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In Castle Coop, a tiny English village where nothing happens, what does everyone do? Read on and meet amongst others, the Agent and the Chairman of the Village Hall who barbecue, Bossy Brown Owl, Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge who are frightfully grand, Sir Plym and Lady Egality who throw fabulous parties, Trev the Rev who cares faithfully for all his parishioners, gardening guru, Lady Lohmann Brown, Col Pyncheon and Lady Sebright who love watching Foyle's War and Lady Liberty who has just cycled to Paris..
On Saturday, Castle Coop will be a hive of activity. All the villagers were asked weeks ago by Sir Plym to save the date for the Autumn Clear- Up and Barbecue.
Lord and Lady Eftie Nudge were to have waved the flag to start the Clear-Up officially at 10.30am but unfortunately they have taken the Bentley on a vintage car rally in Bavaria and so won’t be able to attend.
Everyone else has promised to bring their rakes, strimmers and wheelbarrows; by Saturday lunchtime all the old summer growth which is making the village look so messy, will be cut back and tidied and the churchyard, the verges and the hedgerows should be in immaculate order ready for the winter… Hurrah!
No-one is really thinking about the Clear-Up however because immediately after it, inspired by the Great British Bake-Off , we’re going to hold our own exciting cooking contest: The Castle Coop Barbecue Smoke-Off !
Although we won’t have Mary Berry to preside over it or the G.B.B.O’s sumptuous marquee, we will have contestants and a prize!
Sir Burford Brown & Sir Plym will be barbecuing in the Blue (Gas) corner and the Chairman of the Village Hall & the Agent will be barbecuing in the Red (Charcoal) corner.
Ever since an Ox and Moose Friday night session back in September when Sir Burford Brown (who only moved into Castle Coop during the summer) dared to lecture the Agent and the Chairman of the Village Hall about the superior qualities of a quick, clean, gas barbecue over its ‘messy & slow’ – what??? charcoal counterpart, there have been two rival camps in Castle Coop. Both the pro-gas and the pro-charcoal factions have been tireless in their campaigns to canvass support for their cause.
Everyone involved in the Autumn Clear-Up will be asked to test out sausages and burgers cooked by both the Reds & the Blues in carefully monitored conditions. A democratic vote will decide which barbecue method we all think produces the most delicious results and Trev the Rev will then present the victors with a magnificent Castle Coop Barbecue Smoke-Off Trophy.
N.B. Strong views as to gas v. charcoal barbecues expressed by the readership of TAH will be read out by Trev the Rev on Saturday.
Yours getting ready for an epic smoke- off,
The best place for playing Botticelli is anywhere one’s opponents are completely captive. A carefully chosen location ensures no-one can just drift away claiming that there’s a spot of vacuum cleaning that just has to be done. A stationary chair-lift stuck on its way up to the top of the ski slope fits the bill perfectly.
The absolute instant my opponent tells me the letter their famous person’s name begins with, every single famous person I’ve ever heard of flies out of my head. Even on ‘C’ names, when Churchill or Eric Clapton ought to be fairly obvious. IMO this gives the game the required element of exciting panic which is necessary for the game’s A* ranking as I have to bluff like mad until I can think of someone to ask about.
Lady Sebright was a ballet dancer in her youth. Whenever she chooses a famous person, Lady Egality and I have to put ourselves through hoops trying not to guess the answer too soon as we pretty well know in advance it will be either Margot Fonteyn, Nureyev, Anna Pavlova or Darcy Bussell.
The Chairman of the Village Hall prefers WW1 British generals to ballet dancers. If you should ever find yourself playing Botticelli with him, you may be sure he’s thinking of General Kitchener if chooses a ‘K’. I once told him my famous person began with an ‘H’ and he was absolutely incredulous when he found out that I was thinking of Thomas Hardy and not Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. If the C. of the V.H. feels on a roll, there a good chance he may throw a French or American general into the mix just to keep us on our toes.
Right now, Colonel Pyncheon is anxiously waiting for the first frost so that he can nip out and pick a bucketful of frosted sloes with which to begin making this autumn’s ‘Sloe Glow’. Hurrah! We all depend on him like mad to do this for…it is a truth universally acknowledged in Castle Coop that if one has a hip flask full of sloe glow to hand when playing Botticelli, it improves the chances of dreaming up devious indirect questions enormously.
Wikipedia states in black and white (& bits of red) that ” The game takes its name from the famous person having to be at least as famous as Sandro Botticelli, who is also the answer to the archetypal question, “Did you paint a picture of Venus rising?”, referring to his painting The Birth of Venus.”
In Brown Owl’s opinion, this is ‘ just Wikipedia being silly Gloria dear, and it’s extremely sheepish of you to want to fall in with this vulgar modern obsession with celebrity status’. As she always insists we all choose someone who lives in Castle Coop, the selection field is narrowed somewhat and Botticelli games played with Brown Owl are very short indeed.
The Agent refuses point-blank to play Botticelli with me which is a source of sorrow. Our views about Botticelli are not compatible.
If any reader would care to play online Botticelli with me, I should be thrilled! I’ve thought of someone already whose name begins with M or perhaps you’d like to start? Please let me know immediately if you’d like to play!
The most important & best requirement of the award is to highlight those whose Blogs I admire and enjoy.
I should like to pass on the One Lovely Blog Award
to each of these fab Bloggers below. All have given me heaps of pleasure reading their blogs as well as much valued support to all of us in Castle Coop. I urge you to click over to the websites of these lovely bloggers if you haven’t discovered them for yourselves already!
British Detectives (@BritDectives) British Detectives
Jo Sandelson (@josandelson) Heirraising
KateVowles (@KateVowles) The Globetrotting Guitarist
Lisa Jarmin (@LisaJarmin) How to be a Domestic Disgrace
Mrs Nige (@Mrsnige) Thinking of You and Me:
Early this afternoon, as it was such a beautiful sunshiny autumn day,
I decided to go for a relaxing spin on my bike.
Yours remembering with heartfelt nostalgia, our lovely summer when bike rides were so much more straightforward,
Inspired by real events in the early Cold War, the new series will see Foyle (Kitchen) immersed in the dangerous world of espionage in his role as a Senior Intelligence Officer for MI5.
Honeysuckle Weeks will reprise her role of Foyle’s trusted ally Samantha Stewart, while thriller writer Anthony Horowitz will again script the new episodes.
The new Foyle’s War will explore the power of American and German industrialists and a major blight of post war Britain – the Black Market.
“We are delighted to see the return of Foyle’s War to ITV,” said ITV’s Head of Drama Series, Jane Hudson.
“Anthony Horowitz has written three outstanding episodes and the audience are in for a real treat. This series also gives us the chance to take the shoot to one of the jewels of the North West, Liverpool.”
The three feature-length episodes will shoot in Liverpool, doubling for post-war London, with transmission planned for 2015.”
Just to refresh the mind and remind one how exciting it is watching DCS Foyle raise his eyebrow while cutting to the chase, here is a trailer from 2013 for the eighth series of Foyle’s War :
“In his role as a Senior Intelligence Officer for the secret service-MI5 Foyle continues to be immersed in the dangerous world of espionage at a time in our country’s history when political and foreign governmental relationships were delicately balanced.
Honeysuckle Weeks also returns to her role as Samantha Stewart, Foyle’s trusted associate and ally who successfully navigates the shadowy world of intelligence and assists her former boss as he seeks to uncover the truth of the cases he investigates.
With each episode scripted by Anthony, he will explore powerful American and German industrialists, the latter from the chemical giant I G Farben, accused of fuelling Hitler’s War Machine, and reflect on the tangled web of promises to the Jews to create a state of Israel in British Palestine. The major blight of post war Britain, the Black Market, will also feature with the focus on some of the darkest secrets from operations conducted by the British secret service during WW2.”
I gather that the new episodes are to air on British TV (on ITV) between January & April 2015. Hurrah! They will be the sugar in the medicine of being cold for months & months. I must go and round up the actual members of the Friday Night Foyle’s War Club so we can plan our reunion meeting!
Don’t forget, if you would like to join us – The Graf (Chairman), Lady Egality (Treasurer), Col. Pyncheon, Lady Sebright & me (Secretary) watching the new series, sign up to be a virtual member of The International Friday Night Foyle’s War Club!
Yours excitedly,Read More
The Agent, my dear partner in Life, has been behaving in a most peculiar fashion recently. I can’t think what has come over him. Every now and then I catch him giving me surreptitious odd looks and when we were at the supermarket this morning, he suggested I should stay in the car even though the shopping list was massive. I’m getting quite worried about him and feel guilty that I’ve been too busy to find out what’s wrong.
Since I returned from pedalling to Paris, I’ve been researching nutritious juices and smoothies. It’s been absolutely fascinating. There are several web-sites devoted to whizzed-up vegetables and their health benefits; from them and from books, I’ve gleaned all sorts of amazing facts about green juice, vegetables, vitamins and nutrients.
Apparently broccoli has as much calcium as milk, lots of fibre and vitamin C and is a nutrient powerhouse. Wow!
Source: Innocent smoothie recipe book,
Cucumbers are another powerhouse. They “re-hydrate , cleanse, tone and wash away toxins, strengthening hair & nails and are anti- inflammatory all at the same time”. Multi-tasking!
Source: Carey Kingsbury who blogs at myjuicecleanse.com .
“The health benefits of celery are more than just lowering blood pressure. They also contain at least eight families of anti-cancer compounds to combat cancer”.
Source: Sara Ding of ‘Juicing for Health’ Hurrah!
Ms. Kingsbury & Ms Ding are mines of information about juicing and nutrients.
“Spinach juice contains 3.1 mg of iron per 3.5 oz. serving, which is quite high for a non-animal-based food. Having healthy iron intake promotes blood health and prevents anemia. A 3.5 oz. serving of spinach juice offers 51 mg of phosphorus. This high amount of phosphorus is a particularly valuable spinach juice benefit because … phosphorus supports strong bones and teeth and promotes kidney health.” Magic!
After thoroughly enjoying myself all week, experimenting with juicing different combinations of the above,
I am delighted to report that, should you wish to try a recipe for green juice,
a large cupful of spinach
a very small piece of celery
2 green apples
a small bit of ginger root
small bunch of parsley
a few broccoli florets
all juiced up together, make a delicious and extremely healthful drink.
Warning: IMO, adding too much celery just makes one long for a Bloody Mary.
I do wish I knew what is the matter with The Agent but I shall try & find out over supper. Having drunk several glasses of green juice this week, I feel absolutely terrific & yet he’s just asked me if I think I could be at all bilious. What on earth has prompted that? I wonder if he’s worrying that he’s coming down with flu.
Perhaps I should book him an appointment to see the doctor just to be on the safe side.
Yours wishing I knew what is wrong,
Determined not to fall off the Keep Fit & Stretchy straight and narrow, I have been very busy xtending my efforts.
I gather that Xtend barre promotes grace and flexibility and will strengthen and lengthen in an exciting new way! Here is the instructor, Ms. Andrea Rogers, looking very graceful and flexible and also rather strong and long.
I can’t wait to be just like Ms. Rogers! I can’t wait to be strong and long. I can’t wait to have a chiselled body!
Here I am in the same pose:
Looking this picture (and I’m trying to be objective), it doesn’t seem as though I’ve xtended in quite the same impressive way as Ms. Rogers. I can’t see many signs of much lengthening, strengthening and chiselling going on, let alone grace and flexibility. Actually, I just seem round.
Yours, feeling rather dejected,
View Pedal to Paris in a larger map
Wreaths were laid to commemorate those who died:
and funds raised to support for those who survive:
(youtube video source: The Royal British Legion)
(photo credit: Dave Hayward)
(Youtube video source: British Forces News)
They welcomed us with ceremonies at their war memorials in Calais:
and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris:
(photo credits: Dave Hayward)
with bunting in Auchy la Montagne
and with a feature article written by Monique Biéri the ‘Courrier Picard ‘ at Poix de Picardie:
both in his youth:
and in his old age:
Yours feeling absolutely thrilled to have been part of The Royal British Legion’s Pedal2Paris ride, 2014,Read More
Day 4: Beauvais to Paris (100.8km)
taken from the P2P itinerary – The Royal British Legion.
Enjoy the mounting sense of anticipation as you leave Beauvais for the final stretch to Paris. After lunch, you will merge together into one massive peloton for your triumphant entry into Paris.
From the outskirts of the city, Paris police accompany you, sirens blaring, as you wind through city streets to your final destination. Your first view of the Arc de Triomphe as you turn the corner is a magical moment that you will never forget. We are the only bike ride other than the Tour de France that the roads around the Arc are closed fo and cycling around this iconic monument with 300 cyclists is thrilling end to your exhilarating, unforgettable adventure.
But it’s not quite over yet. Before celebrations begin you will, as a group, parade up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the iconic Arc. During a poignant ceremony, cycling becomes secondary for a few minutes as we remember all those in our Armed Forces who are away from home serving their country – some of them in difficult and dangerous surroundings. What better way to “Stand shoulder to shoulder with all who Serve”?.
But the evening is all about celebration as we toast your fantastic achievement! As your bike heads back to London, you travel by coach to your hotel and a final celebratory dinner together, hosted by The Royal British Legion.
Day 4 – Beauvais to Menucourt
Day 4 Menucourt to Paris
and here are the very last hills for our trip:
Yours thrilled to bits to be in Paris!
Information taken from: P2P itinerary – The Royal British Legion.
Day 3: Abbeville to Beauvais (106.9km)
Following a rousing send-off from the people of Abbeville, we continue our cycling by heading south through the Somme region.
The Somme is remembered for the terrible battles of the First World War and the beautiful countryside is studded with cemeteries and other poignant reminders of the thousands of men who lost their lives. You will continue through the Oise Region of Picardie and in the afternoon there will be a special reception at the small village of Auchy La Montagne, where each year the villagers give us a wonderful welcome in thanks for their liberation by British Forces in the Second World War.
The day ends with a ceremony at the war memorial in Beauvais followed by a drinks reception at the Fire Station, before coaches take you to your hotels.
|Day 3 – 7.00am breakfast in hotels 7.40am coach from Cap Hornu 8.00am coaches from Ibis and Mecure hotels 8.45am War Memorial ceremonyDepartures at 9.00am, 9.45am and 10.00am|
Day 3 – Abbeville to Poix de Picardie
Poix de Picardie
Day 3 – Poix de Picardie to Auchy la Montagne
Auchy la Montagne
Day 3 – Auchy la Montagne to Beauvais
Here is the map for the hills:
Yours with only one more day to go until PARIS!!!
Information taken from: P2P itinerary – The Royal British Legion.
Day 2: Calais to Abbeville (120.9km)
A moving ceremony at the Calais War Memorial begins our first day in France. After laying a wreath of Remembrance, set off south-west through the beautiful undulating fields and open countryside of the Pas de Calais region. Cycling is the national sport of France and you’ll receive a warm welcome with locals cheering and waving you on your way.
Rolling road-closures and our fleet of support vehicles make sure you need stop for no-one as you cycle to ancient Desevres for lunch. You’ll then pass through the picturesque villages of Roussent and Crécy-en-Ponthieu. Our final leg of the day will bring you to the stunning town of Abbeville, which lies on the River Somme. Abbeville suffered badly in a German air raid in WW2 but its beautiful Flemish-style architecture is still in evidence.
Calais Town Hall
Day 2 – Calais to Desvres
Day 2 – Desvres to Roussent
Day 2 – Roussent to Crècy-en-Ponthieu
Crècy-en-Ponthieu pit stop
Crècy-en-Ponthieu to Abbeville
and this is what the hills will be like:
Yours very pro the ‘plain sailing bits’,Read More