Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Lunch With Basil Fawlty.

Today's pre-planned entertainment was lunch with Basil, Sybil Fawlty and Manuel, the main characters of the now legendary 1970's comedy series Fawlty Towers.

Unfamiliar with the original series? Watch here: Fawlty Towers Best Moments.

The London dining experience we attended today was at the Amba Hotel on the Strand, and laid on courtesy of:

What a hilarious experience it was. On arrival, we bought drinks and waited for Mr. Fawlty to show us to our tables. The action began as soon as everyone was seated. The table settings were all wrong, I had two forks while Margaret had both knives. And then all the old punchlines started to arrive one after the other, with Manuel misunderstanding his every instruction.

Just as we were about to start our soup Sybil rushed out of the kitchen to announce that "chef has misplaced something of importance, please could you each investigate your bowl", at which two individuals discovered one half of chef's false teeth in the bottom of their dish. Of course Basil offered to exchange them, but had to apologise as there was no soup left, until Sybil intervened with "I will ask chef to open another tin".

At the end of the first course Manuel arrived at the table with an instruction from Mrs. Fawlty to collect the dishes (which were all mismatched crockery). He took this literally and tossed each spoon out of the dish into the centre of the table before stacking the dishes in a huge pile. He did everything a normal lunch waiter in a hotel restaurant should not do, and of course the audience loved it, becoming part of the play.

As the meal went on various famous scenes from the original TV series were acted out, including Manuel's lost pet rat Basil, and "don't mention the war", finishing with Basil's funny walk to rapturous applause. An American couple took a huge mocking in good spirit and gave back as much as they had to take.

What an enjoyable afternoon. Interactive theatre based on a popular theme, combined with quite a reasonable 4 course lunch, even though service was a little unconventional at times!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Portobello Road.

Today, having to find our own entertainment again while our daughter was at work, we decided to visit the Portobello Road and try our hand at our own "Bargain Hunt". (For the uninitiated a BBC antiques programme on every weekday at 12.15pm with Tim Wonacott).

We found out just how hard the contestants find their shopping here at the right price to sell at auction for profit. We found it next to impossible, as this is a very high volume tourist area.

That didn't stop us having a look around and enjoying ourselves though.

We took the North bound Northern line tube as far as Bank where we changed to pick up the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate. From there it is just a short walk to the markets, which are on Fridays and Saturdays. A 45 minute journey in total.

We walked the full length of the road, browsing stalls that interest Mags, (vintage jewellery), and then those that interest me, (vintage cameras),

When we reached the end of the road, walking down one side, we started to walk up the other where we found Mike's Cafe, established 1962. It was one of those brilliant old type cafes where you can indulge in a full English breakfast, two rounds of toast and a mug of tea - and all for just £7.25, not bad for this location.

We continued our walk back to the top of the road and back to the tube where we made a decision to drop off at Marble Arch with the intention of having a look around Hyde Park, and on to Oxford Circus.

However, by now the weather was really hot and sunny, and we were both whacked.

Retracing our steps on the tube we then found ourselves in the beer garden of a pub local to our temporary address in Wimbledon, enjoying a couple of pints of draught cider for refreshment before crawling back!

Another great day out, using our pay as you go Transport for London Oyster cards, travelling at off peak times, at a cost of much less than a tenner each.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Another Week In Wimbledon.

We have taken advantage of a Virgin Trains sale, (most unusual at this time of year considering it is holiday season), to buy £10 per person each way train tickets to visit our daughter for the week, who lives here but works in central London.

The train journey, as usual, was effortless, and completed in under two hours Wigan North Western Station to London Euston. Why would anyone want to complete the journey by car at these prices?

Once at Euston, we crossed the station concourse, down the escalators to join the Underground Northern Line to Wimbledon. Busy as ever.

Today we decided on a stroll towards Wimbledon High Street, and then up Wimbledon Hill towards the old village, calling at a local patisserie for morning coffee. This would be a change from the usual bustle of a visit to the city. Then it was on through the village for the short walk to the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

We had a brief look around, but chose not to purchase the concession price for the official tour at £21 per person. A look around the shop was interesting, but goods on sale there were also out of our reach. I saw a tie I quite fancied in the club colours, but at £100 not much hope of that! The properties on Wimbledon Hill were equally pricey looking, with the statutory Range Rover or Porsche on the driveway, if they could be seen behind the 15 foot security gates. In contrast the charity shops were interesting with Savile Row suits from various tailors on sale at an average £39.95, unfortunately none were in my size. One beautiful Italian 100% cashmere jacket was a "new old stock" donation, still tagged now priced at just £39.95, but alas came nowhere near me in size.

Empty handed, although Margaret did give in and splash out on an official Wimbledon merchandise top from the sale rail at 50% off, we then retraced our steps back, passing the gilded Royal Mail post box attributed to Andy Murray.

All in all a pleasant morning spent in a more rewarding way than watching "Homes Under The Hammer" on daytime TV. Tomorrow Portobello Road Market I think.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Day Excursion To The Edinburgh Festival

This week, as part of her latest visit to Europe we have my Australian cousin staying with us from Brisbane. The main reason for her trip is to complete the Southern cruise with Australian friends along the French Canal Du Midi from Carcassonne to Beziers.

Prior to this she has been in the UK catching up with relatives who are spread out across the country, and yesterday we decided to join her on her trip to Edinburgh to catch up with one of those. I arranged travel from Wigan North Western Railway Station direct to Edinburgh Waverley, a journey just short of 3 hours duration courtesy of the First Trans Pennine Express rail company. I achieved this for £40 return per person, booked in advance, taking the 08.11 train out and the 20.14 train home. The journey, particularly yesterday during unusually good weather, was spectacular travelling through the Lake District. I had booked seats around a table, and we enjoyed bacon butties and coffee once the journey started.

Once in Edinburgh at 11am, we were collected at the station and taken for lunch before being returned to the centre of the Festival action around the Royal Mile at 3.30pm.

The city was bustling with activity, with many attractions along the Fringe. We strolled around the city until it was time to make our way towards the rail station once more where we enjoyed a light snack at a local brasserie before boarding the train home.

A full and enjoyable day out, that was completed at a very reasonable price.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

How Do I Find The Windows 10 Experience?

I recently upgraded my laptop to an Apple MacBook Air because I became so naffed off with Windows persistently running slow due to the never ending stream of updates and scans it always wants to run in the background. I replaced my elderly (5years old) equipment that was running Vista with this.....

I love the MacBook, and would now never return to Windows for my main use. The speed of the equipment is phenomenal, having been designed from the outset with no moving parts, and there are no issues at all with running slow due to background updates. All my other Apple products such as my iPad and iPhone are also linked wirelessly. Take a photo on the phone, and there it is on the others, providing you have a Wi-Fi connection. This is one area of consumer use Microsoft have attempted to address with Windows 10.

However, I still sometimes use a notebook running Windows 7 for travelling, and Microsoft offered me their current free upgrade to Windows 10 during one such background update. I thought about it over 24 hours, and with nothing really to lose, decided to go ahead. Microsoft had also assessed my equipment for compatibility to the new OS during their normal background update.

The new OS comes in as a background download of some 37gb, so I chose to run this overnight. My broadband data is unlimited, so I incurred no extra cost there. Once finished, I was notified that the file was on board my laptop so I commenced the installation.

On this occasion everything went to plan and the installation completed successfully, updating all drivers for my existing hardware in the process. Once the initial file download was complete, the installation took approximately another hour to finish, but the transition was completed effortlessly.

Now that I am running Windows 10, and having also experienced Windows 8 on a friend's computer, I would say that users of that system will find 10 a great improvement, and much more user friendly.

I replaced Windows 7, and as such I was quite happy with the old system, but as always in IT, better keep up with the Jones's (no pun intended Tom), or get left behind.

I am happy with Windows 10, but still prefer OS X Yosemite on my MacBook Air.