Sunday, 19 February 2012

Week-end trip to Malvern

Bob and I went away for a couple of nights. We set off late morning on Friday, heading for Droitwich (where?); I had booked a place called Middleton Grange near the village of Salwaupe just outside Droitwich, planning to use this as a base to explore both Worcester and the Malverns.

We tried to go to a National Trust place in the area, but discovered it was shut that day. We then had a look at Droitwich itself, never having been there. It wasn't really worth the effort. One rather fine tudor building, the Raven Hotel, was sadly all closed up and impenetrable. Instead we found a little bistro for a quick bite (rather a late lunch; we didn't finish eating till about 3.30pm!) I had a panini - tuna, onion and melted cheese; Bob had spicy soup and a sandwich. I must confess I also had an icecream sundae (yum!)

We went straight to the Guesthouse after that, greeted by the very friendly owners. We had a cup of tea in our room, then went for a short walk in the immediate area, mainly for the dog's sake. We couldn't follow the public footpath across the field because an odd bloke was sitting on the style (with his black dog beside him) We went down a farm road instead, but had to double back, then contemplated walking along the other road to the village, but decided there was too much fast farm traffic! We then tried the other direction, and then a muddy track across a field, but decided to turn back in the end, cos it wasn't particularly interesting - and we then discovered we were taking a vast amount of the field's mud with us (my boots had doubled in weight!) Back at the car, prior to going anywhere for a meal, it took quite a while to remove all the mud (Bob had picked up a stick specially for the job)

Since it was still fairly early (and we had eaten such a late lunch), we decided to drive a bit further to find somewhere to eat. We drove into Worcester and discovered a whole line of Indian restaurants. We picked the one we liked the look of, left the dog in the car, and tried to order a *small* amount of curry! Both of us tried unusual sounding dishes (I think it was a Bangladeshi restaurant) and I liked mine rather more than Bob liked his. But the main highlight of the experience was the wonderful subtitling on the Bollywood music video on the big TV screen: 'she stole my heart under various pretexts' Now that's a song lyric to boggle the mind!

We headed back to our B&B for a nice relaxing evening of TV (Bob fell asleep very early indeed - but he really was - and still is - very poorly with the same nasty cold I had last week!) I was secretly pleased to get to watch American Idol, although I did also get to grips with the instructions of both of my new board games (no chance of getting Bob to play either of them, not with his head so full of soggy cotton-wool) I also had a quick look at my new book - the Companion volume to the Hugo film.

Saturday looked like it might be a good day. We had booked breakfast for 8.30am and that felt just right - not too early but not too late either. I had a much bigger cooked breakfast than Bob (which seemed a bit odd) Off we went, with plans to climb some hills. First, however, we stopped off in the centre of Malvern itself and found a wonderful second-hand bookshop for some lengthy browsing (dog back in the car ofcourse). A spot of tea (or rather hot chocolate) and cake in the Blue Bird Tearooms (lemon drizzle for me, some apple/sultana teacake for Bob). A quick visit to the Tourist Info centre supplied us with a couple of handy leaflets with car parks marked for access to the hills. And then lastly we popped into the Priory Church and were rather taken with the MODERN stained glass window. Also spotted the medieval tiles on the wall round the back of the altar. We didn't have the camera with us, unfortunately. Just bought a thimble, but not the guide book. Wish I could remember more about what we saw.Must ask Bob tomorrow.

We headed back in the car (our two hours had just expired!) Headed down the road to pick a car park and realised the weather had disintegrated into dodgey and potentially rainy. Nonetheless, for the sake of the dog, we decided a quick brum was necessary. We parked near the British Camp and headed up the path, intending initially just to go as far as it took before Cadi 'relieved' herself. But - despite the light rain - I couldn't help but want to head on up and up and up! (I had an umbrella and my full length furry coat) The grey clouds got lower, the wind got stronger and - by the time we had nearly reached the top - the rain had turned into hail!!!!! My umbrella blew inside out time after time (but it was still better to have it than not!)

On the way back down, I could see the back of Bob's legs - totally TOTALLY soaking wet, from thighs to ankles. So there was nothing for it but to head across the road to the Hotel./Bar/Restaurant - lunch simply to allow us to sit in the warm to dry off! We left the soaking wet Cadi in the car (wrapped in a towel so she didn't get chilly) Bob enjoyed his lamb shank, but I wasn't really hungry enough to enjoy my cod and chips! Cups of tea (ofcourse!) but Bob also had room for a pudding! He had a creme brulee thing that looked very nice. We picked up our boots again from the porch and headed back to the car - the sun now streaming from a bright blue sky!!!!! But we had lost our umph so couldn't face another hill-walk. Instead (barring one brief stop for some photos - just to prove how lovely the scenery now looked in the sunshine!) we headed for Worcester, to visit the Cathedral there. We found a relatively convenient car park, and had a chance to get a closer look at the remaining tower of St Andrew's on our way. Left the dog in the car again (still soaking wet, but not cold) The Cathedral was wonderful - so much to take in. Lots of quirky details. I particularly loved the Crypt, and the circular Chapter House (with the old bells along the shelf just outside it)

We decided we didn't really need an evening meal and instead stopped off at a convenience store to pick up some emergency rations to take back to our room. As Bob said this morning, it was a bit like having a midnight feast! We both indulged in the dubious pleasure of Pot Noodle! Unfortunately Bob decided to share his with is trousers! His only pair of trousers on the week-end trip (yes, he wore them again today with visible splats)

Bob again fell asleep very early, and I watched some undemanding telly until ready to sleep as well. But (like the previous night) I had to take Cadi out for her late-night widdle before I could go to bed. Unfortunately Cadi then woke me up wimpering to be let out at 7am. Grrrr. I took her out, but she wasn't really desperate after all - faker! There was a light dusting of snow or hail stones on the grass and the car. But the day looked set fair. Another small breakfast for Bob and a BIG one for me! A quick shower after breakfast (Bob had had his beforehand) and we checked out just before 10am, paying in cash.

We had decided to wend our way home by a different more scenic route, but first went south and decided to stop off for a quick walk somewhere on the Malvern Hills - a sunny walk to make up for the previous day's very wet one! I remembered seeing something in the tourist info leaflet about a hidden lake, and we managed to find the car park nearest to it. The easy access trail was flat and took us to the quarry with the lake in it. We walked right down to the edge of the lake and Cadi - crazy dog that she is went right in (the water looked freezing, with areas of ice in parts!)

We decided to carry on - the trail started to climb and to bend back on itself as we climbed up and up - eventually skirting along the very top of the Quarry itself. It was fantastic when we found a way onto the top of the ridge, and were then able to see the view on both sides. We could also see right along the ridge, with the British Camp in the distance. The sun was dazzling. It was still cold, but we warmed up through walking. The dappled shade in the woods on the steep hillside looked particularly beautiful.

I was surprised to discover how long we had been up the hill! It was already after 12 by the time we got back to the car! We headed for the British Camp car park in search of toilets and decided to go over to the little outdoor snack hut to get a hot drink (or, in Bob's case, some soup) before we headed on. We sat in the car to drink these (I had a rather thick and sickening hot chocolate, along with a large banana - a good combination; although I did feel a bit sick later as a result) Bob had a huge bread roll with his tomato soup, and a rock cake as well! That was all the lunch we needed really. I set the Sat Nav to take us the 'shortest' way, rather than the fastest, and we headed south. The route included an alarmingly narrow B road, and a bit of a problem when the Sat Nav wanted us to go along a road marked 'Private Road' which we then had to work around. BUT - despite Bob's grumbles - the main advantage was that we ended up going through Tewksbury - a town we had never visited before. It was absolutely beautiful! Full of stunning half-timbered tudor buildings. The route later also took us through Cheltenham, which wasn't so impressive - apart, that is, from Cheltenham College, which looked absolutely beautiful!

Short routes are very VERY much slower, so it took a lot longer to make our way back. We had to stop two more times, however.Once was a fairly urgent stop because I became SO sleepy I knew I was in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. We just pulled in to a parking area and I grabbed one of my micro-naps: my seat reclines really well so I quickly nodded off for 20 minutes. Unfortunately Bob couldn't work out how to recline his seat.

We also stopped off for a cup of tea/coffee in Burford. I had a cream tea, but swapped the tea for coffee. Bob had a toasted tea cake with his tea. We popped into a trendy clothes shop - interesting rain coats and hats but far too expensive.

The rest of the journey went pretty quickly and we were back just after 4.30pm. A bit later than I'd hoped but not too bad. This blog is rough and ready - just didn't want to forget the bare bones of the trip.Things get jumbled so easily. I can always come back and edit it, to add details etc.

Last night I felt pretty negative about the trip as a whole, but this morning really changed things for me and balanced the whole thing out somehow. For both Bob and I, the sunny walk this morning was the highlight of the whole week-end. Other favourite bits were the WET walk (funnily enough!) and  either the second hand book shop or (for me, as an equal third to that) the Indian meal on Friday evening. Bob's illness was definitely a factor, but he pushed on and just kept taking doses of tablets every 4 hours. It did, however, prevent him from enjoying Worcester Cathedral as much as he might otherwise have done.

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