It’s amazing the difference a good night’s sleep can make to a day, well rested you can rise, assess the day’s weather, adjust any predetermined plans accordingly and face any challenges with a smile. A bad night’s sleep however has an almost opposite effect, waking as though you’ve spent the night on a cobblestone road and with your head in a briar patch, you instead wake with a mild inclination towards murdering the nearest life-form, or cup of tea, whichever happens to be closer. We had one such night and morning today, for some unknown reason we both had a less than restful night and awoke feeling more exhausted than when we went to bed hours before. A bowl of muesli and cup of tea later things were better, and miracles really did happen after a hot shower, it’s amazing how invigorating a shower can be when you’re faced with a heat that would strip flesh from bone! Once the car was repacked – we’re becoming quite accomplished at this by now – we headed off into Ludlow proper, as opposed to the outskirts where we were staying. Ludlow is a thoroughly charming small town, or small city if you prefer, it has all the main conveniences you would expect of a modern city, but with the heartwarming sights of medieval buildings in the main streets, of a market setting up for trade – it’s Wednesday after all, market day! – and people bustling around gathering bread and assorted groceries. Our purpose there was to purchase an AA or Collins road atlas, after three days of Mrs NewFoo/Ducky sending us off into dual carriageway-single car lanes our nerves are rather fraught and we’ve decided to mount a siege attack on Ducky to seize power.
Map in hand we set off from Ludlow with the intention of visiting Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, and after yesterday’s whoopsie with the Cwmmau Farmhouse it was a more than pleasant surprise to discover this one actually open, running, and with interactive exhibits, ie: animals! Being as I’m from a farming background and have numerous pets at home, after nearly two weeks of little to no animal contact I’m beginning to suffer from the DT’s, errant cats, random dogs and cadging chickens aside that is! Acton Scott is wonderful, for anyone who saw the television series ‘Victorian Farm’ with Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn you’ll be pleased to know the property is in no way mis-portrayed, it truly is a Victorian farm complete with its original turn of the century machinery and original buildings. We spent a very thorough two hours there, being followed by geese, having an in depth conversation with the biggest Tamworth sow we’ve ever seen – and she was so chatty and polite too! – wandering through the various gardens, barns, cottage and dairy. We may also have spent a great deal of time patting a donkey, placating some lambs and admiring some piglets of all ages and varieties – some Gloucester Old Spots, Devonshire Blacks and the piglets that belonged to the Tamworth sow I’d been conversing with earlier.
After a bite to eat – a sausage and Branston pickle sandwich – we decided to head up along the border, or more specifically as much along Offa’s Dyke as possible. For the rest of the afternoon we skipped backwards and forwards along and over the border, crossing into Powys and Herefordshire/Shropshire and finally Cheshire so many times I lost count, not to mention almost lost track of which direction we were actually heading in, and that takes some doing! In our adventures along country roads – not lanes this time – we passed through some lovely, and very old if not Middle Ages/Medieval, little towns; Montgomery, Welshpool, Oswestry and Wrexham were just some of them, sadly after spending a few hours swivelling our heads from left to right in rapid succession they tend to become a bit of a blur. Or that could simply be from the lack of proper blood flow as the whiplash begins to take effect. Finally we stopped at Chester for the night in yet another ‘just off the road motel’s’ that we’re infamous for, we know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but for us the anonymity suits and they’re usually clean and tidy, not to mention cheap! It’s been a good day, despite the cobblestone/briar patch start, and some of the scenery – rolling and tumbling green hills with patches of woodland coming into their summer foliage, bordered fields with hawthorn hedges and babbling brooks that flowed into gushing streams – has been truly spectacular, and we’d have been more than willing to pause to capture it on film, if it weren’t for the screaming and hammering lorries and other vehicles all charging down on us at 70 miles per hour! We’re off to the Toby Carvery for dinner tonight, a reward after the 700 odd miles we’ve done since Saturday morning when we collected the car. Tomorrow will be another early start as we’d like to clear the Liverpool/Manchester peak hour/ May Day holiday traffic if at all possible as we’re headed north and into both familiar and much anticipated countryside.
PS. Toby’s Carvery was well worth it, have a look below and see what you think!