Manors one day, Paris the next
Apparently it was possible for me to go a day without a blog (DAD), but wow you have been missing out..
So when I left off last we spent Monday night in London at the Theatre which was great however Sarah and I sat there with our eyes growing heavy and then eventually closing very frequently. Our seats werent the best but it cost us like 25 pounds for the ticket, dinner and a wine at Kitchen Italia. We got a ticket for Amy to say thanks so she met us there also. We bought her a post card with the Tower Brdge on it and a thank-you note as it was her favourite place that she had taken us to. Dinner at Kitchen Italia was in a cool little underground restaurant with long bench style tables. The wine was great although Sarah was like finished by the time I got my meal which consisted of a kilo of pasta with 4 prawns and a bit of tomato sauce. I ended up having my glass of wine, Sarah's glass of wine, A berry mojhito and a cider for dinner..Yum!
We got straight on the tube after as we were all pretty tired after a long day - Amy at work, Sarah and I shopping, eating, etc etc. We did stop for the biggest coffee I have ever had at a Costa on the way.
So early night, early rise on Tuesday again. There seems to be a trend forming. We had to check out at 9am but were pretty organised as we had been up for 4 hours already! After a quick pack up, checks of e-mails and even an episode of Gossip Girl, it was time to check out and begin our journey off to Oxford. We caught the train from Paddington. There are 4 trains an hour, 3 express and 1 slow. Yes we made it on the slow one! It actually worked out well though as we were keen to sit and we didn't want to arrive earlier than 11 anyway. The train was really nice and it was so relaxing to sit there and just stare out at the countryside.
When we arrived at the airport we were met by Burnie. Em explained him as being a big, solid military looking fellow. We walked out of the platform and there was pretty much only one man there fitting the description, he seemed to know it was us also - must have been something to do with the backpack and front day pack we were both sporting. Tourists much?
After a 20 minute drive back to the manor we drove into the big grand gates of the Longworth. It was truly amazing and we went slightly speechless. We were greeted by Emily, her mother Sarah, Freddy, Aurther. The new addition Teddy was upstairs sleeping. We sat down and caught up on everything, and Freddy dissapeared and came back with a flower from the garden for me, from that point we would become very good friends! We had a few cups of tea and then we were keen to set out on the tour. As David was not around to cover the grand tour, we were led by Burnie as he had the second best knowledge on all of the history.
The tour ended up taking around 1.5 hours I think! We saw everything and trust me, there was a lot to see. I will not even pretend to remember everything we saw/heard, hopefully the pictures help out in showing the brillance of it all. Out the back on some of the hectares of land there was a paddock of cows. They were kept in by a lovely little wall called a 'Haha'! The 'Witch' tree was to the left of this, which was an awesome looking spirally tree which could 'walk' according to some. Next to this was the biggest Oak tree I have ever seen, as well as a smaller tree where John Walton, his wife and their whippets ashes were laid many years earlier. Next we went off through the gardens, there were lovely square ponds there but they had a wire construction over them as Burnie explained that the boys kept falling in! Through the gate there was the church. This was so amazing, I walked around taking the scenery in bit by bit and I am not a particuarly religious person...All the famous Granville's names were on the wall. Granville, what a funny name!? The church was fairly large and apparently gets completely full on some Sundays. All of this lies within the gates of Oxford. It is very expensive to upkeep all of this so they throw fetes annually which earn around 5,000 pounds. There are all sorts of fun sounding activities as well as a firework display, bon fire, hog roast which feeds around 500 people and much more. There were gates around the church with many graves around them - one of these being the grave of David Kelly. The name rang a bell however Burnie was quick to bring us up to speed on the controversy that occured during the Iraq war and how he had commited suicide shortly after on the Hill which the Manor overlooked (Harrow Hill?). Apparently the press turn up all the time however they can never find his grave, I will not leak the secret of why just in case any reporters are reading over my blogs daily.
There were miles and miles of wheat fields out the front and somehow they all get harvested within a day when they are ready. They were not as tall as they should be at this time of the year as London have not seen as much rain as in previous years at the same time. On that subject, we never saw rain in the UK!!
In the ponds around the place there were wooden planks sticking out, this was so when the hedgehogs fell in at night they could climb out!
There was a vegie patch which had everything imaginable - all of which we would later try in the BEST homemade dinner ever. There were horse stables, a meeting hall which used to hold scout meets around the corner. Burnie told us there were bats in there and there may be one in the curtain, when he opened it I never expected to see something the size of a tiny mouse!
There were some small cottages which had been extended onto the Maor to accommodate extra people. I have never seem as many rooms in my life as when we did the tour of the manor, I later asked Em how many there were and she had no idea! There were three levels and some of the rooms had not been touched since the last occupants had owned them - a long time ago! There were all sorts of trinkets from the war, Downstairs there were speacialy tiny rooms for the servants, all down one side as they were not allowed to walk through the same doors as the residents! There were buttons in every room so the owners would be able to ring the bell whenever they needed assistance, including to get out of the bath! Moving onto that the bath was amazing and anyone you speak to within the Manor will tell you that apparently the Queen has the same ones. There were actually photos of some of the Queen with relatives from many generations ago. There were awesome chests in some of the rooms with 'WALTON' on them, all coming from wars.
We finished up our tour insdie and Freddy handed me a card which ready 'You are invited to my picnic, it starts at 3pm'. He showed me a picture on the front which had the Manor on it, he pointed to a window and said he would come into the kitchen at 3pm exactly and pick us up to begin the picnic. We were going to have fruit, flapjacks and a choice of milk or water!
I spoke to David on Skype at 3 much to Freddy's annoyance and he ran in every 2 minutes to try and drag me to the picnic . David was a little weary as it was 11pm in Singapore so we didn;t speak for too long. Plus Freddy was pretty much going crazy, By this stage Aurthur had also woken and was ready to join in the fun. Off went to eat, drink and play with the buckets of toys set up. We had a lovely time, my highlight was eating a banana and not feeling guilty for spending my weekly wage on it! Please see photo when I can work this thing out. I even played soccer with the boys. We had so much fun that Sarah and I went up to sit on our beds for 10 minutes later and they were SO comfortable that we ended up napping until dinner time. Which again, was amazing consisting of beans with pesto, corgettes, potatoes, cabagge, salad all freshly picked that evening by Freddy and Aurthur, along with the best sausages I have ever had, We retired to bed early again that evening, I had a feeling the next morning would not be such as early rise for us in those beds and I was right! am getting a little tired so I will take a mini break and continue with my next entry for the 13th shortly.