Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Women's Cycling Tour, 2015

It has to be said that it's not often a national sporting event hurtles through North Northamptonshire.

We often feel quite forgotten about up here, as everything seems to be focussed on the south of the county and Silverstone etc.

So it was great that the Women's Tour came through our corner of the county, and we could showcase how beautiful the countryside, villages and towns are up here.

I was in Gretton, standing near the village green to watch the peloton - see, I've even learnt the fancy lingo! - fly past.

My friends and I had arrived early to grab a drink at the lovely Lydia's Coffee Shop near the green, and we chose our viewpoint to see as much as we could.

Which is just as well because they do really go past very quickly!  Fortunately friends of mine with smartphones and tablets were able to film it, whereas I just watched, cheered and waved until my arm ached.

These women are amazing - I can't imagine what speed they were going at when the got to the bottom of Station Road, which is a fairly steep hill to those unfamiliar with the area.

I imagine the climb up Rockingham Hill proved more of a challenge though!

There were a lot of spectators present, including all the children from Gretton Primary who'd come to cheer on the competitors.

There was an amazing atmosphere, and the excitement started to build when the Police outriders came through.  They were fabulous, and waved happily to all the children.

By the time the cyclists arrived, the cheering reached an ear-shattering crescendo and there was a sea of flag waving and happy faces.

I couldn't get over how many support vehicles they had with them - not only loads of cars carrying spare bikes, but roadside recovery vehicles, paramedics, and an ambulance, all of whom also gave us a cheery wave as they went past.

Let's hope they enjoyed visiting us up here in the north and come back next year.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

KettFest 2015

We really enjoyed our visit to KettFest the other weekend.

There was free parking in the council-run car parks, which is always a bonus, and as we walked down the path from the swimming pool car park towards the town my eagle-eyed husband spotted a pink pig.

I jest not, there was a small fluffy pink pig tucked into one of the trees in the Parish Church grounds.  Fortunately we had read about the 'orphaned' teddies which had been hidden around Kettering, so picked it up and its tag revealed it was indeed one of those rather than one that had been discarded by a disgruntled child in a buggy!

So we adopted 'Pinky' - that was the name on his name-tag, complete with instructions to visit Bear With Me on Market Street for an adoption certificate.

But before we did that, we headed to The Blitz Tearooms, next to Kettering Library.

It was our first visit - I'd been promising myself for ages that I'd go there, and we finally made it.  What a fabulous little place, all bedecked in 1940s memorabilia, it was like stepping back in time, or at least onto the set of Dad's Army!

The staff were great too, dressed in authentic 1940s garb, and music of the period played gently in the background which added to the atmosphere.

Another family were in there, who had found an orphaned teddy too.  We had a brief discussion about our finds, before settling down to wonderful drinks and cakes, with Pinky sitting on his own chair watching proceedings.

After this quick pitstop, we visited the lovely lady in Bear With Me, who was genuinely delighted that we'd found one of the toys she'd lovingly hidden for the community festival.  She gave us our adoption certificate and a leaflet of the other KettFest events.

I wish we could have stayed longer, as there were lots of different things happening in and around the town.  It was a great idea, thanks to everyone who took part.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Heaven is a place on Earth...

My family and I went to the Exton Street Market on Bank Holiday Monday.

I'd never heard of it before - in truth, I didn't really know where Exton was - but we set forth with hope in our hearts and a few quid in our pockets to go and see what it was all about.

To the uninitiated, Exton is a smallish village the other side of Rutland Water from here, and the Street Market sees as many villagers as want to take part, set up stalls outside their homes selling just about anything and everything.

We meandered around the village chatting to people, and the atmosphere was great.  Numerous food and drink options were available, and there were a whole host of stalls including the obligatory tombolas where we won absolutely nothing.

At the village green we spoke to the Rutland Ferret group, who had a number of ferrets - apparently the collective noun is 'business' - some of whom had been rescued but were now living the high life with their new owners, quite literally, as they had their own hammocks to relax in!

At one house there was a book sale, and the stall holder tried to attract my attention by offering me Fifty Shades of Grey.  Quite why she thought that was the best bet to lure me in is probably better left as a mystery, but when I politely declined she hurriedly added 'But I haven't read it myself!' which I found amusing.

We continued on our journey, briefly stopping at the music stall where there were curiously a lot of Michael Ball CDs for sale.  But in amongst these, and numerous showtune albums, I did spot The Best Of Belinda Carlisle (Vol 1) for the princely sum of £1, which is now playing in my stereo while I type.

I had this on tape originally, which I haven't played for years, and I'd forgotten how good it was.  It turns out that I can still remember most of the words too!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Car Share

I surely can't have been the only person thinking 'Turn the car around John, go and tell Kayleigh how you feel about her!' while the strains of Pure And Simple by Hear'Say played in the background, track two of Now 48.

Apologies if you don't know what I'm talking about - I am, of course, assuming that everybody watched the fabulous Car Share by Peter Kay.

Another brilliant sitcom by the comic genius who brought us Phoenix Nights, it had everything from roll-on-the-floor, pop-out-a-hernia-laughing moments (this nearly happened to me in the episode where John fell over posting his Nana's birthday card), to more poignant and thoughtful scenes.

In truth, it was a very simple concept - two people sharing a commute to work - but it was perfectly executed, and we watched their relationship develop as they discussed their lives, loves and disappointments on the daily drive to the supermarket in which John worked as a manager and Kayleigh was on promotions.

It was accompanied by some fabulous background music, supplied courtesy of fictional radio station Forever FM - it turns out that this has proved so popular there's even been a BBC playlister created with all the tunes on it -

There were also a lot of subtle visual jokes, which are well worth taking a second or even third look at on iPlayer because, like me, you probably missed them the first time.  My favourites include one about a missing husband, and a shop named after Bob Carolgees.

In addition each episode featured semi-animated surreal dream sequences, perhaps best described as a mix of Salvador Dali meets Mary Poppins - trust me, it will all make sense when you watch them if you haven't already!

All in all, it was a great show and I'm hoping that a second series will be commissioned.  I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next with John and Kayleigh, and what music Forever FM will play in the background.