Wednesday, 11 May 2022

The Shakespeare's Avon Way - Sherbourne(12)


Bit of an inauspicious start today. We are setting off from  a 'pull in' at the side of the extremely busy A46 Warwick Road dual carriageway. Somewhat hampered today, with a very swollen knee from overdoing it a bit lately. A quick dash across 4 lanes of fast moving traffic is not ideal really.

We are already running late due to numerous road hold ups along the way. I'm quietly relieved the the proposed walk today is cut short. 'Hampton Lucy ( a place and not a person) will have to wait until another time.  

We have a small circuit to complete around 'Snow Hill' and up to 'Ardenhill' Spinney so as not to miss any of 'The Shakespeares Avon Way'. Of course we then have to come back across the dual carriageway. Either side of the road there is however beautiful open fields and woods to explore. Not to mention moats! Although previous experience tells me that there is rarely any water to be seen sadly. 


We manage to safely negotiate the most rickety of footbridges and stiles too. More punishment for my poor old knee, perhaps this is a walk too far? Only time will tell. Already I am regretting putting the old shorts on today. Not only does the 'fly' refuse to 'do up' which is embarrassing enough. I have also got my first nettle stings of the year too. I am very sensitive to those, and know they will be tingling for the rest of the day.  

Looking back there are some smashing views towards Warwick with the spires in the distance. About halfway along Fulbrook Lane between Sherbourne and Hampton Lucy is Hampton Wood. Lots of cars are parked up as visitors view the Bluebells Celandine. We only trail the edge, but over the hedge it looks a rich carpet of wild flowers in their Spring time prime. 

Hidden and rotting away in the bushes is an old wooden railway carriage. Probably well over a hundred years old I would imagine. Makes you wonder how things end up where they are sometimes? Amazing what you can come across sometimes. 

We cross a field of very inquisitive cows. I'm quite please that there is an electric fence between us. Particularly as a huge Bull is amongst them. I must apologise for the awful photo, nut you get the gist at least.They were moving fast in my defence. The bull is the big one at the back!  

We move into a beautiful lush green meadow, lots of wildflowers too. There are also a few other surprises too as we progress further.

 All to be revealed soon.....

From a distance it looked as though a very pale figure was watching us.... Closer inspection revealed it was a mannequin, or at least the torso of a mannequin. Can it still be a torso if the head is attached? Also there appeared to be an arm missing too.There were no bullet holes so it was being used for target practise either. A bit further on there were more of them!  One appeared to be sunbathing! This time they were inside a 'Pheasant release Pen'. Obviously they must be some form of Scarecrow to keep other birds or predators away. 

 We also saw some fence-post signs for the 'Via Beata' long distance path. I had only seen these before around Little Harrowden in Northamptonshire. The pilgrimage path that crosses the country from Lowestoft to St Davids in Wales.   

It is with some relief that we complete the walk! My knee is worsening with every step and is very swollen.Even cutting short the route we have covered a distance of 9.2 miles.It has been enjoyable even though there were not really any obvious buildings or points of interest. We look forward to venturing to Hampton Lucy next time out.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Kingdom of Madness - The Stables, Wavendon MK

We are back at The Stables, Wavendon MK once again. This particularly gig has been on and off,cancelled and re-booked I'm actually amazed we are here and it is happening. 

Learning from the 'car park hell' of the last visit, yes that is a big exaggeration. Although it was busy, and being first in, it took some considerable time to get away when we saw Fairport Convention here. This time we parked as far away from the venue as possible, despite being there early. Reverse psychology you might call that , clever eh?

Inside I enjoy a very pleasant pint of Phipps IPA, although at £5 a pint it flipping well should be. The barman showed a complete lack of interest when I informed him it was £3.40 back home. 

We sat and enjoyed our drinks amongst a group which included a man with a false leg, and a man from Kettering with the strongest New York American accent you've ever heard.  

Very occasionally at seated gigs I have been able to get on the front row. Never have I had the entire front row to myself though. These were the seats on the side of the stage, within touching distance of Richard Bailey. Even so, half of the front row facing the stage was still empty. (Thanks to Sue Peters from the KOM Facebook Group for the stage shots of the band). I'm far to close to risk the wrath of the feisty stewards to even think of taking a photo at this stage. We've moved seats three times already to ascertain the prime viewing spot.  
It does seem that the 400 odd capacity is only going to be about half full though. I had seen Mark on the trawl in from leaving the car and he said that ticketing was a problem with all the uncertainty.

Since we last saw KOM, just like with Magnum there have been some band line up changes. Brian Badhams (Bernie Marsden, Climax Blues Band) is on Bass. Alan Bell is on Lead Guitar and Mark Pascall (Cats in Space, Departed) has taken over vocals. Otherwise the band is the same with Micky Barker on drums, Richard Bailey keyboard/Flute, Mo Birch vocals/percussion  and Mark Stanway Keyboards. All ex-members of Magnum of course. We are all set for an evening of Magnum classic Rock songs from the celebrated 1978 - 1994 period. 

The set gets off to a flying start with 'Back to Earth' from 1982. 'Just Like an Arrow' is followed by my favourite 'Wild Swan'. I remember  a while back putting forward the next song 'The Prize' as a suggestion for inclusion. Maybe they thought it was a good idea and went with it?  I'm impressed with Mark Pascall on vocals. His voice is strong and he fits in perfectly. Doing justice to great songs such as 'Les Morts Dansant' The first set ends with the all out rocker 'Rockin' Chair, by far the favourite of Mrs A. During a short interview we are promised that Raffle tickets will be available to win memorabilia. Unfortunately cash only....

Following a short, but seemingly lengthy interlude play resumes with 'Changes' and an excellent version of 'Soldier of the Line'. 

Mark has often cited 'The Tall Ships' from the much  overlooked 'Rock Art' album as being his favourite song. He is also quick to pay tribute to the exceptional writing talent of Mr Tony Clarkin. One of my favourites comes next from the 1992 'Sleepwalking' album we have 'Only in America'. It was a period of time between 1985 and 1992 when I saw Magnum a lot, and they were probably at the peak of their power.

No set would be complete without the next two songs; 'On a Storytellers Night' and of course 'Kingdom of Madness'. With now the expected traditional flute intro from Richard. As you would expect they get a great ovation from the audience. . 

It is a strange atmosphere in a way, often the case in all seated venues. Even more so with only being 50% of capacity and spread out

The band leave the stage returning for an encore of 'Lights Burned Out' and the haunting 'Sacred Hour'. 

There have been one or two technical errors, but they have taken nothing away from the performance. A band who always look as though they are really enjoying what they do. 

It has been a great night and we wait afterwards in the auditorium for a set list. However, there is still more to come. A Roadie takes the stage, with a Goldfish bowl partially occupied with raffle tickets.Unfortunately the vast majority of the audience have now left. The first few tickets pulled all meet with blank looks from the few still gathered. 'Is it too late to buy a ticket'? Some 'wag' from the sidelines shouted out (OK that was me). The next ticket is drawn and the lady next to me is only one number away from claiming a prize. I manage her disappointment quite well. Telling her that I don't think it will be long before she enters the 'winners enclosure'. 

Sure enough the next ticket is drawn and she gleefully waves her winning ticket in the air. A signed 'Mirador' picture disc is soon safely pouched. Another prize was soon to follow, I'm really regretting not having the cash to have purchased a ticket now, the odds of winning would have been really good. 

At last the ant-climatic raffle ends and I claim my own prize of the set-list which is reward enough. It has been a really good night, but as often with the seating venues the atmosphere isn't  as rocking as the standing ones. 

We leave the Stables across a deserted car park making the long walk back to where we had left the car. Sometimes my good ideas don't always go quite as planned !   

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Everdon, Fawsley, Badby, Newnham & Little Everdon Circular Walk

It's a beautiful sunny Good Friday morning and we are at Everdon. No better place to be in the county on this fine run up to Easter. We have a lovely circular route planned to Fawsley, then to Preston Capes and coming back via Snorscombe Mill. Then enjoying a pint or two in the pub garden back at 'The Plough' in Everdon. 

That was the plan at least. Sometimes things don't always go to plan though.  ... Parking up close to the pub, the first thing I noticed was a large for sale sign on the pub. 

I asked a local gentleman if the pub was still open, more in hope than expectation. 'Been closed for two years or more' he replied. Thankfully he was a member of a local rambling  club and  was able to suggest an alternative route. One that would indeed take in a pub! Happy days indeed. 


The part of the walk to Everdon we have done a couple of times before. This is the link to one of them if you are interested?

One tree in particular looks spectacular on the hill against the bright blue sky. The Spring lambs are growing fast and look healthy. They are obviously used to walkers and are quite curious under the ever watchful eye of Mother

It has really got quite warm and we start the picnic early on arrival at Fawsley.

 It is a steep climb out of Fawsley as we head in the direction of Badby Woods.

Some great views though looking back and as far as Preston Capes in the distance.

We are walking the Knightley Way, which starts in the village of Badby. A beautiful 12 mile walk across fantastic countryside that ends in Greens Norton.I've covered most of it in different walks at various times and must get round to completing soon.

We have now arrived at Badby Woods.


A 47.2 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. An ancient semi-natural woodland on acidic soils, and it has been forested for over 700 years. I remember walking here once before and getting a bit lost. So today we will be sticking to the perimeter route avoiding the many trails and paths that branch deeper into the woods. 

The woods are located just to the south of the village of Badby and are famous for carpets of bluebells in the spring months. As you can see the Bluebells are just starting to come into bloom.

We leave the path and come out opposite the church in Badby. We are looking for the Nene Way footpath. After one false start we are on our way again. There is a bit of a clue as we are following the river..... This is actually the starting point for the Nene Way, which finally winds it's way to deepest Lincolnshire.

It is a really lovely stretch of the walk that will take us into the village of Newnham. Where of course I am promised there is a Public House on the Green. There is just time to have my photograph taken on a footbridge, always a pleasure. 

The pub was something of a disappointment, the beer was fine as was the setting. The attitude of the man behind the bar was a not so good, miserable you might say. Hi mood didn't improve when his dog followed me out onto the Green. The aforementioned hound, made a bolt for freedom as I delicately balanced 2 drinks, whilst trying to unlatch a heavy wooden door. The surly individual then made a fuss that someone had let the dog out ....

Perhaps not surprisingly we didn't stop for another. Although the company outside was good with fellow walkers. They were of the same opinion about the attitude of 'mine host'.

We pick up the Nene Way again which goes right through the Churchyard at St Michael and All Angels. We then cross numerous fields and stiles in wide open spaces and hardly anyone else about. We are heading in the direction of Little Everdon. 



From Little Everdon it is just a short walk back to the Church in Everdon where we started out from.


A cracking walk, not quite what we had planned for but always good to go somewhere new. 

In total a length of 7 length of 7.5 miles. 

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Heart of England Walk (2) Longborough, Stow On The Wold and Donnington (Plus add on).


The second leg of the 'Heart of England' Walk is starting in the Cotswold village of 'Longsborough'. In September 2001, Longborough was the winner of the Bledisloe Cup competition for best kept village. It looks pretty good today too.

Taking a bit of a gamble with the weather and a risky three layer approach.If the last couple of days are anything to go by it is going to be a very mixed bag of weather. At least we are starting out in sunshine as we set off in an anti-clockwise direction. I take advantage of one of several 'wells' we will encounter on the walk today. 

The picture on the left might look as though I'm being violently ill. However I am merely sampling the fine Cotswold hills natural spring water. It is only afterwards that I notice the sign that says 'unsuitable for drinking.....As I'm writing this several days later I can safely report that there have been no ill effects. At least none that I am aware of? We very quickly pick up 'The Monarch's Way' path.

'The Monarch's Way' is a 625-mile (1,006 km)long distance footpath hat approximates the escape route taken by King Charles II in 1651 after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester. It runs from Worcester via Bristol, and Yeovil to Shoreham, West Sussex. 

The logo is a drawing of the ship 'Surprise 'above a Prince of Wales three-point feathered crown on a silhouette of the Royal Oak Tree. The route was established in 1994. 

Rolling Hills

Set amongst the idyllic countryside is the Donnington Brewery. Richard Arkell began brewing on the site of a 13th century watermill in 1865. Today, the mill wheel is still used to drive pumps and machinery to brew the beer the same way 150 years on.The honey-coloured buildings sit quietly in the valley next to the mill pond, with its black swans, the logo of the brewery. Sadly the brewer is not open at weekends....

We re-trace some of the route that we finished with last time just as darkness was setting in.The uphill climb will take us back to 'Stow on The Wold'. The other other side of the wall lies the The Grade II-listed Abbotswood country estate. 24 times bigger than an average house, boasts 10 bedrooms and six bathrooms, while there are 13 “out” buildings in the grounds.In 2015 it was the most expensive country house for sale in the UK.It was thought that the Beckham's were very interested in purchasing. I am just happy to enjoy the views for now , albeit ' over the wall. 





Oh dear, just as we reach 'Stow on the Wold' the wind gets up and we get our first snow shower of the day. 

It's hard to believe that it was almost twenty degrees last weekend. We are now walking down 'Well Lane' no prizes for guessing how the name came about.Stow was, until recent times, supplied with water from springs below the town. For centuries, women and children had carried water with yoke and bucket from the spring on Well Lane. Water carts plied between Well Lane and the town where the water was sold to the townsfolk at the price of a farthing a bucket. Several systems had been tried to force water up the hill including windmills, horse-mills and water wheels but all had failed. In 1871, Joseph Chamberlayne-Chamberlayne, lord of the manor, donated £2000 to the town for a deep well to be bored and this was a success. Mains water was laid on in 1937. 

As quick as it started the snow has stopped and the sun is back out again. This is going to be a familiar pattern today. We follow the 'Monarch's Way' to the village of Broadwell. The parish church of St Paul was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Throughout the middle ages the manor, or estate of Broadwell belonged to the Benedictine Monks of Evesham who were responsible for appointing the rector. There seems to have been a here before the Norman Conquest. As early as 1086 the Domesday Book records a priest as an inhabitant. Nothing is known about the Saxon Church, or exactly when the Norman Church was built. 

It's a lovely little village with around 500 inhabitants.The churchyard is looking very pretty with the Spring flowers in bloom.

Between Broadwell and Donnington lies some really stunning scenery. Large wide open spaces and total peace. Or at least that is until a strange looking aircraft comes overhead.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is an American multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing and short takeoff and landing capabilities. It is designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft. They don't come cheap either! an average cost of $110 million per aircraft, including development costs...

From Donnington we make our way back towards our starting point at 'Longsborough'. We now have a choice. Call it a day and go to the pub, very tempting. Or do an extended loop along the Monarch's Way? As it was such a decent day for once we decided to forego the pub. It was worth it too with more great views. Thinking about it we have actually done quite a lot of the Monarch's Way, more than the Heart of England Way I expect. As always a really enjoyable walk and a total of 11.65 miles in distance.


The Shakespeare's Avon Way - Sherbourne(12)

  Bit of an inauspicious start today. We are setting off from  a 'pull in' at the side of the extremely busy A46 Warwick Road dual c...