This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.
 
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Camping (it up) in the Cotswolds – Pt 6

The sixth and final part of our trip around the Cotswolds continues and concludes with an excursion northwest first, dropping in first on the Broadway Tower, via Bourton-on-the-Hill. You can climb the tower and I’m sure the views from the top would be great on a clear day, but given that it was a little hazy we decided against it. Having to traipse across a muddy path, wearing my eminently sensible winkle pickers, whilst Trev was wearing entirely inappropriate walking shoes may have had a bearing on it too!

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Next up was the village of Broadway itself, and another stunningly beautiful place. The road in bends around to the right and you pass through the village centre, pretty enough in itself. Turn to the left though and you come across a street appearing almost entirely deserted. A couple of solitary cars – three once we arrived – tell you otherwise but it was like arriving on a film set. Another thing absent was ‘For Sale’ signs – clearly no-one is in a rush to move from here and who can blame them.

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On the way out of town we passed another Caravan Club site – another great location and a possibility when we come back for another visit.

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Heading east, Chipping Camden was next. Another typically pretty Cotswold village, bustling but  sadly somewhat spoilt by traffic. We – adding to the traffic of course – traversed slowly in the vain hope of a parking space and, ironically, the chance of a photo without a car in it! No such luck so we moved on.

To Shipston-on-Stour, a bit further west and crossing the County line again, this time in to Warwickshire. Not like the picture postcard villages we’ve seen but an attractive little town nonetheless. It was also the hometown of Carl, the caravan mobile service chap who had so kindly given us the new hitch cover the day before. He had recommended a cafe there so we paused, initially for coffee, but then lunch. The Cafe was renowned, Carl told us for it’s Spanish fayre, with it’s Tapas a locals favourite. We predictably ignored this and opted for sarnies, but very tasty they were too.

Last stop of the day was at Chipping Norton, made famous partially (or maybe infamous) because of one or two public figures who have made it their home. Again , pleasant enough, but there wasn’t much here that we hadn’t seen before. The stop was not wasted though. An amble through  small department store in the main drag yielded a pair of driving gloves that I’d been thinking of getting for ages. Black – obviously, and leather – ditto – and reduced to half price. Result!

So, another outing for Patsy at an end and yet more confirmation, if needed, of what a wonderfully beautiful and diverse place we live in. I can see why the Cotswolds are such a draw, particularly for overseas visitors, but shudder at the thought of all the crowds in the summer – assuming we get one anyway!

Right, what’s next? Well, back to work on Monday, driving ‘posh kids’ around. Ok, the money’s not great but at least it’s not them bloody parcels anymore. Moreover, in just over a month the Easter holidays start and ‘her ladyship’ will be back on the road again, which means yet more blogs for you to enjoy – or endure!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Camping (it up) in the Cotswolds – pt 5

Thursday, and quite a stunning change in the weather. Heavy rain throughout the night had washed away the snow, the sun was out too and it was significantly warmer.

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Heading south again, first up was Bibury, almost impossibly quaint and whose main attraction is Arlington Row – thought to be the most photographed street in Britain. Have a look at the pictures below and you’ll see why. We’d ignored the satnav and ended up on a few very narrow and muddy country lanes as a result on the way, but it was certainly worth it.

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Burford was next and another stunningly beautiful place, helped too by the sun showing it’s presence. A great high street littered with local shops and, yes a number of inviting looking pubs too. Another great place to come and stay but I’m not sure my liver would agree.

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Third cab off the rank was for Minster Lovell, as we moved east in to Oxfordshire. Much smaller than Burford and with it’s own charm but  a firm favourite on the tourist trail, not least for the ruins of Lovell Hall, almost hidden by the village church at the far end of a country lane.

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Last stop of the day was in Whitney, first for a late lunch and then a stroll around the town before heading back remarking again, how different the landscaped looked only a couple of days ago.

Right, let me digress for a moment.  Our hitch cover – procured prior to our trip around the British Isles last year, was torn, discoloured and clearly needed replacing. It looked what it was – cheap and now nasty. Before Christmas I had tried to make one out of some old rubber sheeting (don’t ask) but eventually gave up and chucked it. More recently we’d found someone on eBay who could supply a personalised one and thought that would be a great way to promote my blog whilst on site. The company however were clearly not interested in my business as the couldn’t be arsed to respond to any of my emails.

There is a point to all this, please stick with it! A couple of days ago I’d put an announcement out on Twitter cheekily asking for a new hitch cover, offering a link on my blog by return. Well, we were sat having a cuppa when Carl’s Mobile Caravan Servicing appeared outside with a new hitch cover! We had another cuppa and a good chinwag about caravanning. A big thanks to Carl for his generosity.

In fact that’s not the only freebie we’ve acquired since joining the world of Twitter. Sticker Bucket sent us some new decals for Patsy a couple of weeks ago, and very smart they look too. Just wondering now if I can get someone to sponsor me a new long leather coat!

Dinner was burgers – not perhaps the most romantic of foods given that it was Valentines Day. However, the burgers, purchased at a butchers in Burford earlier – and cooked on the BBQ by yours truly – were without doubt the best we’ve ever tasted. And there’s been a few I can tell you!

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Camping (it up) in the Cotswolds – pt 4

Right, here we go again. Another days sightseeing  to tell you about – well, to show you pictures of anyway.

Wednesday, and with the snow still lingering we headed south in to the heart of the Cotswolds and stopped first in Stow – on- the Wold. Just off a main road it is easier of access than some of the tourist spots around here and one can only imagine the coach loads of tourists descending on the market square in the summer. It is a pretty place – though that’s not unusual around here – with the usual attractive buildings and little alleyways. There were a significant number of local hostelries and plenty of independent businesses catering not only for the tourists but the locals too of course.

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A little further south is Bourton –on – the water and another gorgeous place with, as the name suggests a river playing a starring role. It is just so pretty and perfect – you could be forgiven for thinking you landed in some American theme parks depiction of a typical English village. We paused for tea and butties to escape the flurries of snow that seemed determined to muscle in on the action.

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With tannin and cholesterol levels restored we returned to the car and headed west, to Cheltenham and with the snow slowly turning to rain our plan - to go to the cinema  - appeared to be a wise one. We had hoped to be at the cinema by about 1pm but the towns traffic planners put the tin hat on that idea. The whole area was traffic choked and with a baffling array of ‘No Entry’ signs to contend with it was significantly later when we finally got parked up. With two of the films on our list already having started we ended up watching ‘Warm Bodies’. The draw here clearly was Anthony Hoult of ‘Skin's’ fame as the audience was almost entirely young teenage girls – at least until we walked in. For the record, the film was ok, not great but Mr Hoult is quite pretty, if’s that’s your thing.

The rain had eased when we came out, replaced by a damp icy wind that seem to penetrate every corner of your body. I was looking forward to seeing Cheltenham for it’s own sake. Our Lonely Planet promised elegant tree line terraces and we did glimpse, whilst chasing around trying to beat the traffic, a couple of smart Regency squares akin to those that can be found back home in Brighton. Our memories though will be of a non-descript town centre that thanks to the weather was certainly not looking it’s best.

We did however buy a new toy to play with. We’d talked for ages about getting a tablet pc for our travels and finally purchased one before returning, through the fading light, via the pretty Winchcombe to a nice snug Patsy.

Another night in, though not an alcohol free one. Trev continued with the Chardonnay, playing with his new toy, whilst I, having drained the last of the Cab Sauv, moved on to the Shiraz. With the radio on quietly in the background I Idly surfed for a  bit of porn on the netbook, disturbed occasionally by the odd expletive from the other side of the ‘van as Trev got to grips with the his new gadget.

Look out for part 5 coming very soon – more stunningly beautiful places, a welcome change in the weather and a visit from a man in a van….