Saturday, November 27, 2021

Road Trip, November 2021

All over the place. November-2021

Straight after Winter Droving we set off on a road trip. It was only supposed to be a simple triangular trip: down to Axminster for a cookery course, up to London for an Elton John concert and home. Then Elton John went and broke his hip, our friend Alan announced his 70th birthday party and we realised that our friends John and Andrea were a minor detour off our route. So this is what we did.

Sunday 31-October-2021. Cranham, Gloucester. We called in for a meal with our old friends John and Andrea who we have not seen for ages along with their son, my godson, Julian. We ate, we drank, we chatted. So that was nice.

Monday 01-October-2021. Gardener's cottage, near Axminster. We booked ourselves two nights self catering accommodation in the gardener's cottage at River cottage HQ. It had two double bedrooms and as we had paid for the whole place we invited our friends Tim and Sarah to join us as our guests. They arrived from the Isle of Wight and we went to the local pub for supper.

Tuesday 02-November-2021. River cottage HQ. Much More Veg cookery course. The day was spent most enjoyably with a hands-on cookery course learning about new recipes, techniques, vegetables. It turned out to be vegan not just vegetarian, which suited Mary (being intolerant to lactose) and the vegan attendee very well - possibly why they did it. Apparently they do not advertise it as vegan because they fear that may put put some people off. We started off with the basics: a vegetable stock into which you chuck just about everything including onions skin and all. 

We picked a number of herbs and vegetables for the stock and other recipes:

  • Split pea hummus
  • River Cottage Green Herb Sauce (Salsa Verde)
  • Flat breads
  • Vegetable curry
  • Spiced Emmer
  • Roasted Apple, Daikon, Celeriac and Sage
  • Garden Bhajis
  • Oaty Nutty Chocolate ‘Tiffin’

Tim and Sarah had brought along ingredients for a self catering meal that evening but as it turned out there was so much left from the day's course that all four of us dined on that alone and there was still some left over for a doggy bag the next day.

Wednesday 03-November-2021. Denbies vineyard, Dorking. We had a couple of days to while away until Alan‘s birthday do on the Saturday. Mary found a mid week deal from Denbies hotel so we signed up for that: two nights dinner, bed and breakfast plus a cream tea and a tasting of their own sparkling wines.

We drove from Axminster to Ringwood and had lunch at one of our old locals, The Alice Lisle, Then on to Dorking arriving in time for the cream tea.

The cream tea was delicious but the wines were all a little tart for my palette.

Thursday 04-November-2021. Polesden Lacey. We have not had enough opportunity to use our NT membership of late but here we were able to fit in a good long walk round the grounds of Polesden Lacey.

Lots of woodland and mushrooms everywhere. 

We needed somewhere to stay on Friday so we made another booking in Denbies for that night. Part of the reason is that there is a parkrun round the vineyard on Saturday morning. 

Friday 05-November-2021. Speaker audition. Our current speakers are a little large for our new living room so we went up to Graham's Hi-Fi in north London to listen to some smaller speakers. We tried listening to the same speakers as we have in Italy but they were disappointing in a smaller room so we went upmarket. We have now opted for some niche Australian speakers (Serhan Swift Mu2. Mark II). On the way back we stopped for a lovely lunch at Unwined at Waterloo.

Saturday 06-November-2021, part 1. Parkrun tourism. After breakfast we just had to walk out the front door to get to the start line. For me it was my 29th different venue and my 103rd Parkrun. It sounds lovely running round the vineyards but vineyards like slopes and the first part of the course is a long, steady uphill; I was reduced to something very close to walking. The second half is downhill, I picked up a bit of speed and came in under 30 minutes.

Saturday 06-November-2021, part 2. Scattering my parents ashes. After my father died my mother never could bring herself to answer the question of disposal of my father’s ashes. Nor would she ever express a preference regarding her own arrangements. So his ashes have been sitting at the undertakers for several years until Mum died. They had no special places we could go for. In the end we decided the Thames was an appropriate location. My father was a Londoner, my parents met and married in London, their first home together was in London and us three children were all born there. 

We chose a spot between the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern as my father particularly was fond of Shakespeare and the arts. Appropriately with St Paul's behind us which contains the Chapel of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Dad was awarded the MBE for services to architecture which allowed Mary and I to get married there.

We went in order of seniority, me first, then Ian.

And finally Jane who also read a short poem.

The flowers went downstream as the tide turned.

The tide was high so we were unable to get right down to the strand. On the other hand it meant the tide turned and their ashes were swept down the river to the sea. We all three agreed that it was a job well done and a lovely send off.

PS. The Port of London authority website said that it’s okay to scatter ashes in the Thames with certain provisos like ‘not off a bridge’ and ‘don’t chuck the urn in afterwards'!

Saturday 06-November-2021, part 3. Alan‘s 70th birthday party. We switched from Denbies to a local B&B so that we would have a very short stagger home after the party. A wise choice. It turned out that our hostess at the B&B was one of the volunteers at that morning's parkrun so I was glad that I had given her a cheery "Thank you marshal" as I passed.

The party itself was a great success and it was lovely to meet up with many old friends who I haven’t seen in real life for a while. Let's hope it won't be too long till we meet again.

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