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Entries about british countryside

Wrecclesham and Farnham: Trip down memory lane

Wrecclesham and Farnham


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Today was a trip down memory lane for Mum and a lovely experience for me because I got to share it with her.

First of all we visited my Grandad and his wife J for a cup of tea/ coffee and a chat. They are moving house very soon, away from the old family home Mum stayed in during school and university holidays throughout the Seventies, so I also walked round the place with Mum taking photos of anything she wanted me to.

After leaving the house, Mum and I went round the corner to Wrecclesham Pottery (which recently changed its name to Farnham Pottery, despite not being in Farnham) to look round.

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The gate was open, so we walked round the small grounds, but couldn't enter the actual buildings. It's a working pottery, founded in 1873. We admired many of the outdoors features -drainpipes made from pottery, dating from the turn of the 20th century; the massive brick kiln; the well; the very old outside clock; the owl looking out from one of the pottery archways; and last but not least, the 'A Harris & Son, Pottery Works, 1873' written above the main door. Mum told me that she used to walk past it on dog walks with her Nana in the mid-Sixties and think to herself that one day, in the unimaginable future, the writing would be 100 years old. I remember something similar when I was at the same age, when time seems to stretch endlessly into the future; I remember once in 1992, in my last year of infants' school, someone mentioning something that was going to happen in 1995; I couldn't stop mentally shaking my head in wonder at how incredibly far in the future that was.

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For lunch we went round the corner to the Royal Oak pub. Mum had a baguette with salad and I had the best jacket potato I've ever had; goat's cheese, caramelised onions, parsley and extra butter.

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The last thing we did before moving on to Farnham was go for a walk, following one of the dog-walking routes Mum would go on nearly every day in her school holidays in the Seventies and late Sixties. We walked for nearly an hour through nearby countryside. At one point we looked into a field that used to be filled with hop plants which were picked every summer by people from London's East End, but is now choked with nettles, brambles and horse chestnut saplings. We also scrambled up a slope in a wood and followed the path there until it grew so small we would have had to start crawling to have gone any further.

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Eventually we returned to the car and drove on to nearby Farnham. Once we'd got there we looked round the town centre for a couple of hours. The first place we visited was the Bush Hotel, where Mum and Dad had their wedding reception back in 1980. I'd never been there before and Mum hadn't been for a very long time. We had a look round and Mum had a cup of tea in the main lounge. We noticed some very old-looking, rather faded murals of human figures (possibly mythological or from ancient history) on the walls, set between wooden beams. There was no information about them anywhere, but they were still interesting to look at.

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We also browsed in a couple of charity shops, window-shopped in the lovely cobbled Lion and Lamb Courtyard (saying hello to three furry model bears in the process), attempted to buy some fruit from a greengrocer but arrived two minutes too late, admired all the Georgian buildings and, on the way back to the car, walked past a house-end that looked quite comical. The wooden beams were sunk so deep into the whitewashed wall, it looked like the wall was full of yeast and had puffed out like risen bread dough.

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From there we carried on down the road to Nana and her partner R's new bungalow, a place I hadn't been to yet because I was still in Ecuador when they moved. I got a good look round the place and we had a lovely dinner together. Special mention to Nana's signature pineapple upside-down pudding!

Posted by 3Traveller 04:08 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom hotel mum british_countryside wrecclesham wrecclesham_pottery farnham traditional_customs british_cuisine Comments (0)

The New Forest: Day Two

Fordingbridge and New Forest National Park


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After a lie-in our first stop of the day was in the little town of Fordingbridge, north of our campsite and on the boundary of the New Forest. We bought sandwiches, snacks and drinks at a Tesco Metro and wandered over to a riverside park to eat our lunch on the banks of the River Avon. To get there we crossed the medieval Great Bridge with its seven elegant arches; as we ate our lunch we had a great view of the same. Then we walked down the road a bit to explore further. As we re-crossed the Great Bridge I noticed a statue of the artist Augustus John, who lived in Fordingbridge from 1927 until his death in 1961. Most of the shops were closed, because it was a Sunday, but we did go into a little temporary local art exhibition, where Dave bought some cards.

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After Fordingbridge we drove further into the New Forest, stopped and went for a walk on the heath. It was very calm and peaceful. We saw several new Forest ponies, not on the heath itself but in a bracken patch and a copse. I really liked that. Some of the ponies were bay coloured and some were black and white.

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The next stop was something I was particularly keen to see while we were in the New Forest. This was the Rufus Stone, a stone that marks the spot where William II, nicknamed 'William Rufus', met his death in 1100 (though the accuracy of the marker placement is disputed). He was shot in the chest in the middle of a hunting excursion; some think it was an accident, some think it was deliberate. Supposedly, a nobleman called Sir Walter Tyrrel was aiming for a stag, but his arrow glanced off an oak tree instead and hit the king. The original marker was placed in the glade in the 18th century and after repeated vandalism, was given a cast iron cover in 1841. This is what we can see today.

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We read the marker's inscriptions (which also date from 1841) and took some photos before walking down the road to the Sir Walter Tyrrel pub, which stands in the open with a green on the other side of the road. New Forest ponies roamed. We enjoyed a drink in the beer garden before heading back to the car.

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We had dinner and a drink or two in the bar/restaurant/clubhouse again in the evening.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged bridges art united_kingdom camping dave british_countryside new_forest_national_park rufus_stone Comments (0)

The New Forest: Day One

New Forest National Park


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Bank Holiday weekend camping trip to the New Forest with Dave.

We set off nice and early but unfortunately every campsite in the New Forest was fully booked up by the time we arrived. Luckily, without much more driving around we found one only a mile or two from the edge of the national park. On our drive across the New Forest I loved the sight of it - it was exactly how I imagined; a mixture of green hills, open heath with purple heather and patches of bog, New Forest ponies, bracken and trees.

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After setting up our tent and having a rest for a couple of hours, we chucked rugby, cricket and tennis balls around for a bit in an empty field and then it was time to drive down the road for a quick foray into the edge of the Forest. Several New Forest ponies wandered around, drinking at the stream, crossing the road and nibbling at grass in the middle of a roundabout. One of these ponies took Dave by surprise by coming up behind him without him hearing it and sticking its nose next to his arm.

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Not far from the stream, round a corner out of sight, I found something unexpected... a giant sand dune at the edge of some little bracken- and -tree-covered hills! Of course, having seen it I simply had to climb to the top and run down, so I did. Dave declined to do the same, but took pictures of me running down. There was a rope swing hanging from a tree near the foot of the sand dune so we both had a go on that.

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The sun was going to go down soon, so after I'd quickly climbed to the top of the hill next to the sand dune to take some pictures, we headed back to the campsite and had some food and a drink at the on-site bar/café.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:10 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom camping dave british_countryside new_forest_national_park Comments (0)

Oxfordshire walk

Nuneham Courtenay to Abingdon Lock


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Today Mum and I did one of the 9 stages of the Oxford Green Belt Way Walk. I've forgotten whether it was Stage 2 or 3 but it was from Nuneham Courtenay to Abingdon Lock.The reason for doing this walk is because Dad had been very keen to do it (a lot of family history from Dad's side is connected to Oxford and its surroundings) but didn't manage to do any of the stages before he got too ill, so now we are doing them for him. Mum is going to gradually complete all 9 stages; I was still in Ecuador when she and several others did the previous stage together, so now that I was back in the UK I really wanted to do the next one with her.

Instead of using the motorway, we decided to travel to Oxford the original way. This meant going through Berkhamstead High Street, past all the old coaching inns, before following A-roads past Tring, Aylesbury and Thame. As we went past Thame we kept our eyes out for pigs, but we didn't see any. There always used to be a pig farm there and because the pigs had little metal shelters set up for them, on both sides of the road, Mum said it used to feel like she was driving through a pig village.

We were lucky with the weather because apart from a shower shortly after we had begun the walk, the sun shone all the way through.

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Although we were very tired by the time we reached the end, we enjoyed the walk a lot. It took us about three hours because we got distracted so often! We picked and ate loads of very sweet, ripe and juicy blackberries from the hedgerows; looked at deeply engraved, old-looking graffiti on a bridge over a railway; spotted some swallows and red kites; stopped for a drink and a snack at the point where we first met the River Thames; and were asked for directions from two French girls who were dressed in exceedingly peculiar cycling clothes. As we walked along the side of the Thames I hoped to see a kingfisher, but had no luck.

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Once we reached our final destination, Abingdon Lock, we looked round it a bit - at the list of lock keepers going back to the 18th century, for example - before crossing the weir and beating a path to the nearest supermarket, our best bet for a taxi back to Nuneham Courtenay.

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We were desperate for one because by now our legs felt like they were going to drop off any minute. Waitrose came to our rescue. The traffic was terrible, so the journey ended up being extremely expensive for how relatively short it was. The driver had no card machine but when Mum and I clubbed together all the cash we had on us we were still a pound short - luckily he kindly let us off it.

After a reviving hot drink at a nearby restaurant bar we carried on to the Bear & Ragged Staff, our accommodation for the night. This is in Cumnor, another village near to Oxford. Several decades ago my great-grandfather built his own house here, as well as a house for my grandparents after they got married. The Bear & Ragged Staff is pub/ restaurant/ hotel within one very historic and atmospheric building and a newer extension wing. Our room was in the old part which we were pleased about. We had dinner downstairs, but before that happened I was delighted to hear church bell peals in the distance. I really like that sound and since the bells sound different in Ecuador I hadn't heard it in ages.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:26 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged bridges birds united_kingdom hotel mum british_countryside Comments (0)

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