Sunday, March 13, 2011

Close to home: Gloucester, Cleeve Common and Chedworth

We've spent the last two weekends much like the two before: close to home.

Last Sunday, we spent a great day in Gloucester. We'd seen the cathedral from a distance many times, but this was our first opportunity to stand in the shadow of its spire. It's such an impressive edifice. We have tickets to see the Choral Society perform Rachmaninov's Vespers there next week; absolutely can't wait.

From there, we spent some time on the Docks, the Candle an impressive spire in its own right. Plus, there's such an eclectic range of houseboats tied up there. We saw what looked to be a television crew shooting some footage, and it wasn't hard to see why; just a perfect day for it.

The same could be said for the Monday, which we'd booked off much earlier, so we decided to head up to Cleeve Common; another spot close to home that we'd heard good things about. Well, what views! The rolling hills go on and on -- there's a golf course up there -- and from one side of the highest point, Cleeve Hill, you can look down on Prestbury, while from the other, Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle can be seen (on the clear day we had, anyway).

At times you'd look out across those hills, right to the horizon, and pick out a lone tree; just like that test at the optometrist's office. I didn't know scenes like that existed in nature.

* * * * *

While this Saturday was pleasant, today was the best day of the weekend, particularly once the rain stopped around mid-morning. When that turn for the better became apparent, we pulled out our trusty walking guides, quickly settling on one from our Short Walks book around Chedworth and the nearby Roman villa.

The old stone cottages around there, and Withington, are lovely. Combined with hills reminiscent of last weekend on the Common, it's a perfect example of why the Cotswolds are cherished. Another highlight of the walk was the livestock: sheep, of course, and a few horses we got right up next to, but also a dozen or so llamas of various colours in a field on the way back; they didn't seem too bothered by us, rolling about in the grass to scratch one itch or another.

Am I forgetting anything? H'm... ... Oh, yes, the pub! Take note: the Seven Tuns Inn in Chedworth is worth the drive from just about anywhere in Gloucestershire. The staff were really friendly and competent, there's a great atmosphere, with plenty of seating indoors and out, the real ale was excellent -- the best Tribute I've had in a while -- and the food... Oh, the food topped it all.

Tea loved her ploughman's and soup, and my beef and Yorkshire pudding were excellent. (The latter's probably the best I've had; so fluffy!) The roasted veg that came with mine deserves special note: the parsnip was a perfect mix of sharp and sweet, and the carrots and courgettes were clearly locally grown. Finally, the sticky toffee pudding had caught Tea's eye earlier in the meal, and let's just say it was even better than it looked; a superb finish.

Check out our albums for more pictures from the past two weekends: Gloucester Docks, Cleeve Common and Chedworth.