England 2015 – Day 6: A Walk and A Garden Visit

I woke up this morning with absolutely no plans for the day.  Sure, there were a few things I was considering, but I didn’t really have any idea where I would end up.  I had wanted to spend a day exploring Wales (the Chepstow and Tintern areas), but decided I didn’t feel like driving 1.5 hours each way.  The morning was grey and cloudy, so I took my time getting ready and headed over to breakfast around 9:00.  The nice thing about staying in this old manor hotel is that breakfast is included every morning.  Not just a few bagels and toast, but a full, cooked, English style breakfast.  The bad thing about staying in this old manor hotel is that breakfast is included every morning.  To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of the choices.  There are delicious croissants, cereal, fruit, yogurt, etc. on the continental table, but I’m a pretty picky eater and the hot food choices that I will actually eat are pretty limited.  As in eggs or eggs.  I had eggs Benedict the first morning I was here, and will probably have it again tomorrow.  I had just a cold breakfast on the second morning, scrambled eggs yesterday, and cold again today.  On Tuesday when I said I didn’t want anything hot, I overheard the server saying to another waitress, “She doesn’t want a cooked breakfast!”, as though it were scandalous!

The pathway to Broad Campden
The pathway to Broad Campden

After breakfast, my first order of business was to fill up the gas tank.  Hurdle #1: Find a gas station.  I asked at the front desk of the hotel and was directed to a close station (there aren’t many around) which I was told “isn’t the cheapest”.  Hurdle #2: Figure out how to open the gas tank cover.  Turns out, you press it in and it pops out.  Hurdle #3: How to pay.  At the place I stopped you pump first, then pay.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow whether that seems to be the standard or if it varies.  I pumped a pricey £40 into the gas tank (about US$60) and then headed off to explore some more.  I ended up back in Chipping Campden and decided since it was cloudy but not rainy I would go for a walk.  I had researched a 3-mile or so walk from Chipping Campden to Broad Campden (the next village over) online and figured I would give it a shot.  I knew where the route started, so I set off through the archway at the Noel Arms hotel.

The route was fairly well traveled so it wasn’t hard to find the path.  Most of the walking paths go through pastures and farmland.  This one took me through a field that was in the midst of being plowed and over a ridge into a side street in Broad Campden.  Broad Campden is a tiny village with a small church and Quaker meeting house.  I found a wooden bench on a small knoll overlooking the village and sat for about 20 minutes just enjoying the quiet and birds chirping around me.  I think 3 or 4 cars drove by in the entire time I was there.  Finding the path back to Chipping Campden was a bit more difficult.  I knew the route was a loop, so I headed in the direction I thought would take me to the return piece of the loop.  I ended up in a sheep pasture and couldn’t figure out how to get through to where I wanted to be.  I retraced my steps back to the village and saw a small stone sign marked “public foot path” next to a house and figured that might be it.  The return route took me through someone’s yard and into a pasture that looped around to the fields behind/next to the church in Chipping Campden.  The whole journey took about 2 hours and I was ready for tea!

Broad Campden
Broad Campden

Today’s tea was at Badger’s Hall Tea Room in Chipping Campden.  After enjoying my scone with jam and clotted cream, the sun was finally beginning to come out.  I decided to go to Hidcote Manor Gardens, nearby in Hidcote Bantrim.  The car park was full when I arrived, but I found a spot and headed in to explore.  Other than Sudeley Castle, this is the only place I’ve paid admission in the past week.  The gardens were created by American

Hidcote Manor Gardens
Hidcote Manor Gardens

Lawrence Johnston in the early 1900s.  The gardens are broken into many “rooms”, each with a different feel and type of plant, flower, or shrub.  I spent about an hour wandering around and taking pictures in the gardens.  After that, it was back to the hotel for a little bit before heading out for dinner at the Churchill Arms pub in nearby Paxford.  The Churchill recently changed ownership and the new owner/chef is getting a lot of much deserved recognition.  It was easily the best meal of my trip.  I had a pork t-bone with crackling, sage, a poached apple, and mashed potatoes.  Of course, another cider made a good accompaniment.  For dessert, I was “talked into” trying the chocolate fondant, basically a molten chocolate cake with the best ice cream I’ve tasted.  A great final meal for vacation!

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