Tag Archives: Stratford-upon-Avon

New Silver Dies Again…

I was on my way to work this morning, taking a shortcut to avoid the traffic, when my brakes suddenly stopped working…


Warning lights came on, strange noises issued from the dash (while loud swear words issues from my lips) and I rolled, kind of uncontrollably, towards the back end of another car.

Luckily, my clutch is brand spanking new (that’s a woeful story for another time) so I could use my gears and handbrake to slow down. In fact, the only good part of this whole entry is that I can say I don’t have to pay for the repairs to anyone else’s vehicle…I was also lucky enough to be a two-minute crawl from Kwik-Fit (who have been my saviours in the past) so I limped the poor (bloody stupid) car there and begged for their help.

I have been neglectful of my brakes and have failed to have them checked during the 18 months that I’ve owned New Silver but, in my defence, I thought that was the kind of thing that was checked on the MOT. I was wrong! The guys at KW told me that both the front and back disks AND pads were worn and corroded beyond belief.

I get a little bit of discount at Stratford-upon-Avon Kwik Fit because I work in the town, and that has brought my bill of £461.35 down to £415.81. I plan to spend the money I’ve saved on tissues so I can cry myself stupid.

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Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Car, Random


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The White Stuff…

I’m not a big fan of snow.

I mean…I AM…I actually love it. I love it when the world is all black and white, and I love the peace and quiet that it brings. What I don’t love is the way our country seems to come to a stand still.

Yesterday was my day off, but I was still on taxi duty as Luke had to get into work for 6am (poor Luke…poor taxi driver). At that time of the morning the roads were icy, but not too snowy. Unfortunately it wasn’t the same story a few hours later when I set out to pick him up…

After getting stuck in two massive traffic jams, finding my way onto an endless bus route (all the signs/road markings were covered with snow), sliding into a bus and smashing up New Silver’s bumper, I managed to make my way out of Redditch on a fairly quiet country road. I got stuck in ANOTHER traffic jam (people are hideously selfish and were blocking roundabouts whilst resolutely NOT letting people out of junctions) and eventually, two and a half hours later I’d made it halfway to my destination. Luckily, some of the trains were still running, so Lukey-boy had to hop on a train and meet me in Kings Norton.

Today I’m in work (why???) because the roads weren’t bad enough to keep me home, but I’m leaving as soon as it looks like the sky might start falling on our heads. The weather reports say that it’s going to snow again later…and tomorrow…so I’m rather glad that Luke doesn’t have to go to work, and rather hoping that I don’t have to either!

The view of the Guild Chapel and The Falcon from the parlour window at Nash's House

The view of the Guild Chapel and The Falcon from the parlour window at Nash’s House

At least Stratford-upon-Avon is pretty today! It makes leaving the warm comfort of home a little less painful…

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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Random, Uncategorized


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France Pt.1 – Planning…

I’ve decided I’ll tackle my France trip in several posts…this one is about getting ready to go, and the moral of the tale is “Planning is all very well, but you have to remember to actually do the items on your check-list.”

So, back at the end of April, my cousin Lesley invited us to her wedding in Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, Brittany. Her (now) husband, Paskal, is a stalwart Bretton and wanted to get married on July 28th, which is both Lesley’s birthday and the anniversary of the 1488 Battle of Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier. That gave me about 13 weeks to plan our journey. At that point I didn’t have a passport or a camper, but just a few weeks later I’d put down a deposit on Old Red and was RSVPing to say that I’d be driving over to celebrate with them. It’s surprising that we made it across the channel at all, let alone that we got back home again!

In June I wrote about my plans for our initial itinerary, and then about our revised plan when I discovered I couldn’t get time off work before the wedding. I booked the outbound journey, sent off my passport application and made lists of the things I’d need to have and do in preparation for our foray onto the continent…

…sadly, I fell into the trap of thinking I had loads of time, and that was about as far as I got with ‘being organised’.

Four weeks before the wedding, I set out on my first proper trip with Old Red (and my good friend, Sarah), and that was when I realised that I needed a gas refill and that I had a bit of an oil issue. In usual Louisa-style I failed to do anything to rectify these two problems in a timely fashion, despite the ambitious adventure looming ahead of me.

With a week to go before the trip I was manically raiding Halfords (and violently abusing my bank balance) to get all the equipment needed to drive in France, whilst stressing about the fact that I had no idea where the paper part of my driving licence might be hiding!

It was far too late to apply for a new one, so in a mad fit of ‘I must do something productive!’ I decided I’d sort out the years-old paperwork that had been cluttering my Mom’s landing and spare room for the past 18 months. Karma must have been smiling on me, and I emerged from my task victorious (and slightly disbelieving of my luck) with my paper licence now safely in my possession!

On the day of the trip the plan was to wake up early, check the oil and water, drive to a garage to get fuel and check the tyre pressures, and set off for work. My Mom was going to bring my sister to meet me in Stratford after lunch and we were going to leave directly for Portsmouth to give us plenty of time to drive down slowly and have a meal along the way. I think it’s safe to say that things didn’t go to plan in the slightest…

First of all, I overslept. Then I discovered that Mom had tried to help by tidying up all the stuff I’d carefully laid out the night before. Then I may have slammed the front door so hard that a pane of glass shattered. Then I got to Stratford to discover that the roads were snarled up with Global Gathering traffic (and would be all day). It was not a good morning. I arrived at work resigned to the fact that I’d have to check the fluids, tyres and get fuel before we set off that afternoon.

3pm rolled around and (FINALLY) we were on our way…well, after we’d visited a camping store to pick up an electric hook-up cable and that gas refill that I’d continued to neglect.

So, 4pm rolled around and (FINALLY) we were on our way. This time it was for real!

Coming Soon: Driving in France Check-list…


Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Plans, Travel


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Emporium Tea Room…

To kick of my ‘random reviews’ I thought I’d write about one of my favourite tea rooms in Stratford-upon-Avon.

If you’ve ever been to the beautiful S on A you’ll know that there’s a MASSIVE choice of tea rooms and coffee shops and that most of them are overpriced and not really worth the money you’re paying for them. I’m lazy (I think I may have mentioned this already…) and so end up eating out at lunchtimes in lieu of taking the time to actually make my lunch. This is disastrous for my bank account, but it means I’m quite a good authority on where to get a decent pot of tea and a bite to eat in the town.

The Emporium Tea Room in the Ely Street Antique’s Centre is perhaps the best tea room in the entire town. That’s probably why I find myself there sometimes two or three times a week…

When you first go in you’re met by chequerboard tablecloths (I love chequerboard)  and the tables are already set up with beautiful mismatched china cup and saucer sets, just waiting for you to fill them up with one of the speciality teas. If you happen to take sugar (I don’t) then you get to take it from a china sugar bowl using a cute little teaspoon, rather than having to litter your table with empty sugar packets.

Your tea arrives in one of their random teapots, ranging from the standard flowery numbers, to giant acorns and little theatres that are painted with scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. I absolutely love the teapots and always look forward to seeing which one I’m going to get. I get absurdly excited when it’s one I haven’t had before.

I also love that you get a sugary cookie on a teeny tiny plate to enjoy with your tea.

I pretty much always order tea, and it’s always fantastic. On the odd occasion that I’ve ordered coffee it has been freshly brewed for me and has tasted awesome.

Sardines on toast! And a most excellent teapot (my favourite one) and check out the acorn milk jug!

The menu includes sandwiches, salads, things on toast (of which, sardines is my favourite), a fabulous ploughman’s platter that comes served on a HUGE chopping board, and a selection of cakes and scones. There’s also a specials board that offers home-made soups (delicious)  and things like sardines or melted goats cheese on toast (delicious delicious). The prices are reasonable for Stratford, food is all fantastic, and the portions are incredibly generous.

I usually order sandwiches, which come with a huge freshly cut salad, crisps and home-made coleslaw. I’m obsessed with coleslaws and I’d go as far as to say that theirs is the best I’ve tasted! Their home-made soups are awesome too and not only do you get a big bowlful, but you get freshly baked rolls (hot from the oven) and little pats of real butter. Bliss.

Their carrot and coriander soup is delicious!

I don’t get long for lunch so I never have time to taste the cakes, but I have it on very good authority from my Mom and my workmates (all life-long connoisseurs of baked goods) that the lemon meringue pie and the cream teas at the Emporium are as good as the savouries.

It’s not just the food that’s great though; the staff are also really friendly and helpful. Normally they run table service, so you go in, choose a table and decide what you want, and then they come to you to take your order. Similarly, when you’re done they bring the bill over to you and you pay (with cash) at your table. They know that I only get 30 minutes for lunch though, so they let me save time by ordering and paying at the counter, which I’m really grateful for! They really are kind and accommodating.

The antique’s centre itself is also well worth a look around and I’ve found loads of quirky gifts and hidden treasures in there. There’s a little vintage clothing shop hidden away at the the back too and when I’m not in the tea room I can often be found hanging out in there, spending my money on beautiful old things.

If you’re going into Stratford-upon-Avon and you’ve never been to Emporium Tea Room before then you really should add it to your itinerary. Even if you don’t want to stretch to lunch, it’s worth it for the tea and china alone!

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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Days Out, Food, Random, Reviews


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I think it’s become pretty obvious to anyone who may venture onto this site that I’m doing a god-awful job of keeping this blog up to date. I’d like to say that I’ve been far too busy and important to sit down and write…but, no. I’m just terribly terribly lazy.

To be brutally honest with you (and myself) I think the task of blogging my France trip daunted me to the point of meltdown. It’s the way I was going about it. I was trying to write it ALL. At once.

One might argue that it would have been prudent for me to write anything (whether that be about France or about the way chocolate goes REALLY well with pink marshmallows) but, in my usual fashion, I decided that writing nothing would be better than writing anything.

I carried on writing nothing for several more weeks, and I could carry on in the same vein for several weeks more, but now I think I’ve reached the point where it’s time to fish or cut bait. So…here I am, attempting to fish. Metaphorically, you understand.

Apart from a brief foray to Stratford-upon-Avon, I’ve not been out in Old Red since France (I’m rather worried about his oil problems, but also rather short of the money, time and motivation that it will take to sort this problem out) so I’ve decided that as well as getting up the details of my France trip and the perils of driving on the continent blogged, I’ll also be using this space for general reviews and stuff. I’m a regular tea-room/restaurant/theatre goer and I work in tourist-central (the beautiful Stratford-upon-A) so it’s not going to be hard to find stuff to write about…it just won’t be as close to my original hopes for this blog than I’d have liked.

And for now, here’s a picture of Red before we put him to bed for the first time on the Ferry. I’d left his interior light on, of course…but that’s a story for another day 🙂

Red on the Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen! He’s on a BOAT! With his bloody light on…

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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Reviews


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Try Again…

Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched…and don’t count on annual leave before it’s booked! There I was feeling all adult for planning our France trip and starting to work out an itinery, and then I found out that I couldn’t have the day off work on Friday 27th…that’s the day before the wedding. The wedding in France

…cue a very un-adult few hours in which I huffed and puffed and attempted to find a way to finish work at 5.30pm and arrive in La Fontenelle just 18 hours later, having actually gotten some sleep somewhere along the way. The original plan of getting a Dover – Calais ferry and then driving the 300 miles to the venue was clearly not feasible in the time limit. I think we could have pulled it off, but the sleep deprivation might have made it hard to get through the wedding! I needed a new plan and so I started googling ferry crossings like a crazy person…

To cut a long (and boring) story short, after moaning and wailing and saying “Oh! It’s impossible!” and clutching my face like this, my beautiful and wonderful manager said that she’d lock up for me (on her day off) so that I could leave mid afternoon on Friday and give myself more time…and so we’ve gone for an adaptation of that sensible option that I discussed before…

Stratford-upon-Avon to La Fontenelle, via Portsmouth and Caen

It’s costing an absolute BOMB for a one way ticket, but the long crossing means that we can drive down to Portsmouth on Friday to catch a 22.45 ferry, then *fingers crossed* get some sleep in our little two-berth cabin (it seemed worth the extra money on an 8 hour crossing), before landing in Caen at 6.45 all ready for a continental breakfast and a two hour drive to the wedding! Well, that’s the plan for the moment anyway.

In the few hours when I didn’t have a plan for how we’d get there, my biggest panic was that I couldn’t book a return ticket home at all..not even in September…why?? For some reason none of the sites I was looking back offered a return crossing. I think it was my stress levels that stopped me realising that there were other ways to get back from France other than the way we’d gotten there, but once I realised that we could travel back from Calais to Dover (or, indeed, on any other crossing) I calmed down a whole lot. Now our outbound ferry is booked I feel almost Zen.

It actually might work better this way round, because we’ve got a whole 6 days to travel home after the wedding, so we can stay with our cousin a little longer and spend more time exploring Paris. We may have to sacrifice seeing Bayeux and the Normandy beaches, just because they’re going back along our route to La Fontenelle and will take hours out of our family and Paris time…but we’ll see about that…

In other news, I’ve managed to not only fill out my passport renewal form and find my old passport, but I also went as far as to get a new photo taken today (there was a horrible moment in the queue at the Post Office on Thursday, when I was patiently waiting to hand in my application and I suddenly realised that they’d probably need a picture too…whoops!…so home I went with my greasy hair) and it’s not a terrible picture either!…

16…and then 30 years old 🙂 I didn’t dare smile this time round in case it got returned to me and I missed the wedding!!

As you can see, I’ve discovered GHD hair straighteners in the time that’s elapsed between passports! Oh, and hello! Now you know I’m not just a faceless blogger 🙂

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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Camping, Travel


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