Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Garden Itch

This is the first day I've had the itch to go home, not because I'm homesick or not having a good time but because we visited the most inspiring garden and I can wait to get home to my own.
Hidcote garden is so beautiful and dare I say it has humped Sissinghurst to number two, though to be fair we did catch Sissinghurst between flower flushes. Hidcote is so my kind of garden though, lots of colour (the season is a bit later here so bulbs were flowering) and a variety of styles and rooms, expertly linked together. It is Ross' favourite too. So many ideas now floating around in our heads.

After lunch we headed for Wales via a place called Ironbridge so named after you guest it an Ironbridge.
The town is promoted as th birthplace of the industrial revolution because it's where iron smelting with coke, no not the drink, was perfected. As for the bridge it is very impressive, the arches above are 100cm square solid cast iron.
The iron refinery.

The view from the bridge.
Accommodation was very difficult to find but eventually found a very nice reasonably priced motel in Morton close to the Wales border.

It's a Little Bit Funny

No, there isn't anything particularly funny about today but it is the opening line from an Elton John song which was significant today.
At the suggestion of our B&B hosts we left car at Westbury and took the train to Bath, about 20 minutes away, and another hop on hop off bus tour around the city. It was definitely the way to see and learn about this beautiful place.
A lot of the buildings look the same as above and were built as apartments for the well to do to stay in while on holiday. All the buildings are made using Bath stone.
Above on the left is the famous Bath bathes, which we opted not go into at £14($28) each. On the right is the abbey. The man busking in the middle is where the significance of the song comes in. Those who know us well will know about "Penny moments", this fella set me off while he was singing "Your Song". Moments like these are sad but comforting at the same time. We walked away laughing, wondering what people thought of two women (I set Brenda off too) crying in the town square.
Back to Westbury and in the car we headed for the Cotswolds where it was stepping back in time(except for all the cars). The villages are beautiful and quaint with all their stone cottages with thatched or slate tiled roofs and narrow streets.
This was our bedroom in "The Crown and Trumpet", a 300+ years inn in Broadway.
Another day done and looking forward to a garden walk tomorrow.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Salisbury & Stone Henge

Imaginative title I know but nothing was coming to me, and I'm  falling further behind oh well.
Monday we headed to Salisbury and a visit to the Cathedral. 
Another beautiful building and this time we were allowed the photograph inside though I opted not to use a flash so some photos are a little blurry but you'll get the general idea.
Beautiful ceilings
Stained glass windows
Carved woodwork
Salisbury Cathedral is similar to Westminster in style though it is brighter inside and not quite as crowded with tombs and sculptures, or people for that matter. It is also surrounded by spacious park like grounds so it had a lovely feel about it.
From the old to the really old, Stone Henge.
To say Stone Henge is a popular tourist attraction is an understatement. It took about an hour to drive the last 5km and the number people is ridiculous. I will admit I was a little disappointed, not by the amazing feat it would have been to create structure, that is truly amazing, but the energy I was expecting to feel at this ancient religious site was somehow zapped by the crowd of people (see below, it was like that all the way round). Yes, I know we were part of that crowd. I would love to experience it by myself but that's the introvert in me speaking.
We found a lovely B&B is Westbury just south of Bath. The owners were lovely, and very helpful with suggestions for sightseeing.
Still not catching up cause we're on the move again.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Great Escape

Well it wasn't really the great escape but we were packed up and out of the not so Grand Burstin by 8am. No breakfast we thought our money would be better spent on something edible.

Folkestone is only a short drive to Dover to see Dover Castle and

of course the White Cliffs. They are spectacular especially with the morning sun shining on them. It was difficult to get a really good look at them from track we were on but we enjoyed the walk.

The boys enjoyed their first full English breakfast at a little cafe next to this church. Note the gravestones, this is quite common for the old churches to graveyards around them. Full tummies we headed west in the general direction of Salisbury.
After driving for miles beside a sea wall curiosity got the better of us so we had to stop for a look, beach for as far as we could see in either direction. To the right of this picture the land is quite a bit lower than the beach hence the wall to hold back any very high tides. I though all the beaches in England were pebbly but apparently not, though they are pebbles along the walkway.
There is so much too see that we can't possibly stop everywhere so Brenda and I (in the back seat) are getting whiplash while we're driving along. Brenda will need a new camera by the time she gets home, she is snapping away as we drive along. I, on the other hand, am choosing to just soak it all in and leave photographs for when we stop.
Pevency Castle ruins wasn't a planned stop but just happened to be our late lunchtime break. The walk around the ruins was beautiful and felt like a typical spring day at home.
The rest of the afternoon was spent driving and quite a long search for somewhere to stay. It was a long weekend here and B & B aren't always easy to find. We finally found an lovely inn in the middle of nowhere, cheap, lovely rooms, good service and good food.
A sigh of relief after last night.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Excited Gardeners & Fawlty Towers

Day four saw us packing up and leaving the hustle and bustle of London, again on the rail system. I must say for a city with so many people everything moves and works very smoothly when it comes to public transport, the major cities in Australia could do well to come and take some notes.
Back to the airport to hire a car, I'm glad we weren't in a hurry. It was nearly lunchtime by the time we were in the car and on our way with Gertie (my nickname the GPS navigator) as our guide. And thank goodness for her cause, unlike the public transport, the road system is very confusing. I'm glad Ross was driving and not me. 
We finally made it to the main reason for Brenda's trip to England, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. It has been on my bucket list but Brenda was like a kid going to Disneyland. It's a wonder she didn't get indigestion she ate her sandwich so quickly.
The gardens were absolutely beautiful and everything we had hoped for. We were little early for the spring flush of roses and little late for the bulbs, but that's gardens. We weren't disappointed and Brenda will probably get another chance to come back after Ross and I leave to come home.
With two satisfied gardeners we headed for our prebooked accommodation in Folkstone and the comedy.
This is the not so grand Grand Burstin Hotel, though it would've been very grand in its day. The staff were very pleasant and helpful, though I'm not sure how they can be so enthusiastic about their workplace, and our room was clean. I'm not sure how to describe the rest of the experience without it sounding like a really bad long winded review. 
The view from our window probably says something and I'll put it this way if Basil Fawlty had appeared I wouldn't have been surprised. We did laugh a lot, especially over dinner, and it will be one our memorable nights.
Bring on day five


WOW! Overload

This morning it was on the  hop on, hop bus again straight to Westminster Abbey. 
Yes you guessed it another WOW experience. Very different from St Paul's, if for no other reason than the number of people. The Abbey isn't as expansive inside and there are a lot of tombs and statues. It is very impressive but it was harder to take it all in with soooo many people around. 
Again we weren't allowed to take photos in the main part of the Abbey but the photos above were taken in the cloisters and an older part of the original church that wasn't torn down when the abbey was built.
The afternoon was spent at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 
The lighting isn't the best for taking photos but once again lots of WOWing. So many fascinating and inspiring things.
 I was hoping to see some antique quilts here but unfortunately they have been archived while a new space is prepared for them. I "made do" with a fashion through the ages display. I was wishing Cherry and Heidi had been with me to share it. I 
could have spent a week here, I might have to come back again one day.
Suffering from WOW and visual overload that was another day done.

Tuppence a Bag

If you are a Mary Poppins fan you may guess from the post title we visited St Paul's Cathedral (no old lady selling bread crumbs though). We decided to do a hop on hop off bus tour of the city. It's a great way to learn about London and all the different sites and you can get off whenever you like to see any of the attractions. 
St Paul's was our first stop off and all I can say is WOW! (the first of many). I have seen lots of pictures but until you are standing there you just can't appreciate the enormity of it, particularly inside. Beautiful, enormous and awe inspiring, I almost felt like crying. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take photos inside so you'll just have to take my word for it.
After a guided tour, which was very enlightening and so worth the time, we climbed the 500+ steps to the top of the dome where, as you can see from the picture above, you get to look across London in all directions. 
Our next stop off was the Tower of London and another guided tour with a Beefeater (oops thought to take a photo of him). I was surprised at how big it is. It is not just a tower, it's castle that used to be a prison and the main royal residence until Queen Elizabeth I. She didn't like the feel of the place, I'm not sure I'd like to live with prisoners either. Now, of course, it's the Queen's jewellery box and magnificent jewels they are too. It's also a museum with lots of medieval stuff. I loved the armour, some of it is so finely decorated.
Our tour included a cruise along Thames with a running commentary from a fella who could possible make living doing stand up, very funny.
We arrived at the Houses of Parliament just in time to hear Big Ben do his thing. 
Photographs just do not do justice to the grandeur a lot of these places and things. The Houses of Parliment is enormous, and I mean HUGE, and yet delicate at the same time. Yes another big WOW!
Despite having quite a bit of daylight left it was "home" time, sore feet, tired legs, hungry and generally pooped.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Hit The Ground Running

Okay thaWow, we're up to day four in London already. While not feeling particularly jet lagged, I may have fallen asleep on the bus on the way "home" the evening of day two. The long daylight hours take some getting used to and it was nice to finally get a couple of nights of decent sleep. Long days and being tired means I'm playing catch up here.
DAY ONE - I WILL WALK 500 MILES (Think The Proclaimers)
We were all awake by 5 o'clock so we decided we may as well walk to Buckingham Palace via Hyde Park. One discovery along the way was a lovely memorial to the Australians who served in the two World Wars. 
The wall in covered with the names of towns and places in Australia and the thickness of the lettering spells out the places where the soldiers served. We managed to find a few local places of family significance, Greg Greg, Clear Springs, Georges Creek, but we didn't find Corryong. We could've spent all day there and still not found it.
We got the Palace with plenty of time to get a good pozzy on the fence to watch for the changing of the guard. A lot of pomp and ceremony for the changing of shifts but that's what we tourists want. It was fascinating and well worth the wait. 
After some lunch we made our way (more walking) to Chelsea Flower Show. 
This lived up to all my expectations and absolutely beautiful. Even Ross enjoyed it far more than I thought he would. 
It was hard to decide which photos to share so I put together a Flipagram so if you click on the following link you'll get a good overview. 
After we'd finished at Chelsea we were a little weary and foot sore so we, or should I say Brenda, decided a black London taxi was the way "home". The taxi driver was very friendly and we follwed his recommendation of a pub for tea. The end of day one saw us falling into bed. 

Okay that's all there's time for NOW as we on the more again. Leaving London today.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

London At Last

Hi Everyone
It's all a bit surreal really so far we've seen the inside of airports, a plane, couple of trains and the street where we are staying, that looks like any street in Melbourne except for the black cabs and red double decker buses, but we're half around the world.
We had a pretty good flight, Ross and I had exit row seats so plenty of leg room but no window unfortunately. Had a little hiccup at Dubai where I left my bag on the plane and had to race back and get it. Fortunately the cleaners hadn't found it or there may have been a security alert. The irony of the situation was we were getting back on the same plane and same seats. Anyway the flight attendants were all very nice about it.
Rest of the trip was uneventful and manage to negotiate the London train system and arrived our apartment, which is within throwing distance of the train station, 38 hours after leaving Corryong. Have only just done that calculation no wonder we were tired with only limited sleep on the plane. 
Woke this morning to daylight thinking we had slept in but only 4.30, a little trippy. Anyway feeling refreshed, so far, and ready to take on the day. A little look around and then Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon. YAY!! 
It's now 6.30am and I'm being given the hurry up. Not sure I'm liking others (Brenda, Peter & Ross) being early risers too, anyway I dare say they will settle back to their normal sleeping patterns in a few days. 

TOODLES for now.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Innocent Chocolate Coconut Muffins

Hi Everyone, 
This is a trial post as I have just bought an iPad and downloaded a blogging app and I want to check out how it works. Ross and I am going on a little holiday and I thought I might do some blog posts while we are on our travels, just in case you're interested in what we are up to. Ross' sister Joanne is currently away with her husband and has been doing a daily blog, and it's great being kept up to date. The truth be told I initially bought the iPad so I can backup my photos and when we get back it will a useful business tool as well. 
If you follow me on Facebook you might have seen my post about my best batch of Innocent Chocolate Muffins. 
They are based on my Innocent Chocolate Cake. I'm not sure if I can add a link to the original recipe with this app but you will find it on 15/6/2014. Last 
week I thought I'd try something different and give them a coconut twist. I soaked the dates in coconut milk instead of water and I replaced 1/2 cup of almond meal with toasted coconut. I also added 1 teaspoon of gluten free baking powder which made them lighter. I was hoping that they would taste a bit more coconutty, I might try a bit more coconut next time. They were still really yummy though. 

1 cp dates (cover with coconut milk& soak until soft)
150g almond meal (approx 2cps)
1/2 cp desicated coconut (toasted)
1/3 cp cocoa
½ teas bicarb soda
1 teas baking powder (gluten free)
1 ts vanilla
¼ cp olive oil
3 eggs (separated)
Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Puree dates with oil, vanilla and egg yolks until smooth, add to dry ingredients and mix well. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Mix 1/3 of the egg whites into mixture thoroughly, then gently fold through the remaining egg whites. Spoon mixture into muffins patty pans and bake at 180C (360F) for approximately 15-20 mins or cooked when tested with a skewer.

It has taken a bit of faffing around but I managed to get a post done, YAY!! While I can't do as much as easily as I can on the computer I think it will be fine to keep you up to date on our travels. If I don't get a chance to post here as often as I'd like I will be posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram so you can follow me there.

Until next time