Friday, October 25, 2019

MENU's UK Adventure 9. Windermere, Leicester, Warwick, Stratford upon Avon to Bath

We had discovered that a friend from Knysna, Karen Shuttleworth Dames, known for her business The Little Herb Garden, had recently moved to the north of England and we wanted to get together, if only briefly. She suggested that we should meet at The Brewery in Kirkby Lonsdale, which was on our way between Windermere and our friends, who live at Horseshoe Cottage farm in Cropston, near Leicester. We had to meet at 10 in the morning as it's quite a distance to Leicester
John was rather regretful that we couldn't taste any of the beers because of our long drive. They looked very good and the smell in the Brewery is wonderful, warm malty barley and hops. We had tea and coffees and good catch up chats
Kirkby Lonsdale is a very historic old market town with narrow streets, between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales
It is a very ancient settlement; Romans, Saxons, Normans and Danes all made their mark
The town is included in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was another lovely wet day
We parked in the central square
After a rather long drive (about 5 hours) down many motorways including a short stretch on the M1, skirting major cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, we arrived at our friends’ award winning, Michelin starred guest house, Horseshoe Cottage Farm, in Roecliffe Rd, Cropston, deep in the country outside Leicester
The garden with its topiary rabbit
Tim and Linda Jee have made this place very special. This is the terrace
They have a large courtyard, which was the stable yard. They have solar panels for electricity, water and heating
The house is not curved, wide angle distortion makes it appear so
The house is beautifully furnished. This is the lounge
Our bedroom was very comfortable indeed; we slept like babies. It was warm and cosy
A nice feature to have some of the old stone wall visible
Parts of the house date from the 14th Century
And the modern en suite bathroom fits in perfectly
The old barn is attached to the house. Our room was the top window shown here
You enter through this gate, through which wagons and horses used to pass
Tim took us on a lovely long walk through Bradgate Park. They are just across the road from the historic park which contains the remains of the family home of Lady Jane Gray, who was Queen of England for 9 days until she was executed at the behest of Mary Tudor. The park is full of both roe and fallow deer
It is much used by visitors and locals
The remains of Bradgate Hall high on the hill
Deer grazing in the late afternoon sun
and this splendid fallow deer buck with huge antlers. Soon the rut will start
We walked right up to the remains of the house
Lynne's new FitBit was getting a real workout, we did more than 10 000 steps that day
Crows peck off pests on the deer, just as the oxpeckers do in Africa
This magnificent red deer stag was right next to us on the path, eating grass
As long as you don’t get them stirred up, they ignore you. Annoy them and they can kill you
We sat on the terrace admiring the garden and enjoyed a glass of two of Heidsieck Monopole Champagne;
so good to be here. We know that Linda is a big Champagne fan, so it’s the perfect gift
And spent a great time catching up. Lynne hasn’t seen many of her friends in the last 14 years
Tim and Linda did, however, come to visit us in South Africa a couple of years ago and plan to return one day
The forest is at the end of the garden
We then opened a bottle of Stellenbosch Manor Chenin Blanc from Stellenrust,
one of the few South African wines we found on our travels to take to friends
Next day, we wanted to stop off in Warwick to see the Castle and in Stratford upon Avon, en route to Bath
Warwick is a beautiful old town, but parking was almost impossible
We arrived at the entrance to the castle
to find that it costs £26 (R480) each for a pensioner to get into the castle, with a further charge of £4 (R76) if you wanted to do anything once inside, just a little too steep for our budget. So we just walked around the grounds and took some photos. Apparently it is now rather like a Disney castle, perhaps more suited to children
A glimpse of the keep
They have a shop selling all manner of dress-up outfits for young Robin Hoods,
harmless bows, arrows, wooden swords and shields
The main entrance to the grounds
It is just what a romantic castle should look like
Sad that it has become so expensive, once upon a time wandering around it was memorable
These photographs were all taken though gaps in the fence!
Yew berries are so beautiful, but they are poisonous. Yew makes great hedges
On the way out of town, we passed the Lord Leycester Hospital, one of the best preserved examples of medieval courtyard architecture in England. It is now the home of a charity supporting ex-servicemen. The Hospital is a historic group of medieval timber-framed buildings on Warwick High Street, dating mainly from the late 14th Century
Then we were off to Stratford on Avon, our lunchtime stop
We managed to find parking alongside the river next to the Royal Shakespeare Company's The Other Place,
which is a smaller theatre and shows more experimental plays
Tourist boats ply the river
A float of swans, Canada geese and ducks
You can hire a boat and go for a row
The swans were gathering together on the lawn near our car, drying off in the sun, along with one grey Canada goose
Fancy collecting swans’ feathers for a duvet anyone? Atishoo!
The back of the National Theatre, which is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, aka RSC
We popped into a local pub for a beer. They should be taken to the Ombud for false advertising. Outside, a sign saying lunch time specials, which was what attracted us. Inside, no such thing, just the item off the normal menu at a much higher price
And it was lunch time. So we just had a beer and left, then ate our sandwiches in peace on the side of the river
Lots of out of work actors get jobs like this
A tribute to the Bard
and we spotted a framed napkin signed by none other than actor Sir Anthony Sher, who went to Sea Point Boys High School, before becoming a very successful and famous actor in the UK. We last saw him in a superb play at the Fugard Theatre, Kunene and the King, with John Kani, who wrote it...
Outside a posh riverside hotel was this inducement to come in - or to scarper with some bubbly!
No one in sight, quite tempting. But we never would, never could
An ancient Elizabethan building? No, Victorian Revival, built in 1887
Flag of several nations flying, including both of ours
We went round the front of the theatre to the edge of the river
 One swan a swimming
The river is very soothing and makes for impressive views
It flows quite slowly so the reflections are beautiful
We set off on our way to our overnight stop at an AirBnB in Bath
We travelled though the Cotswolds and stopped for a quick photo in Tetbury which has this famous Market House
Tetbury is famous for its fine houses, built for wool merchants in the past
Everywhere in Britain, there are planters and hanging baskets with super flowers
We struggle to get more than two flowers at a time on our local geraniums, and would love to know what they feed these with
Finally at about five we arrived in Bath. The AirBnB house was one that did not look anything like as nice as it did on-line; there was no key in the lock box, so we had to ring the host. It was very basic, and reminded us of the Bedsits we had to live in when we were in our 20s in London. The bed was on the floor and the chesterfield sofa was plastic. A huge kitchen and our front room bedroom were the only rooms on the ground floor. They had got rid of any downstairs loo. On the first floor, there was just one small shower room which also contained the only loo in the house, which has five double rooms, all occupied. We got up at 7 and made it to the loo in time, but didn't get in to shower till gone 9. Teaches you never to stay in shared accommodation. We thought it would be fine for one night. "You learns as you goes", as they say in Zummerrzet (where the zyder apples grow)
Next week. we visit the cities of Bath and Bristol and then on to Devon and Cornwall
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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