Herefordshire is the county from which my father hailed and I have spent so many happy times there as a child and as an adult with my cousins and Uncles and Aunts. I think of it as my second home. My Mum also visited a lot when she and Dad were courting and then married and my Uncle (Derek) used to help out with lambing at my Uncle’s (Joe) farm every year until he retired (Joe).
They both have good memories of the area and so we decide to take them for a short break to see it one more time. They were thrilled and both said that they had not expected to see it ever again.
We had picked a lovely B&B in Kimbolton (just outside Leominster) for them, partly because it had good reviews but, importantly, because it had a ground floor room for Mum . We stayed nearby in Leysters.
Grove Farm in Kimbolton is a working farm and we received a very warm welcome from Fiona, the host, after a 4 hour Friday afternoon (Bank Holiday weekend) journey . Tea and home made cakes all round? I don’t mind if I do! We had quickly dumped the caravan earlier at Woonton Court, our lovely rural caravan site (where we had a whole field to ourselves) and after ensuring Mum and Uncle D were settled, went back to finish the set-up. We then went back to the B&B again to pick up Mum and Uncle D for our dinner date with my cousins, Andrew and Pam Legge.
The venue was just down the road at the Stockton Cross Inn and we had good food and a very pleasant evening in fine company in this lovely, friendly pub. After dinner, we took Mum and Uncle D back to the B&B to get them settled for the night and then it was back to Woonton Court and bed for us. And what an amazingly quiet night we had. Apart from the odd hoot from an owl (which I love) you could not even hear a pin drop. This is a rare treat for us, living as we do with ever present traffic noise. Oh – and there is a donkey. 🙂
The next day was a bit grey and threatening rain, but we decided to go ahead with our plan anyway, which was to visit the Elan Valley, which they both loved and is a particular favourite of ours and of which we will never tire. Our route took us partly via the Black & White trail and we stopped for photos. As the countryside became craggier and we entered Wales, we stoped fpr a cofee break at the Old Station Caravan Site near New Radnor, which has a very nice tea room attached, with amazing views of the hills.
We pressed on to Rhayader – gateway to the Valley and began the tour of the dams. A fuller report about the Valley can be found here from our May 2014 trip. We had better weather on that occasion but there’s something right about drizzle in these parts. Lunch was in the car as it wasn’t really picnic weather.
We all enjoyed the tour and we made our way back to the B&B and dropped “The Olds” off before nipping back to the caravan for a quick snooze before it was time to pick them up for dinner. We dined at the 16th century “England’s Gate” in Bodenham (as recommended by Cousin Andrew) and very nice it was, too. I wondered why the pub – a former coaching inn – was given its unusual name, and after a fair amount of digging it appears it that it derives from being the first (or last, depending on direction of travel) coaching stop between England and Wales. So now you know!
Sunday was a nicer day and we were off to meet Aunty Vera for lunch – a journey of around an hour. We called in at The Ludlow Food Centre for coffee. I bought some asparagus as it was bang in season (later served with a poached duck egg and hollandaise sauce. Scrumptious!) and also at the beautiful Stokesay Castle, where there was a Triumph convention, to the boy’s delight. Some beautiful cars there. We also spotted a WW1 memorial.
We arrived at our destination, bang on time and entered through the back door at precisely the same time as Aunty Vera, Nanny Lynne and Cousin Flora were coming in the front door. Quelle surprise! Our lunch venue was The Herbert Arms in Chirbury and it was lovely to see all “The Olds” together again. We had a pleasant lunch with lots of chat and then we repaired to Aunty Vera’s for a cuppa and more chat.
We had been invited for tea at Andrew and Pam’s in Leominster and we made our way there from Aunty Vera’s. They had laid on some lovely sandwiches and home made Bara Brith. Just delicious, and we were all very grateful for their hospitality and for the opportunity to spend more time with them. We don’t see enough of them, sadly. We were all pretty tired and after tea and a chat and a look at some of Andrew’s stunning photos, we dropped Ma & Uncle D back at the B&B and went off to the van for an early night.
Typically, Monday was a lovely day and we packed up all the kit before popping to get the Olds. They had had a very nice stay at the B&B and we thanked Fiona for all her help and hospitality. The dogs and cats at the farm were so friendly and we got a lovely picture of Uncle D with one of them. Back to Woonton to hitch up and that was that – an all-too-brief vist, sadly. But a good time was had by all. We passed through Bredenbury on the return journey – the place where Aunty Vera lived when I was a child and the site of my Nan’s shop – Bredenbury Stores. I can still remember the smell of that shop and the broken biscuits. Happy days.