|Isla in playful mood|
After almost a week here in Fiona and John’s house looking after Fitz and Isla we’re feeling quite at home. The weather is typically British for late autumn/early winter, coolish, cloudy, damp, quite windy and short daylight hours (light around 07:45, dark by 16:00), which hasn’t stopped us getting out, but we’ve also taken advantage of the space and comfort of the house, reading, cooking, watching films and interesting programmes on TV (yes there are some, you just have to find them!) and doing a jigsaw!
|Fitz chilling out on his radiator bed|
Pauline (Jackie’s mum) has been down here to visit for a few of days so, as people who used to go on the SMC skiing holiday that Pauline also came on know, a jigsaw puzzle is part and parcel and it’s all very relaxing!
|Pauline and Jackie on the Cotswold Way looking towards Alderley|
Took a walk out with Pauline the other day, “there’s a nice walk along the ‘Cotswold Way’ to a town called Alderley. It’s about 2.5 miles and there’s a pub at the end. I’ll leave you in the pub and run back to get the car” I confidently said, making sure I took my wallet this time! A cloudy, damp day with a bit of drizzle and everything being downhill from Tresham, the Cotswold Way turned out to be a bit muddy and slippery, on a path that had recently been churned up by a digger, mmm, not quite as good as I thought!
|Jackie and Pauline|
Nevertheless, we pressed on, turned onto a slightly better path, uphill and arrived at the small village of Alderley, which comprises traditional Cotswold stone built houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, but a village of much older roots having been mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, then referred to as Alrelie (apparently meaning ‘woodland clearing where alders grow’). A nice village, but having walked round twice, no pub! Spoke to a local who said there is no pub here, only in the next village, but he did bring out his 10 week old puppy for us to stroke!
|Alderley House, built in mid 19th century|
I’m sure Trevor across the yard told us Alderley had a pub, but maybe I misunderstood! Oh well, I left Jackie and Pauline to carry most of the gear and walk slowly, while I went off to jog the 2.5 miles back to get the car. Seemed like a good idea, but the statement ‘everywhere from Tresham is downhill’ means that everything back is up, and it certainly was and very steep in places. Making sure I’d run until out of their sight, I had to stop on a number of occasions to let my heart catch up, 170bpm, probably a bit fast! Anyway I got back, got the car and found them still walking up hill, near the top, but I had saved them over 1 mile of walking, so I felt the run was worthwhile.
|Comfy pussy cats!|
Pauline left yesterday (Saturday) after a few days of excellent cooking (coffee and walnut cake – yum!) and a day of Christmas shopping in Nailsworth that was pleasant, but of little success. After helping to put her bags into her car she left, we closed the door, had a bit of a chat, then saw her handbag in the hallway! She probably thought I’d put it in the car, so much for me helping!
Grabbed the bag, jumped into the car and set off in pursuit, catching her up at the first set of traffic lights, but she was across them and they turned red on me. Off in pursuit again and caught her up just at the 30mph signs in Nailsworth, but couldn’t signal to her as there was a car in between us. More traffic lights on red, ‘shall I jump out and run to her car?’ I thought. Too late, she’s off again, lots more traffic in town, up a hill where there’s a bus at a stop, she gets past, I can’t, had to wait for the bus at the next stop, eventually got past to see her coming the other way, tooted the horn but she didn’t notice, turned round came after her, but she’d gone, I know not where. Searched around for a bit, phoned Jackie who told me the route she intended taking to the M5, junction 13, so set off again, determined to catch her. Got all the way to the M5, so decided I’d have to go onto the motorway to find her, just got past junction 12 when she phoned to say her mum was back at the house! On up to junction 11A, I turned round and got back to the house about an hour and a half after she’d first left! Good job she phoned, otherwise I’d have gone all the way back to her house!
Today started off fairly clear and bright so decided to go to Malmesbury Abbey, as Trevor across the yard told us how good it was. However, by the time we left the weather had clouded in and there was definite heavy drizzle/light rain, but we pressed on.
Malmesbury is a very quaint old market town of huge character (it’s also the home and HQ of the hugely successful and well known Dyson Technology Company that was founded by Sir James Dyson in 1993 and best known for his novel designs of vacuum cleaners). It is said to be once the site of an iron-age fort and is the oldest borough in England, created around 880AD by charter from Alfred the Great (he who started the process to bring all England together as one country).
Malmesbury Abbey, situated in the heart of the town atop a hill, was founded in 676 as a Benedictine Monastery and has a huge amount of history. Alfred the Great’s grandson, King Athelston was buried nearby and has a tomb in the Abbey, King Henry XIII closed and sold the Abbey with all its lands in 1539 as part of his ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’ when he fell out with the pope and formed the Church of England and damage is evident from the fighting during the English Civil War. Today less than half of the original Abbey remains, the rest, including a 131m high spire, the tower it was built on, two thirds of the nave and transept collapsed in a storm around 1500, followed in 1550 by the collapse of the west tower that demolished the three westernmost bays of the nave. The altar has no stained glass windows as might be expected, only a huge stone wall, built to separate the ruins from the remaining church.
|Inside the Abbey. It's not really curved, it's the panorama maker software that's joined four photos|
We had a pleasant but wet walk round the town, the heavy drizzle continued, the Abbey still had its morning service going on so we couldn’t get in and even though it was 11:45, the museum volunteers hadn’t turned up to open up at the expected 11:30 advertised time and the only guy there didn’t know why and couldn’t let us in, but was quite happy to chat. We retired to a tea shop to wait for the rain to stop and came out to carol singers in the square in front of the Abbey and finally got into the Abbey at 12:15, just as the congregation were filing out, so we achieved what we wanted to and returned back home for lunch, afternoon tea and a film!