As I sit and write my weekly blog this afternoon, at my dining table looking at the garden through the dining room window, the weather really cannot decide whether it wants to be Spring or Winter. I mean, one minute it’s blue skies and sunshine, the next dark clouds and snow.
So rather than go for a motorbike ride, or a walk in the hills, I’ve spent today dreaming of adventure instead… that is, reading blogs, watching vlogs, and generally making plans in my head that probably won’t ever come to fruition. Did you know it costs €46-49,000 to join an expedition to ski the last degree to the North Pole? Plus gear and flights, naturally. Yea, I definitely need to come up with a new dream!
The weather has been this changeable all week. We’ve had strong winds, heavy rain, warm sunshine, snow and sleet, even hail that has settled as if it was snow. It’s almost like it’s channelling my thoughts, darting from one random emotion to another, from one silly dream to the next, before settling on just plain grey and boring…
It has, at least, been a short working week. My employer gave us Tuesday off in addition to the Bank Holiday weekend in England, and three days sat in my home office is certainly easier than five. And so this episode of my weekly blog does at least include a couple of lovely days out…
Old Buildings and Cholera at Upton-upon-Severn
In the cold winds of Monday we headed to Upton-upon-Severn for a wander. Just to see what is there, really. It’s somewhere we’ve driven and ridden through a few times, but never stopped. I just fancied having a look at the boats, but it turns out that this little town is something of a gem.
It’s a pretty place, with a large marina and of course footpaths along the river. There’s also a lot of history here. The stone bridge was the only one over the Severn between Worcester and Gloucester for some time, and became the backdrop for quite some battle during the Civil War in the 1600s.
And in 1832, the town was plagued by the nation-wide cholera epidemic (ah pandemics… those were the days…). It’s possible to visit the small dedicated Cholera burial ground on the edge of the town.
There are also some wonderful old buildings, such as this workshop, along with a bunch of interesting looking shops. Of course, given the timing of our visit we couldn’t go inside into the museum or any of the other buildings to look inside, but it was a great place for a wander even without that. Shame it was so cold really, we’d have been very thankful for an open café to sit inside!
A New-to-Me Woodland
I used my Tuesday off as an opportunity to go for a nice long walk. I didn’t have the car available so that walk was from my own front door, but that was okay, there are still a bunch of new-to-me routes up and around Cleeve Hill and the surrounding area, providing plenty of interest, views and paths to explore.
I wanted woodland, I love woodland, and so I earmarked Breakheart Plantation as my destination, which sits on the Cotswold Way close to Belas Knap to the west of Cleeve Common. Being a plantation, I knew that there was a chance there would be no trees at this moment in time, but I was full of joy to not only find it was dense woodland, but that the woodland was wonderful. Thick green forest floor, the sounds and smells of nature, and not another human soul for the whole time I was there. I wonder if the very steep hill puts some people off, or if it was just too cold on Tuesday for other people, but I rather enjoyed the stroll on my own.
While the weather started off very nice indeed, with blue skies and not much wind, perfect for walking albeit very cold, by the end I was walking in strong winds and full on snow which was laying as I trundled on. It was a good example of why, even when you’re not particularly high in the hills (the popular bit of Cleeve Hill sits at 317m), you should be prepared with warm layers, as the weather at the bottom is hardly every the same as the weather at the top, and whatever the forecasters say, you might find those black clouds roll in.
I didn’t have a whole bunch of gear – I could see my house most of the time – but I did carry warm layers, tea and snacks, and my trusty map. I ended my day out cold and a bit damp, but I could have been very uncomfortable indeed.
In all I walked 14 miles or so, in four or five hours including two stops to drink tea. It was my furthest walk for many weeks – my foot held up (was sore afterwards but fine when on the trail), I walked slowly to allow my fitness level to cope, and I took a whole bunch of photos. It felt wonderful to be out, especially in that glorious woodland. I felt far from civilisation, and I am very much look forward to the next time I get another day like that.
The route I plotted and walked will be worth sharing properly sometime, although without the bit taking you to and from my front door of course, as it was a decent one providing lots of variety, some beautiful scenery, and that fine woodland. I’ll write it up as I did with my Southam walk so if you’re in the area you can discover what I did.
I really have been doing a lot of “reading” recently. I think I might be a changed woman! I started and finished three books this week, helped along by the brain fog and a desire to relax in an intentional way.
Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know, was an incredibly interesting and, at times, quite uncomfortable listen. Gladwell starts and finishes with the tragic case of 28 year-old African American Sandra Bland, who in 2015 was pulled over by a traffic cop in Texas, arrested, and committed suicide in her jail cell three days later. He uses other examples of miscommunications between strangers in all kinds of situations, looking at the psychology and difficulties in each case. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in people and our strange psychological tendencies, or who simply want something that will make you think deeply.
My final read, which I got through in just two sittings, was Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library. I’m sure you’ve heard all about this very popular book, and how it is both thought provoking and . Telling the story of 34-year-old Nora’s and her struggles, the book centres around a library that exists between life and death where she gets to try all the other lives she could have lived. It was an easy listening, nicely told story, and while the ending might have been very predictable, I still enjoyed every chapter.
And now I’m back to the Redwall trilogy that I mentioned in my weekly blog last week (Weekly Blog Episode 64). At just three or four hours long, I found The Quest by Brian Jacques to be equally as spirited as the first in the series. Those Redwall Abbey mice are tough little creatures!
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been, and don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you fancy supporting me and my mini adventures, you can “buy me a coffee” (or a tea, naturally). If you enjoyed this post and would like to support what I’m doing, head over to Ko-fi to find out more. Thank you.