Precious time, together.

I have always been blessed since having children with a set of grandparents who will have the children on a sleepover. My Mum and Dad are old hands, with 10 grandchildren in total and very kindly, at least twice a year, take our three for a night, or two, or three.
This week it was only two nights, long enough for a three day trip with my beloved. Here is the handsome man. I love him so much, but don't tell him that or he'll get big headed.

We visited Royal Leamington Spa, a town barely detached from Warwick that we have never actually been to before. What a revelation! A really good shopping experience, with Travelodge and Premier Inn both conveniently taking up two old Spa hotels on the high street. It still bears signs of its past as a Spa centre.

The water tap on the bridge pumps out salinated water from the spring, and the Pump Rooms nearby have colonnaded walks and space that now is used for functions but, in Regency times would have thrummed with the gossip of women not too different from any stately Ma'am in Jane Austen.. The whole place had a fallen Regency splendour, with classic Georgian buildings repurposed for various needs. The ubiquitous statue of Queen Victoria was echoed in the windows of the Travelodge; yes, the Travelodge had stained glass windows commemorating Queen Victoria and Bonaparte III.
There were good places to eat for lunch and tea, but my favourite was the Bandstand Tearooms. With a pretty view out across to the actual Bandstand the name wasn't that big a stretch, and every table was laid with quaint mis-match china, cutlery that really did look like it came from Granny's old collection and a choice of delectable teas, sandwiches and cakes. I had a chai latte and rather scrummy club sandwich.

We had a full Saturday. We visited Warwick, and specifically the Collegiate Church of St Mary's. It's the home church for Warwick Castle, with a serious leaning towards the Beauchamp and Neville families as the earls of Warwick. You cannot turn around without seeing bears, especially bears in chains, in the church; on choir ends, tombs, carved on the door ways. The Bear and Staff is everywhere;

I really enjoyed the church. For a place that is still a centre of worship, it was full of details that were close enough to see and appreciate. I have never seen a bread shelf before; several members of the congregation who died in the 19th century left their estates to pay for loaves to be baked and left on the shelf for the poor. This went on until the 1920's, so not an ancient tradition.
I think my favourite part of the whole church was the tomb that took centre stage just below the altar and forces today's congregation to have a new altar below the choir. These two hold hands, even in death. Love in perpetuity. The romantic inside me found it so touching; the realist inside him read out from the guide sheet that this gesture was to record the joining of two great families and titles.

Oh, heartless fool and desolate of mind! How could you think it wasn't true love?

Saturday afternoon threatened bad weather but, nothing ventured, we went to Blenheim.
As a gift from a grateful nation for services rendered it is a doozy! I wonder who would be worthy of such reward now? And here my cynical self does say that it probably was given to the newly created Duke of Marlborough just because Queen Anne and his wife were bosom buddies. Beats any amount of Bankers' bonus!

For the price of a day's admission you can upgrade at the moment to a Privilege card. This gives you free return within a year, and indeed having really enjoyed Leamington the chances that we will go back and this time take the children is really good. We often go on a reconnaissance mission as a couple before taking the tribe. The problem is we walk around going "S would like this.... Ooh! JW would find that fascinating... DP would love this bit of history!!"  Blenheim does a good job of linking its illustrious start with the Battle of Bloendhem with the Great War Leader who was born there. Its history is linked to the country and, although it still belongs officially to just one man, I think the people who visit find it has a story that they take away with them.
Sunday dawned and we went from the sublime to the ordinary. From Blenheim to the back to backs. These are a small National Trust area in Birmingham.
The whole courtyard would fit in the entrance hall of Blenheim, and the living conditions of the people here would have been much harsher, much more brutal and much more hand to mouth. These are not the houses of the absolute poor, though. These were the homes of artisans, silverworkers, a tailor, a bread shop. Families lived in half a house, not half a room, and the situation, though crowded, was free from the industrial smoke and smog that would affect the same houses in areas of greater industrialisation.
Although the tour we booked on was a special First World War tour, the guides were still very happy to give you a taste of life in the cottages, a life you could actually live because two of the cottages are available as holiday lets. The rooms were small and the stair cases narrow and steep enough to make my knee ache really badly yesterday, but the stories dragged you on. The stories are what makes history important. I dread the curriculum that forgets that it is people who make history and that includes both rich and poor, the mighty and the might not live long. Our weekend had a real tour through history. It was very enjoyable, and definitely to be repeated as soon as possible.


  1. What a fabulous weekend, so much history, lots to see, wonderful tearooms and being alone with your beloved. I know what you mean though, even when alone, the kids always creep in to the conversation. I've never heard of a bread shelf before. I love churches, they're so interesting, there's so much history there and there's usually lots of things to be discovered and learnt. Glad you enjoyed your time away, it sounds like there'll be lots more to discover when you return.

    1. A small break and then off to Wales! I have a few days to wash and pack the house before a holiday. I seem to take everything but the kitchen sink most years!

  2. It sounds as though you had a wonderful time! It certainly looks as though you saw some lovely things and places. xx

    1. The Midlands sometimes gets a bad press and TBH Birmingham is not a city I ever want to live in or near, just because it's such a pain to get into but the area around is beautiful. I'd definitely recommend it for history buffs as a reasonable priced weekend!

  3. Sounds like you had such a wonderful week-end! I'm glad... The pictures are beautful. xo

    1. Thank you. I love playing with the mosaic makers; it's such an easy way to fit a load of photos on at once! I just wish I were a better photographer. Sometimes the things I want to do don't turn out the way I want them to!

  4. Wow you packed a lot into your time away. I love the mosaics you have done giving us a flavour of all the different places you went to. Handy to know that the hotels are right in town for RLS just in case it's somewhere we ever get to go. Enjoy your family holiday!
    Lisa x

    1. Thank you! The hotels were really good. It made such a difference that the travelodge was a converted hotel, it just made it so much more individual!


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