"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Friday, September 30, 2011

The food does not get better than Chapel House

On my way back from my walk I was hungry and thought about just stopping for a sandwich but in the end decided to just go "home" and have Richard make me lunch...and what a good decision. I could sit with the view of the garden, with a glass of wine and a wonderful salmon and salad plate...

This was as yummy as it looks...
Talked with Siobhan for awhile and felt so well taken care of...without a care I. The world, so removed was I from any problems of life...

Siobhan and Richard, wonderful hosts.

Then just took some knitting that I had bought in a local store and my ipad book and sat in the garden for a couple of hours until Bill arrived home from work.

Siobhan brought me tea....

Think it couldn't get better?

So after Bill arrived from a hard day's work at 3M, we went out for a walk, and sW our acquaintance from the night before so we stopped to talk. He told us some history of the nearby buildings and offered to show us his house in one of the very old buildings just behind the square. I did not have my camera unfortunately because his house was very interesting on the outside and probably gives new meaning to the word "eclectic" on the inside. It was quite small and had once been a bakery. An old stone oven was still there. He had a tiny kitchen and two small rooms just filled with things. Upstairs was a bedroom and a second room he called dressing room plus a tiny bathroom with what he calls a "hobbit door"' about 3 feet high. This area had probably been storage originally before the building had a bathroom.

So we went out to a wine bar on the square and shared a bottle of wine and talked.

These are some older buildings like the ones around David's house.

-We just couldn't resist eating at chapel house again. It is the best food we've had and not so expensive as to be prohibitive especially when our meal the night before had been paid for.

But instead of the regular menu, we decided to order from their lighter, and less expensive resident's menu. Bill had Pasta Wellington with a wonderful sauce.

I had scallops and risotto - two of my favorites

These were smaller but just perfect for leaving room for dessert. Bill got a banana and caramel and chocolate delight - he can't resist chocolate.

I told David to make up whatever he wanted for me so I got something not on the menu.Pears, ice cream and a wonderful sauce.

Afterwards we met Peter for a drink and went up to pack up again.

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Atherstone - the town time forgot

We began our day in the breakfast room, a room where a luncheon was held in 1985 for Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

A half of a full English breakfast.

Forgot the picture from last night of Richard, our chef and one of the owners of this family hotel.

Our acquaintance from the night before, David, had mentioned to me that Atherstone is more like the England of the 1960's and has not made many of the changes found in other towns and cities. In some ways, you could argue that it is not all that different than a much earlier time. Yes, there are items available that were not possible a hundred or two hundred years ago, but there actually were few modern items, in the main older part of town at least. Did not see one electronics store or one cell phone store...

I went out for a walk after Bill left for 3M and ended up walking about 3 hours in town and along the canal. I was tempted to take pictures of every uniquely picturesque building but felt a little bit conspicuous, as the only one in town who appeared to be a tourist...in fact when I took one of my first pictures, a man who happened to be in the picture stopped to say (I think kiddingly), "you aren't a spy, are you?" he is the guy walking towards me below. So, you don't get 100's of pictures of old buildings, just a few.

Below, the man who asked me about being a spy.

Old Atherstone plaques showing historic places

So, our tour of Atherstone begins with the church next to our hotel, St Mary's Church.

The oldest part was originally built in 1155, and the present old part shown below was rebuilt on that first one in 1385. Under Henry VIII, monasteries were dissolved and this was used as a grammar school. In 1850, the new part was built and joined to the original nave in1884.

New area of the church

The old section

Long street, formerly Watling Road which began as an old Roman road

What could be cuter than an old fashioned candy store?

Household goods -

And old version of "True Value" or "Our Own Hardware"

The very old Red Lion Hotel

Sports bar - this town was once reputed to have more pubs for it's population than any in England

See anything strange about this place?

The picture up to the right of Sweeney's is Edward Scissorshands....

The old train station has been replaced by one automatic ticket machine so the building is now a veterinary clinic.

The theme here is that really every store in Atherstone was a normal store - used clothing, jewelry, household goods, clothing but not really high fashion, gift shop - no tourist shops... But all in buildings little changed from some time ago, in contrast to other places where many interiors are completely redone and modern.And it's not to say that there are no modern buildings, there are a significant number of post WWII houses further out from the old town, and some new facilities in town.

Library and Leisure Complex

An Aldi food store

Now, walking towards the canal, I couldn't resist this one - pertly for the reindeer and partly for the sign - although in fairness I have to say this is not uncommon - people come to the pub for a pint, and there is a place for kids to play...

And i had to walk back to this sign because it just struck me as funny.

The canals were once very important to commerce and there were wharfs along them next to small factories. Atherstone was well known for producing felt hats and other industries including mining.

Now the canals appear to be mainly used for recreation - on special canal boats. I talked to one woman who was getting their boat through the series of locks on the canals who told me that she and her husband were on a two week slow-moving vacation.

The locks - you maneuver the boat in while one person operates the locks.

Ok, two more pretty canal pictures and one of the old wall of Merevale Hall and the hall in the distance taken from a bit outside of town.

Old wall behind the horse

And will end here after my three hour walk - you got off easy, your tour was shorter. Next up is my lunch and afternoon at Chapel House, bottle of wine on the town square and dinner... Then goodbye to England.

Location:Atherstone, England

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Atherstone's Chapel House

After arriving in Atherstone, we just had a half mile or so walk to the hotel - Chapel House, billed as a five star restaurant with rooms....but it's so much more.
When checking in, they knew Bill was with 3M and we were asked if we were part of the party from 3M who had dinner reservations. As far as we knew, we were not but we decided that since we wanted to try the restaurant one night, we may as well eat there the first night.

The hotel and room are beautiful

So off for a quick stroll around the marketplace and a little of the town.

And stopped for a pint of beer before dinner at the Market Tavern

Bill had a locally made beer and I had a Guinness.

We then got into a conversation with David, currently a local who seems to have had a very colorful past. He mentioned living in Paris a couple of times in his life, one time in the late 60's he said he lived "under a bridge" in Monmartre. But also he mentioned working in the foreign service. He had lost three fingers on one hand in an industrial accident. He told us stories about Atherstone and started me thinking more about the unique features here.

And look at the bobbies in the background...

So we dressed for dinner since this was a nice restaurant even though we were told we didn't have to - but I brought a new dress I had not gotten to wear and I wanted a chance...and ended up glad we did.

We walked in to the restaurant area and were led to the lounge for any pre-dinner wine or drinks. And there Bill ran into the 3M people - they were actually St Paul people - one, Peter, visiting the plant and the other Chuck and his wife, Cindy, who are currently on temporary assignment there. We sat and talked to them and ended up sitting together for dinner also with Peter insisting on picking up the tab, which was very generous!

You just knew you were in a good place when the special of the day is not decided until the chef returns from his daily trip to the market, and they do the pairing of wine to fit our meals, and just so many things. They are often quite full but this week had only Peter, us and two women staying here and we had the beautiful small (8 tables) restaurant to ourselves.

It was hard to decide and I still wonder if I should have gotten the special - octopus. But I chose local Grendon lamb and loved it.

Oh, and do i need to mention that I'll just go on a diet again when i get home?

Bill had Sea Bass Veronica - it was turbot on the menu but the market was out - love it that it was fresh...

Wine was a wonderful bottle that had been set aside for .... who visits here twice a year and always stays at Chapel House. And the dessert
Apple torte for me

And of course Chocolate Duo for Bill - dark chocolate filled with chocolate mousse.

Somehow we got talked into espresso and truffles... And then I suppose to counteract the espresso, a glass of whiskey....these 3M managers know how to live.....

And then to bed....so I can be ready to explore the town tomorrow.

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Location:Friar's Gate,Atherstone,United Kingdom