Hanging out

It’s been a busy few weeks and if you’ve been reading recent posts, you’ve probably gathered that Mum has been for a visit. The last time I saw her was on my bi-annual pilgrimage Down Under in December 2014 and, being rather a long time between familial drinks, we made a plan for her to have a three week sojourn at Gidday HQ.

Over Easter we had ourselves a three-night city break in Liverpool but this was just the tip of the iceberg – for three weeks we drank coffee, saw a few sights, did a bit of shopping and cooked some meals – Mum made some old favourites from my childhood and I added a few new dishes to my repertoire (so great to have the time and opportunity to try out a new recipe on someone else). But mainly we just enjoyed hanging out together. Here are some of the highlights.

We strolled along the Thames on a cool Spring Saturday and met some friends of mine for lunch at the Design Museum.

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Mum, yours truly on the banks of The Thames

We took a short tube ride and spent a colourful couple of hours at Camden Market.

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Left: Camden High Street is a mecca of self expression. Right: Statue of local girl Amy Winehouse

We also managed a Fab Four, post-Liverpool top up with Richard Porter’s Beatles In My Life walking tour which wound its way through John, Paul, George and Ringo’s London haunts and culminated in that crossing on Abbey Road.

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I stopped traffic but it had to be done

We went to see Glenn Close demonstrate some serious vocal chops as Norma Desmond in the musical Sunset Boulevard and also took a trip into the world of Downton Abbey with a visit to three of the show’s most famous filming locations…

Cogges Manor Farm (aka Yew Tree Farm) in Witney…

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The top middle photo shows where Mary’s antics with the muddy pigs were filmed (fans will know what I mean!) while the roof seen top right is where Daisy gets a new perspective on Andy in the closing scenes of the series.

…the village of Bampton (aka Ripon in the series)…

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The village church (top right) was the scene of many a Downton wedding whilst the hospital scenes were filmed in this old schoolhouse to the bottom right

…and of course “Downton Abbey” itself, Highclere Castle.

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The castle is a family home – the family being the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, Lady Carnarvon and their children – and as such is only open to visitors 60 days a year. Did you know that their ancestor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered Tutankhamun‘s tomb with Howard Carter in 1922?

Then on Monday night I put Mum on a plane and that, my friends, was that. Three weeks – gone by in a flash.

It was busy and full and so fabulous to spend time with Mum. And even though it’s always tough to say goodbye, there’s only about 8 months (or 251 sleeps) to go until I arrive in Melbourne for Christmas. In the meantime, this weekend has been ‘going-out free’ and today, with the washing drying in the Spring sunshine, the patio might be beckoning…

Going Downto(w)n…

There has been a blogging hiatus here at Gidday HQ as life in general overtook…well everything over the last couple of weeks. Preparing our exhibition at an international industry fair last week has been a six month affair but the last couple of weeks have been all-consuming and short of tapping out my 3am lists of things to do here on Gidday – not very interesting reading – I’ve been a bit bereft of my usual ability to blog about the things that I have found fascinating, curious, annoying, inspiring and funny. It was like everything all got stuck in the pipe and I couldn’t find the wherewithal to squeeze them out.

So this weekend has been a time for making space, for letting my head empty and my body unravel from the work of the last six months and in the process, I’ve discovered a whole new addiction…

Downton Abbey.

Highclere Castle, or as we know it, Downton Abbey.

I know many of you may be wondering how I have managed to come so late to this particular party in light of my predilection for the historical. Well, a few weeks ago I was out for dinner with friends and they were talking about the show, how great it was, and were quite surprised that I hadn’t succumbed. We left the pub agreeing that Season 1 would find myself to me the following day…and the rest, as they say, is history. Season 2 was done and dusted soon after.

With both a purposely empty Sunday – to recover from the last seven days away and enjoy an unimpeded re-aquaintance with my own bed – and the start of Season 4 screening tonight, I have spent this weekend watching Season 3. If any of you have watched a whole season of something in a compressed period of time, you might understand the emotional rollercoaster of watching a whole nine episodes in quick succession. There are A LOT of ups and downs in this season so I’m thinking that it was probably much less exhausting to allow a week in between viewings.

But be that as it may, I am completely hooked. So I’ll be joining the hordes of fans for tonight’s frolic through Fellowes‘ fictional take on upstairs and downstairs.

And just in case you were wondering (it’s been a little while so you may have forgotten), there are 23 sleeps to go until Lil Chicky arrives at Gidday HQ.

And I only have six working days left until I move into my new role at work

So much excitement, I can hardly stand it.