As brief as an Autumn leaf

We returned from Paris, our relationship stronger & our love a little bit more cemented! We returned after days of strolling the avenues, the parks & streets but we returned to Autumn my favourite season.

The leaves are changing & our appetites are now craving warm suppers that warm you from the inside out. My t shirts are now packed away and are replaced by my winter cable knit jumpers, our walks along the river and pints in waterside pubs are replaced by films and glasses filled with red wine.

A brief blog piece but the first of my Autumnal thoughts

You will always find me in the kitchen! Full Stop

This last week has been almost perfect! I’ve been off of work and the news from my specialist with regards to the ‘lump’ was good. But what has made it more enjoyable is that I have been able to relax and potter in the kitchen.

I love cooking and I love to be in the kitchen, I was bought up believing the kitchen was the heart of the house, it made the house a home, as a youngster I would always be sat at the kitchen table either reading or doing my homework instead of in front of the TV.

Being off this last week though has been a blessing as it has been a Holy Week for the Greek Orthodox Church, which brings with it some dietary restrictions for all those who practice the religion. I was unaware of this until one evening we were discussing future dining plans. The restrictions were that a Vegan diet (with some exceptions such as honey or shellfish) was to be followed and no oil or alcohol was to be consumed on Wednesday or Friday. There were other practices such as Red Eggs and baking of bread to celebrate Easter Sunday.

So I set about planning the weeks dinners but what I found more pleasurable was planning the breakfasts, gone out of the window were the usual crumpets and muffins smothered in butter and instead it was platters of fruit, I also baked loaves of bread to eat with honey and we drank fruit herbal teas instead of mugs of builders tea with lashings of milk poured in!

Breakfast

Dinners were freshly made vegetable soups, or dry roasted vegetables mixed through freshly made pastas! All a pleasure to create as much as to eat.

This rekindling of my love affair with the kitchen has continued into the weekend , I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening party of The Brompton Cookery School, now who would turn down an opportunity to taste some amazing food & of course to finally meet the lovely and fairly famous chef Marcus Bean!

Marcus Bean

The teaching kitchen was an amazing space and although filled with people on this occasion was still lovely & bright! The food was amazing and of course the fizz free flowing! And even through well fed & watered eyes I looked forward to planning what cookery course to undertake!

Brompton Cookery School Opening Party

And now Sunday is here and I’m sat in the kitchen of Hopton House Bed & Breakfast, a cup of tea made from the kettle on the Aga & a slice of homemade cake! Bliss

Like the song says ‘You’ll always find me in the kitchen’

http://www.shropshirebreakfast.co.uk/

http://www.bromptoncookeryschool.co.uk/

Order in the house

Now I’m not a worrier, nor a person that panics! In the words of the iconic Doris Day “Que Sera Sera” but a routine visit to see the GP meant that a lump on my leg was to be investigated and to quote my rather lovely GP “Whipped Out” I was assured that there was no need for alarm nor panic, and in fact the only thing that I have worried about so far is having to move my Paris Trip.

But it did get me to thinking that I should maybe have some things in place, just in case.

So Sunday night after a lovely weekend spent with many different friends I sat on the sofa and started to take stock and make plans for the future. I don’t have wish to burden the new chap with these things so I started by making lists, which soon gave way to writing letters and cards for my friends and for my family. They mainly covered the same ground and used the often forgotten phrase of “how proud I am of everything you do” and “how much I love you” the letters once written made way to making arrangements for Flo and also the writing down of what I would wanted at a funeral, I sadly am no longer a Christian my faith destroyed by the bitter views of current church leaders so the service would be not quite a  Humanist but a long those lines. I would of course want the whole event Tweeted about that should satisfy my Twitter addiction.

I know that my brother won’t need to open the box labelled just in case but its there!!

A companion piece

This blog piece contains swearing!!! You have been warned!!

My Gran raised me to be a respectful man, to be honest & kind but she also ensured that I knew about life, that I knew the real hardships!

To picture her think of Miss Marple, add a glass of Gin & a razor sharp tongue! When I broke up with Matthew she kindly wrapped & gave me a copy of Delia’s “One is Fun” – her reasoning was that to get & retain a man you had to be able to cook, after all the way to a mans heart is through his stomach.

She was a woman who stood no fools, enjoyed liquor & was thrilled for an excuse to wear her fur coat but her pearls of wisdom were always modern & sometimes shocking; One of her other gems of wisdom was

“To get over someone, you needed to get under someone”

it became known in family law as the Rebound! Various rules came into play about the rebound, never fall for them, dump them before they get too attached, there were of course other heartless methods and means for the Farrington Family to get back into a relationship that was deemed acceptable.

So I find myself in rebound territory, I’m cooking, I’m curling up on the sofa of an evening & holding hands & enjoying the kind of kisses that make your spine tingle & your knees tremble.

But I won’t be ending it, I don’t want too! I like the companionship, I like the drunken fooling around & I enjoy the waking up in a morning with a hand firmly grasping mine

I know I’m breaking every rule that my cousins & I spent Summers making up but I’ll see what happens I think I’ll follow another piece of advice bestowed to me one summers evening whilst pouring my Gran a Gin and that was “fuck it all lovely boy, rules are just rules, just be happy”

Thrift Radiates Happiness

When I was first told about the art instillation Thrift Radiates Happiness I will confess that I didn’t pay much attention. As usual my mind would have been on other things such as cake or such other nonsense. But upon meeting my friend Pam for coffee and hearing her rave reviews not only of the wonderful and creative ideas but also of the space that the instillation was in I set my mind for a day trip to Birmingham to see for myself.

I arrived in the city on St Patricks Day and managed to avoid the throngs of rather merry people and found myself on Broad Street, looking at a rather small building that was once the Municipal Bank of Birmingham. Obviously a once grand entrance to Broad Street now it stood rather over shadowed by the giant towers of the Hyatt and the Atkins building.

Birmingham Municipal Bank

Upon entry to the bank the first thing that struck you was the decayed grandeur of a building that once was obviously a hive of business and commerce. I was greeted by a very friendly and helpful lady who pointed out the instillations and explained about what was available to see. So I pushed the wonderful wooden revolving door and entered a rather breath taking space.

IMG_1728The floor was parquet and the high ceiling was tiled and across the two major beams the phases: “Thrift Radiates Happiness” and “Saving is the Mother of Riches” looked down on the now empty space, the first installation but the last one I investigated was housed in this empty hallway.

Thrift Radiates Happiness

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I explored the room, taking as many photo’s as I could and inquisitively looked at the works that were housed in the former bank offices and then started the descent into the basement of the bank, heading along the corridors slightly spooked by the convex mirrors at each corner to allow you to see people coming towards you but not your own reflection towards the bank vaults.

Mirror Corridor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It had been about 30 years since I had last entered a bank vault and that had been with my Grandma, I remember her dressed in a tweed, twin set and me having to stand very still whilst she opened this magical box with her key, to this day I don’t know what was so important that it was deposited within the bank and why it was not kept at home but I do know that being in the vault of the bank in Birmingham bought back many memories.

Once down at the vault you were offered the chance to invest and £2 gave you a safety deposit number and upon entry to the vault you were to find the corresponding box, open it and you were rewarded by a piece of artwork to commemorate the event, I invested £4 and was given 2 boxes to find.

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The art instillations were amazing from video pieces to popcorn makers set to produce popcorn as a symbolisation of the major financial crisis of the last century – I was informed that at the end of the day the machines were producing a lot of popcorn as the later in the day it got the more recent the financial crises.

But my favourite piece was by Elly Clake called Half Crowns in their Petticoats, which was an audio piece; it was a series of interviews that had been given by former employees of the bank many of which had been recorded on site at the bank. It was a wonderful opportunity to listen to stories of people who had once busied themselves within the now empty building. I sat and listened for 50 minutes ensuring I had taken in each story and every tale that was offered.

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It really was an amazing opportunity to visit an amazing venue let alone see & hear some amazing pieces of art pieces and left you longing for days when banks promoted thrift and not credit!

Spring has sprung

So this weekend saw yet more snow arrive in Shropshire & in fact over most of the Uk,

Shrewsbury for some reason (maybe because its in the bow of the River Severn) had a sprinkling of the stuff but not enough to warrant panic buying & rioting, but sadly enough to force me to cancel my plans to meet friends in Stratford.

Luckily I have a wonderful chum who offered me what I think to be a wonderful alternative! I was invited down to Hopton House for the weekend & I gladly accepted.

Now those of you that have followed my blog know Hopton is a wonderful bed & breakfast nestled down in the South Shropshire countryside.

So provisions (change of underwear, socks, toothbrush & books you know all the essentials) packed & off I set.

The welcome upon arrival would fail to melt even the stoniest heart as Murphy & Mitsi greet you with a fevered wag of their tail & an excited glint in their eye.

And so my Saturday afternoon of chatting, eating cake, drinking tea, reading, playing ball with the dogs & watching the Bramblings, Yellow Hammers & various other birds began.

The afternoon soon progressed into evening where I was treated to wonderful food & wonderful company followed by great discussions about films (classics & modern) before retiring to bed. I was in The Paddock Room (my usual room) which to me is the definition of a perfect bedroom and woke on Sunday morning to the Sparrows chirping away & a wonderful snowy vista.

As you can tell I’m quite pleased the snow altered my plans as I got to retreat for the weekend with friends in a little corner of snowy Shropshire.

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A Catch Up

Since my break up I have neglected to bore you with what I have been up to! I can assure you that I have not been sat in the house, like a recluse and with an ever increasing number of pets in the style of Little Edie.

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I have in fact been busy a) with work and b) off exploring more of what The National Trust has to offer. She anyway here is a quick catch up

January

So January came along and with it came visits to friends, the snow and adventures through burst rivers – as well as cake, tea, laughter, the growing of a beard and of course a few tears.

There was also the murder mystery evening at Attingham Park which was a brilliant was to spend an evening, sleuthing and exploring the house after dark.

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February

Well February heralded the end of an era as The North Wing of Burcot Manor lost it’s last Myatt, the house that had been sanctuary to me and Flo in 2006 and then later a well loved Country Gent’s escape for my brother was left as Jim purchased his first house, so it was cups of tea and the lugging of boxes in order that weekend.

Puppy

I also caught up with friends whose house was in the mists of chaos after the arrival of their baby girl and also the arrival of 5 puppies all within the same week.

I also managed to squeeze in a couple of National Trust Properties and with the inclusion of me to my chum’s car insurance I travelled in Land Rover Luxury! I started off the year with a trip to Baddesley Clinton a wonderful moated manor house, followed by a brief trip to Hanbury Hall (for the record tea and cake were had at both properties)

There was the wonderful evening Snowdrop Walk at Attingham Park, where the paths were lined by candles and the snow drops glowed in an almost unnatural way.

Benthall Hall also opened it’s doors and as always even on a very cold and grey winter’s afternoon the property looked stunning and the signs of spring were showing with the bulbs just showing their heads through the soil.

March

And so to March, and although there has been no sign of the March Hare in Shrewsbury, Les (The Giant Rabbit from next door) has been keeping Flo on her toes when he stops by for a visit.

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The Month started with a fleeting trip to London to see Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic with a rather ill best friend and also with a rather taxing drive up to Lyme Park in Cheshire, which was a stunning sight and rather busy property.

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March also opened with a rather marvellous drinking session with my chum Adam, and we can honestly say we put the World to rights over many pints and Gentleman’s Cocktails

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March also involved a visit to the wonderful Croft Castle (and even in the pouring rain) spirits weren’t dampened and yet again cake was eaten! Can you see a theme here?

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March also saw the arrival of my nephew Morris, who I am very much obsessed with

Morris

March isn’t over yet and I have yet to tell you about my visit to Birmingham and the exploration of the wonderful former Birmingham Municipal Bank, but I will blog about that later!!