Trip Start Aug 20, 2011
17Trip End Sep 27, 2011
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Where I stayed
What I did
Visited Blenheim Palace & The Rebellion Brewery
The ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace was a gift from Queen Anne to the first Duke John Churchill, following his famous victory of at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. It was also the birthplace of Winston Churchill whose cousin was the 7th Duke of Marlborough. The current Duke is the 11th Duke, now 85, and he and his fourth wife continue to live here. There was no male heir to the 2nd Duke and so the eldest daughter became Duchess and with no children of her own the title passed to a cousin whose family name was Spencer
Our tour guide for the ground floor took us through the Great Hall and the opulent State Rooms which house an exquisite collection of portraits, furniture, tapestries and porcelain and lead into the magnificent Long Library with its 10,000 books lining the walls and upper mezzanine level. It was hard to believe one family could have such wealth and continue to maintain such a property with no contribution from Government or National Trust, relying solely on revenue from tourism.
After lunch in the Palace cafe we went strolled around the vast formal gardens and then had a tour of the private apartments taking up the whole East wing and where the family still lives today, giving us quite an insight into their lifestyle. The residence is only open if the family is away on holidays. After this we went upstairs and went through 'Blenheim Palace the untold story', an audio visual experience that brought to life, the dramatic events of the family and servants over the last 300 years.
Finally we were ready to leave having spent over four hours here
What a lovely sleep we had in our beautiful attic room and comfortable bed, why couldn't we spend five nights here? The service at breakfast was first class and there was a vast range on offer but we were trying to be a bit more sensible about the huge breakfasts! It had been pouring rain most of the night and was looking like there would be no chance of our game going ahead today.
At ten o'clock Roger, a member of the bowls club, came to meet us and take us on a tour of the small boutique brewery Rebellion Beer Co. in Marlow Bottom. It was very small, only supplying Southern England but was almost like a family operation with a personal touch. We were given a tour of the beer making process and tasted some of their different beers even though it was only early morning. We spoke to a young Aussie who had just completed his four year training as a brewer one of the four working here, and he told us that he wasn’t given a go in Australia so he came to England and had an apprentice in two weeks
After lunch we walked to the Marlow Bowls Club and walking through the gate we came to a sign saying "A very warm welcome to the Australian touring team", and once inside we were heartily welcomed by lots of their members. The weather was still very threatening and after the usual formalities it was decided to commence play and we walked across the green which was rather undulating with many areas of worm castings and holes, but it was their pride and joy.
Bill and Mim were our opponents for the pairs game and were real characters. About four ends in the heavy rain began and we dived for our coats and hoods, and soon after for cover. In just a few minutes the rain cleared and despite the difficulty of everything being wet we soldiered on. After ten ends the bell rang and it was inside for tea and biscuits. Out we went again to complete the rest of the twenty one end game. Eventually they ran out six shot winners but it was a very enjoyable game and we laughed a lot. The home team got over the line again but we were the best performed pair in our side.
Lots of drinks and laughter followed and speeches for our last time. Roger, who had taken us to the brewery then presented each of us with a special badge and a small towel from the brewery as a memento, At the end of this we were all served our own individual box of traditional fish and chips which was wonderful and a great way to end our last bowls experience in the UK.