Television, Walks and Favourite Podcasts

I’ve decided to stop watching the daily updates and news for a few days as it just creates anxiety. Unfortunately, it is all bad news so I will be reading my news on the BBC page which is comprehensive and useful.


Television (Netflix)
We’ve been watching Jack Whitehall Travels with my Father, whilst drinking beer in the evening and this has been a roaring success. Nothing like having comedy on to cheer you up. Also, it is about the countries they visit, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and fascinating as a travel vlog. Father and son go off together for a ‘gap year’ which Jack didn’t finish in 2009. His father, Michael Whitehall, is an unadventurous well dress gentleman whose obvious distaste of most things Jack related, is hilarious. They journey across South East Asia to partake in some rather curious explorations, mishaps and escapades, and comically demonstrates two diverse perspectives. However, ultimately they find it is a good way to strengthen their father and son bond and proves a successful adventure.



Walks Tuesday
We’ve continued with our country walks. The first one with David (husband), included a trip to the other end of the village where there is a private school and The Old Church. This is set in copious amounts of farmland, orchards and woodland. The sun was shining and we really appreciated being outside. Whenn we arrived at The Old Church we met and chatted with another couple (4 metres plus away) who was discovering all the local walks during this (lockdown) time, having moved to the area of Kent 11 years ago! They are certainly making up for it now. Their walks were derived from some printed maps given to them when they moved in.

Yesterday – Wednesday
I decided to go for a solitary stroll across the local recreation ground and into the woods. I really enjoyed walking for about 50 minutes which got me out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I have been decluttering, organising and cleaning my home but I’m afraid I will always find ways to escape the four walls into the outside world.
Whilst walking I listened to the Minimalists podcast which is one of those easy to listen to chatty podcasts which is often thought-provoking. To be honest, these days I listen to BBC podcasts but forgot to download for my walk, so I just tried this one which had been downloaded but not listened to…

The Minimalists 197 Successful People

A listener asks ‘How do I find what I’m passionate about and when should I give the passion up?
The basic premise is not what are you are passionate about but what you are enthusiastic about? Everyone knows what they are enthusiastic about. Which friend am I passionate about or which friend am I enthusiastic about? This stops the excitement perspective which doesn’t necessarily translate into a long-term interest. You just seem to know what you are enthusiastic about.

30 Day Challenge
Answer 3 questions for 30 days.
What made me feel enthusiastic today?
What drained me of energy today?
What did I learn about myself today?

Don’t give up until 30 days. You will feel like you’ve got all the juice out of the lemon before 30 days and will see a pattern after the 28th day. Not before.

Favourite Podcasts

5 Live Science Podcast (like the Aussie Dr Karl)

Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Fortunately… with Fi and Jane

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The Minimalists


When I got home, I set about making a huge bolognaise sauce full of beef, tomatoes, stock, herbs and masses of vegetables. I plan to make it last several days, so I even added grated carrots. Probably on the second day, I will add chili and beans to turn it into a chili con carnie.

Thursday
I just listened to music and did a home workout. All good fun. I’m enjoying the soulful tunes of Lianne La Havas and Marc O’ Reilly on Spotify, at the moment. During the afternoon we popped to a nearby brewery and bought lots, and I mean lots, of ale for both of us. After that excitement, I read my book (a review will be forthcoming) The Year of Living Danishly and then cooked the dinner (Chili Con Carni).

During the evening we had a lively chat with family which is always fun. I’m glad to know they are well and busy working from home. I’ve recently heard of someone with the virus and am very concerned for her. Hopefully, she will make a quick recovery.

Anyway, I will sign off here. Let me know how you are passing the time?

 

The new shopping experience and ideas for my future blog…

Apparently, in Italy, they had panic buying but after a couple of weeks the shops were fully stocked again and people calmed down. To be fair, I’ve been fairly lucky because David and I did a big shop before the panic started and were able to buy loo rolls and essentials. However, I understand it has been dreadful for people, particularly the elderly, vulnerable and health workers who have worked long shifts.

I can’t understand why people cannot shop as normal. Food shops won’t close even in a lockdown situation. Apparently, the supermarkets are employing temporary staff. Anyway, recently I had a bad day, full of anxiety and decided to go to our local farm shop. It was fully stocked with fruit, vegetables, pickles, mayonnaise, salad, wine, beer, ham, bacon and it was quiet. Bliss!!!

When I told my friend, she could shop the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to our local supermarket, she informed me she was going to make use of her local grocers and the farm shop ‘because we don’t want to lose it’. Very sensible.

So, thought I’d remind people there are other options other than supermarkets:

Tips:
Go to your local shops
Farm Shops
Garden Centre (Ours has an excellent meat counter)
Small ‘I sell everything’ grocers
Pubs/Restaurants are now selling takeaways
Order online (which I’ve only done once, and hated)*
Click and Collect*

*These options don’t appear to be available at the moment. Panic buying!

After this post, I will be writing most days a diary type blog. I think it is vital to record what you are feeling, doing and seeing.

Update: David ventured forth to the local middle sized supermarket and remarked that ‘it wasn’t too bad.’ Although still didn’t have loo rolls and limited brands. Perhaps, the nincompoops now have enough sanitiser, baby food, wipes, washing powder, ready meals, etc. Let’s hope so.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Hastings Old Town

Hamilton, New Zealand

Pubs in Australia and New Zealand

Decided to stop for a few days at Hamilton. An average size town with a couple of good pubs. The first pub called The Londoner served up a decent IPA and amazing chicken fillet filled with spinach and soft cheese, pine nuts, mash and veg. Omg it was delicious. Hubby, I might add, enjoyed a London Pride real ale.

Onwards to The Local Taphouse for a few IPAs and a look at their local CAMRA mag. Well obvs not CAMRA (thank goodness) but an organisation called soba… Society of beer advocates. Much better title, in my humble opinion. Love the irony. Somebody has a sense of humour.

We were advised that a decent pub doesn’t exist in Aus and NZ by many people. Nonsense. We’ve found some smashing pubs in both countries. Had some wonderful beers, accompanying food and friendly locals. They aren’t all boxy sterile places but great places. Funnily enough the first pub was awful. A great big soulless hall type building serving beer in stupidly small glasses. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to be a long, arduous trip. After that we found loads of decent places and it’s been a tremendous trip.

The Aussie and NZ pub is great. You heard it here first or should I say thirst?

Hamilton Gardens

This place is a lovely surprise full of beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs and ideas. Ideas? Yes, the landscaping is innovative and at the moment they are working on a Surrealist garden.

The area has a collection of gardens from all over the world including Japan, India, China, Italy and of course, the best, England. Exquisite and so well done.

Unusually, they are not known to be botanic gardens but gardens that tell a story across all cultures. This concept was started in the 1980s by Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel and the concept was enthusiastically received by the local community.

Of course, the gardens were originally a rubbish dump and the area was passed to the Hamilton City Council During the 1960s for opening as a garden for the public. The site is now a wonderful 54 hectares, free to visit and worthwhile visiting.

 

Bundaberg, birds and beer stories….

We arrived at Kelly’s Villas and thought I’m on the set of the Aussie soap Home and Away. The place has an old world Aussie charm about it. Staff are cheerful, hard working folk and we immediately felt at home.

An evening dinner was booked in Kelly’s Restaurant and beforehand we had a quick exploration drive around the surrounding area. The beach is pretty and very Home and Away plus the surrounding area has neat, tidy attractive houses with colourful immaculate garden areas. Aussies definitely seem to take pride in their surroundings.

Back at the residence, the dinner was amazing. I enjoyed barramundi and quickly realised this quaint place had secured a superb chef. Also, a good range of beers was supplied by a well stocked bar. The beer comes from a local brewery, the Bargara Brewing Company and the beer Drunk Fish, has an interesting story attached to it.

During the night, we kept the windows open because they are covered in mesh. Trouble is, the wind banged the blinds, the birds woke up early and I said to hubby:

”It’s like trying to sleep in a zoo.”

He laughed out loud and replied, “Or an Avery.”

I kid you not, the noise of the birds are incredible in Australia. Swear I thought there was a bloke standing out of our bedroom window whistling. Nope, it was one of the birds. Squawking, whistling and believe it or not, tapping.  Sure they are all in competition with each other. Then they come into a crescendo, go quiet for 5 seconds and start again.

Hubby’s phone went and we washed, dressed then I shouted out to hubby, it is only 3.45 to which he told me he wouldn’t be long and I bellowed out the time again. He heard me properly this time, and shouted out that he understood my point. We were meant to be getting up at 5 am for a trip. The ‘alarm’ was a spam phone call. We dozed until about 5am, but the Avery became too much, so we got up ready for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

Next post is all about our jaunt to the Great Barrier Reef. What could possibly go wrong? 🙄

Gardening, BBQs, beer and a funny story…

Can’t believe I’m revealing this, but think the gardening thing is coming back to me, a bit. During my younger days, the garden would be an escape. Hubby came home from work and enjoyed bathing and reading the children a bedtime story.

I used to sow seeds in the greenhouse and then plant them out in May and continue to tend the flowers, weed, prune and so on. During their teen years, I succumbed to study, because of my love of all thing literature and I guess that took over. Now they descend on us for Sunday roasts and summer bbqs and we have a fabulous time, putting the world to rights and enjoying a glass 🥃 of something…or two.

This year, I was dreading the gardening season (don’t succumb to soil activities in the winter) because it looked so overgrown. However, it has now been weeded and I somehow found the strength to mow the annoyingly long grass.

In the UK, the weather has suddenly improved. The everlasting grey clouds have been replaced by some white clouds and sun. It won’t last, but it is lovely while here. This has motivated me into a flurry of cleaning and gardening. What is surprising, is this year, I’m actually embracing the glorious weather and garden. We’ve even been to the garden centre to buy a supply of gardening acrutriments and plants. This includes copious amounts of gardening gloves, for our precious hands, garden forks and bbq tools, so the hubster doesn’t burn himself whilst turning the flaming meat over. Yes, we have a new bbq, bought by the kiddies. The previous one was disintegrating before our eyes.

Everybody visited on Sunday, for a bbq: “The weather is looking good for the weekend, so shall we try out the new bbq?” Son asks, with a cheeky smirk on his face.
I agreed, because I’m determined to enjoy, or endure, more bbqs this summer. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it rained. Luckily, we changed the time and cooked and entertained at lunch time, eat inside and then chilled out in my summerhouse. Beer was involved. Well you need to keep warm somehow, don’t you? We watched the rain pour down, but being typically British stayed huddled in the summer house.

My son-in-law, arrived during this time and after some painful deliberation, my hubby, bravely ventured out into the pouring rain, to unlock the garden gate. He arrived at the summerhouse, for some reason, declaring “You are all mad!” The summerhouse is not large. We huddled some more, I was introduced to a beer called ‘Elvis Juice’ and a funny tale (more later), the chaps then escaped and lit the chimnea. Then we huddled around that instead.

What a splendid day.

Oh, the strange tale… Apparently, the Elvis Estate, in their wisdom, decided to object to BrewDog naming the beer Elvis Juice. So, the BrewDog owners/brewers, in their wisdom, apparently, changed their names to Elvis! Well, two of the brewers (owners) did. They won their case and it is still called ELVIS JUICE and is the third best selling beer in the UK!

https://www.brewdog.com/lowdown/blog/elvis-juice-here-to-stay

Visiting the Cotswolds, cake, cold weather and pubs…

Witney

 

We decided to go ahead with our visit to the Cotswolds despite the beast from the east heading our way. The weather was sunny and looked like a glorious spring day but bitterly cold. As it wasn’t grey and pouring with rain and not snowing until the following week that would be OK.

We stopped at a pretty town called Witney on the way to the Cotswolds area and enjoyed a wander around the town. Popped into a coffee shop for some quick refreshment and were duly sent upstairs because they were so busy. Amazing how coffee shops are always busy and you have to fight to find a space to sit. Anyway, we found a table and sat and admired the view of the old radio, church and common. In fact, it was so pretty, I decided to take some photos much to the fascination of the other customers.

Burford

 

Next stop was Burford, which is basically a town on a hill with far reaching views of the countryside. This place is the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’ and a popular medieval wool town. Lots of stone walled buildings which are said to retain the original medieval street plan and some houses bear traces of the Middle Ages. The road runs east-west, originally past the 16th century market hall called the Tolsey which is now a local history museum. We strolled down the hill observing the views and when we came to the bottom of the hill there was a pretty stream and a house with dogs watching us through the window.

Burford

 

We stayed in a wonderful B & B guest house in Cheltenham that night, which was simply stunning. A beautiful, immaculate French colonial style villa built in 1855, called The Battledown. It is conveniently located on the east side of Cheltenham and about a mile from the main town. When we arrived, we were given a warm welcome and offered a cup of tea. So I admired the décor of the immaculate dining room and enjoyed a cuppa with homemade cookies. The owner gave us a map and information about Cheltenham and the Cotswolds and even told us about the local pub, the Sandford Park Ale House. Wonderful service and attention to detail. We were then shown our room (where our bags had already been delivered) and left to unpack.

We then walked into Cheltenham to explore the town. Was expecting something more grand to be honest, but we did enjoy a small libation in the Sandford Park Ale House, which was rather splendid and had a superb selection of ales and craft beers. I enjoyed a small Mad Goose Pale Ale, which was rather delicious.

Sandford Park Ale House

 

After a superb full English breakfast the following morning, with homemade baked beans, marmalade and banana bread we set off to explore the Cotswolds.

First stop, was a quick look at the Pittville Pump Room, which is basically a wedding venue but interesting to view nonetheless. Majestic columns, ornate interior, impressive domed ceiling and set in extensive lawns. Pleasant enough to have a quick nose around and also had a quick look inside, but scurried off when we heard the echoing footsteps.

Pittville Pump Room

 

On the way to our first stop Winchcombe, we paused to admire the countryside of Cleeve Hill. This is an area of outstanding beauty and it shows. Also known as the Cleeve Cloud, it is the highest point of the Cotswolds hill range at 1083 feet. The whole area commands some of the most breathtaking sights. Well worth taking some time to admire the local countryside and probably, like the rest of the Cotswolds, a great place for some exacting walks.

Cleeve Hill area

 

Winchcombe was our first stop and very quiet. I feared everything would be shut, but as we sauntered through the town, many places were open and the town soon came alive. Winchcombe is a pretty ancient Anglo Saxon village with the nearby Sudeley Castle. Apparently, Winchcombe means ‘valley with a bend’ and the town still has the street which does a curve along the ‘combe’. The area was known for tobacco growing which was banned in 1619 due to the interest of industry in America and the colonies.

Winchcombe

 

Next stop was Broadway and Chipping Campden. Broadway is a little different because of the broad road area. However, it is just as picturesque with an interesting heritage and was an ancient ‘ridgeway’ and the main road from Worcester to London. The high street is lined with horse chestnut trees and has a fascinating mix of period houses with the honey coloured stone cottages that are so prevalent and world famous in the Cotswolds. We enjoyed seeing some early spring flowers and blossom too. Don’t be fooled by the sunshine, it was very cold, but little did we know how cold it was going to become!

Broadway

 

Broadway

 

Onwards to Chipping Campden, where we enjoyed a memorable chocolate cake. I say cake, it was like a thick biscuit with chunks of chocolate and it was amazingly delicious. The sedate ambience was lovely and the residents are said to be fiercely protective of the woollen boom. The place is delightful and well preserved with a magnificent 15 century church and market hall built in 1627 as a centrepiece for the town.

Chipping Campden

 

Later during the afternoon, we had a brief stop at Moreton in Marsh. My husband used to visit there as a child because his parents travelled to the town to visit friends. It is a pleasant town and historically known for its coaching station before the Oxford to Worcester railway in 1853. There is an array of pubs, inns, hotels, tea shops and an elegant eighteenth-century feel to the place.

Moreton in Marsh

 

Finally, we went on to Bourton on the Water where we had booked a B & B for the night. We stayed in a great B & B guest house, the Broadlands Guest House, and welcomed by a friendly owner. The breakfast was again, splendid with very generous portions. Great value for money too.

Bourton on the Water

 

The tranquil river is fed by springs and meanders through the village which epitomises a rural England. Quaint shops, the Old Mill and the arched stone bridges are so relaxing and attractive. The earliest bridge is said to have been built 1654 (known as Broad Bridge) and that is what is so charming about the Cotswolds; it is old and has preserved its beauty.

Bourton on the Water

 

If you go to the Cotswolds, do not miss this place as it is, in my opinion, the jewel in the crown. One thing though, make sure you frequent the pub just outside of the village centre called The Mousetrap Inn. It is the pub to relax and eat in. You will enjoy a well stocked bar offering ales, lagers and ciders and has been included in the CAMRA ‘Good Beer Guide’ over several years. We enjoyed a scrumptious roast lamb and chocolate brownie. The place was busy even on a fiercely cold Monday evening so is probably heaving with people, in the summer.

Mousetrap pub

 

So for a last full day we visited Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter. The cold weather was really taking the Micky out of the glorious sunshine now, as temperatures plummeted to –2c. Most of my photography shows warm, sunny spring days, but in reality, it was so cold on this day, we could barely stay out of the car for too long!

Lower Slaughter

 

Lower Slaughter is tiny and very picturesque, although there is not a lot there the countryside and mill views are joyful and I felt this is where my photography really captured the Cotswolds. The Old Mill which was last used commercially in 1958, and the shop full of curious and unusual gifts. This place was voted Most Romantic Street in Britain (2011) and this title is probably well deserved. I wonder how many men have proposed marriage here? The name comes from the Old English name of a wetland ‘slough’ or ‘slothre’ which is Old English for muddy place.

Lower Slaugher

The ‘Most Romantic Road’ at Lower Slaughter

 

Upper Slaughter is another super place for photography and wandering aimlessly. The village is known as a Double Thankful Village because all of their members of the armed forces survived both World War I and World War II.

Upper Slaughter

 

Onwards, to Yanworth where I enjoyed some landscape photography while hubby waited patiently in the car. Can’t tell you how cold the weather was. Oh, I already have haha! Not been so cold for years and years and even wore tights under trousers! Haven’t done that since I was a young girl.

Yanworth

 

On the way home, we stopped at Cirencester which was so cold (minus 2c) and with the wind factor felt like minus 10c. We had a quick look around and enjoyed a teacake and cuppa and set off home knowing we were facing several inches of snow in Kent. We got home OK, although they shut the A21 due to a serious accident so we did a risky cross country tour and arrived home to a freezing house because the heating had inadvertently turned off.

Cirencester

 

To sum up, I can highly recommend the Cotswolds area and thoroughly recommend you take the above route through the beautiful stone villages and enjoy visiting…

Witney

Burford

Cheltenham

Cleeve Hill

Winchcombe

Broadway

Chipping Campden

Moreton in Marsh

Bourton on the Water

Lower Slaughter

Upper Slaughter

Yanworth

Cirencester

 

Hopefully, it will be sunny but not quite as cold. Thank you for reading this rather long epistle on the Cotswolds. A truly wonderful, outstanding area of natural beauty.

On the way home, we visited Chipping Norton and saw this amazing building which fascinated us so much we stopped the car and went for a walk towards it so I could take some photos. I’ve since discovered it is called Bliss Tweed Mill, which manufactured tweed and became a listed building around 1980 (Grade II). The Mill was built in 1872 for cloth manufacturer William Bliss and designed by George Woodhouse of Bolton. The chimney stack is styled as a tall Tuscan column and supported by cast iron columns. The mill prospered in the First World War after a large order for khaki cloth for the British Army, was received. The mill closed in 1980 and was converted to residential apartments during the end of the ‘80s.

Bliss Tweed Mill

 

 

Links and sources:

http://www.thebattledown.co.uk/home/4583623248

http://www.broadlandsguesthouse.com/

http://www.spalehouse.co.uk/

http://www.cotswolds.info/places/winchcombe.shtml

https://www.broadway-cotswolds.co.uk/

http://www.themousetrapinn.co.uk/

http://www.cotswolds.info/places/upper-slaughter.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bliss_Tweed_Mill

Musings about December…

After my rant about the festivities, I had a wonderful holiday and feel quite refreshed. However, now realise some motivation is required to move forward any projects, etc., planned for this year. Funny how you tell yourself ‘after December, I’ll do this, that and the other’ and now it’s here, finally, one needs to make some decisions about life! Trying not to panic haha.

After the family gathering on the 25th Dec, which was a hoot, we went to Sheffield Park Gardens on Boxing Day and had a saunter around the lakes, decorated Christmas gardens and woodland. We took a picnic lunch, because, and I must plan this better, we had so much food left over. Next year, I must remember to prepare less food. I really didn’t need to bake those lemon cakes, and quite so many mince pies. Do you do this?

When in the car for a coffee break, the heavens opened and it poured with rain, so as it was 1 o’clock, we had our lunch. It was delicious and I’ve decided to start taking picnics more often because it’s so much less hassle than queuing up with the crowds and over paying for something quite ordinary.

We ventured back around the gardens and I concentrated on taking some photos with my new camera, the Nikon D3300 which was great fun. The place is beautiful even in the winter. The trees expose their structural form and reflect over the lakes. Having recently done a photography course, I was rather chuffed with the results and hopefully will improve during 2018.

We explored the 250 acres of parkland which dates back to the 18th century and you find yourself pausing and admiring the view of copses of trees around the hills. It is a wonderful place to explore, reflect and admire the parkland, streams, meadows and woodland. If you haven’t been, I can highly recommend a visit. A relaxing and serene environment where you feel you can get away from it all.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

The next day, I took the borrowed dog, Oscar, for a long walk. It was quite windy and the sky was incredible with an amazing sunset. Really enjoy our walks and I’ve got to know many woodland and field walks in the area.

On Thursday, 28 December, we visited family and enjoyed a trip  to the pub for a couple of beers. I drank a very hoppy Dark Star, Hop Head. The Land of Liberty in Hertfordshire, is a CAMRA pub and always has an exceedingly splendid selection of beers.

On Friday, 29 December we went with my son and girlfriend to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. I cooked a beef casserole which was delicious and made a change from turkey. The film was brilliant and wonderfully produced. To be honest, I found it a little long, but I did enjoy it.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

Mistakes are inevitable. They hurt. They’re hard. But we learn from them. Lift someone up after a misstep with this quote from Yoda.

On Saturday, we met my husband’s brothers for a few beers and a meal in London, Bakers Street. We met up in The Volunteer a pub near Regent’s Park. It seemed funny, because I used to drink there when I worked in the area many years ago. Someone then told me that people don’t drink during the lunchtime anymore. This I find hard to believe. Although, judging by the amount of suits in the pubs during the evening, I assume evening drinking is the new trend? Anyway, the food was good and I tried to have something healthy so opted for a Verdure and then Seabass for my main course. Very pleasant.

On Sunday, we were rather relieved to have ‘a day off’ which is a little ironic as it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed in and enjoyed some beer and watched the BBC drama ‘The Miniaturist’. It is about a new, young wife who is given a doll’s house for a wedding present. The exquisitely made contents, which she mysteriously receives, appear to reflect the Brandt family’s hidden secrets. The drama is majestic and creepy, but quite enticing. The photography of the Amsterdam canal house is extraordinarily clever. In fact, you feel like you are watching a Dutch masterpiece.

We were so pleased not to have to go out, we couldn’t even be bothered to go to our local. Rock and Roll. Strange how we go out all year round, but stay in the one night most people go out!

After all that, although I am against dry January, because it does harm to the pub industry, I do feel I need a break from alcohol and rich food so will focus on feeling better with some exercise and fresh air, etc. More on that in the next blog posts!

So another year over and onwards and upwards. Happy New Year everyone!

Andy xxx