With some excitement Pythius and I handed in our completed manuscript for Paws Along the Way to our publisher Jon Carpenter, Wychwood Press, last week. Now we wait for him to contact us, checking this, that and the other He has very exacting standards and will not tolerate sloppy work, or silly mistakes - which is what makes the books he publishes so special.
To celebrate this moment, Uncle John and I took Pythius to Humblebee Wood, which lies about two miles from Winchcombe. This wood was walked by Tolkien just before he wrote Lord of the Rings, which intrigued me. I imagined it would be filled with gnarled old trees and harbour an air of mystery. It didn't. The trees were spindly and without character and there was nothing mystical about it that could be linked with Lord of the Rings. The only positive thing about this walk was the breathtaking view of Winchcombe when seen from high on the hill at the edge of Humblebee Wood
|Humblebee wood and cottage at top of hill.|
We were about to turn and find a pub where we could have lunch when I spotted it! A NEW WAYSIGN, and when I say NEW, I mean just that! A NEW WAY that we had not explored and even worse, included it in our new book about Ways that Jon Carpenter is processing even as I write.
|The new pale green Way sign for Gustav Holst Way|
I think it is called Sod's Law! We scoured the maps while working on Paws Along the Way, attempting to include every Way that crossed Oxfordshire and the Cotswold's - then a new one creeps up on us just a week after the book is finished.
The walk, named after the composer Gustav Holst, is 35 miles long and cut into chunks of 6 to 8 miles each. It begins at Cranham which represents this great composer's childhood and concludes in Wych Rissington where he worked later in his life. The walk was devised by Brian Carvell when he was a Trustee of the Holst Birthplace Museum. Apparently the walk will be formally opened later in the year, once all the signs are in place.
Obviously we will explore this walk and tell you more about it once it is established. Actually Uncle John and I are rather looking forward to walking this Way with the sound of the Planets singing in our heads as we follow in Gustav Holst's footsteps.
Having returned to Winchcombe after our three mile walk to Humblebee Wood and back, we drove to The Craven Arms, a 16th century Inn nestling in a backstreet of the charming little village of Brockhampton, near Cheltenham. And what a find it proved to be. We were served by the charming Lucy who made Pythius comfortable immediately,
|The charming Lucy at the Craven Arms looks after Pythius.|
We ordered baguettes which were Delicious and stuffed full of freshly sliced ham and mustard. It is one of those lovely little Cotswold's pubs that also offers its guests a beautiful garden in which to sit and admire the view. Perhaps we would have done that if it had not been so cold and the fire in the main bar so welcoming.
Pythius says: The walk to Humblebee Wood was uphill all the way, which Border collies like me can cope with, but Helen and Uncle John were struggling a little as we progressed to the top of the hill. The view, however, was stunning- even I could appreciate that.
I am not sure why they both got into such a flap when they noticed a new way sign, but they did.
The pub was great, that lovely Lucy kept coming over to check I had everything I needed... what more could a chap ask for?