Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Shropshire Hills (Ludlow, Shrewsbury, and a walk in Church Stretton)

Shrewbury was an obvious stop for us between the Cotswolds and Wales. I had been there before ('N' used to teach at a school in Shrewsbury), and I had a hotel in mind that I knew my parents would absolutely love.

Before arriving in Shrewsbury, we stopped in Ludlow. Ludlow is a cute town with a large Market...and a castle....

The Hotel in Shrewbury was called the Lion and Pheasant, and is part of the Mr. and Mrs. Smith group. I apologise as this blog post may come across as my ode to the Lion and Pheasant, but I loved it.

Unfortunately our time in Shrewsbury was quite wet, but we made the best of it. We spent the first night strolling through the streets and getting acquainted (once again, Dad decided he liked it so much, we needed to stay two nights), then had a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant.

The rowing team from Shrewsbury School.

Excellent, locally sourced food, see for yourself.

After a great breakfast, I took them for a hike on the Long Mynd in Church Stretton. It was wet, but it was wonderful. The along the stream to the top of the mynd is incredibly scenic, dotted with Sheep and lambs.

I loved the granola bar at breakfast with all sorts of fixings (above).

I attempted to get as close as I could to these little squirts, but they didn't like me.

A few days later, I would read a sign posted in the street, 'It is against the law to worry the livestock'. 

How do I know if I was worrying them?

Mom made it to the top with only one good knee. Impressive right?

....and we encountered Wild Welsh Ponies (we didn't know they were wild, just assumed they were filthy). Neat right? I was impressed. Apparently you can sometimes encounter up to 50 wild ponies up in the hills.

Back in town...

Should you wish, you can also do this (from another visit): Tootsies Foot Spa. Yes, dipping your toes in the first time is absolutely Terrifying!

Small little fish, nibbling the dead skin off your feet. 
Yum (I apologise if you were eating your breakfast!).

And then, there's Shrewsbury's best kept secret....A Moroccan Lunch Spot in their Covered Market Hall. Go up the stairs, it's located in the corner. They are very friendly and will be delighted to see you. The food is fantastic...especially if you're starving after climbing the local hills.

Sweetened Moroccan Mint tea.

The red glow is a space heater they brought us, as we were freezing from our hike.

Next Stop: Wales!

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Cotswolds...sigh.

After a day and a half in Oxford, we jumped back in our car and headed to the Cotswolds. This is an easy drive, only 30 mins from Oxford.

We chose to stay in a small Inn located in Bourton-on-the-water. I would never recommend Bourton during the tourist season, as it's one of the towns in the Cotswolds that allows tour buses, so it gets quite swamped. We chose it because we knew we'd be arriving in the evening, and wanted a little town that we could walk around, allowing us to ditch the car for the night, and still feel like we had something to do. Bourton is picturesque (but all of the Cotswolds are), with a a beautiful stream running through the middle, and as it wasn't quite tourist season, it was completely peaceful.

An evening stroll before dinner.

We stayed at an Inn called The Chester House Hotel. We had a lovely dinner at The Croft, which was the restaurant associated with the Inn (located down the street). After day one in the area, mom and dad decided it was a place they wanted to stay longer, so we ended up basing ourselves in Bourton for two nights so that we could really get a feel for the different villages. 



 We spent our first day driving from town to town exploring. What we did realize was that our guide book was sending us to the tourist spots. These were cute towns, but well established and full of tea houses and outdoor clothing stores. I would suggest getting out the map, and just picking small towns at random, and really getting lost within the area. All of the towns are very close, so you really don't need to stress about choosing the most efficient route. I preferred the small places, with little cottages and shops, but slightly off the beaten path.

I told you, outdoor shops, and tea houses. I may or may not have bullied dad into buying a Barbour jacket, and as you can see, it's not like we avoided the tea houses.

Besides Bourton-on-the-water, we also went to the following towns (amongst many others that we drove through on our way to these):

Moreton in Marsh
Chipping Camden
Upper Slaughter
Lower Slaughter

* The top three are larger, and the bottom four are very quaint, unspoiled villages. In the past I've also gone to Bibury. It is a small village, very cute, and had a trout farm, that although a little touristy was quite neat.

We loved both 'Slaughters'. Straight from a Fairy Tale book.

Chipping Camden...

The Chipping Camden Market Hall. Erected in 1627.

I think I should have won 'picture of the day' for the next one.

 'Picture of the Day' was a contest we came up with, but never actually did. We were going to each choose our favourite photo that we  took on a particular day, and then at dinner that night we would each show our waiter or waitress our best photo, and they would then have to judge their favourite. The winner would get a prize of some sort. 

Despite plenty of talk, we never did it.

The very cute, Snowshill.

A Manor House in Stanway. The Lord of this house opens it to the public from time to time to pay the bills (according to our guide book).

On our second evening, we had an excellent meal at a pub on a hill overlooking the village of Stanton. It was called The Mount Inn. I would highly recommend this spot. Friendly people and excellent pub food with lots of choices. 

A great lookout, with Stanton below.


If I never return to Vancouver, you can find me in the Cotswolds. I'll be the girl wearing her Barbour Jacket and Wellies, walking her two labs (actually, one lab and one Spaniel), through the meadow, along the stream, arm in arm with....

I'll keep you posted.