summertime - a busy bee in a flower

Summertime – Flowers and Bees

Summertime. In the countryside. On a sunny day. Just sit back and listen to the buzzing of the bees as the flit from flower to flower collections pollen. I was there with my camera (Lumix TZ100).

Sourdough bread just out of the oven.
That's the bread!

Sourdough, Coffee and SEO

Only one, recent, post in some time. But it has been a busy few weeks, full of sourdough bread, coffee and SEO..

The Sourdough Journey

The big activity has been the start of a new journey, a journey into the making of sourdough bread. That’s real bread! Beats the stuff you buy from the supermarket by a long way.

Sourdough bread is, arguably, the original bread. It’s a bread making method which dates back millennia. More importantly, it’s a pure form of bread which doesn’t contain additives and chemicals.

It’s great to eat. It’s fun to make! But it is a bit of a learning curve.

And Don’t Forget the Coffee

Espresso coffee on the way with Brett's Own Brews.
That's the coffee in sourdough, coffee and SEO.
Brackley Soap Box Derby

We have also been spending time with the guys from Brett’s Own Brews with some interesting coffee plans for the summer. It’s going to be a busy summer!

Check out the Brett’s Own Brews website. If you’re at one of those events, drop in and grab a cup of coffee.

Getting The SEO Right

Getting the SEO on target. That's the SEO part of bread coffee and SEO.

And, of course, sometimes a bit of website maintenance is in order. In this case getting AMP to work and reviewing the general SEO state of this site. There’s plenty still do, but it’s looking good!

More to Come…

Watch this space, there’s bound to be more to say on all of these.

Brackley Soap Box Derby 2019.
The Mercedes F1 apprentices' entry.

Brackley Soap Box Derby

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.

The youngest soap box driver
Brackley Soap Box Derby

And the older generation was represented.

Plankton Pete's soap box heading down the track.

Photo Gallery

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…

Brett's Own Brews, a Brackley based business, was there.
Brackley Soap Box Derby

Please Pin this for Next Year’s Soap Box derby

The Annual Brackley Soap Box Derby - Please pin this to remind you of next year's event.
Holistic Harborough wit Brett's own Brews

Coffee at Holistic Harborough

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!

Holistic Harborough

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

Golden Coffee Mug - Vilankulos Sunrise on a Coffee Mug
A golden coffee 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.

The square - Market Harborough in Leceistershire.

Coffee and Good Food – A 3 County Saturday

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!

Bakergirl's coffee shop in Great Tew in Oxfordshire.

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.

Interest wall in the coffee lounge at Capulus et Artem in Market Harborough.
Inside Capulus et Artem – an interesting wall display.

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.

Holistic Harborough Poster
Holistic Harborough Poster

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…

Betty behind The Beast after a successful coffee session.
Betty & The Beast

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.

The House Blend is my choice to start the day – a big mug of filtered coffee.

Coffee & Good Food in 3 Counties – For your Boards.

Please pin it.

On our Switzerland trip. High Street in Gstaad on a Sunday afternoon.

Our Switzerland Itinerary

In September 2018 we decided do a little trip to Switzerland. The plan was to get together with a friend who lives in Switzerland and do a bit of exploring. Taking our time, as always, we were not in a rush to see the whole country in a week. Here’s our Switzerland itinerary. Not the usual well trodden tourist path, but our way.

Our Switzerland Trip

To Geneva

Luton airport always seems to be in a state of chaos when I have been there. Once we had negotiated that and waited in the inevitable budget airline queue, we were on our way, landing in Geneva 1 hour and 40 minutes later.

The approach to Geneva was directly over Lake Geneva, giving us some tantalising glimpses of the lake.

If you are heading to Geneva, consider taking a train. Catch the Eurostar at London St Pancras and you can be in Geneva in around 7 hours. Maybe not as quick as a jet but possibly more comfortable.

The train trip goes via Paris, which brings thoughts of maybe doing a stopover on future trips.

We only though of the train after we had booked our flights, otherwise that may well have been our route to Geneva.

Plage de Perroy

Switzerland. Refreshment at Plage de Perroy with a view over Lake Geneva.

All this traveling is thirsty work! Having met our friend in Geneva we took a short drive to Plage de Perroy and stopped off for a bit of refreshment.

This was our first view of Lake Geneva. Very tantalising on this warm and sunny Saturday. I posted some photos from this spot about this in a previous post: Perroy – Hello Switzerland!.

And so to Les Moulins

Suitably refreshed we headed along the A9 motorway, heading towards Les Moulins. The motorway takes you through very pretty farmlands, dotted with the odd village or hamlet. The mountains, of course, are always in view.

Exit the A9 towards Bulle. At this point the roads are typical mountain roads. Well surfaced but twisty, with low speed limits, and vertical drops off the side. I’m sure you need special training for these roads!

Les Moulins is a village in the Chateau D’Oex municipal area. Both are situated in the Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park. The area has a rich history and is essentially an agricultural area and cheese producer. Gruyere and L’Etivaz cheeses come from this area.

This is an area known for hiking and outdoor activities. If you enjoy hiking, follow the ancient cheese trails.

With little of that in mind, we arrived quite late and took our time unpacking and enjoying a glass of wine.

mde

We ended the day with a dinner of excellent pizza, using local cheese of course, at the local restaurant, Pizzeria de la Croix d’or.

Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.
Our base in the mountains in Switzerland at Les Moulins.

Switzerland Itinerary Evolves – Gstaad

Gstaad. An Alpine building with the luxry Gstaad Palace hotel in the background

Truth be told, our itinerary at the start of our Swiss trip was basically Luton to Geneva to Les Moulins and home. We always develop the itinerary as we go. And so, we spent a Sunday afternoon wandering around Gstaad.

Gstaad is very much an upmarket tourist destination which offers all year round activities. Most popular in the winter, Gstaad offers one of the largest Alpine skiing areas in the Alps.

Summer activities in the area include hiking and mountain biking.

As this was the first full day of our holiday we just wanted chill out and enjoy the mountain air and ambience of this pretty town. As it was a Sunday the supermarkets were closed, but that didn’t stop a number of shops from opening. The hotels and cafes were doing great business.

And no, we didn’t see any celebrities. The area is popular with many celebrities and Royalty do visit from time to time.

It was great to just walk and sit and drink coffee and try some local beer. At this point we really came face to face with the costs of eating and drinking out in Switzerland. CHF 28 bought us an iced coffee, a fruit juice and a couple of sparkling waters – that’s about US$28 or £22.

Chateau de Gruyeres

Since the 12th century the town of Gruyeres has been producing Gruyere cheese, starting to export it in the 17th century.

Gruyeres Castle (Chateau de Gruyeres) was built in the 13th century and has an interesting history. It is a site of national significance and is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland.

We enjoyed simply strolling around the castle an seeing the sights. it is located on top of a hill with a great view.

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

Of course, lunch at the castle could only be a glorious cheese fondue. Take your pick of a number of restaurants, some with a fantastic view.

One bar not to miss is the Giger bar, all designed in the style of the Alien movies. A swiss painter, HR Giger was part of the special effects design team for the Alien movies. Opposite the bar is a museum to his art. Definitely a must if you are into Sci-Fi.

View from the chateau at Gruyeres.
View from the chateau at Gruyeres.

Bern – Catching the Train

Bern - old city street view. A contrast of old and new.

An impulsive decision, when we found we had a day free. We decided to go to Bern and see the Bern bears. Why? It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Starting with a walk past the impressive Parliament building, we headed back under the clock tower and towards the Bear Park. Bern is a beautiful city, though we were fascinated by the contrasts. Walk down a street of well maintained old buildings, with fountains in the street. Just make sure you stay out of the way of the trams!

As efficient as the Swiss rail service is, it still takes a couple of hours to travel from Gstaad to Bern, leaving us just the afternoon in Bern. We decided to take a walk through the old city, ending up at the bears.

Heading back, we were just in time to see the show as the mechanical clock marked the hour.

The Montreux Shore

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline

Words from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” which have always stuck in my mind. Leaving late in the morning we took the drive down to the Lake Geneva shoreline at Montreux.

Indeed, we didn’t move from the shoreline, but spent a relaxing afternoon walking and chilling out.

Freddy Mercury’s statue overlooks the lake, and absolutely needed a photo or two. A small tourist train runs along the shoreline. Fascinating to ride the train and see the sights.

One trip was missed was the boat trip on the lake. Definitely one for next time.

The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.
The Montreux shore. Looking at Montreux from the waterfront.

Vevey

The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.
The big fork in Lake Geneva at Vevey.

Vevey is probably not on most tourist itineraries. The town is marked by an 18m stainless steel fork embedded in Lake Geneva.

The actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin lived in Vevey. He is commemorated by a statue on the waterfront and a museum. Our time was tight so we didn’t have time to visit the museum or nearby Vevey Castle which houses a museum. Vevey was, in fact, the place where milk chocolate was invented in 1867.

We visited Vevey to attend a small birthday party, which gave us an opportunity to see the sunset over Lake Geneva. A fitting end to our trip as we were heading home the next day.

Sunset over Lake Geneva at Vevey

Heading Home

Every autumn the Alpine farmers bring the cattle down from the high pastures for the winter. The procession is known as Desalpe. Many of the cattle are dressed up with cow bells and flowers and the procession is quite an occasion.

Just one problem. The day of Desalpe was the day we were leaving. Of course the cattle take priority on the road and our friends talked of having taken 5 hours to get to Geneva. We decided to catch the train!

And so we headed home, saying goodbye to the mountains and heading back to the UK via Easyjet.

Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.
Cows walking through Les Moulins, ready for the annual Desalpes.



Your Switzerland Itinerary

Switzerland is known for its mountains and cheese and snow and skiing. But Switzerland in autumn is well worth a visit, especially if you get off the beaten tourist track. It was very much a green and pleasant land.

The weather is mild, though you need to keep a light coat or jersey handy, particularly in the evenings.

Eating out is costly. We found ourselves paying approximately $30 for a light meal and wine (pasta, pizza, and even a burger), but the food was good. Think about self-catering.

We can’t comment much on accommodation as we stayed with friends. From what we could see, most hotels seemed to start at around $110 for a 3 star room.

Our friends took us to most places we visited by car. The roads are good, but speed limits seemed lower than we are used to in the UK. Our train rides were last-minute decisions. The Swiss rail system is excellent, and we wouldn’t hesitate to travel by train again. I would definitely consider a Swiss Rail Pass or similar. Here’s a handy guide on deciding the value of the Swiss Rail Pass, found on Travel? Yes Please.

We traveled to Geneva by Easyjet from Luton in the UK. I would seriously consider using the Eurostar for a future trip, possible with a stopover in Paris.

Whichever way you do it, take a trip to Switzerland in autumn.

A Pin to Remember Switzerland

Pleas Pin this. Our Switzerland Itinerary by hairy1travels.com.
The View from the Flight Deck Cafe, looking over the pond at the apron.

Flight Deck Cafe – Good Food and Aeroplanes

I like to spend time around light aircraft. So the Flight Deck Cafe at Turweston Aerodrome is a great way to spend time, having a meal, or just a cup of coffee and cake.

With its big windows you can enjoy your food and watch the aircraft taking off and landing. On warm summer day sit on the balcony and just enjoy the place. The aerodrome is well situated to service the local towns. It can be quite busy, especially at weekends.

The Food

The menu offers a good selection of light bites and brunch plates. We have, over time, tasted a good portion of their meals and never had any complaints. Try an all-day breakfast – that’s great. Burgers, well stacked, are also good. It’s always worth having a look at the specials board.

The Flight Deck always has a selection of tasty looking cakes. Don’t want a meal? Just enjoy a coffee and cake. And, of course, the aeroplanes.

Some of the items on the menu are gluten-free and / or vegetarian. We have always found the staff very helpful with special dietary requirements

Check out the website for the cafe. Or their Facebook Site. Have a look at a couple of our favourites below.

The View

While enjoying your meal, also enjoy the view of aircraft landing, taking off and doing circuits. When the weather is good Turweston airfield can be quite busy.

Turweston Flight centre with the Flight Deck Cafe on the first floor.
Turweston Flight Centre with Flight Deck Cafe on the first floor and the runway on the far side.

The photo of the flight centre was taken on a winter breakfast visit to the cafe. Be sure that we’ll be back come spring and summer.

Why not drop in sometime yourself.

Pin a Bookmark of The Flight Deck Cafe

The Flight Deck Cafe - please pin this to your boards.
The Flight Deck Cafe – please pin this to your boards.