08 August, 2016

Summer holiday in Italy

We recently came back from our summer holiday in Italy.

We stayed in a beautiful spot in the hills about 45 minutes' drive from Naples -- Villa Le Favole. This was a privately owned villa with three apartments for guests and a handful of B&B rooms. The setting was wonderful -- in the middle of nowhere with a lovely Italianate garden and peaceful swimming pool. Highly recommended.

We did a lot of sightseeing -- Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples, Vesuvius, the Amalfi coast towns of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, to name some of the places. We enjoyed it all, and left with a particularly soft spot for Ravello, with it's winding streets, lovely old church and gardens that were open to visitors.

My husband and I have visited this area of the world before, but about twenty years ago. Our kids were keen to see Pompeii and Vesuvius, which is why we revisited -- and we're very glad we did.

Fun-filled summer weekend

It was sunny this weekend just gone, and my family and I made the most of it.

On Saturday, we drove out to the Cotswolds -- to little-frequented Eastleach Turville, to be precise -- and enjoyed a beautiful, peaceful walk following the River Leach. We took a picnic with us and ate it sitting in the middle of a meadow. It was wonderful -- the warmth, the landscape, the company of my lovely family...

We came home via the heavily touristed, but still very pleasant, Cotwolds town of Burford. We had tea at landmark cafe Huffkins. What did we have? Their famous lardy cake, of course. Delicious! We also picked up some plants for our garden from a little nursery that operates out of the owner's front garden in the back streets of Burford.

On Sunday, we went for a late afternoon swim at the Abingdon open air pool, which was again lovely. Not too busy, dappled sunshine, pleasantly warm water. And we wound up with a post-swim drink at Abingdon's waterside pub, the Nag's Head. Their riverside garden is a great place to enjoy a drink in the sun.

Pretty good for one weekend, I think!

12 July, 2016

Abingdon outdoor pool

My family and I have really enjoyed using the Abingdon outdoor pool over the past couple of weeks -- even in the rain, as today!

We always tried to use the pool each summer, but the increased water temperature this year has made such a difference. It feels warm when getting in, even when the weather is cold and overcast. We plan to use the facility much more this summer, as a result.

I was also delighted to read that the council has announced that, at the end of the season, it is going to replace the (rather dilapidated) old pool with a brand-new pool -- they realised that it would be far more cost-effective to do a complete replacement rather than continually repairing the existing structure. So the pool should be even better in 2017!

On a side note -- I bought the kids ice creams at the pool's refreshment kiosk. They chose Cornetto Soft, which they love -- so well done to the pool for stocking that particular brand. I also noticed that Funny Feet lollies were on the ice cream list. I remember these well from my 1970s childhood, but thought they'd been discontinued years ago, so that was an interesting surprise.

All in all, I'd highly recommend a visit to the Abingdon outdoor pool. It's in a beautiful location, is warm and sells ice creams. What more could you want?

19 June, 2016

Trampolining and barges

We had an interesting Sunday out this weekend.

It was our youngest's birthday weekend and she had decided that she would like to go en famille to AirHop, a trampoline park in Guildford. We therefore pre-booked an afternoon session on the trampolines and went to AirHop via Guildford centre for lunch. I've never been to Guildford before, but it's an interesting mix. It is full, predictably, of expensive shops (this is the heart of stockbroker belt, after all) and has some lovely old parts with beautiful houses and picturesque churches, but much of the centre is 1950s concrete at its worst, which is a shame.

AirHop itself proved a real hit. It was spacious and had lots of trampoline-based activities, which the kids loved. I was impressed by how it was run -- by a whole team of what looked liked sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds. They were really doing their jobs properly -- supervising the bouncers very well and keeping the place ultra clean. It was also pretty good value at £23 for two, including non-slip socks.

After AirHop, we stopped off at the National Trust's Dapdune Wharf, where we were able to learn about the barge traffic that used to pass along the River Wey from Guildford to London. Visitors can board one of the old barges, which is very interesting, as well as browsing small exhibitions on barge life and navigating the River Wey. The location is very pretty and there's a small cafe on site serving sandwiches and cakes.

All in all, a very enjoyable birthday weekend.

14 June, 2016

Sugar overload?

I was in a coffee shop today and the person on the table next to me sat down with a fruit muffin and a large hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. I didn't think much of it until he proceeded to add two sachets of sugar to the hot chocolate.

I tried, but couldn't begin, to imagine how sweet that would be.

At least the muffin was fruit and not chocolate, I suppose...

07 June, 2016


We have two gorgeous kids -- one teenager and one almost teenager. They are lovely (and pretty damned good as people of this age go, I think), but all the things they say about teenagers really are true:

  • They don't come out of their rooms unless prevailed upon to do so, or unless food is on offer.
  • They don't like to leave the house, or not with their parents, at least. Although, see above, if it involves food, they can quite easily be enticed out.
  • They will grunt if they don't want to answer your questions.
  • They will only tidy their rooms if asked to do so.
  • If you suggest going for a walk in the countryside, they interpret this as a fate worse than death.
  • They will get upset if you nag them or disagree with them.

The funny thing is, I distinctly remember being just like this as a teenager. Do you?

01 June, 2016

Bank holiday weekend

We had a busy bank holiday weekend. Here are a few of the things that we enjoyed doing.

We tried out a newly-opened restaurant in our home town -- Wildwood Kitchen. This is a chain, we know, but not one that we have tried before, so we were eager to see what it was like. We were pretty impressed. The food was good -- fresh and tasty, our waitress was very pleasant, and as it was a Sunday evening, the restaurant was quiet -- we had the half of the restaurant in which we were seated entirely to ourselves! The only negative point is that Wildwood's menu is not great for veggies. There are very few veggie dishes on the menu, and the night that we went, the vegetarian risotto wasn't available, leaving an extremely limited non-meat choice.

On the bank holiday Monday, we visited relatives in London and were taken to see a film at the Everyman Cinema in Belsize Park. The cinema was amazing -- quite unlike anything we had seen before. The seats reclined, and you could order nuts and nibbles before the performance, which were delivered to you in your cinema seat on a tray by a waiter! Wow! Posh, or what? Rather a far cry from our local Cineworld, where you're lucky if they have cleared the floor of popcorn from the previous showing...

Before going to the film, we ate lunch at Chez Bob, which is right next to the Everyman. We had a good meal there, with pleasant service. The menu was wide-ranging and the food freshly made. We enjoyed it.