Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Wotton-under-Edge...doesn't it just conjur up images of a sleepy little town of higgledy piggledy narrow lanes tucked under a blanket of rolling Cotswold hills? Well, that's exactly what it was. Jill was dreaming, scheming, plotting and planning (nothing new there then) as she peered intently through the estate agents window, until I pointed out that she really couldn't swap her Pennyslvania farm house with acres of land for the same price as a shoebox in the Cotswolds. Hopes and dreams dashed, and after a quick visit to a "real" Post Office (i.e. one that wasn't at the back of a Co-Op) we reluctantly set off up and over "the edge" in pursuit of the "Cotswold Way"
Wotton had started out as in Saxon times as "Wudu tun" (The farm in the wood) the "under edge" being added later around 14c to accentuate its position below the Cotswold edge. The snippet of historical fact that interested me the most was the story of Isaac Pitman, a local Wesleyan teacher. upon gaining his first post in Humberside he was desperate to return to his western routes, and who could blame him? On his way back home he happened to meet a C of E chap, who somehow persuaded him to "convert" to the "other side". Well, you can imagine, he wasn't exactly welcomed back into the bosom of the Wesleyan Chapel. Hunted out of town in disgrace, he was to have the last short word on this story. Determined to stay in his home town, he set up a rival C of E School and invented a shorthand system for his pupils. Yes indeed, here we were at the birthplace of "Sir Isaac Pitmen" inventor of Phonography.
We hadn't got very far when the threatenly grey skies decided to make our day's walk just a tad more uncomfortable. We had no choice but to "abort" the way in favour of the road. Passing by what was originally called "Soppa Burgh" conjured up thoughts of some cosmic Saxon stroking a crystal ball, muttering quietly "Many years from now, this place will become an area of outstanding beauty and therefore shall be attractively renamed Old and Chipping Sodbury"
We scurried on with a lunch appointment to keep with friends and family, up from Salisbury and down from Surrey. We ploughed on through the wind and the rain until it was with some welcome relief we saw a familiar car, on the horizon, that could whisk us away. Well, ok, so we cheated and skipped a mile of walking, but the thought of that warm dry pub was ooh just so tempting.
With three long tables pushed together the walking party swelled to seven. Soon we were tucking into delicious pub grub. With one eye on the gloomy weather through the steamy windows, we took a vote on shortening the next stretch to a 5 miler. Maps were scoured and cars were driven to the finishing line at Littleton.
And so, it was a happy band of Pilgrims that left the pub, consisting of me, Jill, husband (mine) Keith, friends Jane and Lynn, Lynns Sister, and Jane's Dad... and then the sky finally decided to brighten up our route and so there we were, finally! posing for photographs along the "Cotswold Way" It was muddy, wet, but worth it. One day, I thought, I'll come back and do this "Way" good and proper. With today's good company it was but a 5 mile hop, skip and a muddy jump to Littleton. It had been brief, but I would be back (with Jane next time) to pick up where we left off.
Friday, 28 November 2008
Friday, 10 October 2008
Saturday, 4 October 2008
That's me, on the right, riding the crest of a "Severn Bore" wave. Not bad for a novice, if I do say so myself!
I lie, of course. But I was interested in finding out about the phenomenon of the "Severn Bore" and would I actually see it? On the internet was a mind boggling amount of information about precise times, dates, places, statistics and an awful lot of charts. It was all getting far too technical and I sensed I was entering "serious anorak" territory. Time to switch off, but not before ascertaining that I wasn't in the right part of the river to view a sighting anyway.
And so onto today's real, but slightly less exciting adventure.
There was no denying it, I could feel pavement through my sock, and on investigation there was a sizeable hole in my shoe. Well, all things considered, they'd lasted me well to get this far,and just as well I was in a town with a "Miletts". Half an hour later, I was bouncing down the High Street the proud owner of a replica pair of new boots. Somehow or other they bounced me in the direction of the Cathedral. As if by perfect timing I arrived during a morning rehearsal. Lighting a candle, I sat back in the pew, closed my eyes, and let the wonderful sounds wash over me.It was so incredibly moving, I really wanted to stay forever (or at least until I was thrown out) but I had to go. Another day, and another rendezvous. Today I was meeting friends from home at Upton-upon-Severn, or that was the plan.
I got there, Beverley and Glenda didn't. Caught up in traffic on the motorway, they were hours behind schedule, giving me time to check out Upton and bus timetables. Tomorrow, Sunday, we needed to get back from Gloucester to Tewkesbury. (buses ran every day-except Sunday) Oh dear!
I dawdled along the river, stopping to buy an Ice Cream. It was a lovely sunny day, and the weekend crowds were making the most of it. What a shame B & G hadn't got here to enjoy it.
Or, perhaps not. The wide path slowly dwindled down to a narrow unkempt one. That I could cope with. A couple came walking up. Stopping for a chat, their parting shot of "watch out for some nettles further along the way" proved to be the understatement of the year. 1/2 mile of waist high nettles is not "some nettles"
I pulled up my socks, pulled down my shorts to try and cover any inch of exposed flesh, raised my arms high up above my head and waded through. It hardly made any difference, the little b.....s managed to find a way. In what seemed like an eternity I finally saw an end in sight, and hoped that was the worst of it. I needed to warn the obliviously happy pair, who were by now making their way out of Tewkesbury. "Are you wearing long trousers?" "Don't be ridiculous, it's a lovely sunny day, why?" Well, fortunately for them, that was the rest of the walk into Tewkesbury was nettle free. Feeling quite brave and macho I proudly displayed my battle scars, which resembled the crater like surface of a very fiery red moon. Ever the prepared girl guide she once was, Glenda whipped out her travelling medicine cabinet and put out the fire.
As we passed by, I looked longingly and nostalgically at the "Tudor House Hotel" Although they must have been ravished by last year's floods, they were up and open for business, but unfortunately not for us. As in Worcester, in desperation, I booked a "cheap" triple room in a Guest House. In my experience, cheap does not necessarily mean poor standard, and it wasn't really that bad (for one night only) Put it this way, we were as cosy as the three bears, but there definitely wasn't room for Goldilocks.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Sunday, 28 September 2008
The phone rang "Hello! Peter here! I've arranged for the press photographer to meet us at the Pump House at 3pm, is that ok?" I gulped, and quickly set the calculator whirring in my head. Bewdley to Worcester, 20 miles at approx. 3 miles an hour, with extra time for brief stops and getting lost, meant leaving at 7.30 am. "Fine" I said, breezily, "I'll see you there!"
Oh, it was so hot, sticky and unbearably humid today, I couldn't wait to get down to the river. To spur myself on, I earmarked a "blue cup" on the map, to treat myself to a large orange juice with plenty of ice, and what passed the time was meeting a retired policeman, full of local knowledge and stories of last year's floods. In the pub garden, it was hard to believe a year ago I'd have been 3 foot under water.
Was it the heat and fatigue that had made me imagine the haunting distance sounds of a steam train? Or was it all the nostalgic thoughts of yesterday? No, as I reached the river, there up above was the "Severn Valley Railway" chugging back and forth between Ardley and Bewdley. I had to take a look, not least because there might be the prospect of an Ice Cream. Sadly, it was already getting late and the shop was closed. As the last train to Bewdley pulled up to the platform, it was calling out to me "Come on Carol, you're tired, hungry, and it's only 5 miles, I'll get you there in a jiffy"
Now, can you imagine the powers of restraint I needed not to jump on board?