Alice & The Stained Glass Window

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Whilst in Cheshire we had to pay a visit to All Saints’ Church in Daresbury and see the Lewis Carroll memorial window. Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) lived in the village until he was 11, his father was the vicar there for 16 years, and on the centenary of Carroll’s birth admirers of his work from across the globe created a memorial fund and gave the gift of this incredible window to All Saints’. The window was designed by Geoffrey Webb and dedicated in 1935.

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Beneath the Nativity scene are five panels illustrated with characters and scenes from Alice in Wonderland. It’s really bizarre, and beautiful.

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It seems kind of weird to me that the dormouse is sleeping in the teapot under the baby Jesus’ manger! I like it. It’s an unusual juxtaposition. I’m sure it says something about good storytelling, and good books.

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All Saints’ is a really lovely church, not just for the Lewis Carroll Centre, or the amazing window, but also for it’s feeling of being a real centre of the village community. There are many pretty windows to see and lovely bluebells in the graveyard at this time of year.

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All Saint’s Church is in Daresbury, five miles south of Warrington, Cheshire.

A Night at Willington Hall Hotel, Cheshire

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Set in very pretty grounds, with the most gloriously scented Rhododendrons, Willington Hall dates back to 1829. The country house has seen many changes and became a family run hotel in 1999.

Upon our arrival we were shown to our room. The front of house staff were charming and their attentiveness made it feel more like staying in a country house, rather than just a hotel.

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Our room was bright and glorious with two huge windows overlooking the grounds. On one side the walled garden contained a small pond and fountain, and on the other side the terraced gardens led down to the helipad and then allowed a stunning vista of the local countryside, cattle and all!

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There was even a huge window in the bathroom, beautifully draped with curtains. (I like curtains in bathrooms where thereÂ’s plenty of room). The bath was rather big with an amazing view from it. You could see for miles from the loo, too!

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The furnishings were attractive and the room felt spacious but not empty. Certainly not empty with three chairs, a sofa, coffee table, side table, triple wardrobe, small chest of drawers, ginormous chest of drawers, two bedside cabinets, an ottoman, four lamps, a pretty chandelier and a very large four poster bed which was marvellously soft and snuggly. Everything was very clean and well presented. The windows were a little worn in places, but thatÂ’s to be expected in a beautiful old listed house. If you donÂ’t like character then this certainly isnÂ’t the hotel for you. IÂ’d go back here in a flash though!

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We had a drink in the Study Bar and a walk around the grounds before having dinner in the hotelÂ’s Gainsborough Restaurant. (Named after the Gainsborough painting of James Tomkinson which hangs on its wall). IÂ’ve written about this here.

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The Hall was full of lovely furnishings that IÂ’d have liked to take home, including a lovely tapestry style sofa and some nice dark carved items. IÂ’d of had the collection of Champagne buckets too!

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The horse painting in the Study Bar, for some reason, reminded me of our chicken, Cheryl!

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IÂ’m rubbish at eating breakfast, especially cooked, savoury breakfasts. I had my first ever English breakfast last June at Sandie and JamesÂ’ wedding, and immediately had to eat a chunk of sticky sweet Baclava to balance things out! At Willington Hall I developed a tactical approach – I ate a bowl of Coco Pops, and then, with my sweet breakfast out of the way I was able to order Eggs Benedict. It was a huge portion which I couldnÂ’t eat all of, but what I did eat was delicious. AdamÂ’s Haddock and Poached Eggs was a much more manageable size, and tasty too.

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We had a lovely stay, a good nights sleep, good food and very friendly service – in a very beautiful and relaxed setting. IÂ’d definitely stay at the Willington Hall Hotel again, I hope I get the chance to… maybe I could move in?

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can you buy Pregabalin over the counter The room rate at Willington Hall Hotel is £175 for the Four Poster Room, including breakfast for two. It’s worth phoning the hotel directly, rather than booking through an agent, as they may have an offer on at the time.

Dinner at The Gainsborough Restaurant, Willington Hall

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As we were staying at Willington Hall (read more here) we decided to eat in their dining room, The Gainsborough Restaurant. I loved the silk panelled walls and the way the light reflected off the fabric. The room really glowed in the evening sun.

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For his starter Adam chose the http://oceanadesigns.net/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://oceanadesigns.net/envira/african-beige/ Black and White Pudding with crispy poached egg, streaky bacon and baby leaf salad. He thought it was funny that he got the end of the black pudding! IÂ’d never tried white pudding before, so I pinched a bit. Very porky. The crispy egg was pretty awesome and we spent a while deciding how it must have been made!

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I had the Braised Pressing of Rabbit. I imagined a bunny shaped pancake, but luckily I got a delicious terrine of loin, leg and wild mushroom, with a shallot puree and toasted croutons. The croutons were very thin slices of continental bread, saut̩ed in olive oil with salt Рyummy! Ta da! Best crouton award!

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My main course was slightly disappointing in comparison to my excellent starter, but it was still good. I opted for the Honey Mustard Chicken – chicken with carrot, swede, leek and parsnip in a honey and mustard sauce. I found the chicken a bit dry and the sauce a little too sweet for me. Adam definitely won on the dinners! He enjoyed his Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with fine beans, fondant potato and red wine jus.

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In the interest of all round menu awareness we had to have pudding. My Treacle and Pecan Tart wasnÂ’t as pretty as I thought it could have been (and maybe a little bit dark on the edges), but its was very tasty and not too sweet or sickly. Adam had the Rhubarb and Ladyfinger Parfait with Chantilly cream. HeÂ’d imagined it might look slightly different also, it came as a large slice. There were a few ice crystals in it, which was a shame, but it didnÂ’t take away from the taste or his completion of the pudding eating task!

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I’ve always called Ladyfingers ‘Boudoir Biscuits’ and thought of Lady Fingers as Okra, the plant used in Asian and African cuisine. Anyway!

The meal was very enjoyable, in a most lovely setting, which I think really enhanced the dining experience, and it was good value too – our 3 courses cost just £53.00 for the both of us. The restaurant is open to members of the public as well as hotel guests, and IÂ’ve been told they do a very lovely afternoon tea.

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The Gainsborough Restaurant is at Willington Hall Hotel, near Tarporley, Chester.

Helmet Shopping at Demon Tweeks

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Did we really drive 180 miles to buy a helmet? Yes. Was it worth it? Most definitely! My head is important to me and I need it (I use it everyday!) It makes sense to put a little bit of effort in to make sure I look after my massive head and get a helmet that fits properly.

Demon Tweeks superstore in Wrexham is amazing… soooo much stuff! I donÂ’t think there is anywhere else in the UK that stocks such a wide range of helmets, race wear and hard parts. In the helmet department theyÂ’ve got everything from Arai, Bell and OMP to Sparco, Simpson and Stilo. And, prices to suit everyone too. Hooray!

I had a few criteria I needed to meet: the helmet had to be Snell 2010, it had to be full face, and it needed to fit comfortably. The good thing about Demon Tweeks is pretty much everyone there takes part in, or has a strong interest in, Motorsports. I was lucky to get fitting advice from Gareth Evans, heÂ’s the Sales Manager there, but also a karting expert, having run his own team and now working in places like Dubai with other teams.

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The first helmet I tried on was the Race Safety Pro (£179 ex / £214.80 inc VAT). I found it very similar to the Hedtec that I’d tried before, it just didn’t fit right. The Race Safety Pro had a nicer pad on the top of the head, but I found the back of the helmet too shallow, and even when it was done-up I could shift it up and down far too much. If you’ve got a short head (is that possible?) then you might find the Hedtec fits, it was certainly cheap at around £150 all in, but I am learning that price isn’t everything!

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Since I was about 10 years old IÂ’ve felt the ultimate helmet was the Simpson Bandit. A cross between something from Mad Max and The Predator, I couldnÂ’t wait to get my hands on one.

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What an incredible bit of terrifying design! I was convinced that this is what I needed, until I got it on and thought about how much I could see. After my wonky bog eyes affected my clay shooting ability (marvellous excuse!) I realised that I didn’t need anything else to stop me from focusing. Im easily distracted. Can you imagine the shame of crashing your car because you accidentally started looking at your helmet? Well, that’s something that isn’t going to happen to me! The Simpson Bandit (£403.08 ex / £483.70) is beautiful. Awesomeness, but, not for me.

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Gareth was a great help, he had a huge amount of knowledge and he really guided me well. He asked me questions which encouraged me to think sensibly and make the best decision to suit me. He didnÂ’t try to up-sell or get me to buy something that I didnÂ’t need, he was just really helpful, interested and informative. Top bloke!

The Bell KF3 Sport SV (£362.50 ex / £435) http://global-mob.com/wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron=1510208211.3792510032653808593750 looked pretty cool in matt black. The little ‘duck bill’ lip around the bottom added to the styling, but more importantly adds a practical aspect for drivers of open top cars where the aerodynamics of the helmet help keep it held down (and on the head!)

Although I tried the largest size on for my big head, it just didnÂ’t fit right. I found it very tight on my face and after saying this out loud I found that I couldnÂ’t actually close my mouth – it was being squeezed from the sides and was stuck open! (I felt a bit like Barbara in Beetle Juice!)

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The Bell Sport 5 (£299 ex / £358.80) is a good entry level helmet. Well made and well padded inside. It fitted smoothly and comfortably. I had really good visibility and it didn’t feel awkward. This was the one for me!

Gareth suggested I add a balaclava, and although I was reluctant to put it on, it actually made helmet wearing far more comfortable. Even if I looked like a egg whilst wearing it… I totally did!

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I’m really pleased with my new helmet! I was so convinced that I would die of joy when I saw the Simpson, and I did behave like a bizarre child when I put it on, saying, “Look! I can see it on my face!” But after the initial excitement I realised that visibility is actually more important than looking menacing!

I canÂ’t stress enough how important it is to get a helmet that fits you, and if you are not sure then get help with fitting. If your helmet is at all loose, just imagine where it could go in an accident. If youÂ’re getting bashed about then really itÂ’d be better if your helmet stays on your head, rather than whizzing off!

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If youÂ’re looking for racewear (or possibly the best rain coat in existence!) and need advice itÂ’s well worth giving the team a call and having a chat. They can get stuff out to you for the next day if you need it. IÂ’d recommend a visit to the showroom in Wrexham though if you are after a few things or just want to get up close to lots of great kit.

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Thank you to Gareth, Dee and Matt from Demon Tweeks for all your help and niceness. (I took some Dee some eggs from Sandra and Cheryl – is that weird? I hope not!)

Find Demon Tweeks online here, or visit the super duper superstore at 75 Ash Rd South, Wrexham, North Wales.

Czecheap Challenge – The VW Polo of Your Dreams

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… or nightmares. Depending on how positive/negative youÂ’re feeling. When my friend Liz said she was selling her (t)rusty old car because she needed the money to have a donkey gelded (boy bits removed), it seemed totally appropriate to buy it. She thinks its going on a magical journey, and she’s right!

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Although it was winter and we didnÂ’t need out Czecheap Chariot until May, I thought IÂ’d just knock about in it while the roads were icy and I needed to lug random junk from place to place.

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ItÂ’s been great, apart from the knocking, the mis-firing, the engine bay being pretty much varnished with Damp Start, the broken HT leads, the mis-matched spark plugs, the broken central locking, the non-functioning handbrake, the wheels being totally out of balance and the steering wheel being on sideways, the broken gear knob, the bald tyres, the bent wheels, and the seats, the uncomfortable seats. It actually needs adult sized seats I think! They seem really short, like people in the mid-nineties were really short! Adam says its an old ladies car and they are smaller.

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Adam took the car to the £10 carwash (and vacuum). The first thing the chap there said was, “Where did you find this car?!” followed by, “Have you been keeping chickens in there?” and then, “I’m going to have to charge you £15!”

They did an excellent job of removing the grit and gravel, moss, mould and hair.

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The best thing about the Polo is that you can park it anywhere. You know those tiny spaces at the end of the car park, next to the big lumpy wall, that nobody ever parks in? Yeah! I can park in them.

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The worst thing though, is that although I can lock the doors from the drivers side by pushing the button down, I canÂ’t open it from that side. ItÂ’s not really a problem, until you park in one of those spaces at the end of the car park, next to the big lumpy wall, that nobody ever parks in. Then you find you canÂ’t even walk along the passenger side of your car, so you have to launch yourself in the right direction, key in hand and arm outstretched, and then just kind of lie there, sideways, halfway up the car, wedged between it and a lumpy wall, trying to work out how you are going to get back on your feet.

ItÂ’s okay. I donÂ’t think anyone saw me.

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Last year I got too attached to Lisa the Tigra (it was so comfy, like being on a bed!) so this year I need to hate the car! ItÂ’s happening., although for the first week we had it I felt a lot of glee whilst driving it!

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WeÂ’re doing the Czecheap Challenge to raise money for the Stroke Association, IÂ’ve written more about it here, and if you are feeling kind/generous/sympathetic then weÂ’d be really grateful if youÂ’d pop over here and sponsor us, thank you!