Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Travel Tuesday - Looking back on my birthday night away.

As I haven't blogged for so long there is plenty for me to share with you, like my birthday night away back in January of this year.

Chief and I like to get away for a night when it's my birthday and like I've mentioned before he's coming down from Middlesbrough and doesn't normally get more than three nights, so it limits our options for travel further afield. 

The last couple of years we've stayed at the same hotel, but the last time we went I really wasn't happy with the spa and the ambiance and even though I did email the hotel manager and he suggested if we stayed again he'd 'make it up to us',  I didn't want to stay there again any time soon. Not when there are other places to try.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We had half a day to kill before we could check into the hotel we did book and as Hawfinches had been spotted regularly at Northmoor Church yard, I suggested to Chief we did a bit of bird spotting.  Chief was a little surprised at the suggestion as being my birthday he thought I'd take advantage and want to do something less bird related and more girlie.


St Denys Church Northmoor

We saw hawfinches the minute we walked into the church yard, but hung around for a few hours to get some half decent photos. They were on the move all the while. 

Hawfinch

Word had spread about the Hawfinches and there was quite a little group of people hoping to add them to their bird list.

Hawfinch Hunters at Northmoor

Chief hates having his picture taken and I've agreed not to share his picture on social media. I think I can just about get away with this rare couple shot though!

Chief and I at Northmoor

We had a little stroll around Northmoor and thought we'd try the pub next door to the church yard. What a gem we found in The Red Lion!

The Red Lion at Northmoor

Despite the bright sunshine it was freezing so the chance to thaw out in front of the roaring fire in the pub was perfect. I think we scoffed our food too quickly for me to get the usual foodie shot. We opted for the sandwiches - they make bread freshly each day. The staff were so friendly and welcoming.

The Red Lion at Northmoor 

  The Red Lion at Northmoor The Red Lion at Northmoor
By the time we'd finished lunch we headed for the Oxford Thames De Vere at Sandford on Thames in Oxfordshire. We'd not even visited the hotel before, let alone stayed. 

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

The view of the old college barge from our bedroom window.

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames
Our room
Our room


Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

I managed to drag Chief down to the spa. Often he doesn't fancy it and I go alone. It was a relatively small pool, but we had it pretty much to ourselves. There was a jacuzzi and the usual steam room/sauna. The only thing I didn't like was the changing room was freezing. It was the coldest part of the hotel and given I was roasting through dinner in the bar, I was a bit surprised the spa was so cold.  I ended up dressing super quickly and going back to our room for a shower.

Mirror Selfie 
In the evening we decided to eat at the hotel. We opted to eat in the bar as the restaurant menu was quite fancy and neither of us were that hungry. There was quite a wait for the bar food, but we were in no hurry and it was lovely when it came. We sat upstairs in the Crusader bar and had it to ourselves. There wasn't much of a dessert menu in the bar - two options in fact - the chefs dessert of the day or fruit salad. I opted for fruit salad.
  Evening meal at The Oxford De Vere Hotel Evening meal at The Oxford De Vere Hotel
The Crusader Bar where we ate upstairs.

The Oxford De Vere Hotel, Sandford-on-Thames

We both slept really well in our super comfy bed and then after breakfast took a stroll around the grounds. It came onto rain so we had to cut our stroll short. We both said the venue would be lovely in the summer, when you can make the most of the river side setting.

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

Looking back towards where our room was.
Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

Oxford De Vere Hotel - Sandford on Thames

So that was my birthday night away. We'd definitely return to this hotel if looking for one in this area. 

Ps. For some reason blogger isn't sending me comments made by email and responding has pretty much been done by replying on the blog. Hopefully blogger will sort itself out soon, so I can email people back properly!

Friday, 25 May 2018

My Cottage Garden Highlights in May

My cottage garden in May
May in my Cottage Garden

May and June are probably the best months for my cottage garden - in fact most cottage gardens come into their own over these two months. When I redid my garden I really did my best to plant to give interest all year around, however the plants that survived or did the best were the traditional cottage ones that tend to thrive in May and June. Think peonies, roses, aquilegia, geraniums etc. That doesn't mean I don't have interest the rest of the year. It's just the real chocolate box cottage garden comes into its own in May.

My cottage garden in May

Old Blush China - grown from a cutting of a very old rose gifted to me as a child from a rose hating neighbour. The old rose has long since gone, but this beauty lives on.

My cottage garden in May

Petunia pinstripe - I do love a stripey petunia - any petunia actually. The hanging basket came ready planted from Asda for £5.00

My cottage garden in May

Self seeded Nigella waiting to 'pop' next to the perennial wallflower I bought last year at a car boot sale.

My cottage garden in May


May in my cottage garden

My veg bed is planted up with beetroot, runner and broad beans, ruby chard, parsley, spring onions, carrots, cut-and-come-again salad leaves, chives and parsley. I bought most as small plants, but have sown radishes and carrots, but they're still not showing yet.

May in my cottage garden

The peonies did really well this year. Mainly because it didn't rain the moment it came out. Normally it pours and they get bashed down. Next month pale pink ones will be out. These dark red ones have been in the garden longer than any other flower. I have two clumps and I wish I'd put something next to this bloom to show the size of this bloom. Marvelous.

May in my cottage garden

No cottage garden would be complete without a lilac. Smells heavenly and this is a double variety so you get even bigger, showier blooms.

May in my cottage garden

Winter flowering pansies planted in the autumn are still going strong. I can't contemplate pulling them out and replanting the tubs when they look this good!

My cottage garden in May

Roll on June. Things can only get better.





Thursday, 24 May 2018

Gertie goes back to Greenhill Farm Leisure Park

Chief and I first went to Greenhill Farm Leisure Park back in April 2017.  Given that Chief has to drive down from Middlesbrough and we usually only have 2 nights to get away, we look to stay at places local to me in Oxfordshire.  The place we'd normally gone to was booked up and this had made Chief look for somewhere else. We liked it so much we knew we'd go back.

The Leisure Park can accommodate tents, caravans and motor homes. There is a well stocked shop for the essentials you may have forgotten, as well as an on site cafe (The Batch Cafe) and even a beauty salon. As Gertie is a motor home and we have no alternative transport we always aim to stay places where we can set up camp and then not move her until it's time to pack up and go home.

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Gertie on our pitch

With several lakes (used for fishing) and a river and canal nearby - not to mention plenty of farm land to explore there was plenty to keep us entertained for a couple of days.

After we'd set up camp we decided to go for a walk and head in the general direction of the pub - The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow. Last time we'd visited the site we'd done a circular walk that took in this pub. Although we'd arrived too early for it to be open. Which was surprising because it had taken us forever to walk there, it was hard to believe it wasn't yet lunch time. We'd gone wrong some how and knew we had to cross the canal and so had followed the line of the canal looking in vain for somewhere to cross. This time we found a more direct and nicer route and even better the pub was open.


Walking from Greenhill Leisure Park to The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow for a pint


Walking from Greenhill Leisure Park to The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow for a pint


Walking from Greenhill Leisure Park to The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow for a pint


Walking from Greenhill Leisure Park to The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow for a pint

Walking from Greenhill Leisure Park to The Rock of Gibraltar at Enslow for a pint


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After a cider (I'm not really a drinker, but I've not developed a taste for Thatchers Haze!) we walked back to our pitch and Chief cooked us dinner.

First night dinner
Burger on a field mushroom topped with halloumi and onion

We'd been told there were hares at dusk in the field behind the children's play area so we went off with our cameras to see if we could spot some. I do love hares big time. So it's always a joy to see them.

Hares at dusk Hares at dusk


Day 1
Sundown on a lovely first day.

The next morning we decided rather than cook breakfast we'd try breakfast at the on site Batch cafe. It was so lovely to be able to sit outside in the sun and eat. The interior of the cafe looked great too.


The Batch Cafe
Inside The Batch Cafe
The batch cafe The batch cafe
Mushrooms on toast - yum! and breakfast tea

It was a big day with the Royal wedding and we couldn't get a TV signal, so I'd given up hope of watching any of it. But then Chief managed to hook his ipad up to his mobile 4G and we sat outside Gertie and watched Meghan arrive and walk up the aisle. We smiled through Michael Curry's speech and then got a tad bored.

Watching the Royal Wedding 
There were tears in my eyes as I watched this and I
don't usually get emotional at weddings!

It was such a lovely day and we were itching to get out for a walk and (another Thatcher's Haze!) so we headed back to The Gibraltar Arms at Enslow.  We were still full from breakfast, which we'd had quite late, otherwise we'd have had lunch at the pub. We just shared a bowl of chips and then decided we'd walk on along the canal to Thrupp where we could get an ice cream at Annie's Tea Rooms.

IMG_5717d IMG_5716c Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay


Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay
The Oxford Canal in Heyford direction

Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay
The Oxford Canal in Thrupp direction

Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay

Circular walk from Bletchingdon via Enslow, Thrupp and Hampton Gay
canal side home dreams - imagine being able to eat and relax
here overlooking the canal!


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Bunting at Annie's Tea Rooms at Thrupp

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Crossing a bridge at Hampton Gay
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Roe deer back at Bletchingdon


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I came back from the walk hot and sweaty, but thankfully Greenhill Farm has great washing facilities.  It was nice to then sit outside Gertie with my book (Although the family in the next pitch did like to have Radio 2 blaring away all the time, which I found a bit distracting.) Later Chief cooked us fillet steak (Which to be honest neither of us wanted - do you lose your appetite in the hot weather?)

IMG_5721h _MG_7918o _MG_7920q 
This duck came to see us when we set up pitch and then
would come back to check on us periodically. 

Around Greenhill Farm Leisure Park, Bletchingdon
goslings

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Sundown on another great day.

 Before we knew it thought it was time to pack up and go home. Neither of us really wanted to and could have happily stayed on for a few more days. We will just have to go back soon!


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