Saturday, 12 November 2011

Road Trip Part Five: The conclusion

Dear Reader,

I apologise profusely for my lack of attention to this blog during the past 2 months. It was never my intention to go awol for so long however there has been A LOT going on since we returned home from our UK Road Trip. And when I say a lot has been going on, sadly none of it has been particularly interesting for me to write about, let alone for you to waste your precious moments reading. I have been working pretty consistently since the summer, and am currently working on my 20th Production since leaving my permanent job last December. This freelance life is certainly suiting me as I've also somehow managed to have about 3 moths worth of time off too!  I'm glad to report it was worth the leap into the big unknown, so let that be a lesson to everyone!  The only downside of being Freelance that I can think of is that I have had to appoint an accountant (not cheap) and keep all my finances in order. Keeping on top of this has taken up more time than I would have liked recently particularly as my mortgage is about to expire. Sometimes being an adult is a total hassle.  This, along with still sorting out the purchase of the Freehold for everyone in our house has left very little time for writing. It's also left me absolutely knackered. I feel like everywhere I look at the moment there is paperwork to deal with and forms to sign. To say its dull is a gross understatement.

On a more exciting note, The Wig and I have something in the pipeline which we have been developing over the last few weeks, a sort of personal project if you will, which I hope to be able to share with you soon. Needless to say this has been yet another distraction but definitely a more interesting distraction than Accounts, Freeholds and Solicitors.

So, now that's out of the way, back to the Road Trip! I fear this final push about our travels will not be as detailed as my previous blogs for two reasons:

1. I have an appalling memory.
2. The Wig lost the notebook with all the notes in. Silly Wig...

Nevertheless, here goes . . .

After leaving the delightful Lyme Regis we headed towards Wedmore. Yet another place I had never been to or even heard of, but our good old friend 'Google Search' came up trumps with this one.

The George at Wedmore, really didn't look like anything special when we arrived, particularly as the weather had taken a turn for the worse. However, it was only £90 which was great news after the 'Great Rip Off' of Alexanders in Lyme Regis. (I don't think The Wig will ever recover from the dressing gown disappointment). But once inside we knew we had stumbled on a real gem. The rooms were quite higgeldy piggeldy but it was busy, had a great atmosphere and served the best food we had eaten on the trip so far. Wedmore also offered the added bonus that evening, of holding a beer festival in the local village hall. The only drawback was that the stench of hops and hot man farts permeating from the entrance of the hall, so unfortunately even the lure of cheap local moonshine couldn't tempt me to partake. However, Wedmore also offered a lovely local pub, The Swan which was far less painful on the nostrils so we sat there all evening. Lovely.

The next morning after a delicious breakfast, we said goodbye to The George and Wedmore but with great memories and a promise to return. This place definitely gets a big March Hare thumb/paw up. Great value, great location, super friendly staff and amazing food. Bravo!

Good bye Wedmore Church and rainbow.

Next stop was the Cathedral City of Wells. Wells has a food Market and a Cathedral which charged for you to take pictures. And thats pretty much Wells in a nutshell! As you can tell, the memory is hazy on this particular part of the trip.

Wells Cathedral, £10 to take a photo inside. 

After Wells, we went to Cheddar Gorge which was a great place to get ticked off the list of places to see in the UK. I'm a bit of a cave geek. I love a good sniff around some stalactites and stalagmites ("tites come down and mites go up"), having seen some amazing caves in Barbados and Mexico, so I was really chuffed that our own caves are just as good. Although the weather was considerably worse.

Visiting the Gorge was not cheap, about £20 to get into all the caves and experience the open top bus through the gorge, but you can spend the whole day there as there is lots to see and do. As well as the caves, shops and bus trip, they also have a lady dressed up as a cavewoman sitting in an animal skin tent telling you all about the caveman days. This was one of my favorite parts of the day actually, apart from her terrible wig. At least I think it was a wig.

After we had exhausted the Gorge and stocked up on as much cheese as we could fit in the glove box, we set off towards The Costwolds and The Inn at Fossebridge. 

From what I gather, Fossebridge is a road and The Inn is a big old house that looks very nice from the outside (ivy clad on the roadside, and a swan pond at the back), but has seen far better days inside. The room we were given looked like it hadn't been decorated since the 80's although it was priced at £150 per night. To say the decor was like Granny's house would be a grave insult certainly to my two Grandmothers (God rest their souls) and more than likely insulting to Grandmothers the world over. If I could describe the cold, yellow walled bathroom in 2 words, it would be 'Asylum Chic'. 

The other problem with our room apart from it's eery Back to The Bad Taste Future effect was that it was above the bar. Which was holding an 18th birthday that night for a load of 18 year old Cotswoldian rugger types. Needless to say the next morning my mood was less than fragrant, if that is such a type of mood. So we did what the British do very badly, and complained, but with startling results. The lady at reception, immediately dropped the price to £80! I'm definitely going to complain more often.

On departing The Inn at Fossebridge we weren't really sure what our plan was other than to not go back to London, but by now it was Sunday and nothing was really open. We first stopped off in Cirencester which is a very pretty chocolate box type of place, with Antique shops (most of which were closed which made my mood worse), coffee shops and a nice big church.

Then we went to Gloucester which probably has the most run down and sketchy town centre I have ever the misfortune to visit. The fact that we nearly had a crash on the way there when a big fat pigeon flew into our windscreen, should have been warning enough to turn back. There are no photo's of Gloucester due to the fact that I couldn't find one redeeming feature.

We then tried to salvage the day by stopping off in Cheltenham, however, this was only marginally more appealing than Gloucester. This was definitely turning into my least favorite day of the trip.

That night we had booked to stay at The Green Dragon Cowley, so when we arrived at the tiny stone building down a secluded country lane, we were incredibly relieved.

The bedrooms for the Inn were in a newer part of the building at the back as the front part was used as the Inn which was beautiful. Very old, stone clad floor, roaring fires, lovely staff and delicious food. I think one nights stay including a delicious breakfast the next day was £90 and worth every penny. Another recommend from The Wig and The Hare.

We were now in the heart of The Costwolds so spent the day driving around, stopping off at little villages on our way towards Stratford upon Avon.

Bourton on The Water, the Venice of England I think. My Grandparents used to bring my older brother and I here when we were kids. It was here that, as a young Hare, I developed my insatiable appetite for Cream Teas and National Trust Lavender Bags.

Lower Slaughter. Horrid name but apparently the prettiest village in the UK. No one can deny its prettiness however, there is literally nothing to do here apart from look at the cottages and feel slightly annoyed that you don't live here.

Towards the end of the day we finally got to Stratford Upon Avon, home of the Bard and the wooden beam. We again lucked out with our choice of place to stay and had a lovely room at The Church Street Town House.

This was really good value for money at £110 per night to stay right in the heart of Stratford and with some very fancy pants toiletries in the bathroom which we of course took with us when we left. That night we ate out at one of pubs proclaiming to be 'The Oldest Pub in Stratford'. Rather curiously we saw 3 of these on one road alone...

Stratford Upon Avon has loads to see but I think would only interest you if you are interested in History and obviously Shakespeare. You can buy a ticket for around £20 which gets you access into all the Shakespeare related buildings but you do need a car as a couple of them are away from the centre of town. Unfortunately the day we were there it was pissing down so the farm we drove out to was a complete wash out. The highlight for me was going to the little church where Shakespeare is buried, I found this strangely moving (it doesn't take much) and also seeing Tony Robinson who was doing a Time Team special in the garden of one of the houses. The only downside of the visit was when I opened the wrong door at the Town House and fell into the cellar. For some reason The Wig found this EXTREMELY amusing.

By now, we had been on the road for over a week and we were almost ready to go home. We decided though to have one more night away and I think we really did save the best until last by booking a night at The Olde Bell in Hurley.

There are two parts to this B+B too, the old original part with a few rooms above the pub and dining rooms, and a newer part across the road. When we checked in (about £110 again I think), we were told we had been upgraded to one of the nicer rooms in the original part of the building which turned out to be a real treat. The design of the place was astonishing and not at all what I was expecting from a little B+B/Pub 15 minutes away from Maidenhead. It was very scandinavian looking, with beautiful Ercol chairs, low lighting and more fancy pants toiletries! Our room also had its own balcony over looking the garden. Juicy.

Dinner was delicious that night, Lamb Shanks in lentils, with fresh warm bread and a nice glass of white wine. The only shame with this place was that the wall between the adjoining bedroom to ours was rather thin so we could hear the chap next door who seemed to have had a few too many shandies that evening in the bar. But if our road trip taught me anything its was that you can't have everything, so it wasn't the end of the world. Everything else at the Olde Bell more than made up for this. Particularly breakfast the next day.

So after our last fry up for a very long time, we packed up our bags (and more posh toiletries) and headed back to Hackney. What a great holiday.


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