Hardwick Hall with Dennis and Sandra

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Hardwick Hall


9.55am: We drove the (just under) 90-mile journey to Hardwick Hall today, to meet up with fellow lovers-of-old-buildings and all-things National Trust, Dennis and Sandra. We last visited here back in October 2010 for a Murder-Mystery evening with Ralph and Karen (BTW, the Butler DIDN’T do it! ๐Ÿ˜).

Hardwick is a spectacular Elizabethan house filled with rich furnishings and tapestries preserved by successive generations of the Devonshire family (thanks NT!) – you can read more HERE.

Although the Hall itself was still closed to everyone because of COVID-19, our plan was to look round the Gardens and surrounding land, as we’d never done that before.

We’re building up quite a ‘back-catalogue’ of our get-togethers with Dennis & Sandra, having explored the following, in the past few years…


Castle Howard (December 2019)
The Royal Armouries Museum (March 2019)
Bolsover Castle (October 2018)
Belton House (May 2018)
York (February 2018)
Burghley House (October 2017)
Hull (May 2017)
Leeds (February 2017)


(Click on the titles for more details)

It certainly looked like it was going to be a nice day for it! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

Well, I thought it was artistic! ๐Ÿ˜
Click on the pic for a larger version

11.35am: When we arrived, it was already quite busy, and after bumping elbows, we were joining the short queue to get in! In typical NT efficiency, we were processed in the nicest possible way and soon examining the site-map for inspiration. Who needs foreign climes when you can enjoy days like these here in ‘good ol’ Blighty?!?! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Pity the poor window-cleaner! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
“I’m off to mow the back lawn – I may be some time…” ๐Ÿ˜‚

There is a lot to cover here and that’s without visiting the Hall, so best bring your walking-shoes. Bring a picnic too because providing it’s not too busy, there are quite a few picnic tables just inside the entrance. Not into picnics?, there’s cafรฉ and an ice-cream vendor too! Yummy! ๐Ÿค—

๐ŸŽต Here we go round the… ๐ŸŽต

Ever tasted mulberries? Well, Ann and I hadn’t! Dennis and Sandra pointed out the trees during our walk around, and so we sampled a few! If sweetness is measured on a scale of 1 to 10 – these scored 11! ๐Ÿ˜›

Sweeter than a sweet from Mr Sweet’s sweetie-jar!

After Nature’s sweetness came a call from the same source! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ (See what I did there?)…

…These days, the ‘new-normal’ dictates some compromises, and the Loos were having to be managed manually (so to speak!). Quite how the member of NT staff managed to do it so enthusiastically and efficiently – and with a smile, is beyond me! Her sole task was to determine which cubicles were empty and then announce them by their letter-designation – “Cubicle D, Sir please!” – a sort of Bog-Bingo without any prizes! ๐Ÿค”

12.15pm: After completing our Bingo round, it was off to the walled garden. And what a delight! Given the time of year and considering the NT is probably short on garden-volunteers – it looked stunning! Full of colour and not a weed in sight!

Lunch is served…

1.05pm: There’s something about eating outdoors isn’t there? Everything tastes nicer and if the weather is good, that’s a ‘Brucie-bonus’. Today, I even ate lettuce (surely the world’s most useless salad-component – it takes up so much space on the plate for so little return!!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Walkies!

2.00pm: Time to walk off that lunch! Fortunately, there are quite a few to choose from here. We re-visited the map and headed off in the direction of ‘Lady Spencer’s Walk’. It all went horribly wrong in terms of the direction of travel with further signage (apart from the one above) cunningly concealed to test our natural sense of direction – and eyesight. Luckily Dennis and I were on the case, although I’m not sure I helped much, as my sense of direction only tends to work if I can get a GPS signal! After a couple of missteps resulting in us getting up-close-and-personal with a barbed-wire fence, we did eventually make it back to the car park.

“Anyone seen the car-park?”

3.05pm: It was time to say our goodbyes, compare elbows and our walking apps!

Not a bad distance and our speed clearly illustrated that this had been a slow stroll rather than a sweaty sprint! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ We had a super day catching-up, and we really only scratched the surface of the ‘walky bits’. We’ll be back again (hopefully before another ten years has passed) and maybe next time, the Hall will have re-opened as well!

You can see ALL our photos from today, and bypass my commentary using the link below…

Weekend with Ralph and Karen

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Friday


11.35am: Ralph and Karen arrived after a trouble-free journey from theirs. With hardly a moment to catch their breath, we whisked them off to The Old Forge for a pre-arranged lunch at 12.20. ๐Ÿ˜. We hadn’t been here for a while (July 2012 according to my Blog, but I definitely think we’d been more recently), but even with the restrictions of social-distancing, it was a great experience, however you choose to measure it – as good as we remember it! A great experience, and good to support a local business! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

2.15pm: We spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden soaking up the Sun. Boy! was it hot!! Apparently, the hottest day of the year so far and the third hottest on record according to the news. Here in Kettering, it was into the mid-30s… and extremely humid! ๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต๐Ÿฅต

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7.45pm: We eventually retreated to the coolness of the lounge and (literally) chilled-out for a few hours. Ann prepared a simple supper of cold meats (followed by a not-so-simple Baked Alaska) and we watched Triple Frontier on Netflix. Starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal as a group of former U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers who reunite to plan a heist of a South American crime lord, for me, it got better and better, with some great actio sequences and high production values.

10.15pm: With the movie over, we caught up with the news headlines – NOT good news as we learned that planned relaxation of some of the lockdown rules were now postponed due to an increase in confirmed cases.

10.40pm: Nighty-night! ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด

Saturday

9.25am: A simple breakfast of fruit, yoghurt followed by toast!

10.35am: I took Ralph and Karen out for an extended walk taking in the top meadow, St Botolph’s Church, the bottom meadow…

ยฉ Ralph

…and then Wicksteed Park…

Lamb Prepped!

…leaving Ann and Karen to weave some magic in the kitchen ready for tonight’s meal!

Boys’ Stuff!

1.30pm: Ralph and I caught up with the British GP Practice and Qualifying laps from Silverstone that we recorded earlier.

2.25pm: A snack for lunch – Toasted Cheese! ๐Ÿ˜ followed by not-very-much for us boys, but the girls were busy in the Galley!

5.30pm: Nick and Celina joined us. We haven’t seen them for well over a year and we all had lots of news to share. Ann and Karen had done a great job in the kitchen turning out a menu that was ambitious as it was delicious (unsurprisingly!) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Lovely Lamb!

7.15pm: All the food was ready… WE were ready… and so we tucked-in. The only BIG decision was whether to eat inside or out – and so we took a vote and the (almost) unanimous decision was ‘OUT’, but carefully socially-distanced, of course. It was a bit blowy to start with, but it soon settled down. Not surprisingly, the Lamb took centre stage! ๐Ÿ˜

…closely followed by those very Summery desserts! We all did the menu justice and there wasn’t much leftover by the end, save a slightly thinner look lamb! – I feel some meaty leftovers coming on for next week!

11.20pm: Well, the evening flew by! We sank a few litres of the grape and caught up with everyone’s news. Before we knew it, it was past 11 and getting colder, so we headed for the Lounge.

After (ahem!) testing and tasting some more grapes, we found ourselves watching highlights of the cricket! As the wickets tumbled, we were all too well-mannered (or tired, or drunk, or something) to call it a night ๐Ÿ˜‚

00.07am: …and then Saturday became SUNDAY! Collectively and individually, we were all shattered – socialising is such an exhausting activity but eventually, just like the Irish cricket team, we eventually admitted defeat.

We waved goodbye to Nick & Celina and staggered to bed. ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ด. Even for me, I felt a lie-in was going to be necessary… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Sunday


7.45am: Well, that was the lie-in sorted. Ann continued though, whilst I got on with some faffing (and writing this!)

9.35am: For breakfast, we ate outside – again, blowy but warm!

10.55am: We said goodbye to our best friends, and they headed for home by way of a Sunday lunch somewhere!

A great weekend catching-up with great friends! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Holiday: Marlborough – Day 5 (of 5)

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7.00am: Morning! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Swindon Designer Outlet

The latest weather forecast suggests that it’s not going to be as bad as we thought, but we still need our weekly dose of ‘retail therapy’! So, we’re NOT packing the sun cream, instead, we’re heading for Swindon Designer Outlet. Last time we were here was back in March 2012 during Ann’s birthday break/Easter week when we were staying at the National Trust’s property on the Coleshill Estate.

It was only a short drive to the land of bargain-shops, and after topping up with electrons, courtesy of InstaVolt* in Swindon, for the journey home tomorrow, we were ready to splash some cash.

*InstaVolt was a new experience for us, and from our charging session today, they are the simplest, most straightforward Chargers to use. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Ten minutes later, we were parked at the Outlet, and warming up our plastic! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Opened in 1997, this particular Outlet has been built on the site of Swindon’s Great Western Railway Works. It’s easy to get to, and is located off junction 16 of the M4. As you might expect, there’s plenty of parking and quite a few places to eat (although given the current coronavirus, many had restricted eating arrangements).

11.05am: Everyone likes a bargain, but our experiences with ‘Outlets’ is that they can be a bit ‘hit or miss’. Sometimes there’s plenty to tempt the shopper, whilst at other times there’s hardly any bargains at all. Happily, today, it was the latter for us! ๐Ÿ˜ M&S did well from our patronage with prices so low they even surprised seasoned-shoppers like us! ๐Ÿ˜

The ‘new’…

Given the Outlet’s heritage, it’s great that they’ve respected the past and blended the old with the new. They also have a regular rotation of ‘chuff-chuffs’ in the entrance on long-term display. If you like your steam locomotives, there are more details HERE on past and present exhibits.

12.45pm: All that bargain-hunting sharpened our appetite, and just before 1, we looked for somewhere to eat. Not everywhere was open (or didn’t look like they were!) so we chose Wagamama, who seemed to be doing a reasonable trade…

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how restaurants are suffering from the impact of lockdown – happily Waga’s business doesn’t appear to be one of them (looking at how full they were and the growing queue outside). Somewhat paradoxically, if you know Waga’s format you’ll also know that their standard seating arrangements doesn’t really lend itself to these socially-distanced times – they’re just too communal!

Ingeniously however, they’d installed table-mounted moveable partitions to create a degree of separation between neighbouring tables. They could be adjusted to accommodate different group sizes and from our time there, it seemed to be a good solution to every restaurant’s nightmare.

The place was really buzzing and our food and service was excellent – in fact, apart from the partitions, it all seemed very ‘old’ normal’. They were doing a healthy trade, and the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves. No waiting around to pay the bill either, instead, we paid by mobile during our Dessert! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

1.45pm: This hadn’t been the day for lots of serious walking (we only covered just over a mile) so we drove back to the Hotel to gloat over our bargains – and to begin the process of packing. We’re home tomorrow by about lunchtime.

Push the button to see all the photos (and none of my waffle) from this week’s adventure

Holiday: Marlborough – Day 4 (of 5)

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Picture of the Day: Heale Gardens


6.30am: A bit of a lie-in this morning! ๐Ÿ˜

According to the forecast, it’s another warm one today, so we plan to make the most of it. We’re heading out to Heale House and Gardens in nearby (ish) Middle Wooton and then onto NT’s Cherhill Downs – armed with a picnic of course! ๐Ÿ˜

Actually, the day would turn out to be one of those where we covered a lot of miles (75!), but didn’t feel we’d done that much! So, let the day begin…

9.05am: Breakfast without a hitch again today! That’s a good start! ๐Ÿ˜Š Yummy sausages too!

10.55am: An hour charging the car, and we were then 96% full and had an extra 100 miles in the tank – all for less than ยฃ9! Happy days! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Heale House & Gardens

11.45am: As planned, our first stop was Heale House and Gardens. It covers eight acres of beautiful gardens and lies beside the river Avon at Middle Woodford, just north of Salisbury. Those that know me, know that history is not my specialist subject but I’ve learned that much of the house is unchanged since King Charles II hid here in 1651 before taking a hovercraft to Calais riding to Shoreham and taking a ship to France. The House and Gardens are now privately owned and judging by how full the tea-room was (with plenty of socially-distancing outside) when we arrived, it’s a popular destination. I don’t think the loo will win any prizes though – shall we say functional rather than attractive? ๐Ÿค”

Heale Gardens

More about Heale House and Garden HERE

As pretty as it all was, we’re not sure where the advertised eight acres were! We’d covered it all in about 25 minutes. Visually, the flora was a bit past its best and in truth, we were disappointed with what was on show. The upper lawns were very neglected and the roses needed dead-heading – and that looked like a few days’ work in itself, given the quantity. It all felt a bit unloved and probably not worth the ยฃ6 each to get in. A real shame! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Maybe, seasonally, we just timed it badly…???

…and the fact that the House was closed (as expected) limited our options!

Heale House

Thus far, it was all a bit lack-lustre, but at least the kitchen garden had some colour and variety in it…

1.05pm: After being slightly underwhelmed, we reverted to something much more predictable – our picnic lunch – so we set up the chairs and table next to the car and enjoyed the food and the local sunshine!

Yummy!

1.35pm: Well, at least the picnic impressed us! ๐Ÿ˜‹ Whose turn for the washing-up?

Cherhill Downs

Next stop, the ‘biggy’ for the day – Cherhill Downs. It’s a vast area owned by The National Trust and features the Cherwill White Horse, Lansdowne Monument and Oldbury Castle.

More about Cherhill Downs HERE

With these on the to-do list, we knew we were in for a treat! I’ve never seen any sort of horse-on-a-hill before and we’d both commented how interesting the Lansdowne Monument looked when we saw it on the horizon earlier in the week.

2.40pm: As things turned out, all three were out of our reach (literally!). The first challenge was actually locating the three attractions (and they’re apparently all pretty close to each other). Why? A combination of inaccurate sat-nav co-ordinates online put us down a road that was definitely lacking in any horses of colour – instead, a row of houses and a guy clipping his hedge. A quick check online gave us another post-code to follow, some 12 miles away. WTF!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

We took off, hopefully in the right direction this time. 25 minutes later… and success!… as we got close, we could see the Monument in the distance. As we counted-down the miles to the sat-nav location, it became one of those times where it was ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ – AND WE DID! Fortunately, the roads are pretty quiet down here at the moment, so we u-turned half-a-mile-or-so later and re-traced our steps. We just couldn’t figure out where we’d gone wrong. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

It turned out that the official stop-point was actually just a lay-by (capacity, three cars, with two already there). We parked-up and looked around us – and there were the two out of three! The Horse and the Monument, both in the distance, with a makeshift path that would have challenged the best of the SAS! As we didn’t have a rope, a walkie-talkie (mobiles don’t work down here!) and only enough food for two days, we (ahem) ‘declined the opportunity’.

…and before you say ‘they don’t look that far away in the photos’, the pics above were taken on 10x zoom! ๐Ÿ™„

2.55pm: So now all we needed to do was work out where the ‘Castle’ was – and based on our performance so far, we didn’t hold out much hope! Ten minutes later, we gave up, only then to see a single damaged (small!) sign on the same side of the road around 100 metres BEFORE the very same lay-by! But by then we were driving in the opposite direction!! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

3.05pm: We love the National Trust and everything they do, but this was a big disappointment for us. Apart from the sat-nav error, a bit of obvious signage on BOTH sides of the road would have made all the difference! And how about a decent footpath? We’re not all mountaineers! ๐Ÿค

We headed back to the Hotel feeling that today hadn’t been one of our most enjoyable ones. It’s all pretty desperate when the highlights are 1/ a successful car-charge and 2/ the sausages at breakfast. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

7.00pm: We took an evening stroll around the local area taking in the Stonebridge Wild River Reserve.

A perfect end to an imperfect day!

The weather forecast for tomorrow is atrocious, so we’re heading INSIDE and for the Shopping Outlet in Swindon to bag some bargains.

See you tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜

Holiday: Marlborough – Day 3 (of 5)

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Picture of the Day: ‘Cathedral Close’ near to Salisbury Cathedral


6.10am: I certainly slept better than yesterday and if they can get the service right at Breakfast after yesterday’s fiasco, then all will be right in the world!

7.55am: It’s breakfast time and I’m happy to report that it all went very smoothly and there was no visible wounds showing on the staff from where the ‘pointy stick’ had been inserted! Amazing! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

Guilty as Charged!

All Shiny and New!

8.45am: We’re off to Salisbury and our first stop will be the iconic site – Stonehenge. But not before we’ve made a quick pit-stop at a whizzy new EV charger located on Solstice Park Industrial Park near the town of Amesbury. It all started very well – the bay was empty! We plugged in and were soon charging Robert courtesy of the unit’s CCS plug. Thirty-five minutes later we’d added another 40-60 miles to the tank and were ready to leave. Total cost? ยฃ3.33! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then things got tricky! As all EV owners will know, you normally cannot remove the charging cable from your car until the charge is switched off. In our case, the instructions on the Charger said ‘present debit card to cancel the charging process’. I dutifully did this, but it made no difference – the car continued to charge and I therefore couldn’t remove the cable. I tried a few more times – no change! Drastic measures were called for and it was time to press that emergency red button located on the front of the machine. I did this, the charge stopped and I released the charging cable. Success! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now ordinarily, that would have been the end of it, but this process was to return and ‘bite us on the bum’ later… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Read on…

Stonehenge

10.15am: We arrived at Stonehenge in good time. You can see it from the road as you drive towards the Visitor Centre – and even at a distance, it looks impressive. Once we’d parked and had our tickets checked, there was a 1ยฝ+ mile walk to the actual stones. Not for the faint-hearted, and there is a courtesy bus both ways for the ‘less inclined’.

There’s really nothing to say about Stonehenge that hasn’t already been said, except to suggest that seeing it ‘up close and personal’ was impressive. Given that it was my first time and Ann hadn’t seen it since she was at Primary School, made it all the more jaw-dropping. More information about this fantastic piece of engineering can be found on Wiki HERE. Definitely worth a visit if you’re this way, but start saving, as for non-NT/English Heritage members it’s a mighty ยฃ21.50 each to get in!

How the heck did they build this???? ๐Ÿค”

Salisbury

12.02pm: We arrived in Salisbury with just under an hour to kill before our 1pm ‘ticket’ for the Cathedral. The sun was shining, it was lovely and warm and a walk around this old town was on the cards!

Cathedral Close

Neither of us had been here before and I think we both fell in love with the place immediately! But it was sad to see so many shops in the shopping area either closed or struggling and I guess at the moment that’s the new ‘normal’. Architecturally speaking, it certainly had a lot to offer – even ex-PM, Edward Heath had a house here (the white one above) and the NT have got Mompesson House – an old town-house dating back to 1701 (currently closed because of the virus). I’m sure we’ll be back for a more detailed look around sometime soon. ๐Ÿ˜

Salisbury Cathedral

12.25pm: The main purpose of the visit was, of course, the Cathedral, and it looked glorious in the sun, against the deep-blue sky. We’d arrived slightly early for our ‘1pm timed-ticket’ but it didn’t seem to be a problem and were soon looking around inside, 35 minutes ahead of schedule.

Sadly though, this was another location where it lacked a bit of atmosphere due to an absence of people. It was all lovely to look at, but somehow sad that it only had around 20-30 visitors inside.

What I WASN’T expecting to see was the world’s oldest working clock (above right) dating back to 1386! It was fully restored in 1956 and it’s amazing to see it working after so many years! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ironically, it was good to have the space to look around and to be able to take photographs without having to wait for people to move!

The Poultry Cross

1.05pm: We finished our shortish visit to Salisbury with a look at Salisbury’s famous Poultry Cross (dating back to the 14th century). It did look somewhat out of place amongst the much newer retail units surrounding it though! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Bum Bitten!

Then things turned a bit weird! As we’d made such good progress today, we decided to revisit the EV charger that we’d used at the start of our day. Within an hour of arriving there, we wished we hadn’t! Remember that earlier I said it was going to “bite us on the bum” – this was that time! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

It all started so innocently…

We pulled up at the charger to see that there was a Tesla already plugged-in and another EV driver, cable in hand, next to the Tesla with a Kia Soul looking very perplexed. I did my ‘Good Samaritan’ bit and showed her what to do, but the problem was that none of us could charge anything until the Tesla had finished. Whilst we waited for Mr tesla to return, they got stuck into their lunch and so did we. Thirty minutes later, the Tesla driver returned to unplug.

So far, so normal… ๐Ÿ™„

You’ll recall earlier that I’d had trouble getting the EV charger to err, stop charging – so did our Tesla colleague. I advised him to do what I’d done during our first visit and hit the red emergency button. He was a bit reluctant to do so, but with ‘next door’ and us in the queue for charging, he felt a bit under pressure. He duly hit the button and the good news was that it released the cable. With a big grateful smile on his face, he said thanks and drove away…

Our ‘neighbour’s’ needs were greater than ours, so we let them charge next. Only at that point, we realised that hitting the red button had caused the Charger to completely crash – so NONE of us could use it. Our new neighbour jumped on their phone to ChargeMaster, who then reset the machine from their end (more waiting around). Success (eventually) and their car was put on charge. We waited for theirs to finish, but the combined impatience of Ann and me meant waiting 25 minutes was too long and we departed…

In the end, we ‘lost’ about 75 minutes faffing about. If only we HADN’T gone back to the Charger this afternoon! ๐Ÿ˜

Pewsey

Our next stop was the quaint town of Pewsey. We’d picked it because it sounded sweet and had a canal basin (Pewsey Wharf) to look round. On arrival, it was clear Pewsey was a ‘one-horse-town’ where the said ‘horse’ had left years ago. I’m sure it’s a very nice place to live, but there wasn’t much going on – but bizarrely it did have a railway station (Nearby larger Marlborough hasn’t!). We parked in the town’s Co-Op car-park and started to explore…

After a quick wander round the almost-deserted town, we discovered a pathway to a wood…

…and it turned out to be the high point of Pewsey (so far) – a gorgeous walk with some beautiful views of nature doing what it does best! ๐Ÿ˜

More about Pewsey…

From Country Life magazine: Although architecturally not award-winning, this large Wiltshire village, which lies to the south of Marlborough, comes up trumps in terms of amenities. โ€˜The reason is because it serves all the nearby hamlets,โ€™ says Gill Sharpe of Carter Jonas. It has a butcher, a baker, a post office, a large supermarket and a good florist (China Rose) plus other independent shops lining its small high street. The village also hosts a monthly farmerโ€™s market and the annual Pewsey Carnival. โ€˜Itโ€™s a popular location as house prices are lower than nearby Marlborough and itโ€™s a great alternative for those seeking a village rather than town life’.

4.05pm: Our final stop was the previously mentioned Pewsey Wharf. If the fullness of the car-park was an indication of popularity, we were onto a good thing as we got the final space!

It was no indication at all! I don’t know who owned all the cars, but hardly anyone was around. We started to walk along the canal tow-path but after nearly tripping over an abandoned sink and looking at the general state of the area, we turned around! ๐Ÿ˜• The whole area looked a bit unloved even though there were plenty of barges moored along the way.

4.40pm: We returned to the car and back to the hotel.

Phew!

Today felt like a busy day! Stonehenge was not to be missed, whilst the town of Salisbury was beautiful. Our double-dabble with the EV charger put a bit of a downer on it all (but as experienced EV drivers will already know, it’s all part of the EV-owner learning curve!). Pewsey was slightly disappointing, but at least it allowed us to keep up our daily walking routine where we covered FIVE MILES ๐Ÿ˜

Tomorrow we’re heading out to Heale Garden and the Cherhill Downs.

Holiday: Marlborough – Day 2 (of 5)

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Along the Kennet & Avon Canal…


6.45am: Morning all! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Strangely, I didn’t sleep too well, waking up at 2.30am (!!!) accompanied by a head that felt like I’d overdone it on the shandies! Disappointingly, I hadn’t!!! I popped a few pills and tried to get back to sleep. My pounding head (like my hairline) receded quickly, but I never really returned to the land of slumber – so that’s not a great start to the break! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

I was up before 7am (why, I’m not sure; I guess I’m a creature of habit!) thinking about what we might do today. We don’t know the area too well, so a sense of wonderment awaits…

The weather is slightly improved on yesterday’s forecast for today – so that’s a plus! ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

8.55am: Breakfast in the hotel was an unforgettable event – for all the wrong reasons! I’ll leave it at that and put it down to the effects of coronavirus and its impact on managing the process of getting food-to-table! โ˜น๏ธโ˜น๏ธ Hopefully, it’ll be better tomorrow (it could hardly be worse!!)

9.45am: Let our morning walk begin! First of all we took a wander down Marlborough’s very long and very wide high street – and it was very pretty in an ‘olde worlde’ sort of way…

…then a short walk down towards George Street attempting to find the town’s EV charging points for future reference. We’d located it on the map before we travelled – and it said it was broken – but we wanted to check. Drat!, it was still sporting a flashing red light (not a good sign) and its neighbour wasn’t sporting any lights at all! Good job we weren’t desperate! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Onwards and upwards (downwards actually, towards the River Kennet).

A room with a view…

10.45am: Next stop was the next charging point on the map – the local Tescos. Great news (at last) in that it was working AND it was FREE – just a short drive too from our hotel. It was only a 7-watter though!

11.10am: Then it was our turn for a ‘bit of posh’ and we headed to the local Waitrose in the town centre to stock-up for picnic later. There was strict queuing to get in and the Fascist guy on the door was taking his responsibilities VERY seriously! If he’d been 60 years younger, we think he would have been part of the Hitler Youth!

11.55am: With the car’s suspension suitably strained with our provisions, we took the short drive to West Kennet Long Barrow a 5,000-year-old burial chamber close to the famous Silbury Hill (I know, just call me an ol’ romantic!) ๐Ÿ˜‚. As we got closer, it all felt very familiar, but Ann’s normal forensic memory for these sort of things convinced me I was wrong. From parking in the nearby lay-by to the actual site itself, I just knew we’d seen it all before (but my long-term memory is normally appalling). ๐Ÿค”

Not bad for 3000BC!

Even after Ann had been inside, it was all still very unfamiliar to her, whilst I was getting an even stronger feeling of its familiarity! ๐Ÿ™„

“I’ve definitely been here before”

In fact, it wasn’t until we got home and I checked back through these blog-posts that I found it! We’d both been there in April 2012. If smugness was a colour, it would be the brightest of reds by now! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

12.35pm: Luckily, for marital harmony, we both remembered going to our next stop back in November 2011Avebury (jointly looked after by both The National Trust and English Heritage). It’s a sort of ‘Stonehenge Lite’ in terms of the stones’ size, but it trumps Stonehenge in terms of how many stones and how spread-out they are. There were originally around 100 stones built roughly between 2850 BC and 2200 BC and it’s an impressive location. As the notice in the entrance boasts ‘The largest stone circle in the world’. There is also the Manor House that has been renovated and was subject of a short documentary featuring Penelope Keith entitled To the Manor Reborn also back in November 2011.

1.45pm: You could tell that the sprogs were on holiday – it was packed… and noisy too! Thankfully, we found a shady spot free of screaming urchins for our picnic (sponsored by Waitrose) ๐Ÿ™‚

Sponsored by Waitrose!

Our final stop for the day was another shortish drive, this time into Devizes. Specifically, we were looking for the famous multiple lock-gate construction called Caen Hill Locks – a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over 2 miles with a 1 in 44 gradient! It promised a jaw-dropping site!
More information HERE.

I’ve got to say, its location was pretty well hidden (note to self: look on their website next time for a detailed map and parking arrangements). We drove through Devizes and almost out the other side before Ann spotted a small sign on the opposite side of the road. We were soon parked and took the walk alongside the canal with the famous locks in the distance.