Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mecca - Theater of Dreams and Pride & Prejudice - Day 14

Ok so I am remiss about this last England post.  And seeing as my favorite soccer team didn't win the Champions League this week I really feel bad about not getting this done and back to my regular schedule of postings, which I will resume next week.
What we did on our last couple of days is a combination of two things I love best, which is too much for a girl to handle. Our day started out with drizzling rain and a commute up north where it always rains. We visited Old Trafford in Manchester, this is the stadium that is home to one of the best teams in the world, Manchester United, and happens to be my favorite team. 
This is the entrance to Old Trafford and a vision of the players tunnel leading to the pitch (field for us in North America). We didn't get to see a game, but you can take a most excellent tour of this stadium, which I call "Mecca."  On our tour was the press room, players lounge, locker rooms, a chance to sit in the players seats, and walk through the tunnel to the pitch.
Here is all the hardware that Man Utd has won, including this years Premier League Trophy.  And well the "35 years" was a dig at their city rivals (Manchester City) who hadn't won a trophy in 35 years, that is, until this year.  Manchester City won the FA cup, so a month later this sign was removed.
Picture of me next to my favorite players jersey.  The picture on the right is of the Munich tunnel, which commemorates a terrible time in Man Utd history, when 23 players and journalists died in Munich airplane crach on their way back from a European cup game.

Josh running thru the tunnel about to hit the pitch and make his first goal.  Me and Karl as subs on the bench waiting for our chance to prove to Sir Alex we know what we're doing.

When we got to the pitch we weren't even allowed to touch a blade of grass on the pitch which looked like a fine green plushy carpet. After shopping in the Megastore, and buying a Wayne Rooney jersey for SB we made our way to my second favorite place.
We drove to Lyme Park which is where parts of Pride and Prejudice were filmed.  This is another of the grand manor country estates and the location for Mr. Darcy's home,  Pemberly. 
As much as SB gives me grief about this story, Mr. Darcy and the 6 hour mini-series he was game to run up and down the stairs as Mr. Darcy. 
It was quite cold this day and the house wasn't open.  They only used the outside of this house for the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, so I was fine with not going inside. 

SB enjoyed this place as much as I did, he got lost in the gardens and took most of the pictures including the pond, bridge and garden shack behind the estate.

I love the stairway that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy walked to the fishing pond.
I would live in this garden shack, it's so enchanting and slightly bigger than my apartment/flat in L.A.

Can you imagine wondering thru this garden maze.
Garden urn from the upper lawn.

 Not Mr. Darcy's diving pond, but equally lovely.

 I just love the color and texture of this wall.

Now this is Mr. Darcy's diving pond, where every girl dreams of Colin Firth coming out of in a wet white dress shirt.  SB asked me if I wanted him to dive in the pond.  Seriously he can't fight the Mr. Darcy lure, and I pat myself on the back for subliminally indoctrinating him on this fantastic story.  Job well-done.

After our tour we took a walk pass the lake and grabbed a tea and scone in the cafe.  It was a very cold day and a long drive back to Tamworth where we partook of some great Indian food.  

Our last day in England we did a little shopping and SB and I walked up and down the lane where K&A live.  All together we spent 15 days in England and France.  This was a memorable trip, but only because of the good time we had with all our good friends.  We hope to visit again soon to this lovely country.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burton on Trent - Day 13

Here's how my morning went:  drank Earl Grey tea, rushed to Burton on Trent, got lost, took a Marston Brewery tour and drank beer all before 12noon.  Nice breakfast right?

After watching a program in the U.S. about Dogfish Head Brewery, SB and I've wanted to brew our own beer. We've got a lot to learn and this tour helped.  This is a massive brewery.  You smell the Malt in the malt room and the yeast permeates the fermenting room, I started craving a hot loaf of bread slathered with butter during this part of the tour.  SB was in heaven.  He called the room above the nursery, it was like looking at all the newborn babies, only now it's barrels of beer.  Go figure.

 Final end product from the bottle-capping machine.

Country full of short people.

In England when they serve beer from the draft, they prime the pump before anything ever comes out, makes for a delicious beer.

 Me and Sheila, she was a lovely tour guide.

After the tour they let us try a few pints of beer and everyone was able to take two bottles of beer home.  I thought SB and Karl looked like the happiest men on the planet when they discovered that.  All for 6£ = nearly $10.  I tried the Oyster Stout and it tasted like it had some chocolate malt in it.  When I went back to the malt room and was able to smell all the malt pellets and indeed it smelled chocolaty.

After the brewery we did get lunch and toured the town center of Tamworth, where K&A live. 
Anne and I got in a little shopping here and there too.

Other than Disneyland in Anaheim, how many times do you see this many swans together.  Again not a bird fan, but they are a graceful creature.

Marston's Brewery,
The Brewery,
Shobnall Road,
Burton Upon Trent,
DE14 2BW
Tel: 01283 507 391

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Calke Abbey & Staunton Harold - Day 12

On this day we drove through the English countryside like Elizabeth Bennett touring grand estates while the Master is out Sword fighting.  This scenery is what I pictured when you think of England, unless you say London then it's entirely different.  And by all my reference here you can tell that I can't help quoting Jane Austin and the oodles of films I've seen based on her books, with the exception of Clueless, which is so L.A.

Our first stop was at Calke Abbey (pronounce Cork) the grounds are grand, old lyme tree's stand erect on either side of  the road you drive on.  This leads you into the estate and then you see this immense house next to another large house, which incidentally was for the servants.  There are spectacular views of this house from the church on the property, so it's worth the walk.  There is a muchs to say about it's owners, who were quite eccentric.
Rafters of the farm house before you actually get to the servants quarters or house.
 Beautiful grounds with lawns and so much land.
Path down to the house and coming around the entrance.
 Dinner table all set, was elegant and the decorative details on the walls, sans deer heads, are exquisite.
 Servants bells and a look at the library.
I say the family was eccentric because the rooms are rather crowded with all that the family collected.  It doesn't appear they got rid of anything.  They were avid hunters and taxidermy was the rage so the house is full of dead stuffed animals.  Many of the rooms were closed off by the family at some point in time as they were too difficult to sustain, these rooms were used for storage and are quite a tragedy to look at.  Creepy to say the least.  

The libraries were my favorite I would spend so much time looking at these books, it proves true this proverb.."too the making of books, there is no end."  What a true statement that is, as no one had tv's, radios, iPod, iPad or i anything, so they were avid readers on everything under the sun.
 Warm hallways and bathrooms despite some of the cold abandon rooms around the house.
Stairwells and courtyard
 Tree pathways to the church on the property.
While walking around the grounds, why did I not think about dressing in period costume, you can't help and think you will see Mr. Bingley and Jane strolling by. One of the great thing about many of the national trust sites is they provide you with a CD to play in your car as you drive to the main house. It usually has a classical music accompaniment and a nice narrative on the trees and buildings you see along the way, I have a few in my collection now. Seeing that I love history this is an awesome way to get in a few extra tidbits.

Next we drove to Staunton Harold Estate which has a private house, still lived in, and an old church on the property from the 16th century. 

Gate entrance that I assume the residence come through, we parked further away at a nursery and walked in thru the back way.

 View of Staunton Harold to the right, still a residence and their lovely grounds.

Here's the church on the estate.

 We all loved this tree and the stone wall arch that was the entrance to the garden.
Inside the church on the ceiling is God's name in Hebrew, using the Tetragramaton letters (YHWH) from the original Hebrew language.  This was the reason we came here, it's not usual too see this, I've seen it in the Vatican, which they don't let you view anymore for various reason I will not get into on this blog, and I've seen it in the chapel at Chateau Versailles, Paris.  Thankfully the workmen let us in as the church was closed.  Amazing thing to see in person, especially since many don't even know what God's name is...Jehovah in English.

The outside church inscription reads:
In the yeare 1653 when all things sacred were throughout y nation
either demollifht or profaned
Sir Robert Shirley Barronet
founded this church
whole singular praiff it is
to have done the beft thinges in your worft times
hope them in the moft callamitous
the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance
K&A enjoying the view

The grounds were breathtaking, we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view of the reservoir and weeping willow.

The Estate Office
Staunton Harold Hall
LE65 1RT
01332 862599

Above was our first attempt at food.  At half past 2:00pm they stop serving food.  Not sure I wanted what they had to offer on this menu anyways.  No words.
Then another attempt for food and a dinner pint was at the Cock Inn, however as everything in England is, they were closed just because.  We did come back after our dinner to see the place as it's one of the oldest pubs in England.

Before our venture back to the Inn we had wonderful meal at an Italian restaurant in Warwickshire called San Giovanni, just down the road from Cock Inn.  This is one of K&A's favorite restaurants.  It was great food and a lovely setting.
 Love watching Anne text and Karl has the best picture taking expression.
Karl had the juicy meat, and for some reason it escapes me as to what it was.  SB had Linguine Scampi e Gamberoni (langoustine, king prawns, garlic, chilli, white wine and tomato sauce)
Anne and I started off with Funghi Piemontesi (Sauté mushrooms in garlic and parsley on a bed of rocket).  I had Penne Pollo e Gamberetti for my meal. (Penne pasta, chicken, prawns, cream and white wine sauce)
We drank this lovely bottle of wine.  My tasting notes are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember it tasted like dried cherries, very smooth.  This is on my list for wines to buy in L.A. if I can find it.

The sunset was once again gorgeous and SB ran out and snapped a picture of the giant orange orb setting on the English countryside.

This was a lovely full day, I am so glad to have friends that are willing to take us around their country and share with us all their favorite places.  It's truly a treat.

Mill Lane
Sheepy Parva


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