Day Two - 42 Ashleigh Ave Bridgwater, Somerset - 10th November
Vehicle won't start. Scary and frustrating. Anyway eventually we got going and head south west to Bridgwater in Somerset. Ali found the house she lived in from age 7 to 11 - posed for the photo then we were greeted by neighbours Mr and Mrs White from number 44 who are very long standing residents of the street. We started talking and their friendly chat and news of the area changed this stop from ticking the box to something very special.
We drove to nearby Western-Super-Mare but couldn't find a park by the sea which was pretty frustrating. So we headed back to Briar fields. The country roads, although narrow, are a lot more pleasant than the myriad motorways with their roundabouts and interchanges.
Day Three - Sheila and the village of Winchcombe -11th November
Gas stop - more not starting - more blank screen - more stress. The midlands are in flood season and we saw many flooded places on the way to Sheila’s place in Worcestershire. Sheila is a lifelong friend of Ali’s mum and knew Ali’s father back in the art school days.
Sheila - what an amazing bright spark - I'm 30 years her junior and my spark isn't half as bright as hers. 90 years and still driving and walking to town every day. The house was everything my mother, Bob, had aspired to with Pepper Tree Cottage - a huge dresser that covered an entire wall - chocablock with fine cups, plates, books, knick-knacks, and an Aga range cooker the size of my cabin. The garden was beautifully tended and even at this time of year looked great. Sheila had made us a fantastic lunch of pea soup, salmon and cream cheese sammies and salad - beautiful.
Winchcombe was a good stop - I was contemplating not even stopping as it was getting late and the three and a half ton top heavy turtle was stressing me out on the wiggly country roads. Not the mention the not starting all the time! Ali made me stop and I'm so pleased she did. I had a little walk down the main street to clear my head then found The Corner Cupboard Inn. What a fantastic stop - initially built 600 years ago ! The publican could easily have been Hagrid’s first cousin. He was huge, blonde and softly spoken. Everything that came out of his mouth was kind. I had a half fish and chips which was too much and Alison had bangers and mash with onion gravy and yorkshire pudding - you can't get more English than that.
Day Four - Cheltenham to Forest of Dean - 12th November
Chalky recommended this stop and so glad he did. Camping in the forest, walking down to the river Wye through the Autumn colours, squirrels, deer - so cool - emphasis on cool.
Caught up with Iain (Chalky) and Anne for another meal just down the road from the Forest - much nicer venue and food.