Sunday, 22 April 2012


Well, pretty much all of the weeks work got done, even though mother nature threw some fairly heavy rain our way, and Friday morning arrived. Both too excited to stay asleep, we got up out of bed around 6am, packed, hosed ourselves down and set off for London.

 The hotel was more than we could hope for. Luxurious is too small a word. Spa pools, cocktail bar, a wonderful restaurant with a dangerously tempting menu. The room, well, as a result of some friendly conversation with the manager, we were upgraded to an executive suite for free, with more 'extras' than you could shake a stick at. We decided to head out for a couple of hours, as I had to go and get my hair cut at a small traditional barbers called 'George the Barber', we grabbed a small lunch, and then headed back to the hotel to rest for a while before freshening up for the evening.

 The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden was a very short taxi drive from the hotel, and we had arrived early enough to partake of a little champagne before the performance of 'La Fille Mal Gardee'.

 The buzz inside just has to be experienced. Talk is of nothing but what we are all about to enjoy.

 The orchestra tunes up, the last few people make their way to their seats, the lights dim, and finally the curtains open to the first wonderous set of the evening.

 This was the first night of the performance, and Carlos Acosta, along with his 'love' Marianella Nunez, danced superbly, as expected. The ballet itself is quite unusual compared to others, as it's a rather humorous love story. Funny, exquisite, skillfull, it is one to see for sure.

 The intermission, and a wave of people, driven with excitement, made their way to the champagne bar. I've never seen so many evening gowns in one place, with all of the ladies looking beautiful, and the men in their best suits taking care of their womens needs. We did of course have another champagne. The ballet finished later that evening, and before we went back to the hotel we grabbed some dinner at our favourite little Italian restaurant for after a show at the ROH. Now very tired and 'partied' out, we strolled the short distance back and fell asleep in our oversized bed at around 1.30am!

The following morning seemed to arrive far too quickly. And after packing and leaving our bags with the hotel for the day, we set off for some breakfast. Although most hotels supply breakfast, we prefer to get out early, just as a city is waking up, and find a local cafe, whether british, polish, french, iranian or chinese etc, whatever grabs us at the time. Camden Market was the plan for the day, but we decided to head to Portobello Road instead, with it's vast market and dozens and dozens of antique sellers, in the hope of finding a glass for my collection and a teacup and saucer for Amandas. I thought of Gina over at Antique Art Garden as I wandered about, and what she might take away with her.

And we both did. I managed to lay my hands on an Amethyst Bristol wine glass c1820, whilst Amanda bargained her way to the ownership of a beautiful Coalport cup and saucer. The place is vast, and although we were proggling for some five hours, we only saw about half of it, and now were very weary after such a busy day previously. We had to rest for a while before heading to the local tube station, and so sidetracked into the Earl of Lonsdale pub for a refreshing ale. An interesting place, as it was divided into a series of cubicles by low hatches that one has to duck through to circle the bar.
But alas, our wonderful trip to London had to end, and all too quickly, and so the long train ride back home to our not so big bed, and sleep..........

An emotion filled day lay ahead, and I though deeply about it as I looked out on our garden with my morning cuppa. Of course, in doing so, I also thought about what we should be getting done in this as well.

The Runner and broad beans are nearly ready to go down the allotment (the upturned hanging baskets are to stop Hobie and Misty using it as a litter tray!)

We have also been lucky enough to get an orchid to flower. Usually conditions (my excuse) stop us from doing so, but we went away to London with buds full of promise, and came back to this!

Anyway, as I mentioned, an emotional day ahead. Along with my elder brother and sister, we were going to be given a tour of the place of our childhood, the Northwick Hotel in Boscombe. Due to our parents divorcing, we three children left this place some forty years ago now, in some very dark circumstances. Although we have all been passing it on almost a daily basis since, we have never returned. Fortunately enough my brother Ian, who occasionally gives talks on his travels, had organised with the Rotary Club to give one here the following night, and so our tour the day before was gladly arranged.

My mum, dad, brother and sister all moved to the south coast from the midlands, and I was the only one born down here, and actually in Room 19 of the hotel. Although the interior had changed considerably, to accomodate the conversion into several sheltered housing flats with a resident warden, much remained to spark fond memories and stories, and much laughter. What is now still a large dining room at the rear, was once the ballroom, where wonderful dances and parties would be held. A sycamore tree in the garden which resulted in me being severely chastised by my father (well, can't really blame a tree for my stupidity I suppose), my brothers nightime naked climb down the drainpipe, so many tales. The room that I was born in is still there, but alas closed because of a resident now living there. Apart from a ground floor extension at the back, the outside of the building is pretty much the same. 

And I once again took up that position by the corner of the hotel, some forty five years later.

The hotel as it was then...............

 And us three, as we were then, on the front lawn!

It's 6am on what is going to be a very, very wet Monday morning, and back to reality after such a magical weekend. The pebbles for the landscape job had been delivered last week as you can see, and the daughters two guys are going to meet us on site to lend a hand getting them down. It's going to be a very uncomfortable day indeed, and I think an end of job beer may be called (as well as endless cups of hot tea throughout the day). The owners arrive back in the country at the end of the week, and the clock is ticking to get the back garden finished beforehand.

Thanks for dropping by..........


  1. Gary,

    What a most enchanting time the two of you must have had, there almost seems to be a fairytale quality to you most recent outing. Well a free up grade to an “executive suite” is the stuff of fairytales, how marvelous. Your post pictures of the Royal Opera House would impart that you had the good fortune to have really good seats for the enjoyment of, La Fille Mal Gardee. And finally top of you trip with a little poke about through antique shops and the discovery of a treasure for each, wonderful.

    The sprouting beans are looking good, but I could not help wondering what Hobie and Misty my have whisker whispered to each other about your blocking their egress onto a new and potentially comfortable relief station, lol.

    Glad to hear that you and A will have extra helping hand today in getting the pebbles placed. I get a back twinge just “thinking” about spreading that mush pebble… Well as I finish this I am sure you guys have already lit out the door and well into the work day, hope it is a good one and all goes smoothly and according to plan. – gary

  2. Wow, what a weekend! I am exhausted just reading about it.

  3. You have so much happening. What a great trip to London. You both look awesome by the way.
    How nice to have a tour of the hotel you lived in. Love the reenacted photo too.
    And, an orchid blooming. Beautiful.
    I always enjoy your trips and garden happenings!

  4. OK, starting with the fancy-schmancy hotel in London-envious, then to the beautiful ballet-evening-out-VERY-envious, then to the marvelous antique shops-JEALOUS, then to the needed-for-your-psyche-trip to the hotel and room 19trip-Courageous of you all, then to all the hard labor involved in the work you have to do soon-NOT envious a bit ;).Great post, thanks!

  5. So glad you enjoyed such a remarkable weekend!! Hope you get rested up!!

  6. What a great weekend - Carlos Acosta, one of my favourites! Good that you both had a special momento to bring home.
    I'm glad that the trip into your childhood past went well, and what a lovely photo of the three of you.