We left the tent behind

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Pig along the Arden Way, near Coughton Court (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We dashed off on Friday for a long weekend as it was a bank holiday and, because I broke up on Thursday, I didn’t get chance to post anything before we went.

Friday was spent packing, then driving down to Evesham via my parents (for a flying visit and to break the journey).  By tea time we were pitched and the poet was frying tea and scrambling eggs.

On Saturday I took him for an orientation drive around the Cotswold villages of Chipping Camden, Moreton in Marsh, Stow on the Wold, Chipping Norton and Bourton on the Water. We stopped off at Moreton in Marsh to take pictures, and we would have stopped at Bourton too, but the place was rammed. It was a glorious day and you couldn’t see the grass for people sitting on it. I wanted to show him the River Windrush and the ornamental bridges over it, and we did get to see that. But we decided not to stay and drove on back to Evesham for the tail end of the first day of the fishing festival there. He would have cooked tea again, but we decided on a takeaway instead.

On Sunday the promised rain came. I took us to Coughton Court, as we’re members of the National Trust, who manage it on behalf of the family who still live there. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed in either the house or the gardens (the house, we understand; the gardens, not so sure), but there’s a 2-mile walk in the surrounding area, which is beautiful.

What the guide doesn’t tell you is that if you have a dog, then you have to walk an additional half-a-mile and then navigate a ford before you can get back to the car park, because the end of the walk crosses a teeny, tiny corner of those gardens. As it happens, the poet enjoyed a paddle across the ford, while I took Rufus over a nearby footbridge. On the other side he was greeted by several car drivers who were worried the ford might be too deep and hadn’t wanted to risk it. He was very naughty and told them that it was easy, but his first name was, after all, Jesus …

After Coughton Court we were going to visit Hanbury Hall near Droitwich Spa. But because it was raining and because the tent was already starting to show signs of expiring (we ripped one of the doors and one of the zips had broken by now, both of which the poet cleverly repaired with Gaffa Tape), we’d already pretty much decided we needed a bigger tent and went instead to Webbs of Wychbold, where Cotswold Outdoor & Leisure have a shop, to look at the tent display … only there wasn’t one. Webbs is HUGE now, and the poor tent display wasn’t there, other than relegated to a few weeks during exhibition time.

However, we were redirected to Winfields, which used to be Barretts of Feckenham, and they did have a great tent display. They also had some of these newish blow-up tents … and the poet fell instantly and deeply in love. Specifically, with this one. (Actually, he preferred another, but as I prefer this one …) Rather than make any impulsive decisions, we decided to go away, sleep on it and consider it some more … and still decided we wanted the Brean 4 Air. Imagine our joy when we discovered there’s a Winfields in Leeds too. I wonder what we’ll be doing on this upcoming rare weekend off …

Back at the tent, he cooked us another slap-up feast, and we started to pack things away. We knew there was more rain forecast and didn’t want to be doing it all in the morning … what we didn’t expect was the deluge of rain to end up inside the tent by the following morning. Because the tent was too small, our air-bed was up against one of the inner tent walls, and this pushed it onto the flysheet … mattress, sleeping bag, blanket and pillows all along that wall were soaked through. In the “porch” area, our backs brushed the roof and our heads bumped everywhere else, and more water literally rained in. The groundsheet was a lake. The food bag was drenched and most of the food in it (i.e. not in tins) had to be thrown away.

So it was a quick breakfast, everything out of the tent and into the car, and the tent taken down and left behind in one of the bins. We were back at my parents by mid-day and back home by 3:30pm. But we’d had a lovely break and came away knowing that we definitely want to camp a lot more. The poet would also like to see more of the Cotswolds, so we’ll try to go back to the same campsite.

Back to work today and I have a 4-day week this week, I had a 4-day week last week, I had a 4-day week the week before, and I had hoped that next week might be a 5-day week. However, due to my age, the hospital has invited me for the first of my new regular screenings next Thursday, and our doctor’s surgery has invited me to book a new-patient appointment, so I’m going to see if they’ll do that on the same day. That way I’ll only lose one full day next week instead of 2 part-days. Part-days are no use whatsoever as I don’t get much else done in the rest of the time. So I need them to fit me in then too.

As it’s September, my new writing year has started. Actually, it started last week with some prep work, but the actual physical new regime starts today. This morning, too, another new book came in from lovely-already-boss (isn’t he wonderful?). That gives me 6 books now to edit, one of which I start today.

I’ve already done my chores, caught up on the daily competitions, and I’ve uploaded, edited and selected pictures from both the weekend and our aborted walk up Kinder at the beginning of August. That should give us plenty of pictures to choose from to illustrate the blog over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow is my first DIARY OF A FREELANCE WRITER, which will include last week’s prep work and this week’s planning and organisational work. I hope to see you then. 🙂

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