20 June 2019 - 20th July 2019
Arriving in England from Spain we picked up the car from Essex and managed to have a lunch with an old school friend, Charlotte organised the reunion with Daryl, who I had not seen for 50 years who joined us for lunch. We had a great chat catching up on news about people I had not seen for 50 years. We were all quite reluctant to say goodbye.
Ross and I set off the next day for Northants and our next adventure.
We arrived in Northants as the GPS failed on us, this appears to be an ongoing problem from now on. We saw a place with a similar name to where we were going and drove up. The main house was unattended, so I walked around to what turned out to be the housekeepers place and asked the way. She was a bit snippy saying they put the sign up at the gate so people staying at other places do not bother them!! Then she became really nice and told me about the property and how to get to where I needed to go, just a short way back up the street.
We still could not find it so stopped to check our details and a man came out of the house and said are you lost Australians!! Hurrah we were found. The accommodation was small only one bedroom but gorgeous. Everything works really well, and the arrival care package had enough food and other stuff to keep us going for days.
I was very surprised how beautiful this area was, lovely rose covered villages, sweet cottages and winding country lanes just as one imagines England to be. Our local pub was the Witch and Sow and did a very good meal. The local shop was in walking distance and had everything one could need.
We set out one day to visit some of the famous local house like Althorpe house - Lady Di’s home, it was closed as were a couple of other places. Eventually we found Cotton Manor Gardens. They were so lovely all the roses smelt like roses it was a wonderful experience walking in the gardens. They had a couple of live flamingos in the lake. I thought they were fake until they moved. The house was not open as it is a home and not large.
We were invited to Neighbourhood drinks, which were great fun and we met lots of people including a man who recognised us from the Queen Mary 2 crossing, he had been on board and seen my “who do you think you are” amazing in a small village (650 people) to meet another QM2 traveller. We were invited to a quiz night that was great fun and our team came 2nd quite pleased with that.
A visit to Market Harborough for shopping, not a very exciting town, but the trip took us past Nasby battlegrounds were a series of battles occurred on 14.6 1645 between the roundheads and the Royalists. The Royalist were totally out maneuverer and the decisive loss was instrumental in them losing the war. One of Lady Di’s ancestors lost his life leaving a very young son as the next earl.
We managed to visit Althorpe House and see the Lady Di memorial, although the whole place seems like a Lady Di memorial and I felt it was a bit over the top. After all they have some very famous ancestors who died in brave ways and they do not have memorials. The Spencer's are related to heaps of people including Churchill via his mother. The 1st Earl gained the title in 1603 when he was an ambassador for the king. The 3rd Earl the Red Earl founded the Royal Agricultural Society and breed bulls unusually as the Hall normally just runs sheep and deer. We saw the Present Earl (Lady Di’s brother) signing his book at the shop. One of the ladies at our quiz night was from Althorpe village and told us lots of gossip, which I promised not to repeat.
A quick trip to London was in order for me to renew my passport. It cost an extra £75 to have it processed outside Australia. The lass serving me told me smugly that I should have renewed it before I left to save the £75. She was not so smug when I said I had not needed a new one 3 years ago when I left.
On a sunny classical English day, we took ourselves off to Foxton Locks, we had been told they were worth a visit and they were. Building work on the locks started in 1810 and took four years. There are 10 locks in two staircases with 18 gates and form one of the longest ladders in England. I help open and close a few of the gates, which reminded me of doing the same thing on the Norfolk Broads as a child.
The Steam and Heavy Horse festival came to town, this meant a fish and chippy was set up in a field not far away. The whole village went out on Friday night for Fish and Chips. The queue went on forever. Good fish and chips, we sat in the beer tent and listened to live music on a balmy summer evening. The next day the festival opened, and we had a fun day checking out the steam trains, automobiles and other contraptions. The heavy horses were huge and so well groomed, they shone in the sun and seemed proud to be on show.