies and had a Curry Night in.

Tuesday 13th March

We explored Lancaster on foot and arrived at just the wrong time to get in the Castle or Maritime museum, so we explored the City Museum and had elevenses in the Music Room Coffee Shop.
Refreshed, we returned to the Castle and did the guided tour. The building (which still functioned as a prison until 2011) has been the site of occupation since the Romans and later the Normans who built a stronghold against the marauding Scots. The Shire Hall still functions as a Crown Court but plans on what to do with the rest of the site have yet to be determined.
After a slow meal in Bella Italia we watched The Woman in Black at the cinema.

Wednesday 14th March

Today we went for a 6 mile walk along the River Lune and Lancaster Canal. Our journey took us past Skerton Bridge & Weir up to the Lune Aqueduct. We then followed the canal to Hest Bank on the coast and had tea in "The Shore" café. From here we walked along the beach and promenade into Morecambe where we met Eric and then got the bus back to Lancaster.

Thursday 15th March

Firstly we visited Atkinsons and bought coffee before driving up to Williamson Park & Ashton Memorial. We spent a very pleasurable couple of hours trying to photograph the butterflies before heading north to visit Sizergh Castle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012