Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beautiful Delapre and a Minor Crisis

What a gorgeous Bank Holiday Weekend that was - I hope you had fantastic weather wherever you are.

I missed quite a lot of the weekend due to travelling home on the 'red-eye' and trying to sort out my sleep patterns on Saturday. It didn't work - I'm still knackered. But Sunday was going to be all about me and my new hubby, spending time together in the UK - at last!

This blog was going to be full of great pictures I took of one of the best weekends I have ever shared with OH. Instead, I'm going to have to borrow once again.

Boots on, we walked to the abbey in plenty of time for our 3pm tour.

Delapre is a Grade 2 listed building, dating from Tudor times saved from the bulldozers by Joan Wake and converted into a records office in the sixties and seventies. It is a beautiful work of decayed - but recovering - splendour, in need of a cash injection to bring it up to the state of what you might expect a tourist attraction to be. At the moment, just a small amount of renovation work is possible, and the building is partially occupied by tenants who pay a peppercorn rent to help prevent vandalism. Some of the rooms cannot be accessed for reasons of health and safety, and other rooms are full of storage clutter, but beneath the dust and grime is a really beautiful building.

A paper ceiling rose in the salon, bearing the Bouverie coat of arms and motto: my country is dear to me, but liberty more precious. Here is the motto on a stained glass window on the north-facing stairs:

28dayslater blog has pictures of some of the oldest parts of the house. Here, the cloister candle crevices, dating from when the building was a nunnery. I don't know how old these are but the nunnery was built in 1145.

...and a Tudor doorway:

In the small beer cellar, a window was once a doorway that probably led into the chapel of the nunnery where the body of Queen Eleanor was laid to rest overnight en route to London. King Edward 1, who had loved her dearly, erected a cross at every stopping point for the funeral cortege, and Northampton's is one of just 3 remaining in the country from the original 12; although ours does not have a top anymore.

We learned quite a bit that was new to us, had an excellent time, and it was all free. Still, by showing potential funders that there's a potential audience for this kind of local tourism, the Friends of Delapre Abbey hope to show potential investors that it's worth investing in - so just by going along, we were helping out, which is nice to know.

After the tour, OH and I spread out our picnic blanket on the South Lawn, and spent some time watching horses trek along the bridle path in the ha ha, as swifts flitted overhead. I had brought along a picnic of provencal vegetable pasties, with crudités and tomato salsa - all homemade by me that morning. For pud, I made 'mock apricot tarts' - using up some of the carrot jam from Iran I bought from a deli on Wellingborough road last year. Very yummy! All was washed down with dandelion and burdock. Very 1940s! Sort of...

We then strolled through the beautiful gardens and woodland, down to the lake, where we spent some time watching waterskiers (and kneeboarders), and cooing over the cute goslings and ducklings over the other end, away from the noisy boats. I had some great pictures. *Sigh*

We ambled home at a leisurely pace, through Beckets Park, where I took a picture of Thomas á Becket's Well.

...and alas, that was the last time I saw my phone.

We were nearly home, walking through yet another park, this time The Racecourse, when some friends enjoying the sunshine invited us to join them, and we stayed chatting for ages, then had a curry from the cheap balti all the students go to (yes, should have gone home then), but got home still fairly early, and I fell asleep on the sofa. It wasn't until later I realised my phone was gone. We searched all the way up to to Becket's Park by torchlight, to no avail.

Alas, I had no insurance (EDIT: silver lining - I find I'm actually covered by my bank account. Cool beans! Let's see how things go...), and worse, had not got round to backing up the videos I took on honeymoon of OH swimming with dolphins (Definitely lost these). Whether it got pickpocketed or just lost, I had to accept I would probably not see it again, so it got reported, the SIM blocked and the phone blacklisted.

I've had a short, sharp shock into becoming more aware of phone/data security and preservation, and may blog my findings another time. But, what I have now got is an additional expense, as I had to make a decision about how to best replace my lost phone. I considered early upgrade and second hand with a replacement SIM (very expensive/merely expensive lump sum replacement funds involved). In the end I decided to run a cheap parallel contract, which will cost me an additional £17 for 3 months, reduce to an additional £12 for 15 months after that, and then go right down to £17 only for the rest of the new contract. Further research shows me I may have been able to haggle more data for that price, but I'm happy with the results... I would have been happier had we found my phone, but never mind.

I will still try the police again in a couple of days to see if my phone has been handed in. It's still worth doing.

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