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Relaxation in St Albans

St Albans


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Edit from January 2019: Unfortunately, both Fleetville Vintage Emporium and Ballito's have been demolished since I wrote the original blog entry :-(

Dave came down for the weekend on Friday evening and we've had a lovely relaxing couple of days since. We have;

- played frisbee and kicked a rugby ball around in the sunshine at the Wick (local woodland/field)

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- had some takeaway pizza from Cheerz Pizza

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- had typically tasty Japanese food at Wagamama, followed by a drink at the bar attached to Jamie's Italian. I had a lovely cocktail which I drank half of before I accidentally knocked it over onto Dave's lap!

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- browsed the wonderful Fleetville Vintage Emporium and its sister shop Ballito's.

Fleetville Vintage Emporium

Fleetville Vintage Emporium

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Dave returns to Manchester tomorrow morning.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:19 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom dave cocktails st_albans Comments (0)

Winchester

Winchester


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We woke up to a light drizzle, just as the weather forecast had predicted, so my decision to look round the New Forest yesterday and go to Winchester today was vindicated.

We didn't have any breakfast, so by the time we arrived in Winchester at lunchtime we were starving. By now it was pouring with rain, too, so the combination of both made us dive into the first restaurant we both fancied; Loch Fyne. The food there was wonderful and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone. Their lunchtime deal is extremely good value. Smoked haddock chowder with granary bread, a massive smoked salmon fishcake with roasted vegetables and a side of chips, all for only £10.45? Yes please!

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The rain was still hammering down when we left the restaurant. It was mid-afternoon by now and Winchester has many different places of interest, so we decided to go straight to the main one first and then have a look round the shops after. The place we went to was the Great Hall, the only part of Winchester Castle that now remains.

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The Great Hall was built from flint in the first half of the 13th century, though the roof was replaced in 1873. The thing I was most interested in was the imitation Arthurian Round Table, built in the 13th century and repainted in the time of Henry VIII. Only the tabletop remains, not the legs, so it is hung on the wall. The names of 24 of Arthur's knights are painted round the edge.

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The rest of the Hall was impressive as well. There were stained glass windows, wooden rafters, a recreation of a medieval garden outside, and the wall opposite to the Round Table is covered from ground to ceiling with a 19th-century mural of the names of all of Hampshire's Members of Parliament from 1283 to 1868.

After leaving the Great Hall we walked up the road to the army museums, but unfortunately they had just closed. Then we passed by an old-fashioned sweet shop, so we went inside and bought various things... We carried on down the high street, passing by side streets named (I assume - but I might be wrong) after the types of people and trades that used to cluster in each; Jewry Street, Parchment Street, Tanner Street. It was still raining. I definitely want to come back to Winchester another time, when the weather is a bit better and we have more time to look round!

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Waterstone's was practically the only shop still open by now so we browsed there for a bit until it closed at 6pm and we had to drive back to the campsite. We arrived back tired, so we rested for a bit and had dinner quite late. Tuna and tomato pasta, cooked on our portable gas stove. Not bad... and while it was still cooking, a visitor bounded over and licked one of our plates! We heard it coming and saw by the light of our torch that it was a bulldog. Its owner followed behind, apologised and drew the dog away.

Posted by 3Traveller 02:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged winchester united_kingdom camping dave british_cuisine Comments (0)

The New Forest: Day Two

Fordingbridge and New Forest National Park


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After a lie-in our first stop of the day was in the little town of Fordingbridge, north of our campsite and on the boundary of the New Forest. We bought sandwiches, snacks and drinks at a Tesco Metro and wandered over to a riverside park to eat our lunch on the banks of the River Avon. To get there we crossed the medieval Great Bridge with its seven elegant arches; as we ate our lunch we had a great view of the same. Then we walked down the road a bit to explore further. As we re-crossed the Great Bridge I noticed a statue of the artist Augustus John, who lived in Fordingbridge from 1927 until his death in 1961. Most of the shops were closed, because it was a Sunday, but we did go into a little temporary local art exhibition, where Dave bought some cards.

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After Fordingbridge we drove further into the New Forest, stopped and went for a walk on the heath. It was very calm and peaceful. We saw several new Forest ponies, not on the heath itself but in a bracken patch and a copse. I really liked that. Some of the ponies were bay coloured and some were black and white.

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The next stop was something I was particularly keen to see while we were in the New Forest. This was the Rufus Stone, a stone that marks the spot where William II, nicknamed 'William Rufus', met his death in 1100 (though the accuracy of the marker placement is disputed). He was shot in the chest in the middle of a hunting excursion; some think it was an accident, some think it was deliberate. Supposedly, a nobleman called Sir Walter Tyrrel was aiming for a stag, but his arrow glanced off an oak tree instead and hit the king. The original marker was placed in the glade in the 18th century and after repeated vandalism, was given a cast iron cover in 1841. This is what we can see today.

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We read the marker's inscriptions (which also date from 1841) and took some photos before walking down the road to the Sir Walter Tyrrel pub, which stands in the open with a green on the other side of the road. New Forest ponies roamed. We enjoyed a drink in the beer garden before heading back to the car.

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We had dinner and a drink or two in the bar/restaurant/clubhouse again in the evening.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged bridges art united_kingdom camping dave british_countryside new_forest_national_park rufus_stone Comments (0)

The New Forest: Day One

New Forest National Park


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Bank Holiday weekend camping trip to the New Forest with Dave.

We set off nice and early but unfortunately every campsite in the New Forest was fully booked up by the time we arrived. Luckily, without much more driving around we found one only a mile or two from the edge of the national park. On our drive across the New Forest I loved the sight of it - it was exactly how I imagined; a mixture of green hills, open heath with purple heather and patches of bog, New Forest ponies, bracken and trees.

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After setting up our tent and having a rest for a couple of hours, we chucked rugby, cricket and tennis balls around for a bit in an empty field and then it was time to drive down the road for a quick foray into the edge of the Forest. Several New Forest ponies wandered around, drinking at the stream, crossing the road and nibbling at grass in the middle of a roundabout. One of these ponies took Dave by surprise by coming up behind him without him hearing it and sticking its nose next to his arm.

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Not far from the stream, round a corner out of sight, I found something unexpected... a giant sand dune at the edge of some little bracken- and -tree-covered hills! Of course, having seen it I simply had to climb to the top and run down, so I did. Dave declined to do the same, but took pictures of me running down. There was a rope swing hanging from a tree near the foot of the sand dune so we both had a go on that.

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The sun was going to go down soon, so after I'd quickly climbed to the top of the hill next to the sand dune to take some pictures, we headed back to the campsite and had some food and a drink at the on-site bar/café.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:10 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom camping dave british_countryside new_forest_national_park Comments (0)

Manchester: Deer, dear?

Derby, Manchester and Dunham Massey Hall


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On the way north to Manchester Mum and I stopped in Derby to have a cup of tea/ coffee with my great-aunt, who I hadn't seen since January. It was really nice to speak to her and show her my engagement ring.

Mum and I carried on from Derby up to Manchester, where we spent a lovely weekend with Dave, his parents and extended family.

Yesterday we visited Dunham Massey Hall, originally built in the 17th century though some alterations were made in the following three centuries. Although it would be interesting to visit at any time, we went there this weekend for a specific reason. During WW1 Dunham Massey Hall was converted into Stamford Military Hospital; to commemorate the centenary of the start of the war, they have temporarily reconstructed it. We walked round the ward, recreation room, operating theatre, an extremely atmospheric Georgian library, complete with a carving by the famous woodcarver Grinling Gibbons (I'm not sure if the soldiers were allowed in this room) and one or two other rooms in the main hall, and then the kitchen, laundry and others in a separate building next door.

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There was lots of very interesting information given in each room, including background information about some of the soldiers and also the family who owned Dunham Massey at the time and worked in/ ran the hospital once it was constructed. There were also some actors playing the roles of one or two of the soldiers and nurses; at the start of the tour we were told that as far as they were concerned they were just going about their everyday life in 1916 - 1918 and could not see us, the visitors from 2014, so they would not 'see' or acknowledge us in any way. Every now and then they would do a small sketch of an interaction that could have actually taken place because they were based on the background information known about the soldier or nurse they were playing. They never announced any of these, of course, because officially they were not aware of any audience. If you didn't happen to be in the room at the time, then you missed it. I loved the way this was all set up.

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In the building next door there were two actors playing kitchen-maids who were also just going about their everyday jobs, but this time did acknowledge visitors if they were asked a question. They still replied in character, though; I thought they were excellent. While I was in the kitchen they were resting a little, sitting by a table doing some sewing.

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Dunham Massey also has a deer park. We saw some wandering around in one field and then a small herd/ group of them lying down close to the entrance to the main hall. I'd been very keen to see the deer so I was really happy I managed to see them so close up.

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That afternoon/ evening we had a family barbecue in the back garden; great company, lovely food (special mention to the delicious marinaded steaks) and sunny weather. Just before we went to bed there was also time to see the cricket highlights of England's amazing victory over India in the 4th Test.

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Today Mum went to Salford with Dave's dad to see the Lowry Centre, whilst Dave and I went into Manchester city centre. We popped into Manchester Museum for a bit...

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...had some lunch at a South-East Asian restaurant called Tampopo...

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...and had a quick drink at Temple Bar, a tiny underground bar famous for formerly having been a set of public toilets. Dave asked about their souvenir Temple Bar cigarette lighters, because although neither of us are smokers I'm thinking of taking some incense sticks with me to Bulgaria (I've accepted the Bulgarian job I had an interview for in Mindo), but their machine was broken.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom museum dave manchester mum barbecue derby dunham_massey_hall Comments (0)

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