Weekly Blog No 88 – UK Garden Centre’s

Today I was feeling a little better so I seized the opportunity to venture out to buy some gifts. Mr Zebrakat & I went to a local garden centre as they are a mecca for unusual gifts. Gone are the days of garden centres just offering trees and plants.

We started to walk around and I spotted this cute little bird house resembling a British post box.


Then we spotted a scarecrow looking very familiar to Worzel Gummidge.  Worzel Gummidge was a children’s programme in the late 70s about a scarecrow that comes to live and his girlfriend Aunt Sally.

We maneuvered our way around the garden centre in the garden ornaments and came across these cute animals.

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Around the corner was the Christmas section, starting to develop with Santa and other associated Christmas theme animals.

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The next section was gifts but I can’t show this section because I don’t want to spoil the surprises for the individuals. However I did buy this book  “Mary Berry” cook book for myself to try out some recipes.

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Following the gift section you navigate your way through the food section, where we brought a few goodies.

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The blackcurrant jam was bought for nostalgic reasons, I believe my grandma used to make blackcurrant jam in Ireland.

The last stop was the café, which has always a good experience with its various food & drink choice. Mr Zebrakat had a full English breakfast priced at £4.75, not only was it overpriced but it was luke warm and didn’t come with toast. We shan’t eat there again as it was a massive disappointment.

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Do you have a great place to shop for gifts, let me know.

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Weekly Blog No 51 – Rugby World Cup 2015 

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The Rugby World Cup is fast approaching although I’m not a rugby game enthusiastic, I will watch the World Cup with interest. I guess that is considered a perk when you have cancer, illness allows you time to watch these events.  This year should be interesting as I live in the town where the rugby game was invented.

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Rugby Town Sign

The game was apparently invented by William Webb Ellis in 1820’s. William attended Rugby School and the story is, that he had a disregard for rules so when playing football  he picked up the ball and started to run and this is how it all started

William Webb Ellis Stature

William Webb Ellis Stature

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Rugby School

There is a rugby museum in the town called ” Webb Ellis Museum”, which educates you on the history of the game, the development of the game, players and the ball.

The winner of the Rugby World Cup will be presented with the William Webb Ellis Cup, which recently came to Rugby on the trophy tour

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William Webb Ellis Cup

I hope to see England win, however I think it will be New Zealand and I will be following Canada with interest.

Weekly Blog No 50 – Oxford Canal 

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On Monday my husband took me to the hospital for my cancer treatment and blood tests. as we were there sometime discussing my current issues with my Net Nurse we had to rush home as there is about a 30 minutes commute to pick up Lottie (Dog) for her grooming appointment. As you can imagine after taking 2 pokes I was not feeling 100%, however I went with him for the fresh air as I seemed to be lacking the quality of outside air at this moment in time. Walking is an obstacle with my spine and GI issues…….all the fun of being a cancer patient.

Lottie attends a grooming shop in a semi rural area called Hillmorton Locks along side the Oxford Canal. This is one of those times when I kick myself for not exploring the area more in the past. It’s roughly a 5 minute drive from where I live now in Rugby and is only a 5 minute walk from where I previously lived. We get so wrapped up in our lives that we seem to dismiss what is right in front of us. Now that I want to explore, I cant due to my GI symptoms. Hopefully Oncology can get on top of everything so that I can reconnoitre.

The Oxford Canal was completed in 1790 and is 78 miles long in Central England. The canal goes through the counties of Oxfordshire, Northampton and Warwickshire, which connects to the River Thames and the Grand Union Canal. The canal was very important for trade between the Midlands and London, however the canal is more about pleasure today

oxford_canal_totalOxford Canal Map

Hillmorton Locks saw improvements in August in 1740 to ease the flow on the canal. By improving the locks there was an increase in traffic and a recorded 20,859 vessels passed through the Hillmorton Locks by 1842.

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Hillmorton Locks

Alongside the canal edge is the Canalchef Bistro offering a variety of drinks and food. Inside the Bistro is full of canal memorabilia and history.

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Full English Breakfast

The buildings next to the canal are early nineteenth century structures of red brick and slate roofs with architectural details.

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Blacksmith Cottage

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The bridge that links the canal side buildings and Hillmorton Locks.

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If you go under the bridge it leads to the boat yard

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Boat Yard

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A canal boat heading south.

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A canal boat moored at Hillmorton Locks.

images (1)Painted Canal Ware

An excellent example of British engineering and should be explored not only for a means of travel around the UK but for a possible holiday experience.

Weekly Blog No 32 – Warwickshire, UK – Part 2

Leamington Spa is an elegant town in the heart of South Warwickshire. The name Royal Leamington Spa was adopted by permission of Queen Victoria in July 1838.

As I was living between Rugby & Leamington Spa, it was very accessible to shop in both towns, however I did favour Leamington Spa. I always got a warm fuzzy feeling in Leamington Spa and I just can’t explain what I mean. The architecture is mostly of  the Georgian & Victorian periods with neutral tones. The streets are tree lined and the  town never looks dull on a grey day. I could happily say if I lived in the Midlands again I would move to Royal Leamington Spa.

Some photos of the architecture around the town

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Lansdowne Crescent,  21 properties with 4 or 5 storeys, designed by Architect William Thomas and built about mid 1830’s are now Grade 11 Listed Buildings. William later emigrated to Canada and designed some of the finest buildings in Ontario.

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The Royal Pump Rooms built early 1810’s by Charles S. Smith for £25000. The building a Grade 11 Listed Building now was a spa attraction and brought in tourists from all over the UK and Europe to bathe in the healing water. The building has multiple uses now, Art Gallery, Museum, Assembly Rooms, Cafe and Library

In the 1990’s,  Mick Jagger song Sweet Thing was filmed at the baths.  Video Link

In 1830 at the age of 11, Princess Victoria stayed at the Regency Hotel before becoming Queen Victoria.

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The statue of Queen Victoria stands outside Leamington Spa Town Hall and was unveiled in 1902. A german bomb blast in 1940 – WWII caused the statue to shift one inch on its plinth.

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Jephson Gardens was formerly known as Newbold Pleasure Gardens, however was it renamed in the mid 1840’s after Dr Henry Jephson. Dr Jephson was a renowned physician and a big advocate of the healing water of Leamington, which draw both tourists and patients to the spa town. Jephson Gardens is almost 200 years old and is an idyllic location for weddings and events.

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Jephson Memorial in the honour of Dr Jephson, which is located in Jephson Gardens was used for an album cover. Moseley Shoals is a 1996 album by the British rock group Ocean Colour Scene.

(Written in UK – English)

Weekly Blog No 31 – Warwickshire, UK

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Warwickshire

Why Warwickshire?

I once lived in Warwickshire, before leaving for Canada in 2009. I lived in a hamlet between Rugby and Leamington Spa. A peaceful tranquil place where the nearest supermarket was 7 miles away. The hamlet was just a few houses, a church that played bells on the day of worship to the north and a primary school buzzing with small children to the south.

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Local Church

You have to visualise this, the smell of burning wood coming from open chimneys, birds chirping a chorus line most of the day and clip clop of horse shoes along the country lane. In front of my property was a field of sheep grazing and the occasional baa especially if you looked at them. In the rear of the property was agricultural land so on occasions you would hear the noise of farming machinery.

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Sheep

This was a beautiful house and I really didn’t appreciate it enough. I spent most of my time renovating the place, working or traveling. The only downfall for me was that I couldn’t walk to a shop or post office, I had to drive, pretty much like Canada I guess.

I want to show you a couple of beautiful photos from a nearby village called Dunchurch

Dunchurch was a village to the south of Rugby and was refered to in the Doomsday Book. Some buildings date back to the 15th century and are timber framed and thatch roof construction.

 

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The building below was formerly known as the Red Lion Inn before being converted into a private residence and renamed Guy Fawkes House. Historically it was reported that “The Gunpowder Plotters” were waiting for news from Guy Fawkes’s attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Their role if he was successful was to kidnap the Kings daughter Elizabeth of Bohemia from nearby Coombe Abbey.

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Guy Fawkes House

Next week I will continue with Warwickshire.

(Written in UK – English)