Blog No 142 – Stratford-upon-Avon (1st Zebra Tour)

Shakespeare Home

This weekend I met up with a couple of carcinoid cancer patients and their husbands. I had originally met Kath & Heather through a Facebook support group. Kath & I have been speaking on the phone for sometime and Heather & I have met a couple times at the Royal Free Hospital, London. This was the beginning of zebra tours, our very first one, which we hope to continue and extend to other zebras.

We all agreed to meet up in a central location for everyone, I was the closest because of my difficulties, so thank you ladies, it was huge help. Stratford Upon Avon was our location of choice. Kath came from the North and Heather came from the South and we joined in the middle.

Heathers husband aka Melboy is a fantastic negotiator, therefore he booked our trip and obtained extras for us. A hotel for a night became dinner, breakfast, lunch & drinks for us all and spa treatments for the ladies. The hotel was The Swan, Stratford Upon Avon

We started off with lunch and drinks, which was lovely. The ladies then headed to the spa for foot & leg treatment, arm & hand treatment and head & shoulder. The treatment was a scrub and then massage, it was heaven. It was 20mins for each treatment. The guys went for a walk and a swift drink. We all then went and watched FA Cup football(Soccer) in a pub as Mr Zebrakat and Kath husband Ade are big footie fans.

Just before 8pm we headed for dinner to the Bistro Pierre, where we enjoyed 3 courses, prosecco and coffee. Before heading to the hotel bar for a nightcap. We all had a lovely sleep without our furry animals.

The following morning we all went for breakfast, which wasn’t the best. However do you care when your in good company. We then started walking into the town to see the lovely sites. Amazing & beautiful town, which was holding a artisan market. We all indulged in its delights before saying goodbye to each other. We all had a wonderful time and looking to book another gathering very soon.

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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¬†caf√©, 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.

Weekly Blog No 51 РRugby 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 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 РWWII 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)