After breakfast on the patio I did as much packing as possible. We then went to Boars Hill for a walk before heading to the pub where we were having lunch. We parked at The Greyhound and took a stroll through the village before heading to our table.
Evie joined us and we had an amazing lunch. Dave and I finally got our fish and chips. After our meal we went back to the house and Evie joined us for coffee. She stayed for a bit chatting to us while Anne and Stuart went for their eye appointments. Once Evie left, I finished packing and changed into my flying outfit. By then Anne and Stuart got back and we had our final chat before saying goodbye.
We had an easy run into Heathrow, filled the car up, took is back to Europcar and took the bus to Terminal 5. Bag drop off was a breeze and we were fast tracked through security. I left my iPad in my bag and so my handbag was sent for security checking. There was a young lady in front of us who had been stopped with enough makeup for 10 people. She was cross with the security official for telling her lipstick is part of the LAGs and she had more than one bag and needed to make a choice. While he was sorting it out she got on the phone and then told him to sort it out. I complained so he set her stuff aside and he immediately took my iPad out, checked my bag and gave me the all clear. It was only when I put the iPad back I saw I had left a container of sun block out of the special bags Heathrow want you to put your LAGs in to. Oh well…. 😂 Hopefully that entitled woman missed her flight!
Dave and I then went to get something for Bev, strolled through World of Whisky and the terminal before heading to the lounge. From getting into the queue for bag drop off to sipping red wine was less than an hour.
Boarding was more of a challenge as the flight crew were delayed. But it went smoothly once it began. We had champagne while boarding was in process then a Singleton 12 yo before dinner. We both chose the braised beef cheeks and had a glass of cabernet sauvignon to accompany our meal. As soon as we were done we put the bed down and went to sleep.
Dave was told to stow his laptop for take off and it ended up being jammed in by the seat. He managed to get it out but the electronics stopped working so he had to move for landing. We both had the full English for breakfast, and dinner and breakfast were excellent.
We disembarked, showed our forms to the young lady before we got to the health check where they were scrutinised and we were sent on our way. It was much easier than last October adding mere minutes to our walk to passport control. We were second in the queue and waltzed through, collected our bags and went to work. We left early afternoon, came home to relax and unpack. I snoozed in front of the TV and Dave cooked dinner. We had an early night and now it’s back to normal.
Dave and I walked to the shops to buy pastries before breakfast and then he and Stuart got the water fountain working while Anne, Henry and I went to fetch Harry from the station. The youngsters went into Oxford and we had a lazy lunch outdoors before Anne and I went for a walk.
We took a long stroll through the park and up to the lock before doing some shopping. Abingdon-on-Thames is a lovely village, well suited to raising a family.
We got home, unpacked the shopping and went to Evie for afternoon tea. It was lovely to have a good talk, and enjoy her stunning garden.
Anne and I came back to the house and tasks and chores were completed so we could enjoy a relaxing dinner. It was a build your own burger meal, perfect for the weather. At 8pm Anne and I went to drop Henry and Harry at the station to head back for London. We got back to the house, chatted, ate cheese and sampled all the home made port. The perfect last night of a holiday.
The entire reason for our trip was to celebrate my Aunt’s 80th birthday. After a very relaxing morning we got dressed up and headed to Oxford by bus.
Anne and I went for afternoon tea at The Grand Café which is the oldest coffee shop in England.
We then met the boys at the oldest pub. The Bear was founded in 1242. From there we went to The Head of the River before meeting Evie at The Folly. From there we went on a river cruise. It was Georgia’s first day as the skipper and she did a fantastic job.
Dave and Henry operated the lock and we did a quick turn around to get back in time for dinner. The meal was fantastic, and we were all defeated by the size of the portions with none of us having dessert. Stuart and Dave caught the bus home while the rest of us got a taxi. How blessed we are to have celebrated this ilestone as a family, albeit a year late.
Our first stop on Friday was to our good friend Alastair Gibson who is an amazing artist. He works with carbon fibre and Formula 1 parts to create all sorts of objects. The one I love the most is a ‘working’ heart.
After seeing his new projects we then went to his house to see his Van Diemen rebuild and chatted about all sorts of things. Our lunch stop was on the side of the motorway in Weston-On-The-Green.
From there we went to Millets Farm Shop to get things for dinner and breakfast. We got to Anne just after 2pm and Evie arrived just after us. We chatted, had drinks and when Evie went home, Anne and I walked into the village. We walked back through the ancient woods, relaxed and spoke, catching up with Henry. Evie came back for dinner which was a relaxed affair, with us eating on the patio.
We headed South today for Minchinhampton where there was supposed to be a market. Sadly, it was not on, so we got breakfast (espressi and scones) at The Kitchen. The owner is a delightful woman and her South African husband is the chef.
From there we drove to Nailsworth which is a lovely town with plenty of shops. We ambled around and bought Scotch eggs and pork pies for lunch.
Then the long drive, navigating our way through Cheltenham which had the most amazing Cricket Club. Sadly no pictures as we were in lunch rush traffic. We stopped at Coaley Peak on the way there which looks like an amazing picnic spot. The rain however kept us in the car. Our lunch stop was in Selsley.
We then drove through small villages before stopping at a local farm shop where we did not find anything we wanted, and then stopped at The Pheasant Inn in Stanway for a half pint.
Then back to the hotel for coffee and relaxation / work. After a beer we went to The Frog in Bidford On Avon. Sadly, we were on table too late for fish and chips and our second choice didn’t meet expectations.
Our day started off in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We had breakfast The Food of Love then walked to see where The Bard was born. A lot of the shops are plays on words of the works of Shakespeare, such as Much a Shoe About Nothing. We headed for the Avon and strolled around the Southern Stratford Canal. Then to the Bancroft Gardens to see the Gower Memorial. Had the MAD Museum tickets been cheaper we would have gone in as it has a lot to do with mechanical design.
We then drove to Chipping Campden and parked the car close to the Church. We walked through the Church and grounds, then wandered around the town, which is really worth a visit. We bought a pork pie to share and Fillet & Bone.
We stopped for lunch just outside Chipping Norton then drove into town and parked the car. It’s not nearly as pretty as other towns we have seen. But it had a pub with an interesting name so we popped in to Bitter & Twisted for half pints. We got caught in the rain but thankfully it did not last long, and the car was a close enough walk that we were not drenched.
The second scribe of the day was Jeremy Clarkson. We visited his farm shop at Diddly Squat Farm, so named as it makes diddly squat. I’m sure commercially he must be making money. But the farm shop did not have much in it, and the young man behind the counter really didn’t know much. But, I spent some money there to help Jeremy along his way…I do love his use of words though. You can buy cow juice and he makes a mockery of elf and safety.
From there we took long windy roads over some steep hills, past an amazing house in Brockhampton. We crossed the weak bridge at Barton where there is a 10T limit, unless you are a bus. Then you can weigh 13.5 tonnes.
We came back to the hotel, had coffee and relaxed before going to the pub for a drink. It had been our intention to have steak dinner at the hotel, but it was not as good as promised. Instead we drove to The Tavern in Broom and had one of the best meals we have ever had.
After a very slow start to our day we headed to Moreton-In-Marsh as there was a street market. Sadly we are not self catering so could not buy food to cook. But we could get breakfast, and things to make a picnic lunch.
From there we went to Bourton-On-The-Water and spent time browsing The Little Nook for a birthday gift for a friend and then walked to the Motor Museum. But at a cost of £7.50 per ticket we decided to not go and see the 50 cars on display. I walked through the Perfumery looking for a gift, but the suitable bottles were not for sale.
After that we drove to Burford and had espressi and croissants at Bakery On The Hill. We also bought Patum Preparium and some beer. And then did a Whisky Tasting and decided to gift ourselves a bottle of a local Whisky aged in Laphroaig casks. Dave and I browsed the antique shop and Dave asked some questions about our one bureau.
After that we drove through the countryside looking for a place to have lunch. After not finding anything suitable we parked outside Sydenham Farm in Broadwell and had a ham and cheese baguette.
Our next stop was Stow-on-the-Wold and we had a browse through the main area.
We headed for Evesham and nearly didn’t stop, as the High Street looked dismal, with hair dressing salons and barbers, and not much else. Leaving, we found a parking opposite the Workman Gardens and took a stroll, crossing the River Avon.
We walked up the pedestrian area and through the Abbey grounds. Opposite that was Ye Olde Red Horse and we popped in for drinks. What a great find. Dave had a bitters and chatted with the men. And I had an Ancient Warrior cider and spoke to the barmaid. We had interesting conversations before heading back to the car.
It was then back to the Hotel for coffee, work catch up and some relaxing before heading to Norton Grange in Norton for dinner. We had steak and ale pie, a traditional English pub meal.
We woke up early to say goodbye to Jon before he left for work. Then had a shower and packed up. Dave and I had breakfast and then Talya and I went to fetch Maya. Thanks to the RMT strike Arnos Grove was closed. We caught the train from Oakleigh Station to Moorgate. Here we could have got on the Elizabeth Line directly to Heathrow, but TfL showed it as not going there. So, we got the Metropolitan Line, but the wrong way. So we got off at Liverpool Street, crossed over to the opposite platform and headed for Hammersmith on the Hammersmith & City Line. From here the Picadilly Line was operating so we caught that to Heathrow. And then the Europcar Bus to collect our car. We had an easy drive through Oxford and the Cotswolds to the hotel we are staying in.
I unpacked, we settled in, had coffee and checked emails before heading to the pub for a drink. We then drove to The Ivy Inn for an amazing curry meal.
After another lazy start to the day we headed to Camden Town on the Northern Line. We watched the lock open while waiting for John then took a walk around. Our first stop was Half Hitch Gin for a tasting. Then the men had coffee before looking for a pod for us to sit in for lunch.
Ros, Adam, Cara, Noa and Jude met us for lunch. Dave and I had piadini, a typical Sicilian flat bread, made by a Sicilian. We all had a variety of meals and after we had finished the little ones got ice cream from Hansel and Gretel. We continued walking through the market until it was time for the family to leave. After that, John, Dave and I got gelato from Amerino. My choice was ciococcalata.
We then headed home before walking to Tesco for a few things for dinner. We stopped on the way there and back to chat with the neighbours who were having a tea party on the green. Talya made the most amazing pizzas and we over indulged. Our last night with them was perfect. Good conversation with amazing friends.
Dave and John went for a cycle in the morning and we all then had breakfast together. Josh woke up and made pancake batter before going on his run. And then we all enjoyed the fruits of his labour. After that I went to Waitrose while Dave and Talya went to Boots as Dave’s glasses broke. They were purchased at the airport as he forgot his at home so they didn’t last long. Thankfully readers are cheap! We then took a drive to find an open post office. Some were closed due to the Jubilee weekend. And others due to a postal strike. It was then home to gather everyone up for a drive to Ally Pally.
We walked around and then each chose something to eat from the various food trucks. I had a brisket sandwich from Smokestation which was good but not very smokey. Dave chose a cider for me and the 6 of us found a table and relaxed for a while. There were ice creams for dessert before we headed home to chill.
Together Talya and I made Thai green curry with the left over chicken and coconut rice to go with the meal. Talya and I then dropped Maya and a friend off at a party in Essex before the four of us went to Ye Olde Mitre Inne. It was a friend of theirs birthday and we went with to celebrate. It was a lovely evening, albeit a bit cold sitting outside. I had a couple of ciders and chatted with Talya and her girlfriends. Dave had beer and got involved with talking to the men. A typical party 😂.
We came home in time to greet Maya and she arrived back, had cheese and biscuits and headed for bed.