Friday, 25 March 2011

The Gustav Holst Way & The Craven Arms

The Gustav Holst Way & Craven Arms

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?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Feathered Nest Cotswold Inn

The Feathered Nest Cotswold Inn - Nether Westcote

The Feathered Nest Cotswold Inn at Nether Westcote, that stands mid-way between Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford, looks rather like the house that Jack built from outside, but when you walk through the door into the first of many small intimate areas all beautifully furnished, it is obvious this is one of the most stylish pubs for miles around.  And the view!  Gosh, even on a cold grey day when the sun hides behind the clouds, it is stunning. The inn looks down on the Evenlode Valley with its undulating landscape scattered with dwellings built from the honey coloured Cotswold stone that marks this area out as both enchanting and unforgettable. Some describe this view as one of the most beautiful in the country.

The Feathered Nest Inn, Nether Westcote  - Unforgettable!

As Auntie Liz had badly bruised a toe last week, the long "Paws" walk we usually enjoy after a good meal every Thursday was not possible. This was unfortunately as The Feathered Nest is close to the Diamond Way, The Oxfordshire Way and the D'Arcy Dalton Way. There is also a public footpath close to the Inn which leads you right down to the bottom of the valley and Westcote Brook - what more could anyone ask? Having discovered just what a gem this pub is - we will return as soon as Auntie Liz can walk comfortably again, and enjoy one of these walks, which I will write up soonest.

Friendly staff - great beer!

Cosy, intimate and friendly interior,.
Dogs are welcome at the Feathered Nest providing they are happy to place their paws under tables in the second level bar or outside in the garden.  A stunning (and when I say stunning  - I really do mean stunning) water bowl is offered immediately. What Pythius didn't expect was a "Doggie Bag" too, but I will let him tell you all about that.
Home cooked Cotswold pasty - delicious

When Auntie Liz ordered a Cotswold pasty for her lunch she was warned all the food is freshly cooked and it would take at least 20 minutes - which as far as we were concerned was fine.  The atmosphere was so relaxing, the wood burning fire so warm and snug. the staff so friendly, we would have been happy to have waited even longer.
Our food (I ordered fish and chips) arrived served on rustic wooden plates and was absolutely delicious.
Gosh what a terrific lunch!The beer was great too - we drank a local Hook Norton Brew.
This inn has become so popular, do phone and book a table if you aim to visit during the weekend.

Pythius says:
I still can't believe it. When we were settling at our table and I was adjusting my paws so that they were comfortable,  the lovely Amanda Timmer, who runs the inn with her husband Tony, came up to me, patted my head, talked to me for a few moments then handed me a carrier bag filled with "Doggie Goodies".

Pythius inspects the contents of his Green Fields Doggie Bag.

Apparently they are all part of the Green Fields range of elegant and wholesome dog products. One was a spray which makes my coat shine and also makes me smell sweet when I have rolled in things I shouldn't roll in, and another was a jummy bag of gourmet doggie biscuits.Another was a small bottle of shampoo. I have often been given doggie bags containing left overs from Helen's lunch, but NEVER, EVER have I been presented with MY VERY OWN DOGGIE BAG. 
What a lucky dog I am.