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End of the gadding?

John in the Gate garden IMG_2056

Waiting for lunch at the Gate

June has been an amazing month for us. As so often happens, don’t you find as well, everything happens at once? We have covered very many miles, and so happily, but more of that later. For the time being things will revert to normal – so the first thing we did today was set off for the Gate in Brassington for Sunday lunch.

The Gate has for long been one of our favourite pubs. We recommend it to all our guests and all come back having loved the candle-lit, log fire atmosphere, and spoken admiringly about the wholesome, well-cooked food.

The other pub we and our guests  are also lucky enough to frequent is the George in Alstonefield. The atmosphere in the George is not quite as striking but the food is pretty special by any standards:  portions are smaller, and more expensive than the Gate’s and indeed most pubs in the area, but the George is in a quite different league to them all, food wise.

We were really concerned to hear from some disgruntled guests (it really doesn’t happen very often so it took us aback rather) after they had walked from Carsington to the Gate hoping to have lunch. They reported back that they had gone in but it all looked so down at heel – including the garden – that they didn’t dare stop to eat. This worried us greatly but with all our busyness we hadn’t had time to check it out for ourselves until today. We did warn the next guests and asked them for candid comments if they went and were somewhat reassured when all reported back favourably but of course none of them knew what to compare it with.

So after today we are pretty relieved, but – seriously – we will need to go back again, and sit inside this time. It was such a gorgeous day (disregard John’s sweater!) that we had lunch in the garden, which actually was looking much better kempt than it has for some time. Apart from one other couple we were the only people out there. John, who had not walked to the pub, only wanted soup; I who had walked chose the Sunday roast beef ‘dinner’. John’s vegetable soup was generous, served with a crispy baguette and lashings of butter, but he did say the soup itself was not particularly exciting. Perhaps calling it ‘vegetable’ soup was a subtle clue, which we didn’t pick up until afterwards!

I had a quite enormous helping of roast beef, Yorkshire pud, roast potatoes and the works. Being hungry I thoroughly enjoyed what I could manage, even though the beef for my (most?) tastes was overdone and the vegetables ditto. It was all pleasantly served, and I think one wouldn’t have been half so critical if we hadn’t actually set out to be critical… The people eating inside with no such concerns were looking happy enough in the candlelight.

We’ll go again, as soon as we can, and sit indoors to pick up more of the vibe. Meanwhile, we will welcome your own reactions.

Confessions of a (temporary) Gadabout

Murray wins at Queen's Club 2013 IMG_0803I am very conscious of ghastly gaps in my posts. This is far from any loss of interest on my part but totally due to a rush of tempting invitations and events that see us dashing up and down the country.

Gather ye roses and all that – we find it very easy to succumb to every attractive chance to meet up with friends and/or attend interesting functions. Fortunately the wonderful Janet, Carol and co are on the spot so as far as our guests are concerned, there is no break in the service. As far as blogs etc go, the breaks in transmission are rather more obvious.

However, in brief – as estate agents always begin a lengthy list of dull features in the house they have little chance of selling – last weekend we were invited by some very generous friends to go to the Queen’s Club for the semi finals of what is now known as the Aegon Championships.

What a lovely day we had! We were very lucky with the weather, which dawned most unpromisingly, so we arrived at Queen’s amply provided with umbrellas, thermal vests and waterproofs. In fact the sun came out and we sat in sunshine all day. We saw three matches, ending with Andy Murray beating Benjamin Becker. Will this be the year Murray eventually wins Wimbledon?

Back home on Sunday, and like I am sure many of you,  we watched Andy win the finals before being greatly entertained by Boris et al appearing on court with Murray and Henman to raise money for the Royal Marsden.

‘The best holiday accommodation we have ever stayed in’

Do you believe in TripAdvsaor?

‘The best’, ‘perfection’, ‘luxury…’. What does that mean to you and me?

It is hard to strike a balance, between a discreet modesty and blatant bragging but I am afraid today this will be nearer blatant bragging than we feel comfortable with. However, we were very delighted to read this latest review on TripAdvisor, written by guests who stayed recently in Douglas’s Barn. We were particularly delighted, because they told before they left us that they had stayed in many holiday cottages, were hard to please and had often been disappointed, which makes their comments all the more pleasing!

TripAdvisor is often feared, or decried, and one can only imagine how upsetting it must be to receive malicious reports from competitors or from guests who may well have behaved very badly during their visit to a bargain basement establishment somewhere that tuns out – rather unsurprisingly, to be rather unattractive. And of course there are always tales of employers churning out gushing, ecstatic reviews of their own accommodation.

I don’t know about you, but John and I certainly always consult TripAdvisor before booking somewhere to stay, or to eat. It is easy to spot and immediately discount the one-off angry blast or the very suspicious glowing comments that could only have come from the pen of someone in the know.

Also one decides what is important. Whenever we check out somewhere local  before recommending it to our guests, John always insists on inspecting the Gents. He reckons that if they can’t keep their loos clean, there isn’t much hope for their kitchen hygiene either, never mind anything else. I couldn’t agree more, but am equally concerned that everywhere – including the Gents but I have to take his word for that – looks and smells clean and that the service is sincerely friendly, not forced  ‘friendly’ or even worse, ‘They’ve booked, so we don’t need to bother any more…”. If we’re considering booking a restaurant table, I am very concerned to read about the quality of the food. It’s no good going somewhere  sweet smelling, with spotless Gents’ loos if the food is dull or badly cooked.

However, one can’t always visit in person, and like many, I am more influenced by other users’ reports of what they actually experienced rather than the glowing description of facilities by the biassed owner/manager who has never tried them out for himself and in his enthusiasm risks -inviting disappointment, by over-promising the delights.

So, we are very happy to use TripAdvisor and are very grateful for nice comments written there by our Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn guests. Thank you!

I shall write a post soon, I fear, trying to define more clearly  what we mean by ‘The best’, ‘perfection’, ‘luxury’ ‘top quality’ – all descriptions that we hear about Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns…

 

The Age of Innocence?

Our little Parwich Book Club has come of age!  All five original members are alive and well and still reading, 21 years later. One of the five left some years ago to move to Yorkshire with her husband and family but still returns once or twice  year, and most certainly at Christmas and 21st birthdays. Read more…

60 Years Ago Today

It is extraordinary to think that for most people in this country the queen is just there, she has been queen all their life. The other thing is that most of you will be thinking, gosh, 6o years ago, that is history, how incredible to be that old.

It is, but for once I’d say, and what a privilege to be that old, to be able to remember the day of the Coronation, the excitement and pride, and concern, too, for this young woman who was taking on so seriously the commitment that life (her accident of birth) had imposed upon her.

And my memories, and emotions, were those of an even younger girl, a 12 year old at boarding school in Central Africa. No telly in the whole of Southern Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe then was)  let alone for the Peter’s Diocesan School for Girls in Bulawayo  to watch. I suppose we must have listened to the coronation service on the wireless and later saw it all on news reels at the cinema in the holidays, probably several times. It all seems very familiar.

The excitement and sense of joy and patriotism in our school was intense. Our nuns were quick to point out the significance of having a woman on the throne, although at that stage it had never occurred to me that girls/women were assumed to be secondary, and inferior, to men simply because they didn’t wear trousers. At a girls only school, one accepted that girls did all have responsibility for themselves and others – and respect if it were due to them- as individuals rather than because of their gender.

A new Elizabethan Age? A young and beautiful woman, a mother of two tinies, taking on such responsibility, and for life? The pomp, the ceremony, the promise, after the ravages and death of the Second World War, the joy… We felt it all, all those thousands of miles away.

Our nuns, not known for their frivolity or generosity, let alone any hint of self-indulgence, set the seal on the significance of the day. We were each given at lunch a bottle of Coco Cola. We knew then that June 2nd 1953 was uniquely special.

And, 60 years later, I feel privileged to be able to share those memories with you, and celebrate! Perhaps this time with more than a Coke!

Dunge Valley Gardens

IMG_1966When a visit to Dunge Valley Gardens was first suggested by the Parwich Ladies’ Group, quite frankly I was not wildly excited. I think it was the name which conjured up  images in my mind of  gunge, dungeons… quite very childish I know, but words do intrigue me.

Curiosity took over. I had actually never heard of the gardens, and they’re in Cheshire, and grow Rhododendrons and Azaleas, which I do love but which hate our limestone soils so we can only grow them in pots (ours outside Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns are looking particularly lovely at the moment).

Barns in the evening sun LO 17:5:13 IMG_7308

Our Azaleas we have to grow in tubs

It was chilly on Wednesday when we went, and grey and drizzly – not ideal weather – and we all were glad of winter coats with hoods! The gardens are technically Kettleshulme, about ten or fifteen minutes the other side of Buxton, but you would not find them by accident. It seemed miles up a windy and seriously narrow track, and then – with quite a sense of relief – suddenly once chances upon a fine looking stone house, with a pleasant enough  garden in front of it, with paths leading off it.

So it is a garden you explore, never quite knowing what you are going to come to next. There were wonderful specimens of Rhododendrons and other plants and trees, streams to cross and slopes to climb. It was lovely. Had the weather been kinder, it would have felt even lovelier. If you go, do take warm clothes and sensible shoes. Some if the paths were quite slippery even though obviously carefully maintained. There is a greenhouse with lots of healthy looking interesting plants for sale, which seemed quite expensive but maybe I’m out of touch.

IMG_1979IMG_1978Another colourful clump! IMG_1977Fire-like yellows and orange IMG_1976Lots of water - streams and waterfalls at every turn!IMG_1975IMG_1974There were some interesting trees too IMG_1973A glimpse of the house through the trees IMG_1972IMG_1970IMG_1966

 

 


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