After a quiet evening at home Friday, spent watching TV with Shelli and enjoying a couple of beers, Saturday morning was spent relaxing and getting a few bits in at the shop in time for Russ and Rachel to arrive.
They had a good run down – unlike our run down to Kent the weekend before – and were knocking on the door around midday. I say knocking on the door but that’s not quite true. Russ pushed the door bell and just left it pressed until I got to the door! I thought only my girls did that?
After a chat and a spot of lunch we strolled down to Loddon Hall to see what the 3rd annual Twyford beer festival was like, never having been before.
For a small affair it had a pretty good number of beers and the set up in the hall was pretty good, even having a stage for the music acts to do their thing out of the way from the drinkers.
It was pretty busy and it was a good job that the rain had decided to stay away as it would have been pretty cosy in the hall with the amount of people there enjoying the ales and ciders.
I think the only bad thing I can say about it all was the fact that you had to use tokens to “buy” your beer. Nothing wrong with that really as I’ve used them before at other festivals, and it certainly removes the wait while change is given at the bar. The problem was they hadn’t printed out enough of them for people to use and so they had to ration them after a while. I guess they never expected people to buy a pocket full of tokens in one go and then slowly make their way through them? Lesson learnt for next year maybe?
We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours stood in the sun chatting and supping some lovely beers before heading back home. We had plans for the evening and didn’t want to get steaming drunk before going out, hence the short-ish visit to the beer festival. Recommended for next year though that’s for sure.
Having spent less time at the beer festival than originally thought, after a little rest we all got changed for the evening, strolled to the station and jumped on a train to Henley.
We managed to get the train an hour earlier than originally planned which meant we could enjoy a beer sat out on the riverside terrace at the Angel pub before making tracks to the Spice Merchant for some top Indian cuisine – never disappointed with the food there.
All in all a highly enjoyable day spent with great company, enjoying great beer and wonderful food. And to top it all off the weather was condiderably better than expected 🙂
We woke up Sunday morning hoping for more dry weather and fortunately that’s what we got – phew! The reason for this? Simple: a walk over Watership Down had been planned and doing that in the rain wouldn’t have been very nice.
Why Watership Down you may ask? This was something Rachel had wanted to do since she was a child and having recently realised that it wasn’t too far away from Reading she asked if we could do it. Any excuse to get out into the countryside for a stroll is a good excuse for Shelli and me so of course we agreed.
After breakfast – scambled eggs on toasted muffins – and a bit of packing of the essentials for the walk we jumped in the car. It wasn’t too long before we parked up on the grass verge of a very small country lane in, what felt like, the middle of nowhere.
GPS fired up and boots on we started out trek up to Watership Down. The scenery was lovely and after all of the rain of late it was great to be out in the fresh air again.
Not knowing much about the story – I’ve only seen the film once – I had no idea how the planned day’s route would fit in with the landscape used in the book. As we made our way along the tracks Russ and Rachel – who’d brought along her book with the original illustrated map in it – tried to make sense of the landscape in front of us with that in the book’s map. They did a great job, pointing out various things as we walked and talked.
When we got near the top of the hill, and where the day’s route told us to head off to the right to start the loop back round to the car, Rachel asked if we minded heading left as that was where a lot of the story was set. More walking? Not a problem! Shelli and I were more than happy to oblige as it would have been stupid not to do so seeing as Rachel had been looking forward to this for so long.
One thing Rachel wanted to see was the beech hanger where an old beech tree depicted in the story used to stand. Unfortunately the tree the one in the story was based on was blown down in a storm many years before but Rachel wanted to find the location anyway.
As it goes, the book wasn’t very clear about exactly where the beech trees were and walking along the path it wasn’t obvious either. Shelli started to do a search online using her phone and it wasn’t long before the information she found married up with a wooded area on my OS map and so we headed over to see what was what.
Shelli had come up trumps as we were standing in the exact same spot someone who’d photographed the beech hanger before had stood – the photo I took is almost identical to the one online! We also found the rotting stump of what we presumed to be the original beech tree as well.
We took Rachel’s picture with her book stood next to the biggest beech tree there – it was massive! – and sat down for a snack before heading off again.
Fed and watered we made our way back around and down to the car, enjoying more wonderful scenery along the way. If you’re interested you can view the original walk at http://www.mapmywalk.com/routes/view/73238376.
It was a wonderful part of the country for a walk, and if you’re interested in the book/film then I’d recommend going as it really was very enjoyable, and not too long either. Okay, there were a couple of hills but then what do you expect?
On the way home we stopped at a pub we’d spotted earlier for a drink and some food. The pub – the Carnarvan Arms – was a little bit of a shock when we entered as the walls were covered in stuffed animals and the like. Very strange. Stranger still, it turned out to be a Marco Pierre White restaurant/hotel! As you’d expect, the food was great and the beer was good too. Also, taking the weight off for a bit was very much welcomed after the walking earlier.
Once back home we all settled down in front of the TV, watching How to Train Your Dragon – Rachel wanted to watch it as she’d never seen it before – followed by Madagascar. Who needs children around as an excuse to watch their films!?!
Another great weekend, and always great to spend time with Russ and Rachel, something that happens all too infrequently unfortunately. I’ve posted the photos from the walk in the photos section if you’re interested.