Travel 2008 – Fareham, Winchester

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Saturday, 29th/Sunday, 30th November 2008 – Fareham, Winchester

The weekend was busy, busy, busy, but also reasonably productive. Saturday we got up reasonably early, I collected some stuff from the garage (my car is in because the rebuilt gearbox has failed – still under warranty thankfully – as has the steering rack, which is not under warranty), then we cleared the garage of freezers, fridges, bookshelves, exercise equipment, etc. In fact it’s now empty of everything except an oriental carpet, which is rolled up and staying where it is until the last minute. So the builders can now come in any day they like from 9th December onwards.

As for the rest of the weekend, we spent it in Fareham and around, with Gina. We arrived around 7pm on Saturday and went out for dinner at the splendid (and very friendly) Villa Romana in Fareham. The food was very good – though probably far too substantial for most of us.

For starters we had calamari (Gina):

Meatballs in a tomato and pea sauce (me):

And smoked salmon parcels (Lynne):

Afterwards it was on to Seafood Tagliatelle:

Goat’s Cheese Risotto:

Seafood Risotto:

None of us could finish our mains, so we asked to have the remains packed up to take away. Oddly enough we did still manage desserts. Gina went for the Tiramisu:

Lynne and I shared a Strawberry Cheesecake:

We drank prosecco to start, a Sardinian red with the mains, and Vin Santo with dessert. After we paid the very moderate bill, we were offered a drink on the house, so we had another round of Vin Santo before we staggered back to Gina’s for a nightcap and sleep…

Sunday started late after an excellent breakfast, and then Gina drove us to see her new house, after which we went to Marwell Zoo, despite the bitter cold and the persistent drizzle. And we had a very good time, looking at everything from penguins…

To meerkats…

To snow leopards…

And owls, and tigers…

Giraffes, and ocelots…

To the adorable baby pygmy hippo, and the drop-dead gorgeous two-week old Dorcas gazelles…

As well as the sandcats.

They were eyeing the tiger across the way as if they wanted to take him on. I don’t think so somehow…

A hot chocolate and a piece of cake in the cafe kept us going round the final leg of the visit, though trying to take photos of the baby pygmy hippo became almost impossible because my glasses misted up so badly I couldn’t see when we walked into the semi-aquatic mammal house, and then the camera lens wouldn’t demist either. We pretty much gave up after that, as it was getting close to closing time, and it was getting steadily colder and colder out there.

After that, we went to the stables where Gina keeps her pony, which was where the allergy attack hit after I’d spent 20 minutes or so in the stable yard. And it was the whole works: Swollen eyelids that felt as if there were razor blades under them, itchy ear canals, blocked nose, coughing and wheezing and then, once we’d escaped in the car, a painful and extended sneezing fit.

As soon as we got indoors I washed my hands and then my face, and took a double dose of antihistamines, and today, 18 hours later, the effects seem to have finally worn off almost completely. I did take another dose today though, and have been using eye-drops since we got home last night. And so, I am never going near a horse again, thanks. Luckily, for me, that’s not really a hardship, as I never had a great deal of interest in them to start with (I don’t trust anything that powerful with a mind of its own, thanks, especially when it tends to be spooked by carrier bags or whatever) so I guess it’s now just a case of avoidance. It’s a shame in a way, because Lynne used to ride and enjoyed it and we had talked about the possibility that one day I might try it out. Not after that though, thanks… Anyway, once my reaction had settled we headed home, getting in around 7pm last night and having to clear up the great freezer compartment meltdown before we could relax.

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