Thursday, 17 April 2014

Yet another BIrthday

So, we had Lydia for a couple of mornings again, but she's no trouble, she tends to go up for a nap, and then I nip out, and when I get back she is still asleep, so I have my lunch then wake her to give her her lunch. By the time she has finished, it is well past the time when we have promised to have her back, so we take her home and have a little chat with Daddy and Nathaniel, before going back home.
We had a chap from London preaching on the Sunday, he was quite good. On the Monday I had an appointment with the Osteopath, as it was April 1st I half expected an April fool joke, but just got a couple of whacky anecdotes. On The Tuesday, we popped over to Watford after lunch. I have broken a handle on the tray in my sewing box, and wanted to look for a new one, John Lewis didn't have any, We also went over to Hobby craft, whilst they had sewing baskets,as in J L, they didn't have what I wanted. I think I may have found a replacement on Amazon, but they are now called hobby boxes.
On the Wednesday it was husband's Birthday, he opened lots of cards, then I popped to WW, and had quick  trip to Sainsbury's. Husband didn't seem to know what he wanted to do so I suggested a walk in Wendover Woods. We had lunch in the cafe in the woods, or rather, sitting outside. We had a ploughman's each, very plentiful, but before we finished felt a few drops of rain.
Undeterred we donned waterproofs and went for a walk. The rain did not last, and we enjoyed our walk. Later we drove back the scenic route. Husband loves driving on country lanes, I don't because to me the hedges spin past and I end up with motion sickness. However, it wasn't too bad that day.
The family came around to see Grandad blow out his candles, then we later had a special meal including profiteroles.
Husband in the woods

Uprooted tree showing the chalk of the area

Close up of pine

'Ducks head' on a tree
I wonder what was in the black binbag down in the dip?

Strange deposits on trees tump

These white flowers were everywhere

in Close up

We looked after Lydia again on Thursday and Friday morning, I spent the afternoons ironing, and then we packed for our visit to North Wales. We didn't set off terribly early, but had a very reasonable run, although we did use the M6 toll road. We stopped at Watford Gap for lunch, and Sainsbury's Chester for food shopping. We arrived at the bungalow we were renting at around 6 pm, unloaded the car, then I partially unpacked, then popped over to my sister's home for the evening, whilst husband recovered from the driving.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Special Bithday part 2

I forgot to mention that on the Sunday, 23rd march, we had a preacher at church who we have known for many years. He frequently preached at the first church we attended, after our pastor had left to become a missionary. He was always good, always easy to listen to,and understand. Well that Sunday everyone seemed to enjoy his preaching,and of course he welcomed us as old friends.
On the Monday I decided to check up on the weather. It was going to be wet on Tuesday. Where could we go? Hatfield House, not open yet, nor Brockley Hall. Stowe not open yet, nor another place I checked. So I finally decided on Hughenden Manor.
Next morning I  opened lots of cards, some containing cheques or money, and one totally unexpected garden centre voucher. I may use that later to replace one of my orchids which seems to have died off.
We set off for Hughenden, which is quite near to High Wycombe. It was the country home of Benjamin Disraeli. The last thing I studied at school in History was that period, and I wish I had paid more attention.
There was the usual stable block, housing a gift shop, cafe, reception, and second hand bookshop. We browsed the gift shop, then the second hand bookshop, then decided to have lunch in the cafe. It definitely was not picnic weather. The sandwiches looked good, but were doorsteps. We decided on Jacket potatoes. I thought of soup, but I've eaten so much soup this winter, and it was a pea and leek. I'm not very fond of green soups, so jacket potatoes won.
Afterwards we walked across to the house. We didn't join an official tour, but 'did' the downstairs first. Husband decided to go into the basement next. Hughenden was taken over by the RAF during WW II, and it was all rather fascinating. There were maps showing the air raids that were plotted from there, all sorts of memorabilia, a room decked out as a shelter, with hurricane lamp, camp bed and chamber pot, and best of all, a 1940s sitting room, replicated from the one upstairs used by an RAF family. It was complete with radio playing 1940s music. Afterwards we climbed up to the first floor, where the rooms have been recreated as they would have been in Disraeli's time.
The second floor was more of a museum, but probably originally housed the servants.
By the time we had finished in the house, it had stopped raining, so we were able to go into the grounds to take more pictures. Then, carefully avoiding the tree felling that was going on, we made our way up to the old ice house, which again was decked out as in  World War II.

Ornate ceiling

 1940s sitting room

Disraeli bedroom

Victoria and Albert

Inkstand, papal gift

Ornate ceiling dining room
rear view of house

wartime in the ice house
We made a second visit to the gift shop, and then walked back to the car. As we drove along, I mentioned the chocolate shop in Wendover, so we headed over there, browsed an antique shop, and a charity shop, where we picked up a couple of cheap items, then into the chocolate shop, where I had Tea and husband had a hot chocolate. We couldn't resist  the treats on offer, and I had a slice of pavlova, and husband chocolate cake. Well it's not often that I have a special Birthday!
We drove home and had a bit of a rest before changing, and driving to St Michael's Manor for a meal. We were in the conservatory, where we were for our Daughter's wedding reception, 8 years ago this Summer. We were able to examine our surroundings more closely, as on that occasion we were somewhat preoccupied.The food was very good, modern English, and so beautifully arranged that one almost doesn't want to disturb it.
We both had a starter of pan seared scallops, with maple glazed, smoked, suckling rib, sweetcorn puree, bacon, popcorn and parsley foam, then Husband had venison loin and pie with mulled wine and valrhona, chestnut mushrooms, scorched chervil root and sprout petals, whilst  had Lemon sole with Langoustine, smoked fondant potato, glazed shallots, bouillabaise espuma, and split pea and lemon foam. All really lovely. Then husband had an apple  dessert, with a bavarois in it, and I had a pear galette, really thin pastry, with ice cream. Coffee and petit fours in the lounge, before I drove us home as husband had had a glass of wine.
Then I blew out candles on a tiny cake  had bought at a local bakers. I had thoroughly enjoyed my day. I skipped Weightwatchers the next day, as my tummy was a bit gippy. We had Lydia for 2 mornings only, as Son in Law is between jobs, but wants to spend time keeping his skills up before starting the next job.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Special Birthday part 1

The week before last something strange happened. My Husband told me that he was going to take me to  National Trust property on the Saturday. He said it was in honour of my Birthday. which was actually not until the following Tuesday. It is a big number Birthday. I thought it odd, as he is not normally organised, and something had been said in passing by my Daughter in law when we were there. My Daughter was suddenly interested in my Sister's mobile number too.
My Daughter brushed off the comment when I asked her, and I was feeling really deeply suspicious, I questioned husband and he blinked a lot when he answered me. Hmmm.
I had to do my weekend shopping on the Friday, and on the Saturday morning, It was a cold morning so I decided to wear trousers, but smart ones. I wore a long sleeve cotton blouse that I bought whilst still in my sling last year. I also wore a cardigan, and my warm Winter jacket.
Husband said he wanted to be there at about 11.30, but we set off a little bit late. Aylesbury is always busy, but we were soon on country lanes, driving through small villages. Then, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, we arrived at Claydon House.
It was too cold to go around the grounds, the gardens were closed, so we explored the stable area. Husband said it was too early for lunch, so we went in the shop, browsed there, then the second hand book shop, then we went into the house. We explained we would probably go out again for lunch, so they let us keep the tokens with which we had been issued. The house was intended to be much biggger, but when the owners went bankrupt, trying to expand the house, 2/3ds of it was pulled down again. Some of it is in apartments too. We were fascinated by the whispering staircase, which has ornate metalwork, some of which is loose, and moves and makes a sound when the staircase is in use. Sadly the N T have decided it is too precious to use now, so it is roped off.
Th ceilings are really high wth some amazing roccoco work. the doors also are over 9 feet high,and different in every room. No photography is allowed indoors, so I am unable to show you pictures of the interior.
We were in about the third room, when husband suddenly looked at his mobile,and said 'we are summoned', and led me through the further rooms, out of the front door into the stableyard and into  the Carriage house restaurant. There were Daughter and Son in law, Son and Daughter in law and the three grandchildren. My sisters, and the cousins had been unable to come.

We had a very lovely 3 course meal, each having different things from the menu. Although 2 had only 2 courses, and Ethan had mush from a couple of jars. It was lovely to see them all, not too much of a surprise, as I had an inkling something was up.
 I chose tomato, onion and thyme tartlet, with creme fraiche, followed by fillet of pork with an apricot and sage stuffing, calvados sauce, parmentier potatoes,and savoy cabbage. Then for dessert I had raspberry ripple baked Alaska,with raspberry and cointreau coulis. Some of us finished with coffee.
Then we all trooped back to the main house. Husband and Daughter managed to join a tour, our Son did a bit of a route march, with his wife. I wandered from room to room,and Son in law tried to keep the little ones under control. They were not badly behaved, but a bit young to appreciate old things. The libraries in these places fascinate me, and I always check to see what theological books I can find. They actually had a Crudens concordance in the collection. Thye also had Bunyan's works
There is a rather ornate Chinese room there, and a bedroom where Florence Nightingale stayed many times, she was related to the Verney family. It was interesting too that during the Civil war, the father was for the monarchy, and the Son was for Parliament. The Father actually died at Edgehill.
After the house we popped into the church which was next to the house. I was glad of the gloves I found in my pocket. there was still  a bitterly cold wind.

Then we nipped home to see to lights and draw blinds, and then up to Daughters for a lovely tea, which included a Birthday cake for me. I forgot to mention that they insisted on me opening the gift they had given me,- a voucher for afternoon tea  for 2 at the Ritz, London. I also received some flowers from one of my sisters.
Poor Lydia had an awful cough and was wheezing, so Daughter took her to the urgent care centre, and later we got a message to say she had been nebulised an given an inhaler. She is too young to be diagnosed with asthma, but the doctor said he had treated a lot of young children with chest infections, so there is obviously something nasty going round.
On the Sunday, we went to daughters for lunch, a lovely spread, Son, wife and baby had stayed in a premier lodge. They had to leave mid afternoon to collect the dog from family, and Son was due at work on the Monday; altogether I had a lovely weekend. I was also given the church flowers on the Sunday evening, word had got round.