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sapp travels
7th Jul 2016 - Spain, Italy, UK 2016
Ending on a high

Thursday came with the last sleep in of the holiday. I was glad that we were flying out late; we still had a full day of stuff that we could fit in! We got up at 8 and had some breakfast; I had Vikki’s coco pops, and hung out in the lounge room while we eased into the day. Gary came in to let us know he was going to take Jack for a walk. Paul and I had decided not to ride, so I raced off to get my walking clothes on. I wasn’t going to miss a last morning of a walk around this beautiful village. So we headed off, because it was just the two of us, it meant that we could go at a faster pace. Unfortunately because there were no responsible adults with us, it meant that we were easily distracted. As we were walking in one direction, Gary would grab my arm and yell, no lets go left and so we would go left. We had to stop every so often (a lot) for me to take photo after photo. One of the great things about England is the freedom to roam. Basically there is a right that grants people access to the wilderness, this means that much of the land, moors, common land, mountains, including private farmland, are available to walk through - there are gates or stiles so that you can access the land and just keep on walking. It’s truly fabulous and made me understand why there are so many walkers in the country areas of England. And I got what was so attractive about it too, you get to see so much more and you feel so free. So we totally took full advantage of our rights to access the wilderness and walked, uphill, down dale, through fields, over stiles and past sheep and cows. Gary at one stage announced ‘I truly live in the best place in the world’, and I had to agree with him, it was magnificent.  We got side tracked as we headed down new paths, and over creeks and through a quarry. At one stage we encountered a massive nettle bush and we were too far in to extract ourselves. I had short shorts on, Gary took his jumper off and gallantly gave it to me to wrap around my legs, and we fought our way through the bush and collected some war wounds from it. They were insignificant though weighed up against the wondrous morning that we were having. A couple of times through the morning I reminded Gary that it was Vikki’s day off and we needed to head back to the pub so that he could get to work. But we were naughty and it took us nearly two hours before we got home. While we were gone Paul had done a sterling job of packing our bikes and Vikki had got started in the pub in preparation for the day. Vikki is an incredibly giving person and she accepts Gary as a whole including some of his less responsible actions like us being gone for too long. So she was okay with it all and once she was comfortable that everything was under control she headed upstairs to get ready for her day off. She had planned to take Paul and me out for lunch for our last day.

The sharp pain of reality was starting to dig in and I knew that I needed to get on with the packing. I went upstairs and sulked about having to pack - while trying to rationalise all our stuff into our luggage limit. Thankfully Marg had said that she would have luggage room to spare and that we could leave it in her room and she would pack when she came back to Gary and Vikki’s later that afternoon. I organised everything and left as much as I dared on Marg’s bed.

John and Marg arrived at the pub just after 12, (earlier than we anticipated) so we added them to the lunch outing and Vikki drove us all to a Garden Centre that she swore that we would totally love.   It was the Stratford Garden Centre. Turns out it was a little bit more than a garden centre. It is a garden centre with a homeware section, outdoor furniture, a gift/card/wrapping paper section, a restaurant and out the back a shopping courtyard. A one-stop shop for spending money. We browsed on the way through to the restaurant. Lunch was lovely, I did have a touch of menu envy on some of the other meals, my chicken skewer was quite literally one skewer. But it was lovely. After lunch and a bit of a to-do over who was paying, Vikki insisted she was, John said he was, I told Vikki she wasn’t, she got all bossy, so I got up and went over to the till, she followed me and tried to stop me with threats like ‘I will lick your face’, I told the waiter that I was paying and to ignore her as she was mentally deranged and we had let her out for the day under supervision. My tactic worked as we giggled like school girls, which went with our behaviour. After lunch we went and explored the centre. I needed to buy a card and wrapping paper for a present that we had bought for Chris and Paul and while I was looking at cards I found a bag I really liked. A travel bag, I liked the shape, I liked the pattern and I decided it needed to come home with me. So I bought it. We checked out the homeware section and saw some really lovely stuff; we then headed out to the shopping courtyard. With five minutes, first shop, I found a pair of silver sneakers that I liked. I had spent all holidays trying to find some bling sneakers that I not only liked but were also comfortable. And there they were! And reasonably priced too! I broke Marg’s shopping heart when I bought them as she really liked them as well, and they were the last ones left in our size. I think it will be a while before she forgives me for that.  

On the drive back to Ilmington I mentioned that I still hadn’t gone to have a look at the local church. Vikki mentioned that there are mice carved into the wood in the church that you have to find. She said that she would come with me because she still hadn’t actually been in there herself. When we got home, John and Marg went upstairs to pack all their stuff in preparation for their trip to Chris and Paul’s. While they were packing Vikki and I went for a walk down the beautiful laneways to the church. Robert Thompson was a British furniture maker and is known for his mouse signature. Little mice carved into his work. All the church woodwork was replaced in the 1930s and the sign in the church said that there were 11 mice to find. I have to tell you, finding little wooden mice is actually not as easy as you may think. It took us a while but we eventually found all 11. The church itself is a pretty little church and there is a small cemetery in the church yard.

Back at the pub John and Marg were all packed and it was time to say our goodbyes. We had a “family” photo out the front of the pub and waved them off. It was getting sad now, it would be time for us to leave soon too!  

Gary and I sat out the front for a little bit talking about things to come, Vikki came out and joined us and we just sat in the cool sun enjoying the company, the time and the afternoon. Paul was MIA and I suspected that he was probably upstairs watching the tennis. With his eyes closed. The mood was heading toward sombre - I was reluctant to say goodbye to my holiday. And I was totally in love with being in the Cotswolds. But all good things must come to an end. I headed upstairs to rouse Paul from his tennis watching/napping and we went and packed the car. All that was left to do was drive to the airport. I put my happy face on and we went down to the bar to have a goodbye drink with some new friends who had come in to say farewell. It was a bittersweet afternoon.

Our drive to the airport was thankfully uneventful, about 8 minutes into the drive, the direction in which we were headed did not feel right. Not one to normally argue with the GPS, I tend to leave that to Paul, I decided to check it, and lucky I did, we had put the wrong postcode in! A near miss of what could have been a disaster. Within minutes we were headed in the right direction. We had left with more than enough time to spare, which gave us room up our sleeve for missing the turn off to the hire car carpark and having to do another lap into and out of the airport. But soon we were in the queue to check in for our long flight home.

Next: Popping to Paris
Previous: Honing my hospitality skills

Diary Photos

Walking through fields

Just Jack

Walking through a postcard

Right of freedom

Looking over Ilmington

Seat on a hill to enjoy the beauty

View of the beer garden from upstairs

Walking to the church

Robert's signature mice

Ilmington church

Found another one!

And another!

Vikki & Jack

Saying goodbye

Traveling light

Arriving home to torrential rain


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