An eccentric trip around the UK

Old Sep 20th, 2018, 03:09 PM
  #21  
 
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So happy to catch up with your travels so far, and have sent you an email re possible arrangements later in the trip.

I've never heard of Sulgrave Manor so your description was fascinating. I had no idea about the G. Washington connection.

Glad you got decent coffee to go with your scone and cream [jam on first I hope] and even to practice map reading skills. I had to do that on my recent US trip too which was fun, and generally the roads were wider though the obstacles were potentially bigger!

enjoy yourself in MK and I look forward to the next exciting instalment!
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Old Sep 21st, 2018, 12:26 PM
  #22  
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Thanks Ann, I replied to your email.

I did one half of the scone with cream on top and one with jam (my sister does jam on top). After suitable taste testing I decided cream on top was better - otherwise the taste of the jam overwhelms the cream. But I can only eat one occasionally, all that sweet stuff really messes up my blood sugar.
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Old Sep 21st, 2018, 12:38 PM
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>>Janis - mousetrap??? Neither of us saw that.<<

It's a open ended wooden box with some sort of trip lever so when the mouse enters to get the bait the heavy wooden lid (sort of like a wood brick) drops, squishing it.

>>After suitable taste testing I decided cream on top was better - <<. Yes (!) jam first always

(​​​​​​For anyone interested in Geo W -- Washington Old Hall up near Newcastle (National Trust) is very interesting and has an amazing Garden. There is a sort of basketweave knot garden that I've never seen anything similar.)
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Old Sep 21st, 2018, 03:19 PM
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I did one half of the scone with cream on top and one with jam (my sister does jam on top). After suitable taste testing I decided cream on top was better - otherwise the taste of the jam overwhelms the cream. But I can only eat one occasionally, all that sweet stuff really messes up my blood sugar.>>

oh dear, yes, i can see it wouldn't be good for you. There is a logic to putting the jam on first, which i think you have already discerned - you can smear an even layer of jam, thick or thin as you prefer [I prefer thin as I don't like too much sweetness either] onto the scone and then use that to stick the cream to the scone. [my thin layer of jam policy does not apply to the cream, BTW]. If you do it the other way round, you run the risk of the cream falling off and the jam gets plonked in a lump on the top. Not half as satisfactory.
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Old Sep 21st, 2018, 05:24 PM
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So happy that you are on an adventure!! Following along and enjoying the trip.
Thanks Annhig for the scone info....Jam and then cream. I will have to try it.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2018, 05:24 AM
  #26  
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September 21 - The Largest House in Cambridgeshire

Turned out there was a National Trust property I hadn't seen in the general area of Milton Keynes, and after a leisurely morning we headed east to Cambridgeshire and Wimpole Hall. While still mostly rural, the countryside was flatter than yesterday, with big fields leading to groups of trees and vistas stretching to far horizons. Coming home, in somewhat uncertain weather, the skies were Turneresque. While the place names were ancient - Moggerhanger, Eyeworth and Shingay cum Wendy for instance - and we passed the occasional thatched cottage, we also saw modern wind turbines at work in the distance.


Wimpole Hall was, and still is, the center of a working estate. Although we only visited the parish church and the house, we could have visited the home farm, and meat, pickles and jams from the farm were for sale in the NT shop. The shop, along with a used bookstore, a small cafe, toilets and the admissions office occupied the former stables. My sister belongs to both English Heritage and the National Trust, and I rejoined Royal Oak, the US affiliate of the NT, shortly before this trip, so we both got in for free.

The parish church is incongruously situated next to the hall itself, with the former rectory (now a cafeteria-style restaurant) next door. It turns out that the village it once served was depopulated and demolished when the park and gardens were enclosed towards the end of the seventeenth century. It now holds some remarkably fulsome memorials. The restaurant was something of a disappointment, and given I wanted protein, really the only choice was sausages and mashed potatoes. While the sausages turned out to be made from rare breed pork, I was not really keen on lunching on bangers and mash.

The hall today is a massive, red brick, neoclassical edifice, originally built between 1640 and 1670 by one Sir Thomas Chicheley, to replace a moated medieval manor house. The site passed through several hands, remaining the longest with the Earls of Hardwicke. The last owner, Mrs Bambridge, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, restored much of the interior and left the house to the NT on her death in 1976. Several architects worked on the house, making additions and alterations, notably Sir John Soane, who met the future third Earl while he was a student in Italy.

Soane's most impressive contribution was the Yellow Drawing Room, created in the middle of the existing house from seven rooms over two floors to provide space for major entertainments such as balls and concerts. Shaped somewhat like a church, a skylit dome crowns the "crossing", supporting a crystal gasolier. But I preferred another of Soanes creations, the book room adjoining the impressive library, with the bays separated by delicate arches, the whiteplasterwork on grey walls reminiscent of Wedgewood pottery. Originally the book room led into a conservatory, said to be a magical sight when lit at night, but it was demolished in the twentieth century as beyond repair.

All the public rooms were on the ground floor: up the sweeping main staircase were Mrs Bambridge's bedroom and study, and the over-the-top state bed in the "Lord Chamberlain's" bedroom. We descended by the back stairs, passing on the way to the basement a remarkable "Bath House" also designed by Sir John Soane. Two symmetrical archways led to curving stairs, which descended to a plunge pool. In the basement we saw the housekeeper's room with a well-ordered store room opening off it, and the butler's pantry, and were impressed by the comfort afforded the housekeeper.

Having spent two hours on our feet, we decided to skip the walled garden. We had been able to admire a parterre from the windows, and after coffee in the restaurant we headed home. No scone today!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2018, 09:46 AM
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Are you not a "bangers and mash" fan, thursdaysd? i confess it's not my favourite either, but it does find its way onto many a NT restaurant menu as it is seen as being quintessentially british I suppose. Anyway thanks for describing another place i have yet to visit so well.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2018, 10:19 AM
  #28  
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The bangers weren't bad, but I've been trying to cut down on white carbs, e.g. potatoes. And rather heavy for lunch.

The house was worth seeing, and I'm sure the grounds would be great for people with more energy on a nicer day. You could trek a mile to the folly, lol.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2018, 01:37 PM
  #29  
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September 22 - Amazing Grace

My sister lives on the eastern edge of Milton Keynes, not far from the village of Olney. If you have heard of Olney it may be for the annual pancake race, which dates back to 1445. But it is also the place where Amazing Grace was written, and we drove over to visit the Cowper and Newton Museum. Saturday morning might not have been best time, as we spent nearly as long finding a parking place as we did driving the eleven miles.


Cowper (pronounced Cooper) is forgotten today, but was one of the most celebrated poets of his era, a forerunner of the Romantics and friend to many poets and authors who are still remembered, such as Wordsworth. Jane Austen put his poetry in the mouths of some of her characters. The museum occupies the house he lived in for twenty years. The gardens behind the house were one of his interests and are maintained in the style of a Victorian kitchen garden, with flowers, fruit and herbs. They can be visited, along with the tiny shed, aka summerhouse, where he did much of his writing.

Walking through a second garden would bring Cowper to the Olney rectory, which at the time was home to John Newton, who had transformed himself from a life culminating as a captain of slave ships, to one as a committed Christian, abolitionist, and curate. The two men became close friends and ultimately collaborators, producing the "Olney Hymnal", which included Newton's "Amazing Grace". The hymnal also includes "God Moves in a Mysterious Way", which was written by Cowper. The museum owns a comprehensive collection of early editions of the works of both men.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2018, 07:29 PM
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Thanks for another intertesting report on some of the less well-known sites in England. Not sure I will be able to visit any in future trips so appreciate hearing about them and learning something new. Especially enjoyed the Cowper/ Newton connection.
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 03:10 PM
  #31  
 
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you do get around, don't you? Talk about the places less visited. But fascinated none the less. This is the first time I can remember regretting that I don't live closer to Milton Keynes.
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Old Sep 24th, 2018, 07:07 PM
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Fascinating trip report! Signing on for more.

I did hear that if you were from/in Devon you were required to put the cream on first? (Ducking now.)
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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 01:50 AM
  #33  
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Thanks! Ann - don't think I would recommend MK itself, lol, but maybe Buckingham or Bedford? Or I might consider St. Albans - Roman remains and a Norman cathedral/abbey, forty minutes from London by train.

Am now in Dundee but seem to be coming down with a cold/virus.... V&A this morning.
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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 06:12 AM
  #34  
 
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I did hear that if you were from/in Devon you were required to put the cream on first? (Ducking now.)>>

lol, I don't think it's compulsory, Trophywife! but it is supposed to be the traditional way to do it in Devon.

Thursdaysd I know St Albans reasonably well as I was involved in a long criminal trial there many years ago when I was training. It started in September and our client pleaded guilty just before Christmas, but the trial didn't actually finish until the following May!!! so I got to know the city centre pretty well in that time, though of course I only had an hour or so every lunch time to explore, and not every lunch time either as we often had work to do, like seeing the client who was a convicted armed robber so we had to be searched every time we went into the cells and there were armed police all over the place! Happy days.

Hope you feel better soon.
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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 08:42 AM
  #35  
 
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Oh -- I do hope it is just a mild cold and you feel better soon.

Really interested to hear about the new V&A
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Old Sep 25th, 2018, 01:45 PM
  #36  
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Janisj - I do hope so, the last one had me on the couch for weeks. Have to ask my rheumatologist whether I must stop the magic pills. V&A - in due course...

September 22 - A Little London, Part One

My desire to see something of Open House London, combined with my sister's upcoming trip to Italy, meant that having traveled from Heathrow to Milton Keynes Wednesday morning, I took a train back to London Saturday afternoon. I arrived at Euston, and I would leave from Euston Sunday night, so after deciding that the gorgeous Marriott Renaissance St. Pancras was just too expensive, I booked one night at LSE's Passfield Hall, conveniently situated a couple of blocks from the station. They gave me a handicapped room, which meant I had plenty of space, but the bathroom was totally dysfunctional. The sink was minute, and there was nowhere to put anything except the top of the cistern. I felt sorry for the student who would be living there.

I had bought a copy of the 2018 Good Food Guide over the internet, and had a reservation at Vinoteca in the redeveloped area just north of King's Cross. Since it was raining I took the tube, only to discover that it would have been shorter to walk than to trek down to the northbound Victoria line platform. The meal was some good and some bad. My celeriac soup arrived too quickly and not hot enough, but that got me a free glass of wine to go with the very nice plaice.

Next morning I packed and took my case over to the Left Luggage office at Euston. I thought it rather expensive but the LSE dorm was closing to get ready for the students' return and had shut their luggage storage. In any case, I felt the station facility was a more secure place to leave my iPad. I got started a little later than I intended, and then had to stand in line to visit the Masonic Temple at Andaz Hotel Liverpool Street. (The line was a lot longer in the afternoon, after the rain stopped.)

The hotel allowed in a set number of people at a time, gave us a drink, and then a talk on the history of the hotel and the temple, of which I unfortunately could hear very little, even with my hearing aids. Then we were led upstairs, to an opulent candlelit room that had been forgotten until a 1990s renovation of the building. Gilt and marble gleamed, and two rows of tiered dark wood seats were set around a rectangular black and white checked floor. There were larger chairs at the cardinal points, an especially grand one for the presiding Master, and an impressive sunburst ceiling with the signs of the zodiac. While the Freemason's Hall in Covent Garden, which I visited a few years back, is bigger and more detailed, I was pleased to have seen the temple, although sad that it was now used as an event space. It is only open to the hoi polloi during Open House London.

Since I had arranged to meet my niece for lunch at 12:15, I only managed one Open House morning sight instead of the three on my list.
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 10:38 AM
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Alas, my rheumatologist told me to stop the magic pills while I am feeling ill. Just hope this cold clears up quickly! The Tylenol I am taking seems to be helping, but I don't have much and can't buy it here. (Edited to add that I now discover that acetaminophen and paracetamol are the same thing. Grrr. But I couldn't get the exact same combination of medication I bought in the US.)

September 22 - A Little London, Part Two

After my niece, G, and I managed to find each other at Liverpool Street station we wandered through Spitalfields market looking for lunch, eventually settling on mezzes at the Real Greek. We followed that with coffee, which meant that we arrived at the Bevis Marks synagogue after it had closed. We had better luck at Landing Forty Two, where the line was short and the views stellar. The view down to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge was particularly good. Again, this is normally "event space".

At this point my camera battery expired, and I had left the spares in my checked bag. No problem, I had my phone, but for some reason it refused to take photos. I enjoyed the views anyway. We took a bus to my last stop of the day, Two Temple Place, the magnificent office building constructed for William Waldorf Astor in 1895. This is open to the public, but only briefly between January and April. It's a neo-gothic building loaded with carvings, most of which we failed to identify.

After a walk along the Embankment, G headed home and I headed back to Euston, where I would catch the night train to Edinburgh much later in the evening. My first class ticket entitled me to use the Virgin Trains lounge, where I was very pleased to be able to get a shower. I ate rather badly in the Cafe Rouge, before going back to the lounge for a glass of wine and free wifi. After we were allowed to board I left my bigger bag in my cabin and repaired to the lounge car for a glass of Drambuie. I prefer Cointreau, but since it was the Caledonian Sleeper, Drambuie seemed more appropriate.

Last edited by thursdaysd; Sep 26th, 2018 at 10:56 AM.
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 11:25 AM
  #38  
 
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Still following along and enjoying your report. Sorry to hear you have to stop your magic pills for a while. I hope the cold is soon gone and you can resume the effective medicine.
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 11:50 AM
  #39  
 
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Sounds like you had a lovely day with your niece. Too bad about Bevis Marks but you made up for it with other stops.

If you do need somehing a little stronger -- Any Chemist/Boots carries Paracetamol+Codeine. It is behind the counter and they will only sell you one box. But it contains 32 tablets.

(Anyone interested -- London Walks does an East London walk that includes a stop at Bevis Marks. Entry is not guaranteed but usually they manage)
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 04:42 PM
  #40  
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Well, I visited Boots and they didn't offer that. But now I know to ask.

BTW, my review of the V&A is up on tripadvisor.
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