Friday, 24 June 2011

The Witney Book Festival

The Witney Book Festival

Pythius Says:
Perhaps you would like to know that Helen and I took part in the first Witney Book festival last week - what fun we had. It was the first festival that Witney has ever staged, but be assured it will not be the last!

We were allowed to give our talk in the Tap Room at Wychwood Brewery where our guests were offered glasses of Oxford Gold, Hobgoblin and several other very tasty beers brewed by Wychwood, which stands in the heart of Witney. They were given a tour of the brewery too, though sadly I wasn't allowe to join that as I am a Border collie. If you arrive at this attractive little market town first thing in the morning when the wind is in the right direction you can smell the aroma of malt wafting through the town.

We were offered this space by the brewery because they respect my knowledge of a good brew and the fact I am a member of CAMRA.  I am also a member of the British Beer Writers Guild, because I help Helen write our books, which as you can imagine is something I am particularly proud of.  Some people laugh and shake their heads in disbelief when I tell them this - "How can a Border collie write a book?" they say. I don't even bother to answer that question, because I know and Helen knows just how much I contribute to our books, particularly Paws Along The Way which was published a couple of weeks ago.
                    If  you would like me to appear at your book festival do contact Helen on - we make a great double act.

Snowshill Lavender Fields

Snowshill Lavender Fields - The Plough Inn - Ford.

In the heart of the Cotswolds close to the picturesque villages of Stanton, Snowshill and Stanway you will encounter the Snowshill Lavender fields which, at this time of the year stand out on the rolling landscape as a large patch of mauve, interspersed with stripes of soft lilac, pink and white, It is a breathtaking sight.
The lavender plants that covers 53 acres and grows on free draining limestone were first planted in the year 2000. Now rows of 250 different mature lavenders stretch more than 70 miles if you walk up and down each one of them.
The wonderful thing about these glorious fields is that well behaved dogs such as Pythius are allowed to take the walk too providing they are kept on a tight lead and do not get too close to the plants.

The 250 different varieties of lavender are now coming into bloom and beginning to display their deep purple flowers subtle blues and even soft pink and white blossoms. Their combined aroma is overwhelming.
Because lavender is known to have a soothing effect - not just on us, but dogs too - we were amused to watch Pythius' reaction too its fragrance. He stopped walking for a moment, looked around him, sat down then sat besides the flowers swaying gently from side to side, a calm soporific smile on his face.

Indeed he was reluctant to leave. It really was amusing, I have never seen him look so contented. It was all I could to to control my urge to laugh, but one must never laugh at a dog, as most dog lovers know. They can't cope with it. 

Unfortunately the lavender field's attractive little restaurant doesn't allow dogs to enter, so Pythius curled up on the backseat of the car for just for a short time while we enjoyed freshly baked lavender cakes and scones washed down with an excellent cup of coffee. Later, after walking a couple of nearby fields, we drove on to The Plough Inn at nearby Ford, an amazing "horsey pub" known for its friendly hospitality and well cooked food It's a dog-friendly 16th century pub built from Cotswold stone that attracts customers who are often in the area as it stands opposite the entrance to Jono O'Neill famous Jackdaws Castle racing stables set in 500 acres of land. and home of the Grand National winner Don't Push It 2010. The Plough Inn was voted Racing Pub of the year in 2008. It serves a pretty good Pimms during the summer but we stuck to beer as it is close to Donnington Brewery and a selection Donnington ale's is readily available including Donnington's Best Bitter, a pleasing amber ale that makes a great lunch time tipple.

Helen and Pythius in lavender field

Pythius Says:

Well strange things seem to happen on this walk - within a few minutes of reaching those fields filled with flowers I was overcome with a desire to sleep and felt so relaxed I could have stayed their for ever. We didn't of course, but it was nice while it lasted.

The pub was great, in fact I'd be inclined to say downright fantastic as the staff were so kindly and several customers came over to chat with me. All in all it proved a great day out.