It all started on Sunday, a day when I had decided to take Izzy and her friend (we shall call her Chumley for the purposes of this blog) for a day out at Blenheim Palace. And why not eh? A balmy day had been forecast, and even though I was a bit sceptical (I am convinced that weathermen use tea-leaves to come up with the forecast), I was wrong.
It was beautiful - more like an early summer's day than a late winter's one. So we all jumped into my bling machine and zoomed off to the town of Woodstock, which is where Blenheim Palace is located.
As we queued to enter, I noticed that the entry fees were displayed on a board and they were quite steep - £20 for an adult and £11 for a sprog. It was then that I suddenly remembered that Izzy and I were members of both the 'Historical Houses Association (HHA)', and also the 'National Trust'. And being members of both organisations entitled us to free entry to Blenheim Palace.
And then I had another brainwave. Once we arrived at the ticket desk, I handed over the HHA card over to the cashier, "that covers me and the ginger," I told her. And then I handed over my National Trust card. "And that one covers blondie," I told her. Cunning eh?
The cashier looked suspicous, "according to these membership cards, both your children have the same name."
"Exactly," I told her, "I can't believe more people don't do it. I NEVER forget their names." I tapped my nose in a knowing fashion.
She motioned me through with a suspicious frown, and I waved back merrily. Thank god for membership cards without photographs on them. As I always quote as one of my mottos; 'you've got to be innit to winnit'.
And so commenceth our day at Blenheim.
Pic.No.1 This is Chumley and Izzy outside of Blenheim Palace which is where the 11th Duke of Marlborough lives (they didn't allow photographs inside the property, the gits)
Pic.No.2 Following the house tour, and before we got up to any more shenanigans, Izzy and Chumley decided that they wanted an Al Fresco lunch. Good choice! The cafe's terrace overlooked the gardens and fountains designed by Landscaper Capability Brown. This is Chumley quaffing a double chocolate cake
Pic.No.3 Izzy and Chumley successfully polished off sandwiches, grapes, apple, fruit juice and double chocolate cake. And still I had to physically wrestle my walnut cake off them. It was like going for lunch with locusts. Locusts with hollow legs
Pic.No.4 After a lovely sunny lunch, we got onto the Blenheim miniature train which took us to the the 'Pleasure Gardens' - an area especially created for rugrats
Pic.No.5 All aboard! Chumley flashes one of her speciality cheesy grins. Aw!
Pic.No.6 After alighting the train, I told them they could choose what to do and where to go. They instantly adopted the random movement of molecules down a concentration gradient, or similarly, as my old workmate used to say, 'they were like a dog with two cocks'
Pic.No.7 I decided to help focus them a bit. "Do you want to see butterflies?" I asked them. They shouted 'YAY!' back so I took them into the butterfly house. [Vaguely related - I remember when I was at University doing my PhD, and my housemate (a stellar biologist) bought me some 'Indian Moon Moth' pupae for my birthday. They all hatched and then promptly died from a bacterial infection which was a bit of an anti-climax]
Pic.No.8 This is the inside of the Butterfly House. It was hot and steamy because it was supposed to mimic the tropics, and my trusty Canon Powershot S95 actually failed to deal with the challenging conditions. Shock! Horror!
Pic.No.9 I gave Izzy and Chumley a penny each to throw into the wishing well and make a wish. They told me that their wishes were a secret, but knowing kids today, they probably want some form of augmentation surgery for their 14th birthday rather than a pogo stick
Pic.No.10 The Canon Powershot did manage to get one good shot out of the Butterfly House. Maybe I had got the settings wrong, but there wasn't a button to press called 'Hot and Steamy Conditions'
Pic.No.11 I then took Chumley and Izzy to a rather exciting exhibition of 'historical garden gadgets'. But they said it was boring so I had to take them to do something else. Kids today don't know they are born. When I was young we were so poor that we had to eat lawnmowers and pebbles
Pic.No.12 Back to the fun stuff - the model village in the grounds of Blenheim ..... and then even better ..... the maze!
Pic.No.13 The maze is absolutely enormous and made for adults as well as children. You can literally spend 30 minutes in there trying to find it's epicentre. And another 30 minutes getting out. The one at Hampton Court Palace is shite in comparison
Pic.No.14 Chumley and Izzy bloody loved it, and ran round the twisty hedgy corriders with unbounding enthusiasm
Pic.No.12 This is Chumley after she and Izzy had found the tower at the centre of the maze
Pic.No.13 This is Izzy in the tower at the centre of the maze. Well done chaps!
The day had been such fun, that I decided to give them a final treat before heading home - an ice cream each. I located a cafe with surprising ease, and ordered myself a coffee whilst they stuffed the ice cream down their mushes. Then without warning, I suddenly turned really cold.
Goosebumps covered my body and I shivered uncontrollably. 'Blimey,' I initially thought to myself, 'the sun has gone down quick.'
"Come on chaps, we need to get back home," I said, ushering Chumley and Iz in the general direction of the car park once the ice creams had been scoffed.
We got into the car and drove to Chumley's house to drop her off. By the time we had said our goodbyes (and thank you for a top time Chumley!), I was rapidly alternating between cold sweats and hot flushes.
All I needed to do was drop Izzy off at her Dad's house. I knocked and he opened the door; "bloody hell you look rough," he said.
"Thanks, I love the way you always seek to bolster my self confidence," I replied, handing over the ginge to his care. "Look, I gotta go I am really not feeling too good," I added.
I drove the short distance home and within minutes of getting into the house, I jumped under the duvet in my bedroom, still shivering and shaking, and trying to keep warm in the foetal position.
Suffice to say that something was wrong and I wasn't sure what. But there will be an update in the next edition. Ciao dahlink!
P.S. Can you tell me your worst illness? The bigger the better dahlink!