Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sunday Roast!

Sunday, June 21, Flimwell to Stanford Le Hope


Hello again! Wedding plans have been keeping us pretty busy (but we're enjoying every minute!), so I haven't had much free time to get on here, but...I'm back! ;)
Day 5 took us to Bev's sister Lauren's for Mass and Sunday Roast; we weren't quite sure what that was, but it turns out that Sunday Roast is simply family dinner, served at the pub of your choice! Let's start from Jeannie's and head to the Old White Horse!


Jeannie just had a major reno done in her lovely home. What's cool about this tidy kitchen (except for our mess all over the counter) is that you're looking at a convection cooker (that's "stove" to us Yanks) washer/dryer, dishwasher, fridge and freezer (all hidden in the lower cupboards)! Isn't that amazing?! Just don't buy too many groceries at a time...

 I had to add this beautiful view out Jeannie's kitchen window into her green garden. (and dish liquid here is called "fairy liquid", too cute!)
We had to get moving pretty early since Lauren & Steve's was an hour away; we met her son, daughter-in-law and grandbabies, Georgie & Alfie (THE cutest twins you've ever seen!). Then Lauren took us to Mass (in her Jag! my first time ever!) at Our Lady & St. Joseph's, where we discovered Mass really is universal! No difference here! 

Blessed Mother statue in the church. See? It's the same :)

Tabernacle & baptismal font. Feels like home :)
Jack had a nice conversation with the pastor, who gave us an interesting book on the parish. The author happened to be at Mass that day, and autographed it for us!
Prayers now said, let's get to the eatin'!

Side note: this is Tilly & Teddy ♥ We loved them! Now I want a bichon.

Yippee! Dinner! Pubs are THE place to eat in England. Excellent food, good service, great atmosphere, and super family friendly.

Here we go! I played it safe and chose just turkey (Linds & Jack had mixed meats of lamb, beef, pork & turkey), served with potatoes, parsnips (yum!), peas & carrots and Yorkshire pudding. The gravy is heavenly, and I ate every single bite.
 

Time for dessert! Linds & I ordered Bailey's cheesecake (above) and treacle pudding (below) to share; she liked the cheesecake and I loved the pudding, so we each ate our favorite!

The dessert pics aren't great, but the pudding is actually sponge cake (which is extremely popular here), with syrupy brown sugar and butter topping. Oh. My. Goodness. I usually pass up desserts for an extra glass of wine ;) but I'm so glad I had this! Desserts are served with custard or cream, so of course we chose cream (oops, I thought it was whipped cream), and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven!

These two photos are just a portion of the area around the pub. Like I mentioned earlier, most pubs seem to be extremely family oriented, and have lots of play areas for little ones. C'mon US, let's get on board with this! ;)
 
Folks just relaxing, kids playing, sipping a cider...now THAT'S the life! (kinda like this vacation!)
Since our bellies are full, we're going back to Lauren's for a nice visit with family. And a nap!
 
Day 6 will take us to Brighton Beach, so bring your suits!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Knight's Tale! (and a Severed Head or Two...)

Saturday, June 20, Flimwell to Hever Castle in Kent


This was a day we had really been looking forward to; not only because we were going to visit the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (where the oldest part of the castle dates back to 1270!), but we were going to watch a real joust! Huzzah!


We're traveling to Hever in Kent, about 30 miles southeast of London, and Jeannie came along for the day!
 
The castle is famous for award-winning gardens as well as its rich history; this was just the beginning of acres of lushly landscaped grounds!
 
This beauty caught my eye as we made our way towards to castle.

How impressive, even from a distance!

It was a bit misty and chilly, so we snapped some pictures and headed toward the warmth of the tour! No pictures allowed inside, though :(


Now we're inside the courtyard, after crossing the moat. Once inside the castle, we marveled over Tudor furnishings and tapestries, a 16th century collection of portraits, a handwritten vellum Book of Hours from 1450, and the costumed figures of Henry VIII and his six wives in the Long Gallery! (We all know him as terribly large and unattractive, but he wasn't always that way; best guesses are that his decline began when he suffered a fall from a horse. But let's not forget the syphilis! Ugh!)
 
A view by the gate near the moat.

I just really like this one ☺


Back outside, we walked around the side...
 
 Awesome!
 
The Astor's own Tudor Village! Imagine having your wedding here! Sigh.

There was a company party the day were visited. Very tempting to crash...(hey, we've crashed a wedding before, we're rebels!)
 

Our beauty in the one of the many flower mazes. There's really so much to see here!
We had a spot of lunch in the restaurant, the set off for the Queen's box to watch the joust!
 

 We got in as soon as the gates opened, and took our seats. It's quite empty in this pic, but the stands and the outer grass areas filled up quickly.
 
The kids were called to participate in a parade to usher in the Knights; look at the little guy near the center, staring at the "severed head" in his hands! And the other little fellow in red who dropped his! Ooops! (I hope it's not a likeness of Anne...)
 

Here come the Knights! We were assigned to root for the Blue Team, Sir Sam of Hever and Sir Ashley of Hampshire! Go Blue!
 
Our heroes!
 

Time to do battle! The events consisted of jousting, ring jousting and some swordplay; on a "comedic" note, a girl page was dragged behind a horse for "punishment"! I was so worried about her getting hurt, but all the folks around us just laughed and laughed...I told ya, those Brits have a wicked sense of humor! 
 
Some hand-to-hand combat; come on Sir Sam!
The show was exciting and well done. We really were enjoying this!

video
And Sir Sam takes the prize for the today!
 
Lindsay snagged a prize herself: the tournament winner and his page! Lucky girl ;)

I saw a great photo op on the way to the car - look at those beautiful creatures! And the horses weren't bad, either! ;) Bev & I fancied Sir Steven of Porlock on the left, now that's our knight in shining armor!
 
 Another brilliant day comes to an end! What to do at the end of every good day on vacation in England?! Silly you, we hit the pub! 
 

The Hand and Septre near Bev's Dad's house on the way home. Aspall cider was one of Jack's favorites, but then again, all the ciders there ended up being on Jack's "favorites" list! There was a cricket game going on at the field across the street.


Pub fun! Why not?! We're on vacation in England, just attended a jousting match and are now enjoying a drink at a local pub! (this particular pub would host my only night of drinking excess later in the trip, oi!)
What a great life!
 
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Castle (with Bats!) and Rye (hold the mayo)!

Day 3 Flimwell to Bodiam Castle, Robertsbridge; Bodiam to Rye


Day three kept us closer to home, but just as busy. Wait till you see where we're going!

I know it's weird, but I like Jeannie's front door, because it doesn't have a doorknob. I also love how houses are numbered in England: 1,2,3,4,etc. Imagine that!
 
 We're leaving Flimwell and headed to Robertsbridge to Bodiam Castle, a 14th century castle build by a knight!  
 
As we walked toward the castle, I could only imagine what was inside!
 
Bodiam is one of Lee & Bev's favorite places. What a beautiful backdrop!

Across the moat and inside we go!
 
There are only a few areas left with a "floor"; most of the castle is exterior. This shows common dress and food of the day!

You may not be able to see them, but look closely in the far right corner; bats love Bodiam. They warned us not to use flash, so as not to disturb the little fellows. No worries, mate!  

Looking down at the interior from the top. It's amazing to think we're climbing on remains of a structure built in 1385!

A view of the surrounding area beyond.

The chapel window.
 
If I remember correctly, this is the Lord's Hall.
 
Looking into the pantry and kitchen.
We stayed here for almost 2 hours, walking and looking and touching and taking photos; then the day began to really heat up, and we were hungry. Again!

Bev found us the nicest places to eat and drink! This pub is a "freehouse", meaning it's owned independently of the brewery that supplies it.

You could tell a woman owned this pub by the lovely, tasteful decorations. I chatted with her and the grumpy bugger of a barkeep (who softened a bit after awhile). He called Bev a "foreigner", which we thought was a hoot!   

The bartender asked if I wanted to buy the place, and I don't know if he was joking or not. Sigh...would I?! That's a definite yes! (and only a winning lottery ticket away!)

THIS was Lindsay's lunch. Four sausages and mash. She ate EVERY bite of it! I'm tellin' ya, we really worked up some massive appetites!
Now we're going to Rye, a charming town in East Sussex with a population of just over 4,000. You'll love it!

Wandering down the street toward St. Mary's Church of Rye.

How cool is this? I know him! ;) (well, at least know of him!)
We're going into the church to climb up and out of the bell tower, where the clock dates from 1561, and is one of the oldest working church clock towers in the country!

Ummm, good thing we weren't claustrophobic. Lead the way, Linds! Each stairway and hallway was this narrow. We had to back out to let someone headed in the other direction pass by!

A view from the top! That's the English Channel just two miles away!

Looking east.

The rooftops of Rye.
 
These guys are called "Quarter Boys".

Back downstairs at the gift shoppe next door, Bev and I both were each going to purchase a watercolor painting of this corner with its lovely cobblestone streets. We had to decide against it, since they probably wouldn't travel well :(

Looking down towards the famous Mermaid Inn, well known by smugglers in the 18th and 19th centuries!

You can see why it's a popular place to sketch and paint! Tudor, tudor, everywhere!

The House Opposite (literally). We loved that all houses are named! See that crumpled bush on the right? Ask Lee what happened there... ;)

And right down the street, the House With Two Front Doors! Too cute! Some of my pics are a bit off center as I was either on the run to keep up, or someone was about to walk into my shot!

My Blacksheep found his namesake house!

The Old Bell Inn, built in 1390, houses a secret tunnel that connects to the
Mermaid Inn! We would have loved to stop in for a pint, but it probably would have knocked us out in that heat!
And besides, places close early here, although pubs tend to close at 3 and reopen at 6.
 
We opted instead for a "milkshake" from this nice bloke (it was the only place open!). Linds and I had a milk chocolate, tequila, lime zest & sea salt milkshake that we were told was a local favorite. It was verrrryyy yummy, and Jack was happy with his double chocolate something drink!

We passed the local police station on the way to the car. Guess there's not much crime here, heh? I love that you can either use the yellow phone or get online if you need help after 2 pm!
Ok, back to the house!
 
Dinner! A lovely French wine, olives and cheese, Bev's prawn chips, and what seemed to be our nightly sausage rolls. Heaven!
 
Grab your chainmail, tomorrow we're jousting!
 

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