Another week in the U.K.

Friday 20th May

With the rearranged weekend we brought forward our trip to Marian’s in Derbyshire via Oakham Bites for our customary “bacon butty” stop, then to Mark’s at Chapel Brampton to drop some books off, but first we had to clear up our “borrowed house”: thank you very much Bill and Jenny for once again letting us stay there.

With the car packed we headed up the A3 in the rain, but as we arrived at Oakham the rain stopped, very fortuitous. With our mouths watering we went and ordered our usual, double bacon baguettes.   It’s funny, we always try and come here when in U.K., not only have they have been voted “the U.K.’s best bacon butty place”, they actually “do” make excellent ones; freshly baked baguettes at all times and freshly cooked bacon to order, what can be better.   Today though we were disappointed; the fellow cooking was different, not the regular chap, and he left the baguettes on a heater causing them to be “over-cooked” and the bacon was crispy, not to our liking so overall we were disappointed; oh dear, and after such great expectations!!!    Obviously we will have to return at least once to give them a chance to redeem themselves.   Never mind, it is what it is so we just got on with it and off we headed, ignorant of what was to come!

Ten minutes after leaving the Oakham woods we joined the M25, well the “car park”.   Our original ETA was circa 1400hrs, Tom Tom was giving us an arrival time of 1535hrs and as we crawled along the arrival time was getting towards 1600hrs until a new route came up.   We also heard on the traffic news about a lorry fire at Junction 15A on the M1, “our junction” 👹👹. The new route took us off the M25 at Stains, and then we were routed through Windsor towards High Wycombe where we joined the M40 heading west to Oxford.  On leaving the M40 at Oxford, we joined the A43 heading north towards Northampton, at last we were wizzing along, well until we noticed a sign saying the road was closed at Brackley, unbelievable, but when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t; must have been an old sign!   Approaching Towcester the traffic started to back up when Tom Tom sent us off the A43 onto some country lane and arrival time was now 1602hrs.   We followed numerous country lanes, through small housing estates and remote villages, and suddenly our lane arrived at the Towcester roundabout where the A5 crosses the A43.   Here the four main roads into the roundabout were gridlocked, most probably due to diverted traffic thanks to the fire on the M1 at 15A.   Our country lane was empty and our exit to Northampton was also clear so we “shot” across; the first bit of good luck we’ve had all day!!!   Anyway as predicted we arrived at Mark’s at 1602hrs, just liked Tom Tom 0predicted, albeit 2-hrs later than planned!!!.

Oakley so cute

We were greeted by Mark and “Oakley” their new Beagle puppy, a pretty and playful “sharp toothed” dog with “sharp claws” to match; still that will change once baby teeth have gone and going out for walks begins.  He hasn’t finished his jabs yet.    Paula soon joined us and we had a good, but short, get together catching up with news etc.

An hour or so after arriving we left for Flagg, Derbyshire.   We were dreading heading up the M1 on a Friday evening but to our surprise the motorway was reasonably clear and after a pleasant drive, arrived at Marian’s around 1900hrs.    We were tired though having spent most of the day in a car, in traffic jams, with sporadic rain.

Saturday 21st May

We decided we would take it easy today.  A late start and a visit to Morrisons followed a late breakfast then back to Rockfield House for a light lunch.   

This afternoon I was on tender-hooks, today is the penultimate round of the premiership and apart from crossing everything for Northampton Saints against Saracens, I had a vested interest in Gloucester; hopefully they will be defeated by Harlequins!!! Then of course there is the Spanish GP qualifying, though it will have to be the highlights today.

By mid afternoon part one was complete, Gloucester had lost and now it was down to Saints.   The chances of a win were remote but a losers bonus point would be very handy and following on the radio wasn’t quite the same.  At halftime Saints, in spite of a yellow card, we’re 1-point ahead, yeah.   The second half was different, Saracens ran away with the game until the last quarter when Saints got their “mo-jo” back and scored three tries and more importantly held Saracens out.   At the final whistle the score was 42 – 38 to Saracens, but though we lost we picked up two crucial bonus points so now it is all on next week when we play Newcastle🤞🤞🤞🤞

Following the rugby we watched the qualifying highlights of the GP after which we were quite exhausted so had an early one.

Sunday 22nd May

Marian cooked us our first and only “proper breakfast” we’ve had since back in England, and very scrumptious it was too, a big thank you to Marian.  The weather today was nice so I got the strummer out, what I hear some of you say, Geoff gardening???  I know but it had to be done and Christine cleared up behind me, “no change there” some of you may be saying.

Marian checking the work

A Sunday roast was also enjoyed late afternoon then we all settled down to watch the Spanish Grand Prix.   There were four of us all rooting for different drivers so it was a very interesting evening.   The conclusion was one of us won!!!!!    Anyway, half an hour after the excitement it was bed time.

Monday 23rd May

Today we decided to take a trip to Cheadle to do some shopping leaving Marian to do her work; thanks to Covid she works from home.

The run over top by the “Cat and Fiddle” wasn’t as good as it should have been as it was raining with low clouds, therefore the visibility was blurred.   Still being positive, no traffic holdups!!!   

It was very strange as these days trying to find a Marks and Spencer for clothes is quite difficult they are closing them and only opening Food halls.   Additionally, finding a John Lewis is like finding “hens teeth” yet in Cheadle there were both and in close proximity to each other, hence our trip to Cheadle!!!

The run back was better, firstly minimal to no rain, and secondly we returned via another route to help break the boredom.   On this route we passed several fields with sheep and their lambs running around and also a few Cows with their offspring.

Christine was on cooking duty tonight and we enjoyed a “Hairy Biker” diet recipe (Salmon with ginger) in a poor attempt to “reign-in” the eating we have indulged in recently; me thinks it’s a “too-little, too-late”.   What was left of the evening was taken up by watching a few back episodes of Beat the Chasers.

Tuesday 24th May

After another lazy morning and late breakfast, we set about reassembling Marian’s work desk; dismantled so that her office could be painted.

Today we are heading to meet Martin and the four of us are booked into “The Plough” at “Hathersage” for lunch but first have to complete the task of re-assembling the desk, and the good news, every screw was saved!!!!!

Task complete and all scrubbed up we headed to the The plough and arrived “politely late”, where Martin was waiting for us.

A nice friendly 16th century country pub with good food and nice choice of Ales and excellent company, what could be better😀😀.

Christine drove home as I had enjoyed a few of their excellent ales and though we had a big meal, later in the evening we all felt peckish, unbelievable!!!

Wednesday 25th May.

Today we had a long-standing luncheon date with Leisha and David at “Ye Old King’s Head”, an old pub dating back to the 17th century in the Hamlet of “Gurnett”, just outside Macclesfield by the Macclesfield Canal.   This was chosen as it was about equidistant for us all.    We hadn’t met up since Christine’s party early December so we were all looking forward to catching up.

Marian elected to drive today; thank you Marian and after all, it is her “neck-of-the-woods”.   Arriving at 1300hrs, and on time today!!! We settled down with suitable refreshments waiting for the others.

When Leisha arrived she was not in a very happy bunny for two reasons. 1/. With no car park she didn’t want to leave her new, gleaming Lexus parked in the road and 2/.  They had visited this pub several years ago whilst travelling the Macclesfield canal and it was “Awful” and was kicking herself for not remembering at the time of agreeing where to meet: “it is what it is” we said and we’ll make the most of it and laugh about it later.   Well, when later came, we had been totally blown over, even Leisha had to admit it had been transformed; better food and better service, totally different.   Naturally we asked the question, and yes new people running the place and what a good job they were doing.

We eventually pulled ourselves off our seats and left around 1800hrs; the 5-hrs we had been there flew by.   We laughed together continuously whilst enjoying several bottles and the highlight was the French and Irish coffees Leisha and I had, well 3-each actually!!!!   We were totally “gobsmacked” when we eventually noted the time, as I’ve said, the 5-hours just flew by.

Our return journey was uneventful and the first thing on our minds tonight was a late snack of a cold lamb sandwich, soak up the booze! Russell joined us later and we spent much of the evening debating the way forward for Russell’s career.  I am sure he will listen carefully and do what’s right for him; good luck Russell.

Thursday 26th May

Today is changeover day for us.   After an enjoyable few days in the Derbyshire Peak District, we are heading back to Somerset.   Thank you very much Marian for putting up with us for longer than was originally planned; peace and quiet will reign again at Rockfield House.

After packing and cleaning up we headed out.   We were going to “Gloucester Quays” first as according to the list of businesses, there is a Marks and Spencer and I need a new pair of trousers.    The best part of this drive was that we kept going, minimal traffic but we suspect if we had left leaving ‘till Friday, things would have been different as it would be the start of the long bank-holiday weekend.

Marks and Spencer in Gloucester Quays was a disappointment, firstly it was a rather small outlet and secondly, they had nothing that either fitted or suited me; a waste of time👹👹 Never mind, Onward and upward, there will be another opportunity sometime, somewhere.

We pulled back into Hope Farm mid afternoon and all was well, not to mention the list of jobs they had lined up for me!!!!

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