Peterborough

Given that it was cold and wet, we decided to spend part of the day in Peterborough shopping. I was not feeling 100% so didn’t mind the slow start to our day. We had a late breakfast, Dave did some work and we got to Peterborough just after 12:00. I managed to find nearly everything on my list which was great.

Dave and I had a simple lunch at Greggs and we met the kids back there just after 15:00. Our drive back went in the direction of Deeping Saint James where Dave bought his first race car in the UK. We drove through Stamford and got back to the resort in time to enjoy a cream tea.

Dave went to train and I looked after Hannah while Carli and James packed their overnight bag. Tomorrow we leave for London. Dave cooked lamb chops for dinner. They were really good and we enjoyed them with cider. I went to bed still not feeling well.

Wells-Next-The-Sea

We had set aside one day to do a long drive to the North Norfolk coast. We set out from Barnsdale at 10:25 and had a pit stop at a Starbucks. Not sure what all the hype is as their espresso tastes the same as any other chain coffee shop.

Our next stop was at The Real Ale shop and then we arrived at Wells-Next-The-Sea. We parked at the harbour (£4.50 for the day) and went to K’s American Diner for coffee. The owner has been there since the 60’s and she runs it with her daughter. I can well imagine in summer this place is packed. Dave bought us a kipper from Arthur Howell fishmonger and then we went to French’s Fish & Chips for lunch.

We walked around the village before heading back to King’s Lynn via Burnham Market. We did a quick shop then drove back to the resort, arriving just before 18:00. I was not feeling well so went to lie down, getting up over 2 hours later to eat something. I went straight back to bed in the hope whatever was making me feel nauseous would pass.

Melton Mowbray

After breakfast, James, David and I headed to Melton Mowbray. It was not the best day for a farmers market and it was amazing how many stall holders had turned up.

The parking cost doubles on market days and we managed to find one close to where we wanted to be. For £3 we had three hours of parking, not that we browsed around in the ran and bitter cold for that long. We started off with espressi and a slice of Victorian sponge at Off The Beaten Path.

One stall holder had nice looking tomatoes but there were too many in the container for us. But when we bought a dozen double yolk eggs (£3) he sold us two for 20p. We got freshly baked baguette from another stall holder (£2) who then discounted the scones James bought by 80p. At Dickinson & Morris we bought two pork pies, a locally made beer, Stilton which is from this area and some bacon.

Once our shopping was done we came back to Oakham to get toffees from Thorntons. We came back to Barnsdale for lunch and in the afternoon the three of us took a drive to Stamford. Then back for cream tea before Dave and I headed to the leisure centre. We had bruschetta and snacks before supper – Hannah gave everything a try and then we had the pork sausages for supper. You could taste they were made with quality ingredients. I was quite sleepy so had an early night.

Oakham

Dave and I were up an about by 7:30. We went for a walk through the resort and to scope out the leisure centre. They have a well equipped gym, a studio, a swimming pool with sauna and steam bath as well as a jacuzzi and two squash courts.

We had breakfast and then the kids woke up having all slept well. Dave and I went shopping. I went to Boots while he posted Mark’s jacket to him and then we went and bought Rutland sausages at Leeson’s Family Butchers. We had coffee at The Daily Grind and then did a big shop at Tesco. After that we drove through Upper Hambleton. I could so live here! We got back to the resort, unpacked the groceries and at lunch time went back to Oakham. We had a long lunch at The Grainstore Brewery.

The men had two of their beers, Carli had their apple cider and I tried the mango cider. It was OK but I would not have it again. Dave, Carli and I shared the Beast Board and the Ploughmans Platter (£15.95) each. They were really good and more than enough food for 4 people. James had the Steak and Ten Fifty Ale Pie (£9.95) and Hannah had a kids meal consisting of chicken gougons, chunky chips and garden peas (£5.95). She ate most of it with a little help from us for the chips. She did not have the ice cream which was included in the price. The meal came to £60. After that Carli and I went to Boots and then James, Carli and I went to Tescos. Both Dave and Hannah survived the time alone together. We got back to the resort and Dave and I headed off to train and then came back to relax with some warm cider and bruschetta. We had vegetables for supper and an early night.

Remembrance Sunday

After a good night’s sleep I woke up nice and early. We showered and packed and Dave managed to get the car seat fitted with no problem. Stuart made us breakfast and then we dropped Anne and Stuart off in Abingdon for the Remembrance Sunday parade.

We walked with them into the centre of the town and then we went to do some basic shopping. After observing a 2 minutes silence we were on the road at 11:11. Quite fitting for the day. We drove through Benson and stopped in Wallingford at The Bell for coffee. We then went for lunch at The Crown in Cookham. Dave had last eaten therein 1982. He had posh fish fingers (£8) and a Theakstons IPA and I had Welsh rarebit (£7.50) with an Orchard Thieves cider. The bill came to £24.50. At 13:15 we headed to Heathrow to collect the kids. Europcar let us park in their visitors parking which made life very easy. We caught their shuttle to Terminal 4 and waited for them in the arrivals hall. They arrived safe and sound and the shuttle was waiting for us so that helped. James and David played tetris to get all the luggage in and as soon as it was done we hit the road. We arrived at Barnsdale Hall before 17:30, in the dark. We off loaded, unpacked, fed Hannah and had a simple pasta supper. An early night for all of us was in order.

A rainy day in Oxford

After collecting the car we drove to Abingdon and bought a selection of pastries. We got to Anne and Stuart just after 8am and had a long breakfast. Evie arrived around 9am and just as we were getting ready to leave for Oxford Jane woke up.

We walked around the roof top garden at Westgate shopping centre. Did some shopping and walked around Oxford in the rain. At the Turf Tavern Anne and I had mulled cider and Stuart and Dave had a beer. There were no tables for us to have lunch so we walked around a bit more before going to eat at Flavours of Lebanon.

We shared some mezze, shopped at the covered market and walked a bit more of Oxford. Such a pity it was raining as the city is beautiful.

After dropping the men off at The Spread Eagle Anne, Jane and I looked at some family documents. The guys got home and started on the supper preparations. And as soon as they were done Anne and I did the same. We had the Spekboom gin and the Cape Fynbos, both with a sprig of rosemary. Before dinner I had a nice catch up and conversation with Evie. Anne and Jane joined us and it was wonderful to talk about family memories and history. Supper was perfect and a celebration of my 50th so it included champagne and cake. We ended the evening with some port and headed off to bed just after 10pm.

Getting to Abingdon

I had us packed and ready to go on Wednesday evening. That freed us up on Thursday to get other things done. Dave went to work on the race car and I coloured my hair before going to Carli. Some things just did not fit into my suitcase. Even though we had the weight allowance we didn’t have the volume. After visiting with Hannah and Carli I fetched Dave so we could see Nico. Them home for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

On Friday it was work as usual. The driver arrived early and we were checked in and on our way through security 3 hours before our flight. Dave bought some South African Rugby shot glasses for Stuart just to rub in the result. And then we went to relax in the lounge. We boarded late and sat down in our seats to enjoy a glass of champagne. This is the first time we are flying business class. We saved up all our miles for this experience. Take off was 15 minutes late.

Our pre dinner drink was a Singleton 12 year old which we sipped while watching the most amazing sunset. For dinner Dave and I both had the crab rillette to start. I had mushroom ravioli for mains and Dave had seared fillet of beef. We had a Spanish red wine with starters and and Italian one for mains. Dessert for me was a lemon cheesecake and Dave had the cheese board. As is tradition for weekend nights we had a port after our meal.

Sleep time was just after 10pm South African time. Breakfast was at 4:55, or 2:54 UK time. We both chose the cheddar omelette as we will be having breakfast again later at a normal time.

We landed at 4:33 UK time and we were the first people through passport control. After collecting our bags we went to the lounge for a shower and our first day of holiday could begin.