Family and friends

On Friday the 9th Mark came to our hotel and we had breakfast together. I had a hearty meal knowing that we would not stop on our road trip back to London. Together we went to Denton Hall Turret.

This is part of Hadrian’s Wall and something I really wanted to see part of. As it was snowing we decided to go for a warming drink. We also needed to shop for some padkos and went to Morrisons. After we did our shopping we sat down in the café and had hot chocolate (£5.25). We dropped Mark off at home and left Newcastle at 10h30, driving past the Angel of the North. We had one pit stop at a Sainsbury’s for espressi (£3) and arrived in London at 15h45. We checked into our B&B and relaxed before changing for Shul. The service was quite different to the last Friday night service I went to. After that we went for a family meal at Jon’s parents. They had put on quite a spread and there were 23 of us there for dinner.

On Saturday morning I went to Shul and Dave went into London. He wanted to know more about his train and I could see no reason for him to sit through the morning Service. Joshua did fantastically well in reading his Torah portion. After his Bar Mitzvah service we had snacks at the Shul and then I went back to Talya for lunch. Dave fetched me and we relaxed before heading over to Bushey to see Adam, Cara, Noa and Jude. From there it was off to Joshua’s party. We were treated to an amazing evening of good food and wine, and fantatic company. How blessed Dave and I were to be a part of this simcha.

Sunday morning we popped in at Talya and Jon at 9h30. We had wanted to go shopping before leaving London but the shops only open at 11am on a Sunday! At 10h40 we made our way to Anne and Stuart. They put on a delicious feast for us. Roast lamb with all the trimmings and a crumble for dessert. We spent the entire afternoon talking and catching up and I got to spend more time with my Aunt. It is special to see Evie, my mom’s sister. We left for Heathrow at 16h30. For some reason the petrol gauge was on its own mission. We had put in £10 (7.94L) in the morning and when we left Abingdon the readout said we had 55 miles left in the tank. This was the exact distance to Europcar so Dave did not want to risk running out of fuel. We put in £6.01 (4.63L) and the readout went down to 35 miles! So, we stopped again and put in another £5 (3.29L) and the readout did not budge. Dave had a pitstop and when he got back into the car and restarted it the readout jumped from empty to 175 miles left in the tank! We wanted to give the car back as empty as possible as we pay for the full tank option where Europcar are responsible for putting in fuel. We arrived at their depot at 18h05 and caught the bus to terminal 2. There was no-one at the Premium check-in so that went smoothly. My LAGS were checked at security by the friendliest security official we have come across while travelling. After that we headed for the lounge and got sorted out before going to taste and buy some whisky. We then went back to the lounge and relaxed before our flight. This was the fourth flight in a row where our inflight entertainment system was not working. As we had paid for exit row seats we chose not to move but that of course did not leave Dave with anything to watch while I slept.

I managed 3 hours and 40 minutes of sleep which left me feeling exhausted when we landed. We breezed through passport control, collected and dropped off our luggage and went straight to the lounge. Dave started with breakfast and I went for a shower. Feeling clean and refreshed I sat down to catch up on emails. By the time we got into Cape Town at 15h00 I was ready for bed! We still had to come in to work, unpack and eat dinner. And by evening I was feeling sick. Which is why I have been remiss in writing about the last few days. We had an amazing holiday!


Going to see Mark in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

We were packed and ready to go by 8:30. Dave went to settle our bar bill (£31) and 10 minutes later we were on the road. It was 7degC and raining and that didn’t change for much of the day. We drove through the Pennines and there was still snowing on the ground. The Warcorp Training Grounds were in use, not a nice day to out in my opinion.

We stopped at The Teesdale Hotel in Middleton-in-Teesdale for espressi (£3.60) before heading to Corbridge. The Roman bridge brings you into the town centre. Sadly the Roman site was closed so we could not go in and see the ruins. We followed the Course of Hadrians Wall into Newcastle-upon-Tyne and arrived in the city at 12:40. Our first stop was to see where Mark lives and collect him for our tour around the city. After offloading the car at the hotel we walked into town.

Our first stop was St. Nicholas Cathedral which has some exceptional stained glass windows. We had espressi at Dobsons Great Coffee (£5.25) and then walked through Grainger Market.

I would do all my shopping here if this was home. After doing shopping at Cotswold for training shoes and Lakeland for kitchen goodies we went to Fenwicks Food Hall.

Our first treat was macarons (£3.25) and then some locally roasted coffee. Dave and Mark chose Coffee Johnny (£4 for two double shots). We walked back to the hotel and dump the shopping then took the car into town. We started off at the pub at The Broad Chare. Dave had a Goose Honkers Ale, I had a Dog Dancer Cider and Mark had a Heidi Weisser. Really one of the nicest Weiss beers I’ve tried. We had a great meal, and evening and had an early night after dropping Mark off at home.

Our last day in The Lake District

When we left Brockwood Hall it was -1degC but within 5 minutes it was 1degC with a high of 4degC for the day. Our first stop was Ravenglass where we walked on frozen roads to the Roman Bath House ruins.

They were built in 130AD and the fort in the area was occupied until the end of the 4th Century. We had espressi and carrot cake at The Ratty Arms (£5.85) before we drove to Seascale. From here we could see the Isle of Man. We stopped at RB Woodall in Lane End where we bought Banty eggs (€1 for 6) and a pork pie. They are the suppliers of Cumberland sausages to Her Majesty the Queen of England. At Broughton-In-Furness we went to the Black Cock Inn for lunch. I had a half pint of Strongbow and Dave had Ambleside Taglag. We both had broccoli and Stilton soup (£12.45). From there we went to Melville Tyson for olives, another pork pie and a slice of ham and leek quiche. This will be our lunch while we drive to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We got back to Brockwood Hall at 14:25. Dave went to sauna and swim while I got stuck in to finishing my book. For the first time ever Dave finished his before I finish mine.

We went for a final whisky at the pub. A Glenlivet for me and a Singleton for Dave. We had a relaxing evening, finishing up food and wine and starting our packing.


Woke up this morning to the most stunning blanket of snow on the ground.

It was still snowing when we left at 9:50 and it didn’t stop till close to midday.

It was 1degC when we left and quickly dropped to zero before reaching a brief high of 4degC this afternoon. The road from Brockwood Hall was actually closed to through traffic when we turned onto it in the morning. Our first stop was Bowness-on-Windermere. We walked around in the snow, stopping for espressi and an apricot croissant at The Cornish Bakery (£5.60).

We then crossed Lake Windermere via the Ferry Nab Crossing (£4.40).

The ferry is pulled across via rope and is very slow. It takes 5 minutes to cross. From there we went to The Lakeland Motor Museum (£8.50 each) which is really amazing.

A fantastic collection worth seeing if you are an enthusiast. It also includes a Bluebird museum showing the cars as well as the boats.

We had espressi and a side order of chunky chips (£7.15) at the Ambio Café before heading back to Brookwood Hall.

The snow was already melting by the time we got back. Even though the road was open only for access traffic we decided to divert via The Green. We got back at 15:30 and there was no snow left on the ground. After a swim we went for a whisky in the pub. I had a Highland Park and Dave had a Glenlivet. We came back to the lodge and shared a Brathay Gold Ambleside beer, before moving on to red wine with dinner.

Around the Bay

When we left at 10:00 it was 3degC, quickly dropping to 2degC and then settling at a high of 5degC. But the cloud cover made it feel really cold all day. We headed for Ulverston which is the birth place of Stan Laurel. We bought vegetables at Brocklebanks; scallops, salmon and Manx kippers from The Lake District Lobster and Seafood Co., and a pork & branston slice and pork pies from Irvings. We then went to Mad Hatter’s Tea Room for espressi and a fruit scone served with jam and clotted cream (£7.60).

We then drove along the coast road of Morecambe Bay to Barrow-in-Furness where we walked around. We had our picnic lunch at Welney, overlooking the wind farm.

There are 102 units which stretch as far as the eye can see. After topping up with diesel (£50,34 for 41.3 Litres) we stopped at Crows Nest for a drink. A half pint of Worthingtons for Dave and Caffrey’s for me (£2.75). We then drove to Broughton-In-Furness and bought pork chops from Melville Tyson.

We got back to Brockwood Hall at 15:15. Dave went for a sauna and swim while indulged in a bath. Something that’s a real treat for me living with such severe water restrictions. After a glass of Rattler Original Healey’s cider with a snack of fennel and orange olives, Dave made scallops as a starter which were buttery and delicious. We opened a bottle of Rioja which is really good. The salmon was perfect and Dave did a side of Brussels sprouts.

The road not travelled

When we left at 9:30 it was 2degC, quickly dropping a degree.

There was a lot of ice on the road which meant we could not get over the top of Hardknott Pass.

We had a walk around before turning around and heading back the way we had come. We stopped at Woolpack Inn for espressi (€4.00) where we were told that Wynose Pass had been closed since Saturday afternoon. We took small windy roads to Coniston where we visited The Ruskin Museum. Other than documenting the history of the town and its 1000 inhabitants, it also has an entire room dedicated to Blue Bird.

This contains the wreckage only recently recovered from Coniston Water. We had lunch at Robinsons Crown Inn. I had a half pint of Strongbow Dark Fruit and Dave had a Unicorn. We both had fish finger buttys and a side of chips to share (€23.20).

From there we went to Millom and bought sweet treats from Thorntons. We arrived back at Brockwood Hall at 15:30. The high was briefly 8degC today. Dave and I then went to the leisure centre. Dave sat in the sauna while I swam. It’s been ages since I did lengths and it showed in my pace. After our exercise session we went for a wee dram. Highland Park for Dave and a Singleton for me.

We had a simple supper and a relaxing evening. We have finally adjusted to the two hour time difference which is a good thing as we need to be prepared for the late nights to come from Thursday onwards.

Fells and Lakes

I left Dave to sleep in this morning so we were late setting out. At 10:00 when we got going it was 3degC, dropping during the snow fall to 1degC. We drove through the snow at Oxen Fell before we got to Ambleside.

We started our walk through the village with espressi at Stiles (€3.50) before buying special bottles of beer at Beer Ambleside.

We got a wild boar and damson sausage roll and a herdie pasty at Stockghyll Fine Food for lunch.

This we ate on the roadside at Thirlmere. It’s absolutely stunning here.

We stopped at Keswick before heading over Whinlatter Pass. From here we took the back roads to Calderbridge.

We then headed back to Brockwood Hall, arriving at 16:10 with the temperature at a high for the day at 5degC. We relaxed with an Angry Orchard Cider, and then opened a bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.

Getting to Brockwood Hall

Passport control was easy enough with a few questions repeated just to make sure we are actually leaving. We didn’t have to wait too long for our suitcases and as soon as they were collected we went to the premium lounge. There we had a shower and a second breakfast and checked emails. When we got to Europcar they gave Dave an upgrade which is fantastic. We have a Volvo V40 with seat warmers. Those will come in handy tomorrow when it snows. We were on the road by 9am and stopped an hour later for espressi at Costa (£4.38). We’ve travelled this part of the route before when we came back from Wales. The area around Stafford is very pretty and there is no sign of winter in the countryside. Two hours later we had another espresso break at Starbucks (£3.90). We crossed the Manchester Ship Canal which is narrow when compared to the Amstel! We drove on the motorway towards Morecambe and the traffic was hectic. We got off the main road and went into Morecambe where our first stop was Edmondsons for potted shrimp, Manx kipper, smoked mackerel and when whelks.

He recommended Atkinsons for fish and chips but they were closed. We got pork pies for lunch from Alan John Baker who is the local butcher. We also bought pork and leek sausages and English black pudding, both made on site. He also makes boerewors for a local customer! We drove along the beach front and as we turned off for Carnforth we saw snow on the distant hills. We did a big shop at Tesco and while driving to Brockwood Hall we saw a road gritter at work getting ready for the expected snow fall tomorrow morning. The high today was 10degC so not too bad. By 16h00 we were driving into the setting sun and at 16:45 we were sitting in Brockwood Hall with our complimentary drinks.

After completing the paperwork we drove to our lodge and unpacked. Dave started preparing supper and was ready to finish off at 18:30. Being far too early to eat even though at home we are two hours ahead, we pushed dinner till 19:00. We watched quiz shows till 21:00 and then went off to bed to read books.

Leaving for the UK

Our morning started fairly normally. Dave loaded the van with our very heavy bags while I got myself sorted out. However, he left his laptop at home so his work day did not start as planned. I chipped my tooth on Tuesday while flossing so the first thing I did after sorting out work was go to the dentist. An hour later my tooth was repaired, my teeth were cleaned and I went back to the office. Albeit with my left side of my face and tongue completely numb. Thankfully by the time we left for the airport all the feeling was back and there was no pain. We checked our luggage straight through to Heathrow and went to the lounge where I had something to eat. All I had eaten in the morning was one samosa. Our flight to Johannesburg left late but that was not a problem for us. We ambled through to international departures, stopping along the way to buy readers for Dave and lens cleaner for me.

We had an easy time getting through passport control. The gentleman from the department of home affairs right in front of us decided to let us through his gate, skipping half the queue. We stopped for a whisky taster before heading up to the lounge. After espressi I went for a massage. Not as good as last time but at least my neck clicked. I came back to the lounge and had a snack. There is a machine that makes pancakes so I had a few of those while getting a video of it working.

Boarding went smoothly and we have a friendly cabin crew member in the jump seat opposite us. We are in the emergency exit row which is super comfortable.

Supper choices were beef and white rice and hake and yellow rice. We had one each, and I had the fish. We both battled to fall asleep. I will ask for extra blankets on the return flight but at least the arrival temperature won’t be too much of a shock.

I eventually fell asleep at about 1am South African time and woke up a few times during the night. The lights were turned on at 6:45 SA time (4:45 UK time). We had omelettes for breakfast which were not too bad. The fruit was really good and by the time we were done we were flying over Paris.

After a serious cup of ‘fake’ coffee we completed our landing cards. As our entertainment screens were not working for the third flight in a row Mark gave me an email address to send a complaint to. Wonder what response if any I will get. We arrived in Heathrow airspace at 6am and got stacked up waiting to land.

Joshua’s Bar Mitzvah

Talya is one of my oldest friends. We met as teenagers at youth camp and have been close friends for well over 30 years. This is a friendship that has stood the test of time and distance. When I talk of Talya I speak of her as my sister. We are that close! And we have similar enough looks that people would believe me. Her mother is my Cape Town mother – I have called her mom since I was 16 when she started looking after me in December holidays. Talya is married to Jonathan and they live in East Barnet. We have been fortunate enough to spend time with them at their home. Last year we were there for 5 nights and it was a really special visit. This year we are going to the United Kingdom specifically to celebrate Joshua’s Bar Mitzvah. It had been my intention to go just for the weekend. One, I did not expect Dave to come with me, and two, it is going to be really cold. But then Dave said he would come with and so we will have a week’s holiday before Joshua’s celebration. We are heading off to The Lake District and then to Newcastle. Hope you will ‘tag along’ with us 🙂