Camping (it up) in the Cotswolds – pt 3

Yes, here we go again and I’ve actually got something else to tell you about apart from pub crawling – although there is that too.

I’m very proud to say that the number of visitors to the online version of this blog hit a new high again following the publication of part 2, helped in no small part by Trev being very active on Twitter garnering new followers and extolling the virtues of my scribblings. So, if you arrived here via Twitter, firstly, sorry, and secondly thank you! You can join my email list by dropping a line to aloadofnonsense@gmail.com and I’ll send you the blogs as they’re published, complete with photos.

Hopefully, those already on the email list have all received part 2 ok. Gmail’s spam filters were being particularly over zealous on Monday (or more accurate, depending on your point of view!) and several bounced back more than once.

Right, the tour continues. We decided not to go to Chipping Norton and instead returned to Moreton’s main thoroughfare for some more research. The snow was still melting fast, but given the amount that had fallen there was still along way to go. First up was the Redesdale Arms Hotel. There was a bar through the back, but clearly food is their thing, although having looked at the menu it is most unlikely that we’ll be eating there. Twelve quid for what was essentially bangers and mash was a bit over the top. The beer however, a pint of Cotswold Way from the Wickwar brewery went down very well indeed and the atmosphere was pleasant and the place warm and cosy.

Just across the road was the White Hart Royal, which offered a ‘snug’ bar. I had anticipated a roaring fire and subdued lighting and got neither, someone having seen fit to litter the ceiling with halogen down lighters. The beer, a pint of Hooky from the Hook Norton brewery was good though.

Last up was a return to the Inn on the Marsh for another pint of the excellent Ringwood bitter. This the most cosiest of the pub’s we’ve been in with our  most favourite beer too. I suspect we’ll be back before the week’s out.

Tuesday, and with the snow still receding and no overnight frost to deal with we decided to head out and commence the sightseeing in earnest. I donned my usual attire of black jeans, boots and top in readiness but was unable to get my subdued mowhawk looking remotely decent despite the application of copious amounts of a substance more at home on the adhesives shelf in B & Q. I resorted instead to an old black leather skullcap, procured many years ago in Sydney in a shop called the Toolshed. It didn’t sell tools, not the sort you’d find in a hardware shop anyway, though some of the products were designed for DIY of a different sort……

We headed north first and first stop was Royal Leamington Spa. Not a place that particularly grabbed either of us but the stout uniform architecture of the main parade was quite impressive. All the usual chain stores were here but the original facades remain and protruding signs are discouraged. If you could only get rid of the traffic thundering past it really would be quite something.

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Further down, outside the Town Hall is a statue of Queen Victoria. A close look at the photo below will show that the statue is not sitting quite square on the plinth. In 1940 a stray bomb landed across the road and shifted the considerable bulk of her majesty an inch to the right. It must have been a big one, given that any physical depiction of the old Vic has to be quite, er substantial.

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Further along was the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths and opposite were the Jephson Gardens. Pleasant enough and I’m sure in the summer delightful but with a bitter wind blowing we didn’t hang around long. Anybody back in my home town of Cambridge will have felt the icy winds blow off the north sea and across the fens in the winter will know what I mean.

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Warwick was up next, a lovely picture postcard medieval town with some great buildings, notably the old Lord Leycester Hospital, looking like something out of the Hobbit. Star of the show around here though is the stunning Warwick Castle. There are glimpses of it at various point throughout the town but a short drive out gave us the best view. We didn’t go in – it’s size – and admission fee – deserves a half day at the very least, so it’s gone on the to-do list for when it’s a bit warmer. There is apparently a theme park dungeon and torture chamber too. Hmm.

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Wetherspoons were the recipients of of custom for lunch. However, despite an impressive line up of real ales we both stuck to the soft options with our burgers and chips.

Next – and last – up was Stratford. Similar in many ways to Warwick but without the Castle. The lure here though of course is some chap called Shakespeare who apparently used to write a bit. Seriously though, his birthplace is a huge draw and the cottage that he was born in can be visited – for a fee obviously. By the river can be found the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, perched on the banks of the Avon, which had flooded on the far side, the little bandstand now looking rather lost in the midst of the fast flowing muddy water.

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Another place we really enjoyed and have promised a return visit. I can just imagine the atmosphere on a warm summers night with all the great old pubs and restaurants heaving and a big production on at the RSC.

A quite evening in – and a uncharacteristically dry one too. However the resulting unbroken nights sleep was worth it. We are planning to head west in and around Cheltenham today . Snow and or rain is promised for later on and there is a cinema there for if and when the bad weather arrives.

So, there it is. Enjoy the photo’s. We’ve  had to resort to our camera phones for some – the spare battery for my trusty Olympus joined the every growing list of stuff we forgot to bring. Given that the camera is now eight years old, the battery does not last long these days. We’ have promised ourselves a new one before we head in to Europe.

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