Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stately Homes and Sunshine ... the calm before the crash

I tell you something. You are bloomin' lucky that I am here today because by rights, if I had a weaker constitution, I would have been stone dead.

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!


  1. Losing three days out of my life on discovering bacardi and cokes were a lot bigger in Majorca than in England.

  2. My worst illness was a mild dose of Polio when I was a youngster and I had to learn to walk again.

    Mum was in panic mode for weeks.

  3. Similar to Jill, I lost a day and a half in Majorca thanks to Rum and Coke.

    As far as real illnesses go, I once had Ebola.

    I got better.

  4.  Jill you are totally hardcore! Respect Sista!! ;-)

  5.  Bloody hell. Did you have to wear those leg braces that were always on that boy with the slot in his head for money? (the one that was always outside of Boots)

  6.  Shit, I think I need some Rum and Coke - it sounds ace! But what the bloody hell is Ebola? You can't drop in a random (although exotic sounding) illness without elaboration. That is called teasing.

  7. Wow!  That day looks amazing.  Double chocolate cake.  Ice cream.  Two of my favourite things.

    Sorry to hear you are not feeling well.  I have had a cough for almost two weeks.  I saw my doctor today, who basically said, 'I think you are getting over it; however, your cough might hang around for a couple of weeks longer.'  Sigh.  That will officially be the longest I have been sick.

    I hope you back to being well soon.

  8. Those pictures are precious and I think  Blenheim Palace looks like a great day to have some fun providing one isn't ill.   As always your pictures are wonderful.   

    I rarely get flu like syptoms but  allergies are chronic and often have me feeling like crud. There are awsome drugs out there but they tend to make me loopy.

  9. You need some Florida sun

  10. am i the only one who finds "pleasure gardens" an inappropriate name for a children's playground? i mean, the last time i went to pleasure gardens, i...ummmm. never mind.

    and my worst illness? other strippers.

  11. All good things must come to an end they say - sorry yours ended up with you feeling poorly !

     Illness ? giving birth to a ten pound baby while suffering a chest infection wasn't a great experience ! Breaking my colar bone thanks to an Arrack Attack ( like Pernod ) that wasn't too good either when the booze wore off !
    Mastitis not nice either but the bloody drugs they gave me made me halucinate that I was drowning - now that was sick !

  12. PS - Get well soon hun. 

    The local wooded area in is known as the Pleasure Gardens I call it the woods.

  13.  No sorry to disappoint you but it was a very mild attack.
    The dogs are no longer outside boots with slots in their heads, The wife has confirmed that as she works for that company.
    Is it not about time for your laptop to fail again? It must be almost due...

  14. Ooh, Arak Attacks! I remember them.
    Bali, I think it was.
    Very nice. Didn't break any bones though.

  15. Hmm I think Alcohol posioning when I was 15 and downed a bottle of my dads scotch. My dad going mental that I had drunk his 15 year old malt while I thought that I wouldn't make it to see my next birthday was a low point in life.

    Pig Aids (Swine Flu) was nothing in comparison to that.

    Hope you feel better

  16. Sorry to hear that you are feeling under the weather. Hope you get better soon by the time which I hope it hasn't passed on to Izzy.....Stomach ulcers are pretty pants and I have had full blown flu on two occasions in my life. Not nice at all.....had man flu so many times that I can just about cope with the symptoms.

  17. Isn't man flu the ultimate illness then? I thought you could only pretty much survive it if you were in the SAS!

    Ugh, stomach ulcers sound bloody horrible.


  18. Thanks Big D!

    You are hard core - a whole bottle at aged 15. JEEZ!! Bet you can't drink whisky now eh?!


  19. Eh Masher, don't mess with Pen. She's hard as coffin nails that gal!!

    What is this Arak Attacks of which you and she speak?


  20. Aww, it would have been kinda poignant if you had had the leg braces, cos that was the kid that I was giving the money to everytime a penny went into the slot!!

    But I have to say, yours has been the most extreme illness yet!

    P.S. LOL you div. Actually you are right. I haven't killed my laptop in ages. Got a trip to US coming up soon though .... if I can't do it on my own, that place always helps


  21. Cheers chick!

    Your local woods is called the Pleasure Garden? Take my word for it - they'll all be down there dogging once it gets dark!


  22. Woah, Pen. You made me physically recoill three times there, before laughing my head off - 10 lb baby and chest infection? Harsh. And you broke your collar bone after drinking Arrack Attack - Yeh, you are hard as nails you are are! Oooh, mastitis - I can't think about that, it must have been agony ........


  23. Ha ha ha ha! I had never looked at it like that before - trust you! But thinking about it, inappropriate names have more comedy value.

    Blimey Kage, you are really bona fide stripper? Cool, how come you never told me before? When I was in hospital having Izzy, I shared a hospital room with a stripper thank god. We had a right laugh.


  24. P.S. actually scrub that, thinking about it, it is obvious you are stripper. Doh!


  25. You poor thing Annie, are you feeling better now?

    I've had influenza three times and it is a horrid thing to have, I hallucinate when I get it and lose a lot of weight which I can hardly afford.

    Your day at Blenheim  looks great, just as well the sun shone.  Neat trick with the membership cards...

  26. Hey Toff, I felt better on Thursday so I did a whole load of jobs that I was behind on. Which made me crash and burn again today .... sweats, fatigue. How pissy is that?

    You can hardly afford to lose weight? You lucky git. What do you hallucinate about?!!!


  27. Hey chick, I want you to direct me to the next blog post that you write when you are loopy!!! And give me the names of the drugs .... I will get some stashed up in case! He he!


  28. Awww Kevin, sorry to hear you are feeling like shit, and I hope you get back to normal soon me dear.

    Izzy would bloody love you!

    I don't like chocolate. So when Iz finds a chum who shares her love of the sweet stuff ..... she becomes a hero-admirer! So next time you are out, make sure you are not being stalked by a ginger sprog!!



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