Saturday 20 August 2022

Bath gin and rum festival

We got our bikes out and cycled into Bath for the afternoon. We had tickets for the gin and rum festival, and when we got there it was in full flow.

All of the tables were full and the band was murdering a few old favourite songs in the background as we had our photo taken on the Schweppes rocking seat. We then had to sip our drinks for the next photo, and for some reason it looks as if our eyes are about to pop out.

It was tasty, but not that tasty.  The different gins were lined up along the side walls and split into British, rest of the world and flavoured.  We had two each and the barman told us to read through a booklet explaining the merits of each individual one. That was too much like hard work, so I chose the one with pretty flowers on the label.

Darren's choice of a cocktail from a corner bar was better and we drank and chatted, and then noticed that the band had improved a lot. In the end we were sad to see them finish their set.

The journey back was complicated by the fact that we were given the large fragile glasses as souvenirs, so the challenge was to cycle home without smashing them.

Friday 12 August 2022

William Shakespeare day

We are still at Stratford upon Avon, and it is full of tourists all keen to discover more about William Shakespeare.

His name appears everywhere, along with shops, bars and restaurants that are named after his plays or characters. On the main street is a lovely statue.

We paid for a ticket that gave us entry to three different attractions.

First up was Shakespeare's birthplace. It is right in the centre of town and is a good sized cottage, as his dad earned a good living as a glove maker. Shakespeare was born in 1564 and records show that his family had 11 large wall coverings to brighten up the rooms. They were surprisingly over the top and it gave the whole place a lively look.

People at that time slept sitting upright in bed as they were very superstitious and believed that if they were lying down then devils would take them away to die, or something very similar to that.

Just imagine - it would be like trying to sleep every night in an aeroplane seat.

The building was exactly as you would imagine a 500 year old cottage to be. Low ceilings, lots of beams, tiny windows, thatched roof and large walk in fireplace.

The next destination was about five minutes walk away and is called New Place. Shakespeare moved here with his wife Anne Hathaway in 1597 and lived there until his death in 1616.

I have to say that this was disappointing as the building was destroyed over 300 years ago. So basically we were looking at a garden with metal lines on the ground to show where the building used to be.

Some nice sculptures though, and a lady at the bottom of the garden telling stories about fairies and hobgoblins that Shakespeare would have known, and maybe used in his plays.

Finally we walked over a mile to Anne Hathaway's cottage. She was eight years older than Shakespeare and this is where she lived until they got married.

Fortunately this one still stood.

It was my favourite of the three places, although in Anne's time her cottage was only a small section in the middle and it has been extended hugely since then.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Bicester to Stratford upon Avon

 It's red hot outdoors, so what shall we do? Go on a bicycle tour is the answer. Not just any tour though, this is the first time that we have done one on our e bikes.

We set off from Bicester and cycled 27k before our coffee stop at Great Tew. We stopped here on a ride last year, and I am pleased to see that it is as posh and picturesque as I remember it. The Beckham's live in Little Tew, Jeremy Clarkson has his farm, and loads of celebrities live locally. 

I didn't spot anyone famous today, although our bicycles got to hang out with some very trendy friends while we ate our cakes and tried to avoid the wasp attacks.

On we cycled through dust dry countryside that looked more like southern Spain than England.

We found a huge conker tree with a bench around it, so had our lunch in the shade. I could have drifted off to sleep, but we had to carry on.

The bikes were fantastic and just give that little bit of help when needed. Going along the flat they do very little, but on a hill it is as if someone is giving a helpful gentle push upwards.

After nearly 70k we reached the outskirts of Stratford along a disused railway line, and came across an old railway carriage that had been converted into a café.

Obviously we had to stop and enjoy a thirst quenching cider before finishing off the journey.

Only apple flavour here though, no sign of strawberry daiquiri.

Alchester Running Club 5k

A few weeks ago I decided to enter the Alchester Running Club 5k evening event. To be honest the main reasons behind this was that I knew that I could run that far and I wanted to collect a medal for finishing.

It was held at Marsh Gibbon which is a village a couple of miles outside Bicester, so not very far to travel.

When I got there I went to pick up my entry number and it was number one, based on the alphabet. However, I have been number 002 in a race before and know that it's embarrassing as people assume that I am an elite racer.

This time was no different and as soon as I pinned it on, a group of runners from a local club asked if I won the race last year. It carried on from there as other runners pointed to me and spectators called out my number on the way round and cheered more loudly for me.

It was nice too really, although by then I was towards the back of the pack, so obviously not the best.

Afterwards some of the volunteers asked me if I had won, but I said that I finished one hundred and something, so the one was sort of correct, just missing a couple of numbers after it.

Just seen the results and I was 126th out of 183, 50th lady out of 82, and 7th over age 55 out of 15. 

Ps, after all that effort there weren't any medals as nearly everyone apart from me belonged to a running club, and all I got at the finish was an ice pop and a bottle of water.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Bus trip to Bristol and Weston super Mare

Today started out with the plan of going to see an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night in Bath, however, it began to expand once Darren realised that for one extra pound we could buy a bus ticket that allowed us to roam all over the South West of England.

So we started by going in completely the opposite direction to Bristol. We got off at the bus station and quickly arrived at the beautiful waterway.

We wandered along it towards the SS Great Britain and stopped off for a strawberry daiquiri cider - delicious. 

The waterway got busier with loads of barges and boats, and loads of people out enjoying the sunshine. There is also lots of great buildings to appreciate. 

After quite a walk we stopped for a coffee while Darren checked the Shakespeare details for tonight and found out that they had sold out, and we hadn't bought our tickets yet! Obviously the lovely weather had encouraged a late rush. 

Not wanting to waste our bus tickets by just going back home, we realised that a bus to Weston super Mare was just about to leave, so we swapped Shakespeare for a trip to the seaside. 

On the bus we passed the SS Great Britain that we hadn't reached on our walk around Bristol, and then the Clifton Suspension bridge, so that was very handy. 

The bus took just over an hour and was very hot, so it was a relief to arrive at Weston super Mare. 

It is a proper resort with donkey rides on the beach and a lively pier. Unfortunately you had to pay to go on it, so we didn't. The town had an amazing building that we took a photo of, and then worked out that it was actually a toilet. 

The sand was glorious and I excitedly took my shoes and socks off ready for a paddle,

but when we got to the sea we saw it was the colour of washing up water after all of the greasy pans have been cleaned, and with a frothy scum too.  So reluctantly I walked along the lovely sand next to it towards the old oil rig further down the beach. 

Now this really is going to be a tourist attraction, as it is going to be repurposed into a modern art sculpture, something along the lines of the Hanging gardens of Babylon I think. Not finished yet though. 

After walking around it we decided that we had finished with WSM and in less than an hour we were back at the bus station. The train station was right next to it and the train was far quicker and more pleasant than the bus, so we hopped aboard and went to Bath. 

It would then be a short bus ride home, and we had half an hour to spend in Bath first. I don't know why, but all of the streets near the station were full of brightly coloured butterflies. 

What an unexpected day. 

Thursday 4 August 2022

Commonwealth Games

We drove to the station and caught the train to Birmingham New Street. There was a lovely reception from all of the Games' volunteers and they directed towards the action. What I wanted to see first was the giant bull from the opening ceremony.

It was extremely popular and there must be millions of photos of it by now. We managed to get up close for a quick snap.

Afterwards we headed back to the station and caught the train to Birmingham University, which was the location of the squash competition. 

Lots of photo opportunities on the way, and the giant deck chair was very comfortable. 

Also, had to include this one..... 

The weather was gorgeous, but we were indoors for the afternoon and evening watching the gold, silver, bronze and 4th place matches at squash. 

We haven't seen a match since the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, but since then the men seem to have got so unbelievably good that it was almost impossible for them to win points off each other. Unfortunately, the rallies went on so long and were spectacular, but in a strange way could become almost boring. I don't know how better to describe it. 

However, the women were incredible and to be honest, more enjoyable. Good results for England with a bronze and gold medal, and a 4th for James Wilstropp.