Hot Rod & Custom Car Show 2017


Just spent an enjoyable couple of hours at the Hot Rod & Custom Car Show, held at Stansted House in Hampshire.

The weather did rather let us down but the cars managed to shine through even if the sun didn’t.

I’ll let the cars do the talking, take a look at the following photos. See what you think.

A Birthday Treat


It was my wife’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and as a special treat I took her up to London for a bit of sight-seeing, a meal or two and a show. We stayed at the Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square which, although not cheap, is very handy for all the touristy things in our great capital city.

Citadines

Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square

A surprise notification of a parcel delivery delayed our departure, causing us to arrive in the late afternoon. On arrival we were efficiently checked in, and soon installed in our room. As we were meeting up with our granddaughter and her husband later for a meal we didn’t immediately head out to explore. Our decision was cemented by the fact that it was raining outside. We therefore, elected to relax a little, with a cup of tea.

Later that evening we met up with Hayley and Nick, at Skylon where we had a very enjoyable meal.

To start, Gerry had Pressed Watermelon (with Avocado, Shimeji mushrooms, yellow baby plum tomato, lemongrass, chickweed), Hayley had Smoked Salmon cannelloni (Creme fraiche, gribiche, salmon caviar, chervil). Nick and I both elected to have the Pan seared foie gras (Pickled cherries, apricot gel, toasted hazelnuts, oats, nasturtium leaves, cherry blossom).

For the main course I had Scottish Angus Cross beef fillet (Wild garlic, grelot onions, crispy shallots) while the others all chose the Roasted Lamb cannon (Crispy belly, wild mushrooms, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes).

A hard act to follow but none of us could resist having a dessert. Gerry, a sucker for strawberries, had the Gariguette Strawberries (Elderflower meringue, rose jelly, strawberry sorbet) while the rest of us plumped for the Iced Cappuccino Souffle (Bailey’s chocolate bon-bon). Gerry’s dessert looked fabulous ….

Restaurant

Skylon – Gariguette Strawberries

All of the food was superb and even better, that evening, there was a fifty percent discount celebrating Skylons new chef. Suitably sated and buoyed by a great evening we trudged back over the river to our hotel for a good nights rest.

The next morning we headed out to do a bit of touristy exploring. Our initial target destination was Westminster Abbey. Neither of us having been there before, despite many visits to London.

Whitehall – London

Travelling on foot we strolled through Whitehall Gardens, situated between the Whitehall buildings and the embankment….

There are three statues within Whitehall Gardens. They commemorate William Tyndale an English scholar who became well-known for his translation of the Bible into English, Sir Henry Bartle Frere  a British colonial administrator who had a successful career in India eventually rising to become Governor of Bombay and General Sir James Outram an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Looking across the river we had a distant view of the Shard seeming surrounded by the many cranes that dot the London skyline.

Shard – London

None of those cranes are anywhere near the Shard, just an illusion of perspective.

Also across the river is the iconic London Eye, towering over the nearby buildings. Principle amongst them is London’s County Hall.

London Eye & London County Hall

As you can see from the sky, the weather was very dull. Although, thankfully, not a drop of rain.

As we strolled along the embankment we came across the Battle of Britain Memorial Sculpture. A very striking work which certainly captures the emotion and horror of the times.

By now we were in sight of the Palace of Westminster, aka the Houses of Parliament.

We arrived at Westminster Abbey shortly after eleven AM and joined the throng making their way inside this ancient building.

Not unexpected, but security is tight and, from the notices, I was concerned that my camera bag might be deemed too big. However, after a short wait in a queue and a cursory check by the security guard we were in. Unfortunately, no photography of any kind is allowed inside the abbey. So the previous shots are all either outside or in and around the cloisters. However, they do make photos available for download, free. So here are a few ….

After so much history and culture we were not a little peckish. So we partook of a rather nice lunch in the Abbey Cellarium Cafe where Gerry had the Bream and I had the Chicken & Leek Pie.

After lunch we strolled over to Covent Garden. Enroute we passed the Cenotaph and the Monument to the Women of World War II. The Cenotaph was originally a temporary structure, erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. It was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial.

The Monument to the Women of World War II depicts 17 sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of jobs women undertook in World War II, and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war. They include uniforms as worn by the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, and a police overall.

Also along the route we passed Downing Street, Horse Guards and the Coliseum Theatre, our venue for later this evening.

Covent Garden is a district of Westminster and is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market which is now a popular shopping and tourist site. The district is a mix of independent shops, street performers and historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

As we arrived there was an escapologist reaching his grand finale.  We spent an hour or so browsing the many shops and stalls intermittently being entertained. There was a juggler ….

Juggler – Covent Garden

…… a contortionist or, as he would have it, a Yogi ….

Contortionist – Covent Garden

And then while we were sitting having a cup of tea we were entertained musically by an opera singer, followed by a string quartet ….

After a super day we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before heading out to the theatre where our day was completed by possibly the best show in London at the moment, Bat out of Hell, the musical.

View From The Conservatory


I was both astounded and disappointed to discover that my last “View” was posted just over a year ago. I know that we have been busy and there have been other more recent posts.

Admittedly, the conservatory has been rebuilt and we did take off to Australia for three months followed by a month in France and a fortnight in Antigua. There have been several lesser UK based jaunts. However, we have also spent time at home and I have had my camera to hand. So, feeling suitably ashamed, here is a compilation of pictures taken over the last few weeks. We are now into the UK summer season and the garden plants are growing like crazy.

First up then is a regular subject, squirrels. Once again we are being visited by the albino variety.

Albino

Albino Squirrel

As you can see they do have the requisite pink eyes.

Albino1

Albino Squirrel

Here in the UK squirrels are sometimes referred to as tree rats. The example above is the most rat-like squirrel I have ever seen.

Of course we do have an abundance of the grey variety. Just a few days ago there were four greys in the garden. Of course my camera was out of reach and since these guys were raiding the bird feeders, any movement on my part just scared them away.

I thought that the pure grey squirrels would have attacked the albino, but apparently not. Judging by the shenanigans going on, high up in the trees, I believe the albino may have found a partner. Maybe we’ll see some piebald babes around this year.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many flowers on show already. So, just a few snaps ….

Iris_Flag

Iris

This Iris was discovered in a shady overgrown area of the garden. It was not planted by us and, as we are the only owners of this property since it was built, we have no idea how the Iris arrived. Pretty though.

We have a few rose bushes, which we did plant….

…… and a few other plants that we bought as plugs for potting on ….

And finally, for now ….

Lilac1

We don’t know what this is. The plant is a climber and for the moment it is in a pot on our deck and is entwining itself around the handrail.

Antigua – Beaches, Boats and Bars


Antigua is said to have 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Although we did visit a number of beaches, we didn’t try to visit all of them. Our visits tended to be towards the later end of the days and deliberately so. Antigua is a popular stop for cruise liners and there is  a never-ending supply of tour companies willing to ferry cruise passengers to the beaches.

Typically the liners only stop for one day so the passengers only have limited time available to them and since they have to be back on board around four in the afternoon, most of  the beaches generally start to empty by three as the tour guides head back to St Johns.

Jolly Beach is a prime example. As you can see, the beach is jammed solid with tourists, not.

Antigua - Jolly Beach

Antigua – Jolly Beach

On Jolly Beach,as on most Antiguan beaches, you will find the ubiquitous bar/restaurant. In this case it is called Castaways and here we availed ourselves of some well chilled Wadadli beers and a spot of lunch.

Darkwood Beach

Darkwood Beach

Antigua’s beaches are a superb basis for observing sunsets. Darkwood Beach is especially good for this, especially when one can imbibe an ice cool rum punch or partake of a tasty Goat Curry or perhaps the tenderest Jerk Pork Chop.

Antigua - Sunset from Darkwood Beach

Antigua – Sunset from Darkwood Beach

Don’t forget that Rum Punch, Mango Daquiri or perhaps a bog standard G & T, while watching the daily sunset.

Antigua - Coco Beach

Antigua – Coco Beach

The view from Shirley Heights is simply stunning, in all directions.

Antigua - View across Mamora Bay & St James Bay

Antigua – View across Mamora Bay & St James Bay

Antigua - English Harbour & Nelsons Dockyard

Antigua – English Harbour & Nelsons Dockyard

Another quiet beach is West Coast Valley Church Beach, home to The Nest Beach Bar. Again, this is a great place to watch the sun set.

Antigua - West Coast Valley Church Beach

Antigua – West Coast Valley Church Beach

Perhaps I was wrong to call this beach quiet. It was nearly totally devoid of people. However, the folks in The Nest were playing some music, very loud. But that was alright as it was a recording of a reggae based concert which featured a guest appearance by guitarist Carlos Santana.

One word, Superb.

By now, viewing these photographs you must be getting the idea that Antiqua is an awful place to visit. And I will admit that the four of us did mention, regularly, just what a chore it was spending two weeks there.

The bad news is that, during our stay, we failed to observe a truly orange sunset. Which of course means that we may well be forced to go back again and try to capture that classic shot.

Moving briefly away from the beaches, we took a trip down to English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard. So here are a few more views which include boats

Perhaps most interesting is the  small boat that isn’t in the water.

Antigua - The craft that James "Tiny" Little rowed across the Atlantic

Antigua – The craft that James “Tiny” Little rowed across the Atlantic

James began his journey on 21st January, 2005 from San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands and travelled 3,479 to Antigua. His epic journey took 116 days and he arrived on Antigua 17th May, 2005.

The following shows his daily routine which, if my arithmetic is right, means he was rowing for over twelve hours every day.

Antigua - James Littles rowing schedule

Antigua – James Littles rowing schedule

That’s no mean feat especially when he didn’t allow time for a beer. Just reading about it has given me a raging thirst, so here’s a bottle of the local brew.

Wadadli - Antiguan Sunshine In A Bottle

Wadadli – Antiguan Sunshine In A Bottle

And just for good measure, before I sign out, here are a few more snaps from around Antigua’s shores…..

 

Antigua – Bettys Hope


bettyshope

Antigua – Betty’s Hope Plantation

From Wikipedia:

Betty’s Hope was a sugarcane plantation in Antigua. It was established in 1650, shortly after the island had become an English colony, and flourished as a successful agricultural industrial enterprise during the centuries of slavery. It was the first large-scale sugar plantation to operate in Antigua and belonged to the Codrington family from 1674 until 1944. Christopher Codrington, later Captain General of the Leeward Islands, acquired the property in 1674 and named it Betty’s Hope, after his daughter.

Just a few of the photographs taken during our visit to this site.