It’s been yet another rainy day here. In fact, it’s been a very rainy week. As I write episode 71 of my weekly blog, it’s dark outside, the rain is falling heavily, the wind is howling, and my lentil chilli is reheating…
I really thought that a week off work in mid-May would provide me with lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. Hiking, motorbike riding, maybe some lake swimming, a trip to the seaside, I had even considered booking surfing at The Wave. But the weather has been utterly abysmal. Again. Honestly, I really do need some sunshine, in decent quantities. Please?!
But even with the horrible weather, I’ve done my best to make the most of my week off work. A friend commented that it might have been a blessing that the weather forced me to hibernate just a little bit this week, and while I can definitely see her point, I have been utterly exhausted recently, I would much rather have had the opportunity to boost my energy levels by getting out and enjoying some warm sunshine.
But there we are, warm sunshine was not what I was provided with this week, and so I made the best of it. And so my weekly blog this week will include words about the one hike I did, a stay in a hotel and a meal in a restaurant, a spontaneous wander around Stratford upon Avon, and a couple of online games that might help you pass the time next time you find yourself hiding from a storm.
Chasing the Sunshine in the Cotswolds
I didn’t know whether to title this section “chasing the sunshine” or “running from the rain”, as both would be very appropriate for the hike I did on Monday. Thankfully I did get one hike in this week, on Monday, when I walked a ten-ish mile loop in a new-to-me area of the Cotswolds. I started in Bourton-on-the-Hill, taking in Blockley, Hinchwick and Longborough.
The route, which was one featured by Country Walking magazine on OS Maps, is designed to allow you to see a number of manor houses and gardens including Bourton House Garden, Batsford Arboretum and Sezincote House.
I was certainly playing a game of beat the forecast, the sky was half bright blue and half dark black, and while I did get caught in one heavy downpour, I did at least start, have lunch, and finish in the dry.
It was a really lovely walk, not too arduous in terms of terrain or ascent, with plenty of big views, some beautiful woodland, and lovely farms and villages too.
I’m thoroughly enjoying working my way around the Cotswolds exploring all its nooks and crannies. The routes from Country Walking and Trail Magazine via OS Maps are certainly keeping me going.
Hotel Stay on Re-Opening Night
I won a stay in the Queen’s Hotel, Cheltenham, thanks to a photo competition run by Visit Cheltenham early last year. I entered one of the photos I took from the Ferris Wheel during Light up Cheltenham, and was delighted to be chosen as the winner.
I had booked to stay last year but of course got caught out by the lockdowns here in England, and so when the roadmap was announced back in January I took a chance and booked for the first night they might be allowed to open this time around. I was very happy indeed when Boris confirmed step three would kick in as planned!
They treated us to a Deluxe room on the third floor, which had the biggest bed I think I’ve ever slept it (this is not a Premier Inn!). No bath for a soak, but I could forgive that given the rest of the facilities. We had an excellent breakfast in the hotel before we left for home the following day. The smallest of mini breaks in our now home-town, but a real bit of luxury, especially this year. Thanks to Visit Cheltenham and the Queen’s hotel for such a nice treat.
We also took the opportunity to head out to one of our favourite spots in town for a burger on re-opening night. A lovely bit of normality. I know lots of people are not ready for inside dining or hotel stays yet, and I can respect that, but I have to say I felt perfectly safe in covid terms, and very well looked after, at the places I’ve been into since they were allowed to reopen this week.
Have you taken the opportunity to eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel since things started to open up a bit more here in England?
A Spontaneous Wander in Stratford Upon Avon
This weekend was the first National Camping Show, which was held just up the road near Coventry and Warwick. Given my love of all things camping, and that I had the time off work, I headed to Stoneleigh Park for the first day of the show to see what it was all about.
It was primarily an opportunity to look at tents, and you can read my quick roundup of the show in this post I published on Thursday evening. I hope they run it again next year, as it was a really nice way to view lots of tents.
On my way home from said National Camping Show, there was an accident on the A46 that closed the road just outside Stratford upon Avon, and so rather than sit in traffic, I made the spontaneous decision to go into the town/city for a wander rather than sit in the traffic.
I parked up on the outskirts and walked the mile or so into the town centre, got a couple of bits from Lush (glad to see them provide soap and water for handwashing, not just hand gel), and headed to find the River Avon and Stratford Upon Avon Canal basin. A few years ago we had two narrow boat holidays from Alvechurch Marina which meant we’ve slept in that basin a couple of times, trips which I remember fondly and would love to repeat sometime.
I had a really good explore around the waterways, up and down little lanes and alleys, and of course around some of the sites made famous by Shakespeare. I also visited Holy Trinity Church, which is where Shakespeare is buried, which is a beautiful church and well worth a minute or two of your time if you’re visiting.
The weather was far from perfect, it was very wet and windy (of course…), but it was such a good way to spend a couple of hours outside. Stratford-upon-Avon is a really beautiful place to visit, and it can get very busy indeed with tourists, but I it really is an excellent place for a mooch, even in poor weather.
Wasting Time with Google Feud
I’m almost certainly a bit late to the party, I normally am, but I recently came across a very addictive online games that is great if you’re looking to intentionally do something not particularly productive at any point this week…
Google Feud is a browser-based trivia game featuring answers pulled from Google. Each round you get the start of an internet search, and you have to fill in the end – you are looking for the top ten most common searches.
For example, you might get “I need a” and you have to guess what the rest of the search is. Or it might be one word such as “muppet”, or a question such as “what if”. All you have to do is complete the top ten searches.
The premise is very simple, the best time-wasting games are, but it will have you hooked. All I can say is set yourself a timer or alarm so you don’t end up on it all day…
And a bit of trivia for you; Justin Hook, the creator of Google Feud, was a writer on Bob’s Burgers, one of my favourite adult animations.
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!
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