Good evening – happy Sunday and welcome to another episode in my weekly blog series. How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one, with smiles and fun times to fuel the soul.
I wonder how many people will be reading blogs this evening… apparently there’s some kind of sporting event happening that we should all be glued to. I’m afraid I’ve never been into football and am unlikely to watch any of it myself, I should use the opportunity to go for a walk in a normally busy place, but given that it’s Sunday evening I think I’ll put something on Disney+ and relax with my feet up. If you’re watching then good luck – I hope you have drinks and snacks and don’t get too stressed or shouty!
You may have noticed you are getting two weeks in one in this weekly blog; I’ve been a busy bee with work and then getting out and about doing actual things, and just didn’t get time last weekend to get my weekly blog written. I think this is the first time I’ve combined two weeks into one in 77 episodes, so I’m not too sorry… You never know, one day I might get the hang of this blogging thing; even after more than ten years it’s hard to keep on top of it when it’s confined to my spare time.
Over the last two weeks (I worked one and had one on annual leave), I’ve been camping in Yorkshire for a friend’s Hen do, been over to Norfolk for some motorcycle training, and had my parents visiting me in Gloucestershire for some local exploring.
Hens in the Wood
The highlight last week was heading north to spend the weekend with my good friend and hiking buddy Jenni for her Hen do. Thanks to the obvious issue we’re all facing at the moment, this Hen weekend was very much a Plan B, having already been postponed for a year. But, even with the change of plans, it was a rather lovely weekend.
We were probably less like Hens and more like fairies, as we camped in Jenni’s private woodland and whiled away a couple of days playing in amongst the trees and being transfixed by the sounds and sights of nature. I may have come home and searched for woodland for sale, which happens every time I visit her… Although I know that Jenni and her family work very hard indeed to look after their slice of paradise.
We camped out, ate (a lot of) great food, played games, did some crafting, chatted around the campfire, and relaxed. One of the Hens brought along a home-made Escape Room for us to do, which was so good – I honestly don’t know how she was able to come up with such a well-made personalised activity, it was very well done indeed.
It was an utterly wonderful way to spend a weekend. I felt very at home in my tipi in the woods, and am very much looking forward to returning to this fairy-friendly land for Jenni’s wedding next month.
Adventure Bike Training
Having driven home from Yorkshire and spent some time catching up with a friend at home, we jumped on the bikes and headed across the country for a couple of days playing off road with Adventure Bike Training in Norfolk.
In all honesty, we booked this bespoke training with Kevin over in Norfolk because we couldn’t get a place on the right level of the BMW Off Road Skills course (read how I got on at the Level One course), but having been to see him I am so glad we were forced down that path. The training was excellent, the welcome warm, and we had a great couple of days.
The reason for wanting to do some training was to refresh some skills and learn up some new techniques in advance of heading to Iceland this summer (if we get there… British Airways cancelled our flight out this week… Gah!). And of course, most importantly, to have some fun – we definitely did that!
Kevin and Debs run Adventure Bike Training from their home near Fakenham, having set aside a large field with obstacles for training exercises (“the park”), and with access to a bunch of green lanes and trails for ride-outs (who knew Norfolk had such a great network of green lanes?!). They also fed us very well indeed, and it was super lovely to sit and chat with two very experienced motorcycle adventurers with a similar outlook to life as us.
The main benefits of this particular option over the BMW course was that we rode our own bikes, and it was just us – so we were able to concentrate on the things that we needed to. One of those things was learning a bit about water crossings, something we’ve not done much of but know we will need to do in Iceland; loved that part of the experience.
I can certainly see us returning to Kevin for more another time, to keep the skills topped up and enjoy time getting muddy and dusty.
My experience with Adventure Bike Training warrants a blog post of its own, so watch this space for more soon.
A History Lesson at Sudeley Castle
My Mum and Dad retired for the third time last weekend (yes, I know…), and started their new-found time off by coming over to Gloucestershire to visit us for the weekend. As I write this they have just left, it’s been lovely spending some time with them after the weirdness of the last 18 months has meant visits have been few and far between.
Yesterday afternoon (Saturday), we went to Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe for a history lesson. We’ve been before on a press trip to see the Christmas-time Spectacle of Light, but this is the first time we’ve visited the Castle itself to look around the grounds and see it in the daytime.
It’s a very interesting place, teeming with stories going right back to medieval times. Sudeley is probably most famous for history associated with the Royal Family; Katherine Parr (sixth wife of Henry VIII) lived here and is buried in the Chapel – the only Royal to be buried on private ground. With the Tithe Barn, a museum-type exhibition in the Dungeon Tower (which they don’t think was ever used as a dungeon), a number of open Castle rooms to look around, the Church/chapel, and extensive grounds including a Pheasantry, there is lots to see.
The gardens once won Garden of the Year, and while beautiful (and very sweet smelling – there are lots of herbs, roses and medicinal plants in the beds), they could certainly do with a team of gardeners to do some weeding and dead heading.
It’s quite expensive to get in, £17.75 for an adult (and there were four of us), but it’s a hugely interesting and very well organised place to visit. I would be happier if it was half the price, but it’s not and we wanted to go, so we paid up and put up with that. An excellent afternoon out, worth a visit if you’re in the area sometime.
I seem to have done a lot of eating out of the last ten days or so. Four restaurants in that period is a lot, even for me – I do love eating out! A couple of chains in Pizza Express and Zizzi’s because they were convenient for where we were and we do enjoy their pizzas (although whoever named Pizza Express should be shown the dictionary definition because I have never been there and had “express” service). But also a couple of independent places which are worth a mention…
Liquor and Loaded is a themed restaurant in King’s Lynn serving American style food – ribs, burgers, brisket, that kind of thing. The theming is quite spectacular; kind of heavy rock meets death metal inspired with heavy music playing, themed drinks and menu items (“devil’s slice” is black pudding), and suitably dark décor. The service was excellent, the food was great, I had the barbecue chicken and waffles, and I really appreciated the attention to detail in the theming – nicely done.
After a wander around Broadway this morning (I do like a mooch in Landmark Walking and Cotswold Trading), we tried a new-to-us pub not far from home for Sunday dinner. The Shutters Inn in Gotherington is a traditional pub that serves what you’d expect from a village pub. I’ve heard good things (and that they do a Sunday roast…), and am very pleased to say was not disappointed. The roast dinner was very good, with plenty of veg and the offer of more if we’d wanted. And the apple, black cherry and strawberry crumble was very nice indeed – if not a little too large for me to finish after such a big main course. If you’re in this part of Gloucestershire I recommend this one.
Mini Book Review | The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osmand
In Weekly Blog Episode 76, I provided a short review of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, and commented that I would now return to The Impulsive Explorer by Karen Espley. Fast forward a few days, and I’ve actually started and finished a completely different book in that time…
As you know, one of the ways I listen to audio books is thanks to my local Library Service. Here in Gloucestershire they use BorrowBox, which is very handy to borrow audio books for free, especially when I’m doing lots of drives and hikes and so am getting through them quite fast.
Anyway, months ago I reserved The Thursday Murder Club on BorrowBox rather than buying it, which was due to become available in late July – popular titles can take a while to become available, but I don’t mind waiting when it’s free. Occasionally reservations come up quicker, and without warning, and that’s what happened earlier this week with this particular book.
But given that I would be spending a fair amount of time in my car this weekend, an audio book was far more convenient than a real book.
Without giving anything away (I’ll try not to…), the book follows the tale of four friends living in retirement accommodation who meet once a week to solve cold cases – the Thursday Murder Club. The nurse, spy, psychiatrist, and trade union leader all bring their different skills and backgrounds to the table in their weekly meetings, and find themselves right in the middle of a live murder case they take it upon themselves to solve.
I particularly enjoyed that even though this book is a crime novel, Osman gives all the characters – four main characters and at least ten more, enough space to let the reader know who they are. Each individual person is lovable in their own way, and even though there are lots of characters, they are all memorable. Crime stories work best when there are intertwined stories and red herrings, and this has plenty of those – a traditional whodunnit with an excellent background story and plenty of options.
This was a best seller for a reason, I’m glad I read it. I’m already looking forward to hearing from Joyce and the others again in the second book, which apparently starts the day after this one ends. I just need Richard Osman to finish it…
A review of The Impulsive Explorer coming up next week… or the week after!
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. What have been the highlights of your week? 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, please head over to Ko-fi to find out more.