The Trip — 2016: Part 6 — Donnington Grove

We head down the rather steep hill (Di’s sitting in her wheelie and I’m backing “up” so she doesn’t go rolling down at breakneck speed) and stop for a pot of tea (for Di) at Costa Coffee and then to the newsagent’s for magazine, candy and cigarettes. They didn’t have the cigarettes she wanted, but we got candy and her gossip rag. Then it’s back up the hill a bit to the coffee shop and the remainder of her tea.

About ten to six, I begin to push her up the hill to the bank building and it begins to rain — no, we don’t have any rain gear as we hadn’t anticipated being around so long. The doorway has a small overhang and we didn’t get too wet as the taxi was right on time. In goes Di, in goes her “wheelie” and in goes I. Fifteen or so minutes later we’re “home” again.

Gerry and I go to the local fish and chips shop and get four orders of fish, three of chips and one of “mushy” peas. The food was good although Di didn’t really like Maria’s putting the chips in the oven to crisp them up a bit — they were no longer proper “English chips” but American “French fries.”

Trip - The Donnington Hotel - Our room is in the building on the right.
The Donnington Hotel – Our room is in the building on the right.

On Wednesday it’s time to leave Maria and Gerry and head to Newbury where we will stay a night in a hotel before Heathrow and a plane to Corfu on Thursday. The same driver who brought us to Hopton picked us up about 11 am and the three-hour journey begins. Less traffic, a bit less conversation between the two ladies but a much higher volume on the radio, BBC2. Oh, what a headache.

We arrived at the Donnington Grove Hotel and Country Club. No one’s playing golf because of the rain. Our driver helps with unloading our gear, but we then find out our room is in a separate building, again uphill of the main building and reception. Another major job of moving luggage (grumble, grumble, grumble). I put Di’s scooter back together and she motors up to the room while I schlep our luggage in three or four trips.

Trip - Donnington Grove Hotel Main Entry
Donnington Grove Hotel Main Entry

She has a couple of cigarettes and I make her a pot of tea to keep her company while I take a walk — the first real exercise I’ve had in a week.

“Oh, didn’t you get enough exercise going up and down the stairs at Gerry and Maria’s or dealing with the luggage and Di’s scooter?” No. I don’t call running errands for the wife exercise.

The golf course was rather pretty, had a nice old bridge and ducks and swans aplenty so I took my camera along on the walk. I found a public footpath through the golf course and had an hour and a half walk.

Back at the hotel I enquired after a bite to eat and a drink. The whisky was good but the English make a “Canadian pour” look generous. I also brought a menu back to the room for Charlie to look at.

Oh, yeah, when I charged my drink to our room the bartender said he’d just brought my wife fresh milk and sugar for her tea.

Di’s sister, Tricia, was in the room with Di and they made dinner reservations for six o’clock. Dinner for Di and I as Tricia had to go home and get packed and ready to fly with us the next day.

Trip - Di and the finally chosen wine.
Di and the finally chosen wine.

The dinner was very good. I had a salmon Caesar salad and poached salmon while Di had a small green salad and the poached salmon with boiled new potatoes. The only snags had to do with the waitress thinking I’d ordered the pork and having to wait for my salmon and the wine.

Charlie ordered a half bottle of a sweet dessert wine and when it arrived it turned out to be not what was on the wine list, red and not very sweet or desserty. Eventually, the bartender found an acceptable wine, which Charlie liked (she had a glass or so and I finished off the rest).

Then it was off to bed to wake up at 3:30 am and picked up at 4:45 am for the trip to Heathrow and an 8:50 flight to Corfu.

The Trip — 2016: Part 5

Saturday — Be that as it may, our weekend was a rather pleasant blend of sun and rain, visiting and wine. Gerry and Maria treated us to dinner at a nearby restaurant called Theobalds (

The atmosphere was comfy, the people welcoming, the service friendly and efficient and the food . . . well, the food was excellent. We shared their 4 or 5 Course Tasting Menu:

Roast Quail Salad with Toasted Pistachio Nuts and Apple Chutney ✓


Seared Scallops with a spicy Chilli, Ginger & Lemon Butter ✓


Mousseline of Norfolk Lobster served in a Lobster served in a Crisp Pastry Case with a Buttered White Wine Sauce ✓


Noisette of Spring Lamb with a Roast Garlic & Herb Stuffing and a Madeira Sauce


Panfried Fillet of Turbot with Steamed Asparagus and a Tomato & Tarragon Sauce✓



A Spiced Savarin Sponge with Roast Strawberries


Dark Chocolate Panacotta with a White Chocolate Icecream


A Selection of East Anglian Cheeses with Wholemeal Biscuits ✓


Including Canapes, selection of bread rolls and seasonal vegetables

Following the meal, I helped Di outside to have her smoke. There we had an interesting conversation with a British couple and discussed a bit of politics, the Brexit and the husband’s desire to travel in the United States (spec. Route 66) on a motorcycle.

Trip -- Joe and Maria at Theobalds
Joe and Maria at Theobalds

Having done so myself years ago, I advised him to do it with a MC club or tour group and wished him luck and a good deal of fun.

Monday — We went to the local post office where Di intended to purchase some Euros for use on Corfu with her Barclays card. Unfortunately, she forgot her PIN and we will have to go to a bank branch Tuesday and straighten things out.

Lunch/Dinner was a lamb and sausage barbecue with Gerry’s brother and his wife joining us — a very enjoyable meal and afternoon — even if I had to spend most of the rest of the daylight hours dealing with the too early beer and wine.

Well, Gerry’s just popped in and turned on the telly to watch the Euro match between England and Iceland — so, that’s all for today. (Iceland beat England in a very poor showing for the English side.)


Di wants to get some money (Euros and Sterling) before we fly to Corfu on Thursday. So on Tuesday Gerry drives us in to Diss to get some money from her Barclays accounts. There’s a bit in one of the accounts but draws little to no interest; it’s just to make it a bit easier when visiting family in England.

Of course, Di doesn’t know what the PIN number is on the card she actually brought over from the States . . . so, she can’t access her account from an ATM. Gerry drops us off at the bank about a bit after two but can’t wait around for the adventure this turns out to be. With complications arising from having residence in the US we are in the bank until about 4:30 pm, but she did get her money. The young banker who has been helping us orders us a cab, but it will not pick us up until six. No, there is no taxi stand and all of the cars from the four companies serving the area were spoken for.

(to be continued)