Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Great Places to Visit: Bouremouth

When contemplating your first visit to Great Britain, obvious thoughts are set first to London, then with the luxury of a longer stay or second visit the temptation to be predictable is understanding as a call into Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge is hard to argue against.

The warm, near hot, conditions currently being enjoyed across the Isles allow a rare chance to sample our Great British beach fronts (before the sun realises it has taken a wrong turn or we Brits start to 'melt' and complain that it is 'actually, too hot' and that they've not slept for days) the obvious choice will be the Regency splendour of Brighton. However, any newspaper photograph that wants to reflect upon the weekends weather will show Brighton beach giving standing room only and while the smooth round pebbles suit me most 'surf dudes' prefer the soft golden sand they'll get in Bournemouth.

With an drive down through the beautiful New Forest, you arrive at Bournemouth, who are, seemingly, happy to keep its seven miles of golden sandy beach mostly to itself. The front has two historical piers that are still very much intact and all the seaside attractions you'd expect from a coastal resort but without the, well, 'tat'. Bournemouth has the perception of being the God's waiting room with sea views and while there's some of that around it makes for a more gentile visit. That said you'll find plenty of stag and Hen parties filling the plethora of hotels most weekends.

A great base for the Jurassic Coast, New Forest and Stonehenge I'd recommend giving Bournemouth at least a try....send me a postcard. Or better still, book a car down there and I'll come too. To enquire, click here

Chirton Grange Ltd

The Royal Baby Cometh

Any new addition to a family is a truly magical moment, but surely it should, for a brief time at least, be a private moment.

Of course, William enjoys the trapping of wealth and privilege that come with being part of 'the firm' and Kate?, well she knew what she was getting herself into.

There is a scene in the film The Kings Speech when Colin Firth played by King George returns from a meeting with Parliament that has just ratified his accession to the throne (to succeed his spine less brother) and when Helena Bonham-Carter asks; 'Well?'

He nods a nod that says 'BbbBugger it, I'm gonna be KKKK-ing'

but before he spits those words out he glances, for a split second, at his eldest daughter with a 'What have I got you into' look.

William and Kate must be allowed time, a week or a month with THEIR first baby, a chance to recover, reflect and announce the name George (12-1 at William Hill). The Duchess of Cambridge is now a mother and needs to bond, worry and fuss over her new gift like the millions of mothers before her. When that little hand grabs her, or William's, finger, he isn't a Prince or future King. Simply their little boy.

So let's back off, give them time and space before he becomes the most photographed little boy in history. We need a distraction, maybe a Brit could win Wimbledon or, dare I say it, England retain the Ashes.....maybe its tIme for Aunty Pippa to dust that dress off and sashay down the Kings Road.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Hotel Coffee

My line of work requires staying in many hotels up and down the UK. Different and varied in both size and star ratings they each have their faults and plus points in varying degrees

Pro's and cons of hotels are, in many ways, personal to the guest that is visiting. While working all I need are a clean room, good power shower and more than 5 TV channels but at leisure the pool, bar and restaurant figure more so. And I am sure we are all different in our likes and dislikes of our temporary accommodation.

What I do not understand is the inability to provide good tea and coffee especially at breakfast and especially the coffee.

With too few exceptions we are blandly offered 'tea or coffee' if the answer comes back tea it is never followed with any questions like 'English Breakfast or Earl Grey' milk or lemon' etc. You'll get tea, one to two bags plonked in a pot and doused in boiling water and then set before you. It is then up to us to manipulate the cheap, weak bags around the pot to stimulate some form of colour and flavour.

If coffee is your thing then you will get a vessel of luke-warm brown liquid, that has taken minimal effort, either as bland as a tax inspector's speech or as thick and heavy as a stupid boys rugby team.

Over the last 15 years coffee houses have flourished and prospered with choices of cappuccino, latte (lattai or lartee?) Flat white, Americano (blue jeans and chino's) they offer a wide range of tea's from dark and strong to fruit, iced or hot!

Yet hotels remain in the dark ages when it comes to our most important tipple of the day. So come on Hilton, Holiday Inn (other hotel chains are available) sit down and be the 1st to have us all talking about your wonderful coffee and tea selection.

Chirton Grange Ltd

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A short history lesson on the Ashes

Unless you are Father Christmas, you will probably struggle to recall the earliest of cricketing battles between England and Australia. In fact, Santa might also have to delve deep into the grey matter because the inception of the Ashes dates back to 1882.

Following England's first defeat by Australia on home soil at The Oval in August of that year, the Sporting Times carried a mock obituary of English cricket, which concluded that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

Ivo Bligh, England captain at the time, pledged to win back "the Ashes" on the return tour to Australia a few weeks later. Although the hosts won the first Test, a match played over five days, England won the next two and succeeded in winning the series.

To mark the achievement, Bligh was given a small terracotta urn as a symbol of the Ashes that he had travelled to Australia to regain.

History lesson done and dusted.

Chirton Grange

Monday, 8 July 2013

Hampton Court Flower Show

Started in 1990, RHS Hampton Court Flower show has become the biggest flower show in the World. The show will run this year from 9th July until the 14th and attracts visitors from all over the UK and the World.

The show features show gardens, floral marquees and pavilions, talks and demonstrations. Erected on the north and south sides of the Long Water in Hampton Court Park, it is the second major national show after the Chelsea Flower Show but has a different character, focusing more on environmental issues, growing your own food and vegetables and cookery, while also offering opportunities to buy gardening accessories, plants and flowers.

Travel there in style with Chirton Grange chauffeurs for around £420 for 7 people all day.

A weekend of Sport for the British to be proud of

So it was the last weekend of Wimbledon, the deciding test for the Lions, the German Grand Prix and the Tour de France rumbles on.

The massive story from the weekend was Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon in straight sets over Novak Djokovic. After last years disappointment, losing to Federer, Murray seemed to have a steady determination in his eyes from the very start of this match. At one point, in the second set he was 4-1 down and somehow come back to take the set without losing a game. The pure relief as Djokovic smashed a return into the net to hand Murray victory was plain to see, the normally subdued tennis crowd sounded more like a football crowd. I'd like to finish the comments on Wimbledon with my favourite picture from the day, Scottish first minister Alex Salmond and David Cameron enjoying the day...

The German grand prix didn't quite go as planned for the British drivers. Hamilton had a great Friday practise and even better Saturday qualifying, securing pole position. However, tyre problems left him finishing the grand prix in 5th position, one ahead of compatriot Jenson Button. Button would be happier with his finish considering the poor state of the McLaren car this year. Di Resta would finish just outside of the points in 11th with the other Brit Max Chilton in last position.

The British and Irish Lions went to Australia looking for a first test win for 16 years. They went into Saturday's match tied at 1-1, however, what followed next was not expected. The Lions were in breath-taking form and ran in 4 tries in a spectacular 41-16 victory. Now I won't go into detail, mainly because I don't follow rugby personally but I know that many people were pleased.

Finally, the Tour de France is entering it's second week and Britain's Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey after a punishing stage 9. Froome survived a series of attacks and leads by one minute and 25 seconds. Irishman Dan Martin won the stage from Jakob Fuglsang after the two broke away from the peloton. It was a tough day for Team Sky who lost Richie Porte, starting in second place, slip badly and finish nearly 18 minutes behind the leaders. Froome looks set to hold on and give Britain a second Tour de France winner only a year after their first.

To find out more of Chirton Grange and British Sport, click here...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Top 10 Tips for Afternoon Tea

Taking afternoon tea is a very typical and quintessentially English way to while away the latter part of the day.


Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of "having that sinking feeling" during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o'clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.


Later friends were invited to join her in her rooms at  Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for "tea and a walking the fields." Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.

My rules for first time Afternoon Tea-ers

1) Wear elasticated waistband. Not trendy but trying to re-position a bloated torso, mid cream scone is not easy.

2) 1st Layer- Sandwiches.

Don't be a sandwich hero. The sandwiches are very tasty but make the mistake of having too many could come back to bite you once the scones and cream are 'active'  

3) Be safe on the tea choice. A good service will offer you a wide range of exotic tea's with elaborate descriptions. Stick to what you know! or you'll end up drinking something that tastes like a mixture of liquorice and burnt underwear*

4) Do not be tempted to 'raise the pinkie' while sipping the tea. We really don't do it anymore.

5) 2nd Layer - Cream scones  

Be prepared to feel sick after these tasty morsels have been consumed. The temptation is, of course, to load the jam and cream on the 1st scone but pace yourself - this is the critical point to staying in the game - the two scones will become 4 small plates for clotted cream and jam. 

6) Be polite - and not be the 1st to grab the cream but in contrast do not let yourself be the last. Some people cannot of fail work out the proportions and are prone to make the mistake set out in section 5. Grrr!

7) Take more tea at this point, you WILL need it

8) Now take a walk, to the toilet or make a call in the garden anything just get out of there before you tackle the cakes. Many fade and are lost at the scones point which usually indicates a novice 'tea-er' (I'm laughing as I write this) 

9) You're nearly home and dry, get your head around which cake you will take, (not literally, as fingers and/or cake fork are expected in polite circles). Take a light sponge/low cream option as comments are now being passed around the table ranging from;

'It is all lovely but I've reached adequate sufficiency.........or

'I never want to see another cake as long as I live'.........to

'Out of my way, I'm going to be sick'

10) The time comes to extricate yourself from, first the table and then the room, without drawing attention to the fact that you are struggling to walk and at this point you will thank me for the elasticated waistband tip.

*I have never eaten burnt underwear....sober
Chirton Grange Ltd