This time, we had a destination in mind, so it was left out of the drive! With Glasgow, bathed in shimmering summer sunshine, receding in the rearview mirror, we drove south along the M74 towards a village called Cumwhitton just outside Carlisle. We had booked a table in the village pub, The Pheasant Inn, and having set Iona up for the night, we sat outside the pub in the fading sunlight and enjoyed a couple of local beers before dinner.
Nadia chose the fillet steak, and I went for the lamb rump, both of which were excellent, and we finished it off with an Islay dram and an affogato! Feeling replete, we headed back to Iona and settled in for the night, listening to the sound of the local sheep in the adjacent field.
We awoke to the much heralded ‘yellow warning’ heavy rain, although, in reality, it was just half an hour of light pitter-patter on the roof, and soon we were heading further south to Birmingham for our next stopover in Lyons Boat Yard, just south of King’s Heath. En route, we stopped at Killington Reservoir service station, where we had lunch. Afterwards, we lay on the grassy banks overlooking the water, taking the opportunity to ground ourselves, ‘barefooted’ to mother earth!
The boat yard is part of a canal barge ‘refuelling station’, and there was just enough room for four vehicles beside the barges moored up along the canal. As we enjoyed a light evening snack, the sky darkened, the thunder rumbled, and clapped extremely loudly, the wind picked up, and the lightning played over the thickening evening clouds. Inevitably, it wasn't too long before the heavens opened and the rain started to fall in big, fat, heavy drops, all part of a British Summer!
We awoke on Monday morning to clear skies and a sticky, muggy atmosphere. Clearly, the storms hadn't moved on entirely! After our cup o' java, we set out on the half-hour walk into Kings Heath, where we stopped at a pub for sparkling water and shelter from the heat outside. It turned out to be too hot to walk all the way to our destination, so we hopped on a bus for the last part of the route, our destination being the Kitchen Garden Cafe, a lovely idiosyncratic set-up down an alley and behind an artisan garden 'centre.'
Nadia's long-time friend, Fran, then joined us for lunch, and we segwayed smoothly into an afternoon 'sesh' before enjoying a great tapas meal in Byzantium, after which we stepped across the road to the Hare & Hounds for our evening gig! The evening went swingingly as we bopped away to Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express, and we eventually made our way back to the boat yard and settled in for the night. Another fantastic day under our belts!
A fresher but no less warm morning greeted us, and after our traditional coffee, we were soon on the road heading south towards our next stopover, a farmer's field in the village of Purton, Cotswolds. The pitch is on a working farm, and part of our booking cost included farm-produced unpasteurised milk, free-range eggs, pork sausages and bacon, coolio! After a grounding session outside Iona (our bare feet firmly planted on good Cotswold grass!), we wandered into Purton, where we walked the narrow streets and sampled a couple of hostelries before returning to Iona, where we were welcomed by the 'free rangers' who joyfully pecked at our feet as we sauntered past on our way to watch the sun dip over the yardarm from our van. This adventure is turning out to be a wonderful trip!
And so it's time to say 'Sianara' to Purton and head south to our next stopover, but first, we stopped at the farm shop to collect our 'breakfast package' which consisted of six beef sausages, six slices of bacon and a litre of unpasteurised milk, all from the farm stock. Next, we stopped at Lydiard Park and enjoyed a walk around the grounds of Lydiard House. The Park is the ancestral home of the Viscounts Bolingbroke, and the Palladian house, beautiful church, walled garden and formal parkland are the striking remains of the once great country estate.
Our next park up was in the village of Ower, Romsey, where we had booked a space in a small, family-friendly site six minutes from the lovely Mortimer Arms. The first thing on the menu, however, was a shower, as it had been a hot, sticky trip south, after which we set off to the pub for dinner. The food turned out to be excellent, and for the second time on this trip, I chose Lamb Rump (albeit Moroccan Style this time), and Nadia went for the Pork Tenderloin, and we both finished with homemade cheese cake! Scrumptious.
Click the link to see our route map: