Saturday, 9th/Sunday, 24th February 2007 – Daventry, Waddesdon, Wetherby
We went out for Lynne’s birthday by virtue of Andrea and Bob deciding that we needed to go out and have “a jolly time“, as Bob put it. A long, lazy lunch at Fawsley Hall was just the thing frankly. It’s a lovely place, and the food is first class. That’s the first time I’ve felt inspired to eat chicken in a long time (most chicken, at least in Britain, is vile, pallid flavourless stuff bred in battery cages to reach maximum weight as quickly as possible without passing through any flavour development on the way; I wouldn’t feed it to a dog, never mind a human). This was real chicken, corn-fed, free-range and tasted wonderful. The starter of brawn and black pudding was pretty remarkable too, the black pudding having a haggis-like texture and richness that contrasted with the slightly tangy taste of the brawn.
It was a lovely lunch, and we eventually waddled out of the restaurant at about 4.30, so full of food that none of us ate anything else all day (well, except Lynne, who ate two grapes to the amazement of Andrea and myself – we had no idea where she was putting them!)
On Sunday we had a house full of people, and I fed them a Turkish Winter vegetable hot pot and a Chicken Pilaff. We sat around and drank red wine and eventually tackled the resulting washing up mountain, but it was another good day with friends. Sometimes that’s just what you need.
Last week was awful. I was on a three day training course in Slough, which meant having to brave the M40 every day. In the end I decide my best bet was to use the gym in Stoke Poges every morning, which at least meant if I got up early I wasn’t wasting my efforts. The drive in took around 70 minutes, and the drive back on Wednesday was similar. Thursday and Friday were a whole other kettle of fish however. On Thursday the M40 was at a grinding halt from Junction 9 onwards, but luckily the wall-to-wall tail lights were a bit of a giveaway and I was able to scoot off and try and find my way through Bicester to the A43. It took me a lot longer to get home than I’d hoped it would, and Friday, surprise, surprise, was even worse. If anyone wants me to go on another course in Slough, they can damn well pay for me to stay somewhere is all I can say. And now I have to try and wrestle the company expenses system into coughing up something towards the fuel my three 140 mile round trips cost me… The one good thing about last week was having a “farewell lunch” with the rest of the Tech Pubs department at the very wonderful Five Arrows in Waddesdon, though it didn’t in any way make up for the fact that we no longer exist as a department, and I feel as if I’m out on a limb at the office now.
Over the weekend we finally did what we’ve wanted to do for some time and went off to Yorkshire to see Elaine and Dr. Bill (as he’s known to us anyway). We’ve known them for some time and have had them to stay but have never quite managed to get up to see them for reasons that now seem obscure. Anyway, we drove up on Saturday morning and arrived in time to be fed to death by Elaine. Just a light lunch as we were going out for dinner in the evening, she said – if that’s a light lunch in their household I have no idea how come they are all so slim! I can only assume it’s because whenever you see Elaine she’s always busy and always seems to be heading somewhere at about 90 miles an hour (often clutching a black bin-liner, but let’s not go there). We vegetated gently for most of the afternoon as a result, before we trekked out to Wetherby and the very wonderful Fennel for dinner.
As the restaurant is very small (and probably because Lionel, the chef/proprietor knows Elaine and William of old) our party of 11 was banished upstairs to the café, to occupy a square of tables that entirely filled the room. A superb meal was fed to us, and much wine was drunk – and later quaffed I suspect. Lynne and I did our usual routine of ordering different starters (scallops with parsnip and apple puree for me) so we could have half each, and did almost the same with the mains, the proviso there being Lynne didn’t want to share my lentil and Merguez ragout, just the wild boar that went with it! Oh, and we went for the assiette de desserts, which is basically one portion of each dessert and two spoons! That was good!
On Sunday Elaine tried to feed us a huge breakfast, which meant we all collapsed in a heap afterwards to watch the A1GP from Durban, and then, lo-and-behold she and William conjured up a massive roast lunch (nibbles and Champagne, soup, beef and Yorkshire pudding, apple pie and cream and chocolates and coffee). We staggered away from the table around 4 o’clock, drove home and collapsed in a heap. Needless to say we didn’t eat anything at all till Monday morning…