On Friday we started the weekend off as we meant to continue by going for lunch to OrientalCity (roast duck, char sui buns and pork dumplings) before heading for our lovely hotel in Burford, Burford Lodge.
After settling in, we had a walk down through Burford which wasn’t as pleasant as it sounds in the rain. Sadly, quite a few shops shut earlier than theirposted times because of the weather and lack of visitors. Anyway, in the shops that were open I bought myself a rather lovely flashing rubber ducky for the bath (pale blue with little flowers on it but flashed through pink, purple and blue) and also some traditional sweets (cola pips, parma voilets etc) and posh violet cream chocolates from Hamiltons sweet shop.
We had dinner at the hotel that evening; highlights were my starter whichwas a mushroom and stilton tartlet with crumble topping and my dessert which was a belgian milk chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and profiteroles to dunk under the chocolate! I like the fruit best so it was healthier than it could have been but only marginally!
Saturday morning started with a wonderful breakfast of fresh fruit (I dunked mine in the chocolate fountain again), juice, tea and coffee, yoghurt, toast and a full cooked breakfast including delicious Clonakilty black pudding. We didn’t have room for the cereal and muffins also available.
After breakfast we stopped in Burford again so I could buy some decorations in the Christmas decorations shop (I’d shopped in there a few years back but had resisted buying myself the same hippo ornament I’d bought for a friend. I rectified this by buying said hippo plus matching elephant).
We also browsed the little church flea market running for the day. Bought a fabulous coffee table photo book on African wildlife (yes, another one), some little owl ornaments for Pete’s mum and (don’t ask) a 1972 copy of Chairman Mao’s little red book. I wanted it from the history buff perspective and Pete thought it might prove useful when debating politics with a right-wing American who has a tendency to refer to Pete as a communist. He figures that if he’s going to get called one (although he’s not) he may as well drop in the occasional quote here and there!
So after this we went off to the cheese festival in Millets Farm Shop in Frilford. We arrived at about 11.30 am. I tasted lots and lots and lots of goodies, not just cheese. Bought some pear and ginger jelly, some mint chocolate from a posh chocolate stall and lots more chocolate from another posh chocolate stall (which came with a rather fantastic fuschia pink bag).
We’d arranged to meet an online friend and he and his Mrs found us at the special Blue Cheese tasting session which we all enjoyed. Just as well they found us as I thought it might be quite fun to wander through the queue asking plaintively “Are you my friend?” but Pete vetoed that!
After that session a good friend of ours (from uni days) arrived and the three of us pootled around together through the various food and drink tents. Enjoyed a hog roast roll with apple sauce and crackling. Bought some cheese and some sausages. Resisted many more cheeses (as we’re going away soon and there’s a limit to how many cheeses even we two cheese fiends can eat). Oh and we tried some divine ginger wine and ginger cream liqueur but resisted buying as we’ve so many bottles of liqueurs in the cupboards at home. Ooh and tried some stilton flavoured ice-cream, which was odd, so bought a scoop/ cone of the pistachio instead!
After exhausting the stalls at the festival we visited the Farm Shop and bought a number of things including two fabulous elephant shaped tea tins by Williams, one pink ele and one grey ele.I lLove them! And some delicious bottled apple and pear juice. Definitely building up the Birthday present count by purchasing bit by bit!
That evening we had wonderful company for dinner in a nearby pub with the online friend and his wife from earlier, another friend from the same board (who I’d metbefore) plus her daughter (who IS, we discovered, my twin when it comes to our tastes infood, our determination never to iron or to waste too much time tidying and our propensity to accidentally break our toes), plus their family friend who turned out to be someone I knew – we’d both been on a fantastic trip to Kenya in 2004, plus our friend Dave as well. A lovely evening.
Next morning was my birthday! Woke in the hotel and enjoyed another fabulous breakfast (including more fruit kebabs coated under the chocolate fountain) not to mention the yoghurt, toast and cooked breakfast. Spoke to my sister on the phone (she’s on holiday in Croatia) and exchanged birthday greetings. Plus opened cards including one from the hotel owner/ manager, which was an unexpected touch!
On leaving the hotel this morning we had planned to stop at the Burford Garden centre very close by but it wasn’t open yet so instead we returned to Millets Farm to visit the garden centre there as we hadn’t had energy the previous day. They had a fantastic selection of Christmas ornaments so I purchased some gorgeous ones for myself and sister, ignoring the fact that she doesn’t actually have a Christmas tree most years and I’ve already got too many ornaments for ours”
We decided to take the slow roads home and came across signs for a car boot sale which we entered as the stall holders were calling it a day. I was quite pleased to pick up two boxed 1970s raclette sets for £1!
Then on to Henley where we asked to see one of the large rooms in the Hotel du Vin (for a future visit), pootled around the farmers market and had tapas for lunch at La Bodega.
After all this I had to take a short nap on getting home, before a brief surf online to pick up birthday emails before heading out for dinner (with more friends) at our very favourite restaurant, La Lotta (Italian). Not only did they have a Happy Birthday banner stuck to the wall behind “my” table, they also gave me a card – which happened to feature my very favourite bird in the world on it – a row of little bee eaters on a branch. I asked how they knew I loved that particular bird and the manager said they didn’t but the photograph reminded him of the kind of photographs I take! Also, they gave us a cake he’d baked specially, liqueurs on the house (which they do quite often) AND a bottle of nice wine as we left, as a gift!
It was lovely to see our friends (who spoiled me with more presents) and was the perfect ending to a rather perfect weekend!