That’s the entrance to Marylebone Station from London, taking you out to Aylesbury and the surrounding area, or as far as Snow Hill in Birmingham.
Travelling via Bicester or Banbury we normally arrive in and depart from London via Marylebone, so we know the station pretty well. From Marylebone the underground delivers us quickly to the middle of London via the Bakerloo line. On a good day it can be almost quicker to walk to nearby Baker Street station, especially if we want to pick up an underground line other than Bakerloo.
Marylebone Station – A Bit of History
Marylebone opened in 1899 as the London terminus for the Great Central Main Line. In 1993, after problems and a threat of closure, it became the terminus for the Chiltern Main Line, run by Chiltern Railways.
Marylebone is the smallest and quietest of the London stations, though it does handle a growing amount of commuter traffic as towns to the North grow. Rush hour trains are frequently full.
I spotted this beautiful old, obviously restored, steam traction engine at the BBC Countryfile Live show at Castle Howard in Yorkshire. These big old machines are fascinating, especially when compared to modern machinery.
The badge and logo on the engine show that Marshal Sons & Co., produced the original engine. This company traces its roots back to 1848 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
Into the 20th century, Marshall Sons & Co became involved in the production of steam traction engines. They also produced other types of steam engines, eventually moving to internal combustion engine based tractors and all kinds of industrial equipment. At one point they even produced an aeroplane!
The steam traction engine belt drive is running a thresher, apparently produced by William Foster & Co. That’s another Lincolnshire company with its roots in the 19th Century. William Foster also produced tanks during and after the First World War.
The two companies I have mentioned here eventually merged with bigger organisations. Their names disappeared over time, except on historic machines like this tractor and thresher.
Modern farming equipment may be impressive but the glamour and beauty of these old machines remains.
Our crazy summer of 2019. What more do you want from an English summer – heat, rain, coffee, mud, country trips, more coffee, fast cars, aeroplanes, coffee, That was our summer of 2019, as predicted in an earlier post, Sourdough, Coffee and SEO.
Bretts Own Brews Coffee
The main event of our summer was travelling as part of the coffee team with Bretts Own Brews. We’re the backup team for when things get busy or someone needs a break. Great fun, sometimes hard work, but an opportunity to go to places we would never otherwise think of going. There were a few events for which we went along, but here are some of the most enjoyable and interesting ones. Being on the “other side” as a trader gives a totally different view of the event and the people attending it. You get the odd chance to wander around and see the event, but you are not part of it in the same way as visitors. The trader gets to see people at, shall we say, their most interesting. Sometimes at their best, though not always.
Cowley Road Carnival
A riot of colour, music and food from all over. The Cowley Road Carnival started in 2000 as an idea to help regenerate the Cowley Road. The first Carnival happened in 2001, with just 5,000 visitors. The 2019 Carnival organisers expected a crowd of at least 50,000 people. We had a spot right next to the main stage, so saw some of the music acts and the procession.
Silverstone British Formula 1 Grand Prix
To anyone with an interest in Formula 1, the British Grand Prix must feature on the bucket list. Silverstone Circuit, though much changed over time, is where modern world championship Grand Prix racing was born in 1950. As part of a trading business my access to the track was limited by how busy we were, so I couldn’t go far. Located between Woodcote and Copse corners, I was able to grab a few photos of the cars on track, using various methods to shoot through the fence. Around 351,000 vistors to the track, over three days, created a tremendous atmosphere. With 150,000 of those attending on race day, coffee service can only be described as manic, until the race started. That was weekend to remember!
Standon Calling – Summer Music Festival
Located in the Hertfordshire countryside, Standon Calling calls itself a boutique music festival. Certainly it proved to be a full-on family affair with a great atmosphere. I saw a few families with at least three generations all together. Like all good music festivals, rain featured strongly, and muddy feet became the standard for a few days. Not that it spoiled the fun. Sleeping out in the back of a double cab, and staying dry, did prove a little tricky. The downside of working at a festival is limited time to see the music acts. We enjoyed a great show by Rag ‘n Bone Man on the Friday. Unfortunately we had to head home on the Sunday, fo Monday work, so missed Nile Rogers and CHIC. Next time, maybe. With the trailer in the Wild Wellbeing area, we were very close to the hot tubs. Spending an hour at the end of a busy day in wet weather (with a couple of beers) comes with strong recommendations! That was great.
Castle Howard – BBC Countryfile 2019
BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard was the event. We managed to avoid the traffic jams on the first day by arriving late in the evening and meeting the rest of the crew at a charming AirBnB, The Arches, in Slingsby, a few miles from Castle Howard. Friday dawned very wet. While the rest of the Brett’s Own Brews team headed to the event to open up, we went shopping in nearby Malton. The rain kept people away, so we had a free day. A little Yorkshire country drive took us to Hovingham, where we enjoyed a light lunch, and to Helmsley, for a bit more shopping, then back in a loop to Slingsby. It’s an interesting part of Yorkshire, deserving of another visit. The beautiful stately home of Castle Howard forms a backdrop to the event. There seemed to be good quantities of food and outdoor equipmenton display. I understand around 40,000 people visited Countryfile Live over that weekend.
Sourdough Bread Baking
After a few failures and a few “frisbee” loaves, my sourdough baking has finally reached a level of consistency, and a great fit to my lifestyle in general. Watch this space. If sourdough bread interests you, I will be writing more on this subject.
Our various travels over the summer gave us the opportunity to sample some interesting, and some perhaps not as great, foods. We dined out in Brackley at the new Marstons pub, the Paisley Pear, and the new Turkish restaurant, Little Istanbul, on its opening night. There will definitely be a few more visits to both.
Never one to simply follow the “standard” approach, I acquired a Chromebook, an HP 14A G5. I deliberately chose a low end, low cost device. More on that in a later post. On a different track, behind the scenes, and maybe not so visible, the whole SEO approach to this site has been tweaked. Search engine results are slowly improving, AMP is working, and search engine visibility has improved.
So that was our crazy summer of 2019. Summer travels come at a higher price and destinations more crowded than we enjoy. The Summer of 2019 offered a great way to have fun and experience something new. The rest of 2019 will see us travelling to a few interesting places, Watch this space! (Hint: The trips have been booked!) And don’t forget to drop in and buy some BoB’s Coffee.
A great turn out from the people of Brackley for the annual Soap Box Derby, held on the High Street on Sunday 2nd June. Though a bit of rain, late in the afternoon did see a few heading home early.
This was actually the first time I have attended this event, alongside the Brett’s Own Brews coffee trailer. It’s a pleasant afternoon out, supported by local business. The Butler’s Pie shop opened specially for the event – which was great for us – pies for lunch!
The High Street in Brackley, closed for the event, forms a superb downhill slope for the soap box derby. Lined with protective railing and bales of hay to catch off course soap boxes, and soften the crashes, the drivers can have fun. And there were a few spills!
The soap box derby is fun for all ages, with the apprentices from local Mercedes F1 delivering the fastest, futuristic looking, car (pictured above). The youngest driver was, I believe all of six years old.
And the older generation was represented.
I didn’t get a shot of every soap box, but here’s a selection of pictures from the day.
And Don’t forget the coffee.
Brett’s Own Brews was there to deliver excellent coffee as always, along with a few other treats…
Following on from our 3 Counties Saturday, with a visit to Market Harborough, we decided to tag along and visit Holistic Harborough to see BOB (Brett’s Own Brews) and Betty (the coffee shop on wheels, pictured above) in action.
Bretts Own Brews – It’s All About the Coffee
Of course the coffee is the main event for Betty. Take your pick of the usual – flat white, espresso, cappucino or latte. I have to admit to being spoiled – I drink their excellent house blend and dark blend every day as filter coffee.
Brett’s Own Brews coffee is 100% Arabica, sourced from reputable Fair Trade suppliers and roasted in the UK. Take your pick of regular milk, or a selection of non-dairy milks, such as oat, almond or soya.
If you prefer your tea, choose from a number of biodegrable pyramids from Tea People.
Keeping it Sustainable
Bretts Own Brews is a strong supporter of sustainability, using Vegware cups, which are compostible, and bamboo stirrers. That goes even to the point of separating the compostible rubbish in the bin and sending that to a recycler.
Plastic packaging, not totally avoidable in a commercial food environment, is kept to a minimum.
And A Snack Alongside Your Coffee
There is a good range of snacks available from various places:
Sourdough based biscuits from Modern Baker, specialists in healthy baking.
Cakes, brownies and flapjacks from Nat’s Kitchen. I love that lemon tart!
Though we saw some sun, it was a cold day, due to a cold wind. The Square in Market Harborough is, however a great spot for a small festival of this type. People on their way to do their shopping and the like have little choice but to pass through the square and see the festival stands.
Though small, the festival attracted a number of interesting stands covering health, hemp and similar clothing and plastic reduction. A great idea was the Festival Bookshop in its distinctive blue Citroen van.
I’ll let the photos tell the story.
And the Next One
I believe Bretts Own Brews will be at the the Holistic Harborough events in June and September, as well as a number of other markets.
Given a sunny day, they should be good events.
One to pin to your board
Grab A Mug
Love your coffee? Drop in and check out this selection of coffee mugs from my store.
I use these myself to drink my Bretts Own Brews house blend coffee every morning.
They are a quality mug. Mine has now lasted around 3 years of daily coffee and dishwasher treatment.
Call it a tour of the neighbourhood. It started out as a quick drive to check out a bakery and have some coffee. It ended up as a three county tour, featuring coffee and good food.
Brunch at the Bakergirl in Oxfordshire
Our daughter and her partner invited us for a drive to check out Bakergirl, in Great Tew, in Oxfordshire. That was a good way to start a Saturday!
We indulged ourselves, somewhat, having a taste from a range of ham and cheese and bakewell croissants, cheese and tomato foccacia bread and Chelsea buns. All washed down with some good coffee.
This is definitely good artisan baking. There is no way you will buy baked goods this good at the supermarket. The local area seems to agree, as there was a continual flow of people queuing to buy, and the cafe was full all of the time we were there.
We left with a couple of loaves of sourdough (the best bread!) and a couple of cinnamon buns.
With a bakehouse in nearby Wroxton, Bakergirl operates from a coffee shop in the Oxfordshire village of Great Tew. But pick your time – they’re open Thursday to Sunday.
Betty & Market Harborough in Leicestershire
Over our treats, our companions, our daughter & partner, commented that they were taking Betty to an event this coming weekend, and were going to check out the site in Market Harborough, an hour’s drive away. We decided to tag along.
Having worked out the layout of the square, and established that there is ample power and easy access for Betty, we took a wander around.
Coffee shops were not hard to find, as you might expect in a busy town centre. One caught our eye.
Capulus et Artem looked like an interesting little spot, offering “Clumsy Goat” coffee. It turns out that Clumsy Goat is a UK coffee supplier with an interesting story to the brand name, to do with goats eating coffee beans. Check it out on their website.
We took away a couple of cups. Not the best I’ve had, but not bad.
Capulus et Artem offers tattoos upstairs, with a small coffee lounge downstairs.
If you are around Market Harborough, in Leceistershire, on the 13th April 2019, you may enjoy Holistic Harborough in the The Square.
Holistic Harborough is a celebration of things holistic – vegan, vegetarian and related “free from” foods.
If you go you will see BOB and Betty, and, maybe The Beast!
BOB Betty and The Beast – Just Coffee
Perhaps a bit of explanation…
BOB is my favourite Brackley based coffee company Brett’s Own Brews. Focused on delivering great coffee in as sustainable way as possible, and supporting UK based suppliers, they concentrate on sourcing fairtrade coffee, which is roasted and packed in the UK. Expect single use coffee cups which are completely recyclable. Also expect vegan options of cream and milk with your coffee.
Betty is Bob’s first babe – a fully equipped 3 ton mobile coffee shop.
The Beast is the twin cab used to move Betty, as she is a heavyweight!
So, Come next Saturday, BOB and The Beast will will take Betty to Holistic Harborough. Drop in and see them!
Lunch In Towcester, Northamptonshire
Getting home took us past Towcester, so we decided to drop in for a late lunch at the The Olive Tree in Towcester. The Olive Tree has a much bigger sister restaurant in Milton Keynes.
The Olive tree is a restaurant offering Turkish and Mediterranean food. And we were not disappointed.
To us this is not a restaurant at which you order a meal, so it “Mezze with Extras”. A couple of hot mezzes for two, with various sides, including whitebait, shared between the four of us. It does confuse the waiters sometimes! An ordering mistake (on our part) also left us with a great plate of lamb and chicken. Though it was a somewhat bigger than we had planned, it was a superb meal, and not hugely expensive.
If you are around Towcester I would highly recommend the Olive Tree. Go and check it out for yourself.
And That was Three Counties in a day.
What an interesting Saturday – bouncing through three counties to enjoy good coffee, cakes and Turkish food.
That’s actually one of the beauties of living in the UK – you don’t have to drive far to find somewhere interesting and good food.
And do drop in on the Brett’s Own Brews Website, and perhaps have a look at the shop. It’s currently available in the UK from the shop, but drop them a line if you want to order from outside the UK.