Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Europe Adventure Day 26


This morning we had an agenda. Our train left Windsor shortly after 9 am. But it is a short walk up the town.



James insisted that I should be in a picture too. He said "go stand next to my sister". Bad hair day and I was still smoothing it out.



I love trains. St Stephen's Church on the left.




Windsor Castle on the right. The streaks from the planes going into Heathrow make quite a pattern.





Windsor -Slough. Change!



Slough - Paddington. Change!



Underground: Paddington -Edgware Road. Change!



Underground: Edgware - King's Cross. Change!



King's Cross is an impressive train station building.



We were a little delayed here because of a broken rail somewere but only about 30 minutes. Otherwise all the other changes were almost hop off -hop on.




You have to wait at the board to see what platform and then you go to your train. It was the same in Spain.



James and I had assigned seats. Jane didn't (buying the tickets online had been a bit of an adventure) but it wasn't an issue because there were empty ones.



My assigned place.



As always - - quite interesting looking out of the window.




Grantham! Our destination! When we went to Windsor station the day before to pick up the tickets we had ordered online we were supposed to look for a machine. We couldn't find one though. So we went to the ticket window. When we asked the gentleman where the machine was he said "I am the machine". Then he asked why in the world we would go to Grantham? James told him we would meet a brother. Oh! Then he told us that Grantham was famous to have the hottest curry and if you could eat it you would get it for free (something like that).



Stephen was there waiting for us and took us with his car to Belton House.


We parked on a huge grassy area and then walked to a little ticket house where we found out that it was closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Oh well.



Back to the car. Stephen told us though that the silhouette of the house supposedly was the inspiration for the brown highway signs alerting to these kind of places worth visiting.

We could have bought tickets to visit the park but we couldn't quite see that being worth it for 11 pounds each when the house was closed.



It was time for lunch anyway. Stephen suggested the cafè in the garden center just across the street. It was a great choice. One of the specials for the day was lamb. Yummy! There was also delicious gravy not in the picture. You might not be able to see that next to the roasted potatoes where roasted parsnip.



Nobody wanted dessert but when James went to order coffee he came back telling us that the lady in front of him had ordered "gooseberry cheesecake". Can you leave without having tried that?



Time to leave but just a quick photo of the siblings. It was great to have this time with Stephen. I had not seen him in (?) years. We had looked forward to meeting Jill again too but she couldn't come.



We had to leave through the garden center again and had to snoop a little of course. They had such interesting things. James said he was happy that everything was too heavy to take home or not allowed such as plants or live flowers etc.



Stephen brought us back to the train station but there was still time before the train. It did have a Starbucks so we had another coffee. First we had exchanged some gifts at the open car boot. Over coffee Stephen showed us some pictures on his iPad of their beautiful garden, the cute dogs and ducks.

Then it was time for the train and to say good-bye. I hope it is not going to be so many years again. Stephen has such a wonderful humor and knows interesting things.

This time we sat on the other side and other things were to see.




We saw fields of solar energy collectors. This photo just shows a tiny part. Kind of ugly (sorry).



We saw only a few wind energy mills.



We traced back the same way except we didn't have to change at Edgware Road. So we did a total of 9 trains that day but everything went really smoothly and easily. In the underground we had a lovely conversation with an airline stewardess going to Heathrow. She was reading "The girl on the train".

In Slough we had to run because we were a little late from Paddington. I could hear over the loudspeaker "passengers to Windsor should make their way to platform 1 as fast and safely as possible".

The sun was setting and the sky was so pretty. Didn't quite catch it.




We were not hungry at all so we just had a steaming delicious (homemade from the garden but from the freezer) tomato soup and salad. Perfect.

A little time in the living room and then it's time for bed.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Europe Adventure Day 24 and 25

Leisurely getting ready and having tea and toast. It seemed cold today so what to wear was a bit of a question. Layering was the answer but fashion was not in the equation.
The service at Clewer St. Stephen Church is at 10 am. It was very high church but I found it very uplifting ... incense and all. Of course I didn't even think of taking photos.
Jane shared another link with me: 360 degree photos!   Fun!

The organ (dating from 1875) had recently been renovated which had taken 18 months. A first concert was held on September 23. We would have very much liked to have attended but could not make it work to be here and missed it by a few days.
I decided I could discreetly VIDEO the last hymn.
I then took a VIDEO at the postlude when a lot of the people had already gone to the back of the church for coffee. It is longer though and I wondered whether I actually could upload it since the other one took forever. The organist is a young man Oliver.

Jane showed us the back of the organ. You could see the things move while he was playing. The plan is to replace the two doors hiding it with a plexiglass panel which I think is a great idea.

James' family is so very much connected to this church. And even I have a lot of memories (including the blessing of Helen and Ben's wedding in 2006). Coffee time took a while because many know James and of course there was a lot of talking. One of the members and longtime friends is DeeDee who is the present Mayor of Windsor. She is the 4th in her family to hold this office. It was very interesting talking with her.
Afterwards Phillipa is walking home most of the way with us. She and James are born one day apart and their families have always been friends and played together as children.

After lunch Jane had a wish. She wanted some help with her water garden. The plants had grown out of control. They had become one great mass with the pots imbedded and she could not lift it out by herself. It needs doing about every 5 years. It was a beautiful day and warm in the sun. We took the "mass" out and separated them as well as possible. Then we emptied the pond. Bucket after bucket. The water was pretty gross. I caught 6 goldfish and we kept them in a bucket with pond water. Then we filled it again with the water from the rain-catching barrels. Bucket after bucket. The goldfish were put back. The whole thing had been messy but we all were happy that we had completed the task.

Every other minute a big plane flew over rather low and noisy. That happens when you live close to Heathrow and they are using certain runways and landing in a certain direction. For me it's part of visiting James' family for 40 years.

Jane had to take a bath to get the mud splatters off.
The dinner she cooked was most delicious. Leek and broccoli with a white sauce and meat and roast potatoes with a brown sauce.

She knows I love rhubarb. Jane has it in the garden and puts it in the freezer. She must like me because this is rhubarb crumble.

Jane announced that she would have to wash yesterday's splattered clothes so James and I added to it. Perfect weather for hanging it outside.

After that we went up the town. James had bought train tickets for Tuesday and we had to pick them up. See Windsor Castle at the top of Peascod Street.

Queen Victoria is still standing there like my first visit to Windsor 40 years ago.

James and I actually did a little shopping and even were successful. It was fun popping into Boots, Daniels, some old familiar places.
Jane took us into Dorset Road where the family used to live to see what was going on there.
Crescent Garden, oh the memories.

After lunch we made a quick run to the post office to mail something to my sister in Germany ... and had to pop in next door because Jane had recommended it. We came out with an armful of children's books.
And we sat outside in the sun. Lovely. The water garden had settled a bit and the goldfish seemed to have forgiven me.

Jane produced a tasty dinner of leeks, mushroom and chicken over rice.

She made her nickname as "pudding queen" big honors again since it was plum crumble with cream today.

I had the rest of yesterday's rhubarb though ... and then a little of the plum, ha-ha.

No explanation needed here.

I managed to tat a heart.

And that's really all. Nice and relaxing. Going down memory lane. Time to go to bed. We have to rise early tomorrow.