Thursday, 27th April
Morning Reader! Not bored with these Posts yet then? Thanks for your readership😉.
It’s our last day here!👍
Today, we’re starting our final day, super-local, heading for Oswestry (a nearby border market town). Oswestry is not quite in Wales, but you can almost ‘touch the dragon’! 🐉.
6.05am: We were both up early today (I’m not sure why!). A quick look out the window confirmed that locally, the weather is ‘more of the same’ whilst our first stop of the day – Oswestry – looks similar, just breaking into double-digits! Luckily, there’s very little chance of rain, which is a bonus, as we’re mostly outside again today. 🙂
Oswestry Town Centre
9.38am: They say that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing – and today, we tested the clothing! Boy! Was it cold in Oswestry!!!!! 🥶🥶
We parked in the Sainsbury’s car-park (a very attractive building on the site of the former Cattle Market). First 30 minutes are free, then two hours for £1. We then took the short walk into the shopping area.
Compared to yesterday’s visit to the town of Welshpool, Oswestry had a wider range of shops and felt more vibrant. No sign of the obligatory welshy-wishy-washy aka a Launderette that we’d seen in other towns during this break.
Surprise! They’d even put the flags out for us! They must have known I’d got a new debit card! 😉
Apart from the occasional ‘brass monkey’, it was quiet when we arrived but got steadily busier. Architecture is a bit of a mixture (like many towns)- a lot of Georgian/Victorian/Edwardian examples on show.
About 10 minutes into our walk, we stumbled across the town’s Memorial Garden…
…It looked very pretty with its Pansies in full bloom. Good to see a statue of the WWI poet Wilfred Owens being commemorated. 👍👍
9.53am: Our next stop was at St Oswald’s Church – the town’s place of worship for over 1000 years!
Inside, a Service was about to begin. Top marks to the Volunteer who tried her best to get us to join in. Regretfully, a higher power was calling us in the name St Visa – the patron Saint of retail therapy.
A beautiful Church inside and out, but the ‘plastic’ was calling! How shallow is that! 🤔
10.40am: We’re both suckers for a good Cookware shop and we’d spotted ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ on our first lap of the town. Time then, to pay them a visit and support the local economy! 💷💷. If yesterday’s visit to Welshpool’s ‘Alexanders’ had impressed us, this was in a different league. We could feel St Visa calling, and we soon gave into temptation! 😉. Well, at least the melting debit cards helped us warm up! 😆
After a quick coffee in the car, we headed for the more cultural experience of English Heritage’s Old Oswestry’s Hillfort
Old Oswestry Hillfort
11.22am: It’s fair to say we took the ‘long-way-round’ getting to the Hillfort. In an effort to park as closely as possible to the attraction, we followed signs to the disabled parking hoping to find standard parking spaces there too. As we were later to find out, we overshot the location by some margin and ended up going round in a large circular route. Simply put: if you’re planning to visit, just follow the ‘standard’ parking signs
Keep your walking shoes on as it’s around a fifteen-minute brisk walk to the base of the Hillfort (Ed: I never realised Hillfort was one word!) 🤔
In the photograph above, the Hillfort is ahead and to the left. At the end of the path, turn left and keep walking until you arrive at a gate on the right (not the first gate – that’s Hillfort Cottage, someone’s home!). You’ll then see a small parking area for around 5 cars immediately opposite the entrance. It’s not easy to see and the official sign is not visible from the road. Ooo, we do love a challenge! 😠. I feel an email coming on, destined for the signage department!!!!!
What can you say about a Hillfort. It’s, err, a fort built on a hill – but this one is a bit special. For a start, it’s old… very old, dating back to the Iron Age. It was also used as a training facility in the First World War.
After arriving at the entrance, it’s a steepish sloped path upwards that’ll take a good 10 minutes. Ironically, even though the disabled car-park was right in the front of this entrance, there’s absolutely no way someone who is less mobile could attempt this. Strange! 😲
11.47am: For the more able, the walk is worth it, offering spectacular views in all directions.
Once at the summit, we walked around the complete circumference taking in the views. Luckily, it was now a tad warmer at 11℃! We wondered how they maintained the area, keeping the greenery under control. There certainly wasn’t an easy way to get any form of machinery up there, but as usual in these situations, there’s a ‘natural’ solution. And that solution came in the form of the resident sheep who keep it all neat and tidy! Allow around 15-25 minutes to circumnavigate the Hillfort (but do watch out underfoot for the natural by-product of the sheeps’ hard work!). 🐏🐑🐏🐑🐏🐑🐏🐑🐏🐑
12.15pm: We’d come full circle (literally) and the steps down were a welcome sight! 👍. We saved the best until last – The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry. I say ‘best’ as after some serious research by ‘senior management’ it was consistently the highest-rated ‘No. 1’ attraction in the area.
The British Ironwork Centre
12.32pm: We’d passed the location on numerous occasions during our break this week and it all looked very grand with its impressive gates and numerous flagpoles to welcome visitors. We weren’t 100% sure of what is offered, but with a name like British Ironwork Centre, then British ironwork seemed a reasonable guess! 🤔. On entering, we followed the twisty-turny route, flanked on all sides by some impressive metal creations. So far, so good!
And, as a bonus (and as a Jaguar lover) I was quite impressed by the ‘modifications’ made to a couple of marques near where we parked. That’s a good sign surely!?
As we approached the entrance, we could see that there were a number of ticket prices on offer. Scratching our heads, we couldn’t think why an Ironworks would offer ‘Memberships’. I could understand why you might revisit maybe once or even twice, but unlimited visits??? Anyway, after filling-in what doubled as a pseudo-Census, we were allowed through to pay for our tickets and be awarded our ‘day visitor badge’ – so far, so bureaucratic! Apparently, they needed phone numbers and email addresses because ‘they’re a working factory requiring us to observe certain H & S obligations’. At this point, I was getting slightly rattled at the amount of paperwork being generated, but at least it sounded like there was a factory tour on offer.
(WARNING: My weekly ‘Victor Meldrew Moment’) but we could go in, only after I was given my ‘parking voucher’ that allowed me to park in their car park. Why would you park here if you WEREN’T visiting – there’s nothing else nearby! 😠
Err, there wasn’t a factory tour! 😠. What greeted us was shelf after shelf of what could best described as ‘tat’! OK, some of it was metal and some of it was British, but what a junk-yard Yuk! 😲
The more we wandered around, the more disillusioned we became. OK, there were some very creative metalwork sculptures, but most of everything else looked like what you might see in any old garden centre that was having a closing-down sale! 😲 We were surely missing something here. The place just didn’t ‘click’ for us at all. Certainly, no sign of any ‘iron’ being ‘worked’ anywhere and what was on show was of (ahem!) variable quality.
We took a moment to pause and reassess what was on offer – maybe we were being a bit unfair? Maybe we’d missed a building or three? Nope! Apart from the only too few large scale creative works (like the one above), it really was all very average (and sometimes below average) merchandise!
But do you know the strangest part? It was VERY busy with plenty of punters browsing whilst the cafe/restaurant was absolutely heaving.
Clearly, it’s US and we’d missed something really obvious as to its appeal. If anyone has already visited, can you share the secret of ‘Oswestry’s No 1 Tourist Attraction’?
Not surprisingly, that was the quickest of visits for us. I left with a combination of feelings: Confusion, disappointment and annoyance! Clearly, a change of medication is in order!!!!
1.07pm: Back in the room – and time to get packed for our departure tomorrow.
Reflections of Shropshire
After five days here, we now think we’ve got a good feel for the area. Considering we’d been to Shropshire before (but didn’t recall most of it) that was a bit of a worry! Let’s just call it our ‘lost weekend in 2004‘, with these few paragraphs serving as a helpful reminder in years to come, when we plan to return!
We drove mostly everywhere, although unusually for us, we didn’t cover huge distances (just 171 miles) – and that was a holiday in itself! The roads were quiet, generally in good condition and offered a few dual carriageways where needed. From a tourist point-of-view, everywhere we visited left its mark, whether it was the accommodation itself (who knew you could do so much with shed for tractors!), the splendour of Attingham, the vastness of the Gardens at Powis Castle or the complete horror show that was the British Ironworks Centre. The locals were very friendly too, and often passed the time of day even to us as strangers! Nice!
The weather was dry throughout, but the temperature range meant it was varied
From a technology perspective, 4G was everywhere, with a splash of 5G at the bus-stop at the Oxon Park ‘n’ Ride (Why?). Not so much luck with a mobile signal though – at most, three bars generally; at worst, pretty much no signal at all in a few locations!
The weather was slightly warmer than the daily forecast promised topping 15/16 and occasionally 17℃ on one day – from ‘chilly’ to ‘very pleasant’. Being a self-catering property, we mostly ate IN, but there were plenty of eateries within easy reaching distance, be it a local Pub or one of the chains in the towns.
So, it’s farewell to the Shropshire and its Tractor Shed – thanks for reading my ramblings, see you on the Blog again soon! 👋👋
I got into blogging quite late in life, not publishing my first post until 2004 – well into my 40s!
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