Heart attack

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Escaping Another Marathon

With the possibility of being stuck in Eaglestone due to the fact that yet another marathon is going to thunder past our front door, we drove away early up the A5 to visit one of the many and various retail outlets, Heart of the Shires Shopping Village which have sprung up along this road in the past few years just beyond Weedon. We have been there several times before and it's a pleasant enough place with small shops selling a wide range of products from clothes, kitchen wares to plants, flowers, and antiques. We had coffee and cake, a good, old-fashioned stand-by for us, as you will have realised if you've read and followed these posts avidly. I presume this place was previously a farmyard and the restaurant was the farm house. A good enough use for such a house. It was hardly busy at the hour we were there, no doubt because it was a Bank Holiday Monday and most people would have hardly been out of their beds. You will have also noticed that we don't hang about and seem to make a habit of arriving excessively early for things. I for one cannot see much point in wasting a good day off, with the sun shining, lounging about in bed, so arriving early is always a good idea as far as I'm concerned. We wandered around looking in the various shops. The antique centre was worth browsing in but quite frankly the objects on offer are really over-priced, probably because such television programmes as Antiques Roadshow, Bargain Hunt, and Antiques Roadtrip have made people aware of such famous names as Lalique, Moorcroft, and Clarice Cliffe, which, to be honest, I hadn't heard of before watching any of these shows. Several of the shops have gifts in them, such as teddy bears, cards, and other items, but a lot of the stuff is just rubbish and you'd find it in most places which attract tourists. Really naff ornaments that are only fit for a skip to be perfectly honest. Am I being snobbish? Probably. I have to say the quality of some of the stuff they sell here seems have gone down dramatically, which is a pity. Some of it is rather like the low-quality souvenir gifts you find at some seaside resorts.
We didn't stay too long. We intended being out of Milton Keynes until gone midday when the marathon was scheduled to end and the roads in and around Eaglestone back to normal. We drove back south on the A5. Carol said she had seen a signpost to another place off the A5 as we drove north just south of Towcester. I wasn't sure exactly where it was but she was certain. We came to a right turn which was actually quite difficult to see. You could have gone past if you didn't have particularly start eyesight. The sign was for The Old Dairy Farm Craft Centre. Another one of those places which don't seem to advertise too frequently and if we hadn't seen that sign on the A5 we would probably not been aware of. We drove along a rather narrow country lane and came to the village of Upper Stowe and eventually came to the Craft Centre. The houses around here are of local stone, very similar to those in the Cotswolds and we soon parked in the carpark. We wandered around the small shops within the site (presumably, like the Heart of Shires Shopping Village, a former farm. Well, 'Old Dairy Farm' does give things away.) A lot of really nice hand-made products, such as jewelry and pottery items, as well as paintings and prints. We eventually decided we'd need something to eat as it was now around midday, so we went into the restaurant on the site, The Barn Restaurant. This is a really attractive barn conversion which was really busy with people coming and going, which suggested to me that it must be popular. Also, like Waterperry Gardens, which we visited a few weeks ago, popular with bikers. We had to wait at the door to be shown to a table upstairs, a good deal quieter than the downstairs area and ordered toastie for me and salad for Carol, all very well presented and cooked. Another very pleasant place to visit and to recommend. Out of the ordinary and not like a lot of 'chain' establishments which are taking over the high street of many towns. It's good to find somewhere that is quiet and has a uniqueness about it.

We drove back down the A5 and by the time we got to Saxon Street we saw runners along the Redway, which suggested that there were stragglers finishing the marathon. But by now the sun was shining. The weather has been mixed all Bank Holiday weekend, but at least we've managed to make the most of it.
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