Thursday 10 November 2022

Busy October.

 Well October has been a bumper month. 

It started off with a long overdue catch up with Soo when we took ourselves off to the university owned Harcourt Arboretum. We had a lovely day mooching around enjoying the autumnal sunshine and colours, as well as a good catch up on all our news. 

From there we took ourselves off to Notcutts Garden Centre for a late lunch of delicious homemade soup. They were busy setting up their Christmas wonderland which seemed just a bit too early for me. I get that some people want to spread the cost etc but over two months early?

 We met again two days later in Oxford. We were planning to go to the cinema with our friend Simon to see 'Mrs Harris Goes to Paris'. The idea was to have dinner first then go to the cinema. I suggested we go to the cinema and buy the tickets first just in case we ran out of time, as we had chosen to eat at Cote and they aren’t always the speediest with their service. 

So, we walked round to the cinema and found it was closed due to a power failure! We quickly checked the other cinemas in Oxford, but none had the film on, disappointed we took ourselves to the pub instead. We went to White Rabbit which back in the day used to be a biker pub The Gloucester Arm where I spent many an evening drinking. From there we headed to Cote and had a leisurely dinner with lost of gossip and laughter. 

I then saw Simon again at the end of the week when we went out for lunch with our friends Liz and Carole. A lovely afternoon that ended with us battling home through torrential rain. I had bought some bits in the Body Shop on my way down and the paper bag had completely disintegrated by the time I got home leaving me clutching wet bottles and papery mush, nice.   

The following weekend I was on a work trip to Frankfurt. My colleague and I decided to fly out on the Friday and home again on the Saturday evening, right after the recruitment event we were attending. This was mostly because there were no decent timed flights home on the Sunday, they were either stupid o’clock in the morning or into the evening, we both had afternoon plans for Sunday which we preferred not to miss. It did mean I had to get up at 5.30am to factor in a train the Reading then a coach to Heathrow. I’ll be interested to see what difference the new Elizabeth Line makes once the rest of it finally opens. I should be able to go directly from Reading the Heathrow on that. 

It felt very strange to be at the airport again and even getting on a plane again after so long. Thankfully it was a quick and painless process as we only had hand luggage.

We finally arrived at our hotel at about 3.30pm, it turned out to be a very chi-chi boutique hotel where you had to take the lift up to the roof top bar to check-in. Yes, you literally checked-in via an I-Pad embedded into the bar’s surface whilst people were being served cocktails around you! Once checking in your room card dropped into a little tray at the bottom of the bar, it took a while to figure that one out, I’m seriously too old for this was very confusing. Maybe a cocktail would have helped! 

Our rooms were tiny but extremely comfortable. I have to say whoever designed them was inspired, every inch of space was carefully utilized. 

 Having said that, these were not the smallest ones available, we had deliberately not chosen one of those. I must confess I wouldn’t want to have been in anything smaller and I’m not sure I would have wanted to stay more than a couple of nights so limited was the space, but then I’m not exactly a tiny person so that might have had something to do with it. I was practically hanging out of the window to take the shot above, I love how the clever use of mirrors in the room makes it look like I was miles away!

We headed straight out to grab some food as we were both starving, we hadn’t bothered to eat more than a snack at Heathrow, planning to have lunch when we arrived but hadn’t anticipated it would take quite so long to get from the airport to the city centre.

Once we were fed, we spent the next few hours doing some sightseeing. To be honest there isn’t a lot to see in Frankfurt, the majority is modern and industrial, so we were able to see what we wanted to in one afternoon and evening. Sadly, it poured with rain the whole time, but we didn’t let that put us off.

For dinner we met two of my colleague’s university friends (she studied in Heidelberg) who both lived near to Frankfurt. They not only graciously included me in their evening, but spoke English the whole time too so I didn’t feel left out. The also recommended the most amazing restaurant, it was like being sat in the middle of a forest.

 I ate the most delicious vegan mushroom and caramelised onion burger with sweet potato fries, it came with a cocktail in a glass the size of a small bucket. I had forgotten the generous drink sizes you get in Germany! 

We had a lovely evening dampened (literally) only by the fact the rain was absolutely torrential by the time we left. My umbrella was actually dripping water from inside by the time we got back to the hotel, so all my clothes were wet and the bottom of my dress was soaked. I ended up draping stuff wherever I could in the teeny tiny room in the hopes it would be dry by the morning…it wasn’t.

Thankfully we had a late start the next day as we didn’t need to arrive for set up until 11.30am. We met at 9am and headed out to find some breakfast. It’s a good job we did go that early as it turns out as we ended up walking round for ages trying to find somewhere to eat. On arrival we found the cafĂ© we had originally picked only accepted cash and I was using the company credit card. We ended up going to the food court of a shopping mall where we found a restaurant that had a serve yourself breakfast buffet. I got to eat fresh brotchen, which I haven’t had since I was last in Germany as a teenager, scrambled eggs and two flavours of fresh fruit yoghurt. I also just had to sample the schoko sahne pudding to see if that still tasted the same as I remembered, happily it did so I went back for seconds! We both pinched a croissant for later which I wrapped in napkins and stuck in my handbag. I then proceeded to completely forget all about them, so they were as flat as a pancake when we did finally eat them that evening at the airport. Flat but still delicious. 

We headed back to the hotel in the rain and checked out, did our event and shot out promptly at 4.30pm to catch the train back to the airport. The underground system in Frankfurt is the most confusing thing ever,  and even with one of us a native German speaker we got hopelessly mixed up. We finally found the right train and as it turned out our flight was delayed anyway. By the time we landed at Heathrow I just missed a coach, like literally by 3 minutes, so frustrating! I had to wait another 40 minutes which meant by the time I got to Reading I then had to wait 25 for a train home. I finally crawled in at 10.45pm, unpacked all my soggy clothes, had a glass of wine and went to bed.

I only bought two things whilst in Frankfurt. We had stopped by one shop to comment on all the Christmas decorations when I spotted some Snoppy bits, it's a skill I have and I can from quite some distance. I dived in the door and ended up buying one glass decoration

Linus - my favourite character from the Peanuts cartoons. I also bought a postcard with a cartoon red elephant trumpeting on it.

The next day my cousin drove my aunt and uncle up to visit my Dad and 9 of us went out for Sunday lunch at the local pub where they do a carvery. It was delicious and so lovely to see them all again and catch up on family news. 

The following Saturday I met my friend Alex in Birmingham. It was a bit last minute so we were both booked onto specific trains that only left us with about 5 hours. That flew by in what felt like moments. We had coffee and a catch up before a walk along the canal, then popped into a small vintage fair at the Custard Factory where I managed to buy a pair of sunglasses and 2 handbags. 

From there we decamped to Comptoir Libanais for lunch, they don’t have one in Liverpool and Alex was missing their tapas. We were going to go for a drink afterwards but realised we had completely run out of time. It turned out loads of trains were cancelled, including my train, so Alex dashed off for hers and I mooched around the shops upstairs at Birmingham New Street. I found a gorgeous dress in the Monsoon sale that was too small, a lovely shirt that wasn't, see below.

I bought a dinosaur Christmas tree decoration in Flying Tiger and also a scarf with red squirrels on it in Fat Face that on inspection of the label turned out to be made from recycled plastic bottles. 

I then headed back downstairs to buy a drink in M&S and went to find the next train to Oxford. It was very delayed, and ram packed with people. Not only was the football on but there had been something on at the NEC too so I stood in an aisle for a bit then managed to snag a seat. I had a great book with me so didn’t mind the journey and thankfully only had a short wait at Oxford for my train home. Himself and I had planned to go out for dinner at the pub in the next village to us, but thankfully hadn’t booked anything as I finally got home well after 7pm, so we would never have made it in time. Instead, we went straight back out to Sainsburys to do the food shop then cracked open a bottle of wine when we got back.

On the Sunday Himself was doing podcast stuff so I took myself out for a walk and went via my brother’s house to drop in some bits and pieces and a big bag of windfall cooking apples. I was just thinking about leaving when there was the most tremendous storm with thunder and lightning and pouring rain so I stayed for another cup of tea instead and cadged a lift home. 

It was our 25th nonniversay on the 31st October, so on the 29th we booked dinner at the pub we had planned to go tot the week before. We left the house at 5.30pm to go and do the village's Halloween trail before our dinner reservation at 7.30pm. 

We have been walking the trail for the last few years as it’s usually great fun with some people properly going to town with their themed decorating. This year it was much smaller and all a bit meh. There were some good houses but it felt like it was mostly cheap plastic stuff from Poundland just strewn about with no real thought, very disappointing. 

This one did make me chuckle though

We ended up at the pub very early, Himself had suggested tacking a walk along the old railway line and looping back but as it was very muddy under foot I declined. 

This was the pub's contribution to the trail (with my travel companion Malcolm Monkey astride the pumpkin in his undertaker's hat.)

Luckily our table was ready, and we had a drink first before eating. I had the most delicious lamb shank with mash (Himself hates lamb and I love it, so I nearly always order it when we are out.) He contented himself with local sausages with the mash swapped out for chips (because he also hates mash. Remind me again why we have been together 25 years?)  The pub is exactly a mile from our house so we got to walk our food off a little bit heading home. Once in I lit candles and our various Halloweeny lights to give us an atmosphere whilst we drank wine and watched the Halloween special of Psychoville and Sherlock Holmes - The Last Vampyre.

These light up tins were from M&S, I couldn't resist them. 

I visited my Dad on the Sunday with my Mum. My brother and his wife arrived whilst we were there so my Dad was in his element surrounded by lots of company. 

On our actual anniversary we both had the day off work and caught the train to London. First, we headed to Kensington, had a bit of a walk and then visited Leighton House which has recently reopened after a refurbishment. It was the home of Frederic, Lord Leighton an eminent Victorian artist and is now a museum and art gallery.

From there we headed to Hampstead where we walked around the outside of Hampstead Heath to The Old Bull and Bush for a late lunch. 

After we had finished eating we caught the tube back into the centre of London and did a quick call in at the Lego store, then it was back onto the underground to Euston, where Himself tried in vain to find a pub he wanted to take me too.We walked and walked then ended up doubling back before he decided it must be a place we had already passed but appeared to have had a complete refurb. It was absolutely pouring with rain by this point, and we had forgotten an umbrella so I was holding my denim jacket over my head and still getting soaked. Instead we decamped to Guy Ritchie’s pub Lore of the Land and had a couple of eye wateringly expensive drinks (and believe me we’re used to expensive living near Oxford!) before deciding to head home, because it was still raining and it was a Monday. 

We popped into Sainsburys at Paddington and I bought myself a little bottle of prosecco for the train. Luckily there was a fast train ready to go so by 9pm we were both showered and drinking prosecco in our PJs, because we are so rock and roll. 

I had ordered myself a new dress with tigers on it for the day. This dress in fact.

Seen here hanging up to dry after being washed because when I unpacked it on arrival it smelt nasty. Sadly it didn't arrive in time so I wore an old favourite instead.

I also continued with my Halloweeny purchases. All these are from Erstwilder apart from the black festive tree which is by the ever talented Claire at Dolly Cool. 

The pumpkin brooch was a free gift if you spent a certain amount and as I was going to buy stuff anyway it was a no brainer really. I wore the cat earrings to London. The ghost cat brooch glows in the dark.

And that's it for October. November is already shaping up busy too, with my Dad's birthday, my parents anniversary, the cinema and 2 theatre trips lined up. My first theatre outings since before covid! 

More anon.