Friday, October 24, 2014

Janet and Phil Leave The Farm

They have had a busy two days.  Yesterday, they visited Wassendon Manor, which was really impressive, but Janet didn't care for it.

The house was built by the de Rothschild family and was never occupied on a permanent basis.  It was built for the sole purpose of showing off their wealth and art collection.
The Box Hedge was lovely!
Janet's flash went off by accident in the dining room.  The whole house was almost in semi darkness to avoid the art work and tapestries from being damaged.  It was overkill on many levels, but that isn't why Janet didn't like it.  The house was built and furnished by an incredibly wealthy family who at some point in time no longer felt the need to pay for the upkeep.  They wanted to turn it over to the National Trust, but initially the NT would not accept it.  They no longer have the funds to accept properties that do not come with an endowment.  The Rothschilds in the end did offer some sort of financial deal.
Prior to going the the Manor, they had lunch at what Janet thinks is the best place to date:  The Mole and The Chicken, located in the middle of Buttcrack, U.K.  It was fabulous!

Sorry, a little bit dark!
They left the farm this morning.  Good bye, cute farm animals!
Good bye, Mr Goat and super cute llamas!

They also visited a couple of cute villages.  Thatched roofs rule, but we're going to bet that having it redone is not for the faint of wallet.

At the suggestion of our friends and neighbours, Jim and Anne,  Janet and Phil also went to the Morgan Car Factory.  Too amazing!  Janet was fully prepared to be bored out of her skull, but this was not the case.  They HAND MAKE 1000-1100 cars each year and the process is unbelievable.  They do not make for the mass market (obviously, Janet!) as almost all vehicles are pre-ordered.  Everything is done to the customers specifications - over 150 shades of leather for the interior and more than 3000 shades of exterior paint.  Entry level vehicles start at about 35,000GBP which Janet thinks is a score for a hand made vehicle.  She says it was nothing short of incredible!
Janet thinks this might be the Plus 8 model?  Jim??

Wooden frame, made of ash.

Interior being fitted with carpet and leather.  Everything with the exception of the BMW motors was made in this 100 year old factory.
Turns out this is Mr. Rockers Remembrance Week!  Janet has a new camera and the jpg numbers put the her new photos ahead of some old ones, which gives Janet a chance to look at photos of her Mr. Lovely.
Hello, Mr. Newborn Baby!  Rockers loves you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Mother Of All Shopping Outlets!

Unbeknownst to Janet or Phil, the town they are staying close to has a very famous "discount" outlet - Biscester Village.  It is full of nothing but high end designer shops - Stella McCartney, Burberry, Gucci, Prada and on and on!
Janet and Phil stopped by to see what they couldn't afford to purchase.  Get this - 4 coaches from London, filled with Asians and Middle Easterners.
By accident, they drove by on Sunday and there were 8 coaches!
They even had a currency exchange - at a very favourable rate, Janet is sure!
This line in nothing compared to Sunday's line up.
This is one of about 30 toilet "suites" in the women's washroom.  Guess a gal needs space to place her shopping bags!
And, a "Contemplation Room"!  Best Janet could figure out is that is a prayer room.
There also appeared to be a foot washing station.
Like all good malls, Christmas can't come soon enough.
Please say it isn't so!
Super Chef Janet kicked it up a notch with some roasted pork belly.  It came already seasoned so all she had to do was put it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours and turn it every 30 minutes.  She tossed in some steamed veggies and fingerling potatoes.
Lunch today wasn't so hot.  It was a highly suggested eating spot by their "Good Pub Guide".  Service was really slow.
Phil had Pork Escallope with Creamy Mash.  The Creamy Mash didn't arrive with the dish and took a really long time to arrive.

Janet had Seafood Gnocchi, which was quite tasty but most of the seafood was small, canned shrimp.
Janet lied about not purchasing any more fabric.  She is just about finished hand sewing the binding on the second quilt she brought, so needed an airplane project.  She stopped into Bicester Wools for a brief moment to see if they had a little cross stitch kit she could purchase.  Forty five minutes later she left with the little kit and a "Knitty Critters" bunny kit and some quilting fabric by a British designer and made in the U.K.  Sucker!
Cute, right?
Last, but for sure not least, here is a photo Janet just came across of our beloved Rockers opening the door on his own.  Janet still mourns him and says she misses us a ton!  Janet says hello to every dog she passes whilst on vacation.
Love ya big time, big buddy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Nice Walk

Yesterday, Janet and Phil drove to Banbury to go for a walk along the Oxford Canal.  The walk is ten miles long, but being as how they didn't arrive until 11AM, it downgraded the walk to about 4 or 5 miles.  As Janet writes this, she is reminded when she and our Aunt T went to Europe many, many moons ago.  Janet recalls reading in her little diary that nearly every day started out with them being late for something.

There was quite a fancy shopping mall alongside the canal.
 They really enjoyed the walk and ended up having lunch at The Olde Reine Deer.  While the food was ho-hum, the building was spectacular.

This is a part of the pub they call the Globe Room.  It is used for special functions.  This room was originally used often by Oliver Cromwell.
In the centre, Banbury Cross.
Janet tried in vain to get a photo without vehicles, but only one was the best she could do.
They walked for a while in the other direction on the canal.  There were many bridges that were numbered.  Superman Phil tried his hand at pulling the bridge such luck.  They determined the bridges were built for the convenience of farmers moving from one field to another.  The canals were built in the 1800's for transportation of goods but after many years were no longer used.  They have since been rebuilt.
They spotted some cute British cows that were curious to see them, but backed up when Janet went to pet them.  Do people actually pet cows?  Janet's cow knowledge is slim to non existent.
Moving on to the cooking department, Janet has sunk to new lows!  Pre-made food!  Next step...selling the kitchen range and getting a bunson burner and a membership to M & M Foods!
M & S Indian Food Collection.  They said it was actually pretty good - another bad sign!
These are some cute guys that reside at their cottage.
Monty came in looking for some cookies.  Janet asked the owners for some for the next visit.

Cute, right?  There are some big horses as well.
This church has 12th century origins and is down the road from their cottage.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Chunky Eat Their Way Across The UK!

After the trauma of London, they decided to buckle down and do some good old fashioned eating!  In the pub they stayed at in Stoke Row; The Cherry Tree Inn,breakfast was included and had they had two dinners there.  The big allure to staying in Stoke was The Crooked Billet.  It is always Janet and Phil's first pit stop after disembarking at Heathrow.  Two lunches:

Sea Bream with Roasted Vegetables

Mussels in a Green Curry Sauce

Risotto fritters

 Silly Janet can't remember what this was except it had polenta on the bottom, pancetta on the top and some stuff in between and was incredible!
In this tiny village of about 100 persons, there was a major car accident on the teeny tiny road outside their pub.

Air ambulance coming for the lady that was driving the overturned car.  Apparently, she wasn't badly injured.
While staying in Stoke, they met the rellys, Joe and Julia.  Janet and Phil try to meet them every year.   Julia is as sweet as can be and Joe has a wicked sense of humour.   They had a great lunch.  Julia is our Grandpa Brian's cousin.
They gave Mr. Baby the cutest gift.  Janet can't wait to show it to him.
They moved onto their one week cottage rental near Bicester, which is somewhat close to Oxford.  The cottage is lovely and they have dogs and horses.

Very close to the cottage, they visitited Stowe Gardens, which were 250 acres, not counting the approximate 750 acres of parkland.  At one point in time, this family was the most wealthy in the UK, but as is many the case of grand mansions, they overspent and lost it all.  The house was not open the day Phil and Janet were there, so they will go back to see inside.  Get this- its now a private school!  Move over GNS and SMU!  It has been a school since 1923, but they were unable to manage the upkeep on their own.  The National Trust has been involved since the mid 1980's.  How much to send your most precious moment to this quality institute of education?  Boarding is approximate $60,000CAD a year.  This excludes the $1800 "acceptance fee" and who can even begin to imagine the host of other fees that are involved?  This compares to $43,500/year at Brentwood Bay.
Sir Richard Branson is an alumni.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Paris, City of Lights; London, City of Nasty Fights!

Guess where they are:

We did our best to look heartbroken, but somehow it came across as "whatever".  Don't forget to come back and get us!

   Professional tour guide and travel book author always advises travellers to leave London until the end of their trip when they aren't so exhausted.  Janet and Phil did NOT seek this advice, resulting in several conversations using the "f" word  To double ensure it was a full 3 days of miserable sight seeing Janet had not slept the night before they left and did not sleep on the plane at all.

They stayed at the Georgian House Hotel, near Victoria Station.  It was an excellent location and the room was nice.
Stairwell from the lobby up to their room.

Cute little lobby area.
One day it rained.  All.  Day.  Long.  They were drenched.  Phil decided this would be a good time to purchase his "bespoke" umbrella from James Smith and Sons, hand making brollys in the same location since  1830.

Janet wanted to purchase some "soda water", so asked our desk clerk where to go.  He said go left, left again and the convenient store is right behind us.  Turns out there was also a fabulous new restaurant there as well - 64 Degrees.  They have another location in Brighton that is being awarded a Michelin Star.  It was tapas kind of food and they said it was delicious.
Knodles with braised cabbage in sauce.  Delicious!

Thank you, Whole Foods!
Next day, it was brighter, so they walked around some shops.  They went to Hamley's, a huge toy store and bought Mr. Baby a super cute Christmas gift.   Hamley's has been around since 1760 and has a Royal Grant.  They have been in their current location since 1881.

 Bonus, they also went to Liberty.  Wow!
No Fabricland look here!

Two bundles that will each make a lap size quilt.  When Janet first started quilting, she vowed she would never buy fabric she didn't have a set plan for.  In addition to this, she has $250 worth of fabric waiting in PDX.  Whoops!
The last day was better, but Phil didn't give Janet the full bill of goods for their activities and she wore the wrong shoes.  They walked and walked and walked some more as Phil was determined to find the spot along the Thames from the movie "Love Actually" where Sam tells his step dad Daniel that he has fallen in love.  This nearly drove Janet to distraction!  Her feet are killing her and Phil has seen the movie about once while Janet has watched it every Christmas without fail!

Add to Janet's to do list:  shove the iPhone with the Good Pub app on up Phil's buttcrack! Why bother with the directions on the app if you don't believe them?
Phil posing on this painful walk.  Janet was too miserable to participate.

They walked past Buckingham Palace.
Two of Janet's quilts get to travel as well.  She is very slow hand sewing on the binding, so brought them with here to work on in the evening.  Here they are at The Cherry Tree Inn at Stoke Row, a small distance from Henley on Thames.

Janet promises to send more updates.  She is claiming lame wi-fi service where ever they have been so far.  Personally, I think it's way better when we doggies are in charge.

Take care, Janet.  Love ya!  Pashy and Noodles!