7 Months, 7 Days. still sober
After Samantha’s wedding, as already blogged, I spent the next three days in Barnwell, East Northants, staying with two dear old friends. After having had a great lunch at The Bell in Stilton on the Bank holiday Monday, we drove over to Duddington, near Stamford on Tuesday, for lunch at the Royal Oak, yet another one of Olde Englande’s great country hostelries.
Duddington village and The Royal Oak
My elder daughter, Natalie, and her husband Abe, picked me up Tuesday evening to take me back to Nuneaton where I stayed until last Sunday. These two young people are such wonderful souls that I constantly have to pinch myself to check if it is really happening.
They take such good care of me and go to great lengths to ensure that I want for nothing and that I have everything I could possible desire during my stay with them.. They even plan the evening ‘s TV viewing by ‘time switching’ recent programmes to ensure I can watch all the stuff they know I enjoy.
On Friday night they took me to a beautiful Italian restaurant, which was situated in a little village in the heart of the Leicestershire countryside. The place was packed and was obviously the ‘in’ place to be for the ‘Hoi Palloi’ who live in and around Birmingham and its environs.
The restaurant, which went by the name of San Giovanni, which although a large modern building, was designed in such a way that it fitted like a glove into its rural setting, a small village with the dreamy name of ‘Sheepy Parva’. The food was outstanding. – and pricey – and as much as I tried to pay, at the very least, part of the bill, they would have none of it.
We finally agreed that I would buy lunch on the following day, Saturday, which was to be a surprise day out.
A ‘wine-glass’ Chandelier at San Giovanni Restaurant
San Giovanni Restaurant, at Sheepy Parva, Warwickshire
The next day, Saturday, the three of us set off and about half an hour later we entered the Leicestershire village of Shakerstone, where they were holding their annual country festival.
The weather was dry and warm as we parked up and took a short stroll across the fields to the festival venue and we enjoyed a really great day out, taking in the sights and entertainment and having a nice, inexpensive lunch of hog roast baguettes, complete with stuffing and crackling. (Yes, I had lucked out yet again).
So what does a ‘Middle England’ country festival consist of?
Oh lots of exciting things. Let’s see now; there was lawn motor mower racing, a bicycle stunt demonstration, a dog obedience show, a hedgehog rescue centre, donkey riding for kids , steam motor roller exhibition, steam organ display, vintage car display, old military vehicle display, a perimeter tow-path where dozens of narrow canal boats were moored, a re-enactment of the wild west show, a New Orleans type jazz band with musicians so ancient they could hardly stand, and so much more besides….
To me the high point of the afternoon was the fly past and aerobatics by two WW2 aeroplanes: the only still flying Lancaster Bomber in the UK, and it’s tiny fighter cousin, the legendary Spitfire.
I’m not big on aerobatic displays but this was something special. I don’t think I have ever seen a Lancaster flying before and even after all these years, it sent a tingle up my spine, watching it fly over, so low, that you could almost see the white of the pilot’s eyes, and the terrifying noise of that low, ominous drone of the mighty plane’s 4 engines.
It must have been very scary for the German civilians in towns such as Dresden, who were subject to wave upon wave of non-stop carpet bombing by fleets of Lancasters during the war.
Yes, you got it – a typical rural day in the heart of England, such as those to be found in the annals of TV’s Midsomer Murders – corny, silly and patriotic in equal measures, but oh, so English.
Annual Festival at Shakerstone, Leicester
Canal long boats, moored up at Shatterton for the Festival…
Vintage Cars on display at Shakerstone
The only serviceable Lancaster bomber in the UK together with a WW2 Spitfire go through their paces at Shakerstone….
On Sunday, we made the trek south, via Barnwell, where, of course I had forgotten some stuff, and thence to the notorious M25 and over the Dartford bridge into sunny Kent, the Garden of England.
Barely had we set a wheel on Kentish soil, than the heavens opened and the rain came down. It rained and rained and rained – ever heavier as we slowly made our way along the flooded highway to Tonbridge where the Mobi family barbecue was awaiting our late arrival….
BUTT…BUTT… BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!