Good evening, all. It’s weekly blog time! I hope you are well. How has your week been? Managed to dodge the heavy rain showers and make the most of the sunshine this week? Got a few niggly things ticked off your to do list? Enjoy some lovely food? Spent some time with lovely people? I hope all the above are true for you.

Today’s weekly blog episode is coming to you from my sofa in my lounge. I’ve just had a very small dinner of chorizo muffins with salad, watching the third Toy Story film on the telly box, wondering when a good time would be to eat the Jaffa cake brownie I have sat on the side in the kitchen. I can hear it. It’s whispering eat-me-now nothings at me…

It has been a particularly active and outdoors-based weekend, so I’m enjoying an evening in my lounge, wearing my comfy clothes, with some tasty food and easy watching. I’ll do my best to make sure there aren’t any random Toy Story quotes in this post… thankfully there are no snakes in my boots, and I don’t have a strawberry-scented bear being mean to my other toys.

A Very One Hour Outside Kind of Sunday

Today I have lived my best One Hour Outside life. I feel like I’ve made the most of the sunny day by spending time outside with family and friends. We’ve not gone far, or been particularly energetic, but we’ve had a lovely time.

The whole point of One Hour Outside, is to encourage people – very much myself included – to spend a little bit of time outside every day. I almost always follow that by saying that you don’t have to do anything big, or hard, or fast, to be outdoors. It’s a hugely important point, one I like to labour a great deal; the outdoors is for everyone doing anything (within reason…). Simple is very good when it comes to getting outside.

My go-to examples of outdoor activities when talking One Hour Outside, are things like going for a walk, having a picnic in the park, or doing some gardening. Today, those three examples were my reality.

Sunshine on Cleeve Hill

We started with a short walk up on Cleeve Hill. I’ve mentioned before that once a month my local church runs a special Church on the Hill meetup – an opportunity to meet, chat, walk, and be outside in nature. It’s one of my church-going-self’s highlights, all churches should be encouraging members out into the countryside, in my opinion.

Bench overlooking the village on Cleeve Hill

It wasn’t a long walk, a steep climb, or a fast pace. We meandered along a short easy-going section of the Cotswold Way until we reached a spot where we were able to stand and look over our village. We pointed out our homes, our places of work, and other landmarks we visit regularly.

There is something very special about being able to stand up high and pick out my house in the view. It makes me feel both very big and very small at the same time. An opportunity to survey my kingdom if you like, to take in the world in which I live my daily life, to see the big picture of what I am surrounded by every day. This is certainly one of the main reasons I keep finding myself up on Cleeve Hill, it never gets boring.

Village Street Fair

Every year, on the second Sunday in June, my village holds a street fair. The first year we lived here we wandered over to see what it was all about and realised just how big this thing is (which I thought I’d written about in a previous weekly blog but I can’t find it). It’s quite the party! After a couple of years off for obvious reasons, the street fair was back, and we headed into the village centre to soak up the atmosphere this afternoon.

There were fairground rides, bands playing, carnival games, crafts for sale, a dog show, a vintage car show, and a bunch of charity stalls, amongst other things. And, of course, there was lots (and lots) of street food. Let’s face it, that’s what I went for.

Spoilt for choice, with home made paella, Thai-style noodles, and several barbecues to choose from, we decided on Langos from The Hungry Hun. This is the same vendor we met at the Jubilee event last weekend (read Weekly Blog Episode 107). It was so tasty last time we just had to have another one (and sadly the paella had just run out and there was a 30-minute wait for the next batch).

Street Food

The guy running the van even recognised us, which I’m taking as a compliment! If you’ve never tried a Langos, you should hunt one out, I would highly recommend. We sat at a picnic bench on a green surrounded by people wandering around the vintage car show, enjoying our Langos – the perfect way to spend One Hour Outside on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Mmmmmm doughnut…

And because I am a doughnut addict, I also treated myself to some traditional hot and sugary seaside-style doughnuts for dessert. The fact I had fried dough for main and dessert isn’t lost on me, but I’m okay with that, it’s not like I eat deep fried food every day!

We also bought some treats for tea, you know, to keep the street fair spirit going even after it finished. We had chorizo muffins from a local baker, which were delicious (served with salad for tea, the plate of food I’ve just finished), and a Jaffa cake brownie from Baked by Grace, which I am about to devour.

Jaffa cake brownie. Yes, I ate this in one sitting. Easily.

Pretending I Have Green Fingers

The third One Hour Outside activity I enjoyed today was tidying up the garden. I think it’s fair to say I’ve neglected my own outdoor space quite considerably this year; other than planting a few wildflower seeds (some of which have grown, most of which haven’t), I’ve not tended to it at all. It’s not been looking too bad considering, thankfully my husband has been looking after the roses, but everything else is a bit overgrown.

The three of us – my husband, my mother-in-law, and I – spent a couple of hours weeding and hoeing and pruning, and it’s looking so much better. We tidied up the rosemary bush, pulled up the mint that was taking over everything else, and picked last year’s dead flower off the lavender to give that a fighting chance for this summer. The pots that were full of dead things got emptied, and the grass got a good trim.

Very Light Touch

It really didn’t take much effort to make the whole place look a lot nicer, an hour or two with a fork and a ruthless attitude, and it’s a real pleasure to sit here and glance out of the patio doors as the evening sun shines brightly over our handiwork.

New-to-me clematis

We even found a plant we’ve never seen before! Yes, in our own garden. Behind one of the larger shrubs, which we cut back in autumn last year because it was swaying a little too much in the strong winds, we found a single strand clematis plant with lovely purple flowers. We’ve now given it something to attach itself to so hopefully we’ll get a bigger plant next year. Cool!

Oh, I nearly forgot that we also cleaned the patio, which in itself has worked wonders for the way our little garden now looks. I shall have to make sure I get my firepit out for more marshmallow toasting very soon, to enjoy what it now looks like before it inevitably gets overgrown again.

Your One Hour Outside

That act of being outside, whatever it is we do when we are there, is unbelievably good for us. I’ve been spouting on about how being outdoors is good for our body, mind and soul for years (and years), but for some reason it feels even more relevant to me at the moment. That time outdoors each day helps keep everything else in check. I always regret a day when I don’t leave the front door.

Coastal redwood tree at Witley Court and Gardens

And while others might be doing huge endurance challenges in the mountains, going on remote wild camps solo, or spending their whole life working towards a big goal, know that there is nothing better than the simple things in life. Going for walks, having a picnic, and pottering in the garden are wonderful wholesome activities that give us way more than the amount of effort we might put in. they certainly have done that for me today. Fresh air, natural light, a little bit of movement. We all need more of that.

I hope you were able to spend a little bit of time outside today, whatever day you happen to be reading this weekly blog post. I’d love to hear what you got up to – drop a comment in the box at the bottom of my weekly blog here, or give me a shout over on twitter to let me know.

A Slight Pause

Okay, so at this point I must admit defeat, at least for this evening. I am paying more attention to Toy Story than I am to my weekly blog, which is no bad thing as it’s a great film and I’m enjoying it. I’ll pause my weekly blog here and pick it up again another day when I’m less distracted.

Would I make a good statue?!

It’s now a few days later – Wednesday evening – the sun is still shining (woohoo!), and I’m back to continue where I left off with this episode of my weekly blog. I spent hundreds of words describing my rather lovely One Hour Outside focused Sunday, so I’ll try and be a bit more concise from here.

Witley Court

Witley Court is a ruined Italianate mansion in Worcestershire. Built for the Foleys in the seventeenth century on the site of a former manor house, it was enormously expanded in the early nineteenth century by the architect John Nash for Thomas Foley. Now looked after by English Heritage, we made use of our membership and headed over to explore on Saturday.

Witley Court and Gardens

The large mansion was ruined by a fire in 1937. Although a lot of work was done to save what was left, it is now a roofless structure set in large gardens. And while you can’t snake your way through staged dimly lit rooms full of period furniture as you might in other similar mansion houses, it is a really lovely place to explore.

Impressive Fountain

Probably the most impressive feature at Witley Court is the Perseus and Andromeda fountain. It depicts a well-known scene of Greek mythological heroism featuring the monster slayer Perseus and his winged horse. It isn’t on all day, just on the hour, but it’s worth making sure you are there to see it going – there are 120 jets in amongst the shells, sea nymphs and dolphins, creating quite a noisy display. Not quite like the little bubbling water feature I have in my back garden!

Witley Court and Gardens

Parish Church

Once we’d finished exploring the ruins and the formal gardens, we headed around to the Parish church to take a look inside. It’s not part of the English Heritage-run attraction, but it is well worth going inside to see this baroque style church and its impressive painted ceiling.

The thing, though, that really sparked our interest was not that amazing painted ceiling, but it was that a chair sat by the pulpit had a sign on it saying “this chair is connected to the alarm system”. We looked, and it was indeed wired up. What is so special about this chair that it needs to be alarmed?

Despite my best Googling efforts, I’ve drawn a blank. If you happen to know, I’d love to hear from you. I did think about emailing the Churchwarden, or maybe the PCC Secretary, maybe I will do that to satisfy my quest for knowledge.

I should also give an honourable mention to the tearoom run by the church next door. The lemon and blueberry cake was really rather excellent!

Monkey puzzle tree at Witley Court and Gardens

The thing I took the most photos of at Witley Court, was the trees. This place is home to a range of tree and shrub varieties from all over the world. We just missed the rhododendrons, they were past their best, but the rest of the woodland area was simply stunning. It was so nice to be able to stroke a Coastal Redwood tree, probably my favourite of all the trees. I also rather liked the Monkey Puzzle trees that were dotted around – not quite the same strokability as the redwoods, but no less beautiful.

Off to Enjoy the Sunshine

I’ll end this episode of my weekly blog here, which I guess is really only a weekend blog, never mind, so I can get packed for my short camping trip. I honestly feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with the weather this week – it should be lovely and sunny for the next couple of days (although please don’t point out that it’s likely to break in spectacular fashion on Saturday morning, thanks!).

Remember that short trip I had to the Hartland Peninsula in Devon this time last year? It was such an excellent way to celebrate mid-year, so I’m off to do the same again – somewhere different this time, though. It’s not quite over the summer solstice this time, but it’s close enough for me. I intend to walk, relax, eat, relax, and walk some more. I’ll let you know exactly where I go and what I get up to in my next weekly blog episode next week.

Here’s to sunny adventures for all of us over the next few days – and if you can’t have a sunny adventure, I hope you can get out for at least One Hour Outside whatever the weather. See you next week.

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