Today we all travelled up to the Cotswolds to spend an afternoon with Sophie and Tom. Sophie had suggested we might like to go to the Christmas Market along the canal at Bradford-on-Avon. So that’s what we did.
To say that the drive up was smooth and problem free would be a lie. Major weekend roadworks had closed off a huge swathe of whatever road we were on causing a major detour. This didn’t add more than ten minutes onto our journey but it did lessen Mirinda’s mood somewhat as we navigated back lanes and extensively confusing roundabouts. Though her mood did lighten a bit when we drove through the beautiful countryside of Wiltshire. Mine was lightened even more when we drove passed the Wadworth brewery in Devizes.
Meanwhile the Hassell’s journey took them by Stonehenge* which Jason reckons would only need about 50 drunken Englishmen to push over. I guess it’s fortunate that this has never happened.
Still, eventually we all made it…though some sooner than others.
The plan was to have lunch in the highly recommended Lock Inn Cafe which, as you’d guess, is on the canal and right by a lock. It’s also at the start of the market. Sadly (for us) the Lock Inn Cafe was fully booked so, instead, we managed to get a table for eight at the Boathouse. This is a bit of a way out of town but still on the water with some lovely boat views.
Speaking of boat views, in the Boathouse, there was, on the wall behind Jason, a half block model of the 1852 America, the yacht that won a race and then became the name of the most famous yacht race in the world, the America’s Cup. As I started to bore the table with the information that the race isn’t named for the country but for the (British built) boat, lunch appeared and we all tucked in.
I didn’t get to tell them that the original America was built with an iron hull and was engineered by Robert Stephenson of the train fame. I also didn’t get to tell them that…okay, I’ll stop now. It seems that I should really keep my extensive maritime knowledge to myself. Or to my blog.
I forced Jason to drink half a pint of proper beer but he declared it absolutely disgusting. Mind you, he managed to drink it all. Apparently flavour is not the best thing. I’ll have to remember that when it comes time to ‘christen’ Tom.
After a lunch which I thought was quite nice but Mirinda didn’t, we headed for the town car park prior to our walk along the mud strewn tow path.
The market was along the towpath, narrow boats displaying various wares for sale or perusal…mostly for sale. And an odd assortment of things there were.
At one stage Mirinda spotted a picture she really liked. She should have bought it then and there but, sadly, she decided to wait and get it on the way back…except we didn’t go back. I always say “…buy it when you see it because you never know if you’ll see it again” but wasn’t quick enough to say it today. Clearly.
Along the way to the aqueduct we stopped off at a wonderful 14th century tithe barn. It’s simply magnificent. The building work is superb. In a day of surprising things, this was possibly my favourite.
I thought we were then going to walk into town but no, we were heading further along the canal. While it was a sloshy muddy old walk and the sun was rapidly leaving us, it was worth it. Always a bit of a sucker for the type of engineering genius that is building a structure in order to move water above another body of water, I loved it. The view across the valley was also pretty special. While we could still see it.
Mind you, the pub in the view was possibly the best bit and we gradually made our way down to wrestle our way to a table for eight where hot chocolate, beer (I can recommend the Frontline ale) and wine were consumed.
Eventually Sophie ordered taxis and we headed across the aqueduct in order to be taken back to the cars in the car park. Farewells were then bid and we all drove off into the dark.
The trip home was extremely smooth and problem free.
* It’s astounding that I wasn’t asked anything about Stonehenge given my archaeological background and degree. The dissemination of information is not always required, it seems. I guess that’s what Google** is for.
** Please note that there are other search engines though, like Aspirin, it would appear that Google is becoming the generic name for all of them.