Heading for Hereford 2004
Another glorious weekend this time organised by Dave & Linda Harrison on their home ground of Herefordshire. They had arranged camping at Lucksall campsite for those of us roughing it and all other members stayed in various hotels.
The campsite was superb with excellent facilities and when Andy & I arrived on Friday evening quite a few members had already arrived and their tents pitched and ready for the weekend. By the time we had our tent up it was getting a little late so a dozen of us drove up to a local inn for a meal.
We were pleased to welcome Bruce & Alice all the way from bonnie Scotland and Brenda & Lew from West Wales; they had all travelled quite a distance to join us.
Also attending were Dave & Sue (another long trip for them too), Margaret & Clive, Margaret & John, (a belated Happy Birthday John), Chad & Claire, Gary & Jan, plus a few members of the Herefordshire Marches Kit Car Club.
Dave had made us some super “Merlin’s on tour” plaques to attach to the cars.
It all looked very official.
Saturday morning loomed brightly and we all gathered for our first trip out. We were travelling to Fownhope where the Newent Bird of Prey Sanctuary was. Here we were able to see numerous birds of prey including a Merlin and to watch a flying display of several birds plus a bald eagle.
(They do say you get to look like your pets, what do you think?)
It was fascinating to see them although they looked a little sad tied to their perches lined up in a row, rather like a queue at a supermarket. The flying display showed us just how fast they can travel and made me glad I wasn’t a mouse.
After a quick coffee we were off on the next leg to visit Yat Rock & Symmonds Yat, a famous county beauty spot. Here we were able to look from the rock down to the meandering river below and just pick out the canoes gently paddling along.
The view is glorious and today was clear, no rain as yet. An added bonus was some guys from the RSPB who had set up telescopes focusing on the cliffs opposite where some hawks were nesting and if you looked closely you could see the young. I couldn’t see anything so I took their word for it. However I was able to get some photos of several species of wild animals up a tree quite close by.
We were able to partake of a quick lunch in the open air at the small coffee and snack bar before we left for our last stop which was to be Tintern Abbey and village. We drove to the village and took in the ruins of the Abbey and surrounding village. There was a very good craft centre in the village and we all spent a good hour wandering through the village and taking in the sights before loading up and returning to the campsite.
Saturday night is barbecue night.!! A number of us hardy souls had brought food for the usual barbecue. There was loads to eat and drink and the night stayed fairly warm although the nearer the fire you were the better. Lew was practising his pyrotechnic routine or was it his chicken burning! After a quick night-cap everyone retired for the night.
Sunday dawned a little overcast but we were ready for anything. Dave had organised a treasure hunt in Hereford town and the question papers were given out prior to starting out. Andy & I were to bring up the rear of the convoy but the car suddenly died and it took us a little time to get going again.
By the time we caught up with the others at the allocated car park we found we had lost Dave & Sue. Dave was worried that there was something seriously wrong and he had apparently turned around to come and check with us that we were OK. However he had taken a wrong turning and was now heading the wrong way. (I can just imagine the conversation in their car) By this time we were already all in Hereford wondering what had happened to them!
Dave Harrison eventually contacted Dave & Sue and with a few new directions we were soon altogether again. Now the fun bit the treasure hunt. It certainly made us think about things and we spent the next hour or two peering at various buildings and landmarks, at one stage we were accosted by a member of the constabulary. Fearing that he was suspicious we explained that we were only taking part in a Treasure Hunt only for him to say “yes that’s OK and the answer to that question is …… and I’ve seen a lot more of you around the corner too” Very helpful PC.
Andy & I had popped into the Cathedral coffee shop and discovered that the Mappa Mundi was held in the museum there. We would have to return later.
We all eventually met up again after completing the treasure hunt and set off on a tour. The route would take us through the “Black and White Villages” and eventually to a little tavern where we would take our lunch.
Dave had found a very nice place where we all descended on them for various foodstuffs. Whilst waiting for the lunch Dave & Linda marked the treasure hunt papers and declared the winners were Chad & Claire, this is becoming a bit of a habit you two, (we’ll have to give them a handicap next time, blindfolded maybe !! )
Anyway after a pleasant lunch and rest we left the inn and drove to Hampton Court, no not that one, the other one. The gardens here are glorious all presented in different styles and to crown it all is an amazing maze “sorry” with a very unusual finale. You end up at a central tower, which then takes you through a tunnel where you are met with a lovely fairylike dell with a pond and waterfall, very pretty.
We finished our tour of the gardens and met up with some of the others in the garden coffee-house, remnants of cream teas were to be found on their tables!! And with just a few hours to go before dinner !!.
Another feast was enjoyed this time at The Crown at Woolhope, one of Herefords favourite eating pubs. The food was good as was the company and everyone eventually left a few pounds heavier.
It was a bit damper on Monday and by the time we left camp it was raining but I decided that just an umbrella would do for a short run. Doesn’t work, all you end up with is an inside out brolly once you start moving. We were joined today by some members of Dave Harrisons local Marches Kit Car Club who were very welcome.
We eventually arrived at today’s first stop, which was the Three Choirs Vineyard. Here we were able to take a tour of the processing plant and the owner explained how the wine was made and bottled. (No free sample bottles though) We then were able to see a video of the processing and eventually walked around the vines, tasting the odd grape or two, which were very sharp and sour.
In the shop there were some samples of the wine available for tasting. They were quite nice, and some members bought more than a few bottles.
After leaving the Vineyard we headed through the country lanes arriving at Much Marcle where there was a thirties style garage which has been used in many photographic shots over the years.
Opposite was a pub where another lunch would be taken, but the decision was inside or out? After settling down on the benches and tables outside we ordered our meals and then the heavens opened and it was all in, the skittle alley was the venue, with tables quickly set up for our use.
After lunch we drove to an old church where in the graveyard was a very old and very wide yew tree, so old it was hollowed out and a seat had been placed in the centre. Very romantic.
The next and last venue of the weekend was yet another alcoholic treat, Westons Cider Makers .A small museum and of course some more tasting, and plenty of flagons purchased.
The small restaurant here was housed in a building stacked with shelves of cider from all over the country and abroad and various old museum pieces from cider making of the past.
Making sure no one was over the limit it was time to say our farewells to those who were travelling home. Some had further than others to go, but we had decided to spend a few more days to explore the countryside hoping that the weather would stay fine for us (and it did!!)
Many thanks to Dave & Linda for a wonderful weekend, it’s so nice when the planning comes together and everything runs so smoothly. I’m sure it goes without saying that all those who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We hope you will volunteer to organise another in the near future.