Tuesday, 30 June 2015

30/06/15 - Muggled at Dawn

Distance - 6.6 Miles
Geocaches - 13 out of 18
First Cache

Spurred on by last night's FTF on a multi cache that had only been published 20 minutes prior, I head off to Murcot at the crack of dawn to attempt a reasonable length series near Broadway, Worcestershire.

Nestling in the Vale of Evesham, it's an area I know well - offering fine walking and an increasing amount of Geocaching Trails.

I don't park up at Cache 1, as there is something wrong with the parking waypoint.  Now I have been there, I can assure you that parking as suggested is impossible unless a) you have a 4x4 and b) you own the land.  Instead,  I pull at the little layby just off the A44 at Wickhamford.

Clock reads 6:01am but importantly, the temperature gauge is not in the high 20s, as predicted for today.

Cache 8 shows me that the round will be challenging.  Not too obvious, without a detailed clue.  Cacher's instinct takes over and I make a quick find.

The gate to cache 9 is guarded by a bull.  You can understand why I have no photos.  I ask him politely if its OK to make my way across his harem field and he doesn't seem to object.

Then its two DNF on the bounce.  The first one, with shattered confidence as the last cachers also made a DNF, the next one - I make a great attempt - lying prostrate on a bridge but coming up empty handed

Mood not improved by the field that I have to battle across to get there.  Amazing how it can be so hot, yet the foliage so damp.

Overgrown Paths
To be fair, I was warned in the Cache Description
Wet trousers ahoy, I almost make it an unheard three DNF on the bounce until I extend my search at cache 12.  I made it ever so slightly more north of the published co-ords but delighted to get my name in the funky geocaching log book.

Childswickham is a nice little village.  I am greeted with a friendly hello by all the dog walking villagers, as a I wind my way through - picking up a classic outlier in a phone box.  That makes up for 1 of the 2 DNF so far.

Childswickham - Nice Place
Caching is nice and easy as I make my way along a superb pathway - grabbing caches 13 - 1 without any problems at all.  Fine views over to Bredon and Cleeve Hill, sharing my route with the Wychavon Way.

Brendon Hill
Heating Up
Number 2 has to be left as a dog walking muggle is approaching.  I was not confident I was going to make a find.

Number 3 - let's say no more about it - no idea.  Number 4 - found after a hunt but its number 5 where I get badly muggled.

It's at a horse farm and I know that its on a metallic gate.  I start making a cursory hunt when I hear an "Hello - Can I help you" from a woman tending the horses.  I have made a fatal cachers mistake and not scouted the area for muggles before searching.

I hope that "No, I'm fine" but no, she starts marching across asking ever increasingly difficult to answer questions, including "am I lost?" and if "I'm not lost, what could I possibly be doing to her gate?".

I have no answer to this.  I can't believe she will be overjoyed to know her gate is a geocaching GZ and by the vigour of her questioning, I can only assume she has had security issues.

After exclaiming that I have found the path I need, I skulk off, feeling sheepish.

My advice to future cachers is to take care and don't hunt if anyone is about.  Two suspicious characters and I think there will be armed guards.

With just two more to find, I make my way back to the GeoWagon, mercifully free from more muggles.

A tough old round this one, I usually get a much higher percentage.

Fair play to Finstall,  FTF on most of the caches, and if I am not mistaken, making a highly credible clean sweep.

TFTC - Stretchy123 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

28/06/15 - Plume of Feathers

Distance - 7.5 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Walk Inspiration - Adventurous Pub Walks in Worcestershire

Adventurous Pub Walks in Worcestershire is my sort of book. It has Adventure. It has Walks. It has Pubs. There are 20 routes within and I walked 7 of them in a flurry of activity between 2006 and 2008. Since then, it has languished on my bookshelf, waiting to be rediscovered.

On a miserable June Sunday, I knock off walk 1 - from the Plume of Feathers, Welland.  This is one of those old country pubs that have been unchanged for years.  The tables outside looked like they haven't been cleaned for years.  Still, faced with nouveau watering holes, I wouldn't change a thing.

Straight out into the countryside on Castlemorton Common.  Bleak on the best of days, the weather is not helping at all.

Castlemorton Common
Destination - The Hills Behind
Pick up the Worcestershire Way Link Path.  A single cache breaks the monotony of a dull footpath that winds its way through common land and farm land.  The stiff climb up Tinker's Hill and the British Camp reservoir provide some welcome views.

Foothills of Tinker's Hill
British Camp
British Camp Reservoir

Stuart Maconie waxed lyrically about the little tea hut in British Camp Reservoir car park in his book "Adventures on the High Teas - In search of Middle England".  They do wonderful ice cream.

It's not an ice cream kind of day, so I continue and head up the side of Herefordshire Beacon.  Having "conquered" this peak on my most recent visit to the Malverns, I leave the prescribed route in search of footpaths new.

Grim skyline to the Eastnor
British Camp
British Camp and the Herefordshire Beacon

With the height gained, its superb walking over Millennium, Hangman's and Swinyard Hills.  A lot of noise is coming from Eastnor Castle.  I see the adverts later on the way home - Bjorn Again were the headline act of a weekend festival.

Another hillfort on Midsummers Hill where I get a little confused with the paths that the guidebook want me to take.  Decide to make my own decision and re-visit the Gullet - a flooded Quarry.

A stiff descent on an overgrown path leads me to an abandoned rucksack in the undergrowth.  I wonder if someone is in trouble.  Only if its possible to die of embarrassment, as the owner turns out to be a young solo female rambler who has been caught short and is stooped in the bushes.

I promise her that I am averting my eyes, in fear that she will take a tumble if she gets herself tangled up in her craghoppers kiwi walking trousers that are keeping her ankles warm.

She does not catch me up when I arrive at the Gullet to take a few photos.

The Gullet
After the Gusset - The Gullet

The route back to the car is back across common land.  There are a series of better than average caches to find on the way and I quickly up my number for the day from a derisory 1 to an acceptable 5.

The pubs now open and I am greeted on my approach by one of the punter's springer spaniel.  Can dogs sniff out the inherent loneliness of a solo rambler?  Or does he just know I am buying scratchings?

Plume of Feathers
The Plume
Plume of Feathers
A very decent pint of Wye Valley Butty Bach

Decent Walk.  I won't be leaving it 7 years before doing another route from this publication.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

27/06/15 - Shrewsbury Pub Crawl

Distance - Negligible
Geocaches - 2
Pubs Visited - 6

Something a little bit different for this Saturday.  Rather than heading off and hitting double mile digits on a countryside ramble, we took the train from Kidderminster, changed at Smethwick Galton Bridge and completed a pub crawl of the top pubs that Shrewsbury has to offer.

Shrewsbury sits within a horseshoe bend in the River Severn.  Our task of selecting which pubs to visit have been eased by the fact that the 200 pubs that were allegedly within the river boundary have been whittled down to 30 as a result of the general decimation of our pub culture.  Still, 30 is still going to be pushing it, so I use a combination of the Good Pub Guide, a CAMRA guide to pub crawls and an on-line resource called www.pubdroid.com to plan an itinery.

Pubdroid is superb - plot where you want to go and allows you to follow a map on your mobile in real time.

Our Intended Route
On embarking the train, I realise that pubdroid is only going to work if I bring my phone with me. The curse of SmartPhones.  I had my bag packed last night but left the phone charging, as I knew that taking it out for navigation, photos and updates to the untappd app was going to result in about 3 hours of battery life.

Looks like I am relying on paper maps from our book.

Alight at the station and 10 minutes to get my bearings before we enter pub 1 of the day, the Salopian Bar.

Salopian Bar
Fresh Faced and ready for what the day can offer
A choice of four or five real ales and as usual, I make the wrong choice.  Not that there was anything wrong with going for Stonehouse Station Bitter - after all, its won national awards.  On pouring, one barmaid asks the other if its meant to come out like this and then they spend 5 minutes arguing about how they are meant to tap a barrel.  I'm not precious about my choice and offer to go for something that involves less debate.  They assure me the beer will be fine and its just the pump, but my suspicions are aroused.

Not even the joy of the Jukebox playing Stevie Wonder's Superstitious can stop me from being suspicious.  Sonia is not too impressed and the fact that the bar staff are still arguing and offering a "free taster" to a regular to make sure that "it's Ok" means that I'm not, either.

Salopian Bar
Stonehouse Station Bitter
We move on to the Riverside and to a much improved, although 50p more a pint, pub called the Armoury.  Up until 1995 the impressive building used to be an Armoury.  Its now one of those converted pubs full of bookcases and lovely looking leather wingback seats that prompts us to check on ebay for an upgrade to our conservatory furniture.

Not that we are sitting inside.  Whilst I get a wonderful pint of Woods Shropshire Lad and a half of Stowford, Sonia uses all her skills to get us a seat outside next a thirsty dog drinking its owners bottled water.

The Armoury
The Armoury and a Shropshire Lad
Despite the most civilised lure of table service, we have other places to investigate and wrench ourselves from these fine surrounding for a short walk along the river to the Boathouse.

A couple of geocaches are captured on route to show its not all about the drinking.

The fine weather has brought the whole of Salop out to this fine waterside drinking establishment, but we have little trouble in getting a seat outside to soak up the sunshine and riverside views.

Boat House
The Boathouse from the Inside of the Horseshoe
The Boathouse
Our Inspiration for the day.  And a pint of Salopian Gold

We consider eating here but two things stop us.  1)  It's suddenly got even busier with huge queues at the bar and 2) the Coach and Horses is recommended by our book for its great value grub.

Off we head, using the Dome of St Chad's as a navigational aid.

I like Beer.  Geocaching.  And Architecture.  Having a fine day.
This is a victorian, wood panelled old school boozer, with little alcoves.  An extensive menu on the boards but it says that food is served until 2:30.  Its 2:31 but I am sure that a bit of Mappiman Charm can mean we get lunch.

My enquiry is met with "Well we normally do food, but today we are not bothering because of the Food Festival".  Oh well, Salopian Oracle will do for me.  A packet of cheesy crisps will do Sonia.

Coach and Horses
Salopian Oracle.  No Food.

Sonia's flagging spirits are raised by the fact that the only other punters are a young-ish couple completing the same as us.  Armed with the What Pub Guide, they are hitting the same pubs as us and a conversation ensues as to which is the best in Shrewsbury.  The barman, in true American Werewolf in London Style, insists that they are all fine "as long as you stay within the river boundary".

We take his advice and head off to the Three Fishes.  They stopped doing food at 2:15pm.  I have been here before, so its no hardship to forsake this boozer for the nice cafe just up the Bear Steps.

Three Fishes
No Repeat visit to the Three Fishes
A couple of sandwiches and a side order of chips and we are ready to go for our final pub visit of the day, Loggerheads.

I only wish I had my smartphone.  I could have checked into Facebook to say "Mappiman is at Loggerheads".

An interesting pub, which is part drinking establishment, part maze to work out how to get from the outside to the bar.  This is not as easy as it sounds and the strange corridor layout surely means its a 21st Century fire hazard without easy means of escape.  Having got to the bar, we take our drinks - this time a Snecklifter for me, into a place where Sonia wouldn't have been allowed a mere forty years ago.

At Loggerheads
Not the Toilets - a Side Bar with the most uncomfortable pews

Wait until its near to our hourly train back and realise that having done 6, we've got 24 to go.  I make this 4 more pub crawls in Shrewsbury.  Then we can investigate what's the other side of the river.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

25/06/15 - Clean Sweep to Cache 5000

Distance - 3.38 Miles
Geocaches - 17
First Geocache

The best geocaches I have found this year have been in Gloucestershire and in two separate trails created by HKMHill.

If you like Geocaching and are within, say 200 miles of Winchcombe, you really need to check them out.

I am coming up to cache 5000, so it's rather apt that I am off for his newest Cotswold Challenge in Buckland, just over the Gloucestershire border.

7 more smileys required for the next milestone number.

This is a far more sedate and easy ramble than the other trails, but with the usual hall-marks of caching genius.

Things start off at the Church, where there is parking and a relatively easy multi to find.  I say easy, the clues are easy.  There's still a bit of hunting at GZ but is there anything more satisfying than plotting the co-ords of a multi and seeing it right on your intended footpath on the OS map?

Buckland Church
Buckland Church and Clue #2 for the Multi
Whilst collecting the clues, there's even been a couple of bonus caches to the series to collect.

Out onto the walking proper and its easy footpaths leading to Laverton.  Caches 2 and 3 are found.  Travel bugs are swapped.

A 2nd multi with just the four stages carries us through Laverton and if I have done my maths correctly, the magic 5000 in total.

Laverton Library
Laverton Library

Typical Cotswold Loveliness in Laverton
Only problem of the day presents itself as I come out of Laverton.  A group of elderly ramblers are heading off to Stanway and walking at a pace that can only be described as Tortoisian.  I can't overtake them, as they will see my nefarious activities, so I have to dawdle behind them out of view.

I am rather pleased for the long hunt at cache 7, which means I can get the rest in peace.

A minor diversion for a church micro at Stanton and then its back to Buckland, picking up the remaining 8 of the day.

Easy walking, with fine views.

Views over Bredon Hill
Views to Bredon Hill
Unusually, for any round, I make a clean sweep and come back with 100% smileys.

Thanks again  HKMHill - you are streaking further ahead in top spot of the CO that I have made the most finds.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

20/06/15 - A River Runs Through it (Part 2)

Distance - 13 Miles
Geocaches - 12
Walk Inspiration - Time Out London Walks
Start - Vauxhall
End - Kew Bridge

In March, I completed the first leg of 29 mile walk along the Thames from Hampton Court to the Thames Barrier.  I'm going to break it down into at least 3 legs, but the current thinking is to explore further east than the Thames Barrier.  I am enjoying that much - the history, the interest, the flat walking and the easy navigation.

The fact there are some world class pubs has nothing to do with it.

I know that I am going upstream today.  I want to make purchases from the Fullers Griffin Brewery, which will only weigh me down if I buy them at the beginning.

But where to start?  I have walked the Thames through the centre of London so many times, that I decide to start at Vauxhall.  It's an easy no tube change on the Victoria Line from Euston.

Emerge from the station and take a detour onto the bridge.  It allows me to see James Bond's house and to grab a cache with more than 10 likes.  There is every chance I will have a new geocaching Souvenir on my caching profile as a result.

James Bond House
James Bond's House and the Day's First smiley
Whether to take the north or south bank is answered by the amount of smileys on route, so I head through Nine Elms.  It's a hive of activity, with Battersea Power Station being converted into residential living space and a whole host of identikit glass and steel tower blocks being erected.

I am most jealous.  Who could tire of the views?  One balcony even has a hot tub on it.  I rather fancy myself having a cold beer in a hot tub, watching the river traffic.

Construction Time Again
The path leaves the riverside and goes next to the canine jail that is Battersea Dogs Home.  I have only been past it on the train before and hadn't appreciated the scale of the operation.

Doggersea Bats Home
Skirt the edges of Battersea Park which is being converted into a Formula 4 race track.  Find a rarity in London, a cache big enough for a trackable - which I drop off.

Now I am onto a racetrack of a different sort containing two types of participants.  I'm sharing my route with Lycra clad female joggers or blokes with beards on bikes, with a small child dragged along in a tug along carriage.

Each to their own.  I'm entertaining myself by taking photos of bridges and finding tupperware.

Albert Bridge
Albert Bridge

Chelsea Power Station
Cache GZ opposite Chelsea Power Station
With the caches drying up (and the need to be on the North Bank for the Brewery), I cross over at Wandsworth Bridge.  Incorporating a fine retro bike into the picture is not going to save it from winner of ugliest bridge in London.

Wandsworth Bridge
Still Grim
I've been looking forward to the next place of interest for a while.  Craven Cottage - home of Fulham. A proper old school football stadium on the banks of the Thames.  Record my first DNF, but I am suspicious.  After being found nearly every day, its gone 3 weeks without a log.  Are people afraid to log DNF's?  Am I a crappy cacher?  All with be revealed after I log my failure and see what this spawns.

Craven Cottage
Where's Michael Jackson?
The greenery of Hammersmith Bridge is coming up and I know a great place to stop for my first refreshment of the day - The Dove, Hammersmith.
Hammersmith Bridge
Like the Golden Gate.  But Green.
This watering hole has been here for centuries and the don't let the fact that it's in the Guinness Book of Records as having the smallest bar in a pub put you off.  If you get in at 12:03, you can easily get a seat.

I take my pint of Fuller ESB out the back, up the metal stairs (only spilling a teaspoons worth on the people below) and enjoy my pint in the company of great views and a French Lady called Doris who is buying a flat around the corner.

The Dove
The Dove from Below
View from the Dove
Views I am sharing with Doris

It's a superb pint.  But you would expect this, as we are 20 minutes walk from where it is made - the Griffin Brewery at Chiswick.  And it's got a shop, an experience I can only liken as to when you come off a ride at Alton Towers and are dumped in the gift shop.  Wall to wall tat, but this is beer based tat.

So I buy a T-Shirt.  And a ceremonial ESB Chalice.

I would have bought 24 Bottles of ESB, but I only had my 18 litre rucksack on me.

Spiritual Home
My Spiritual Home

The Strand on the Green marks the end of the Walk.  Fittingly, there are three pubs within spitting distance of each other.  The Bull's Head is rammed, the City Barge has been previously visited, so I settle on the Bell and Crown to end a great day's walking.

Strand on the Green
Pub Tastic - Strand on the Green
The Bull's Head
Bulls Head - Packed

The Bell and Crown
Bell and Crown - More Sedate
A River Runs Through It
Fittingly, my Pint has the River on it.
All that remains is to see how many placard waving anti-austerity protesters will be sharing my train home with me.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

14/06/15 - Peeping Tom

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 6
Walk Inspiration - Stage 25 of the Millennium Way

Time for this month's leg of the Millennium Way and I am instructed to park at a pub called the Peeping Tom.  Makes you wonder what names they considered before settling on an act of sexual deviancy.  It's an odd looking place, a modern new build, but it does have a car park.  And a carvery.  Al Murray's pub landlord would be delighted.

Peeping Tom Pub
Not Normal
It also has a cache directly opposite, which provides some distraction whilst I await the GPS to get a signal.

Head off out into the wilds of the English countryside by finding a footpath through the houses.  A theme emerges for the this walk.  It's very badly overgrown.

Millennium Way
They care for football as much as footpaths in these parts
It makes the next couple of geocaches an impossibility.  I cannot even find the things that are the hints.  Not to worry, I'll just concentrate on the walking and the views over to Coventry Cathedral's spire.

Millennium Way
The Warwickshire Countryside
The Millennium Way is picked up near Rudfyn Manor and the quality of the footpaths improves greatly, as I walk on broad paths through the fields of wheat.  The geocaching also improves and I start making some finds as I pick up a themed trail.

These break up the walking along Hob Lane to Cacthems Corner and back along the railway line to the pub.  Next month, I should have more to report as I look forward to the Millennium Way taking me to Kenilworth Castle.

Millennium Way
All Hail the Ale

Sunday, 7 June 2015

06/06/15 - Head back when you hit the M40

Stage 11 of the Ridgeway
Distance - 8 Miles
Distance on Ridgeway - 3.3 Miles
Start - Watlington
Finish - Where the Ridgeway meets the M40
Geocaches - 4

A change of plan for Stage 11 of the Ridgeway.  Having knocked off 15 miles in my first linear walk on this Long Distance Path, I originally intended to continue onwards to Princes Risborough on another 9 mile linear walk.  Sonia could have taken a leisurely lie in at the Fat Fox Pub and let her sausages go down.

A plan in principle, but it seemed cruel to deny Sonia another walk on the path that she affectionately calls the "Old Cow Track".  And the Fat Fox has a 10am check out time.

Watlington is a recommended place to stop on the Ridgeway.  Interesting village that has an independent feel.  No chain coffee shops here.  There are three pubs.  The Fat Fox was where we stayed, in a lovely beamed barn conversion.  Sonia gauges the quality of a place by the towels and the biscuits.  100% Egyptian Cotton and Kitkats make for a happy woman.

It was also the place we chose to eat last night.  A five course French themed night could not be resisted, even if we couldn't work out if the Canapes were £5 for lot, for each diner or for each type of Canape.  It seemed tight to ask our theatrical waiter for advice.

After a fine meal we checked out the one of the other pubs, the Chequers Inn.  Best beer in town.  And the food looked none to shabby either.

After breakfasting with the same pair of ladies who avoided the Canape conundrum and went straight to Soup, we determine that they are fellow Ridgeway walkers.  I know this as they are protesting that £40 is too much for a taxi to take their bags to Wendover and they ask me (checking me out for the be-kitted rambler that I am) how much I am paying.  I explain my attempt at doing the Ridgeway as a series of day walks, which will take me a lot longer than them but without the need of paying high price carriage costs.

Onto the walking and we pick up the Ridgeway where I left it yesterday.  A terrible sight awaits us.  Scores of Duke of Edinburgh kids who are having the rules explained to them;

Leader - "If you miss the checkpoints today, you will be failed"
DoE'er - "What's a Checkpoint?"

As we leave them, no doubt the next question would have been "When do we get to lie around in a big group moaning?".

The Ridgeway holds no surprises, with the exception that there is only one geocache along this stretch.  I break up the monotony of the Cow Track by attempting to photo the magnificent Red Kites that swoop overhead.  Sonia tells me what I already know.... they will never come out well with that lens.

Nothing to report until we meet the M40, where I have chosen to be the turning point of Today's Walk.

Ridgeway going under the M40
The Ridgeway, going under the M40
Turning off point
Time to use this Footpath to leave the Ridgeway
I always assumed the Ridgeway crossed the M40 at the cutting a little further South.  There is a wonderful looking path that I gaze at lovingly as I flee the south after a day working in the Smoke which I will have to come back for another day.

Circumvent the M40 J6 exit roads and a field of evil horses and we are under the M40 walking towards Lewknor Village.  A little geocache series allows us to get some numbers.

It's a pretty place with a nice looking pub, which of course, we are too early for.

Remains Uninvestigated
The walking back to Watlington is fine, if not a little unspectacular.  Farmland and the Oxfordshire Way bring us past the Model Farm and through the pretty (no shops, no pub) hamlet of Pyrton.  Having seen the prices of three bedroom houses through the estate agents window last night, we play "Guess the Property Prices" of the mansions.  And why do Vicars needs such massive estates?

Oxfordshire Way
Oxfordshire Way - To Pyrton
In no time at all, we are back in Watlington.  You could have twisted my arm for a pint, but Sonia fancied cake.  Fine Italian lemonade and carrot cake hit the spot but do not making a satisfying photo to close down a blog.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

05/06/15 - Striding out on the Ridgeway

Start - Streatley and Goring Station
End - Watlington
Distance - 15 Miles
Distance on the Ridgeway - 14 Miles
Geocaches - 17

Getting into Streatley on the last stage of the Ridgway marked a change.  From this point on, the walking changes from exposed chalk upland to river towpaths and woodland.  I also hit civilisation, meaning that I can get there on Public Transport.

For the first time since I set out in March 2014, I am able to knock off some miles in a linear walk, talking me from Goring Station to a handy village with accommodation, Watlington.

The only drama was the potential of a train strike on the day that I had booked to travel.  Hats off to ACAS for saving the day.

Depart Worcester on the 7:32 and arrive, via Oxford, at 9:50.  Street walking down to the River Thames and a couple of easy caches.

The Ridgeway

The River provides some easy walking, not that my only fellow Ridgeway walker is taking anything for granted.  I pass an elderly gent in a Sunhat (advisable), Shorts (Uhmm... not good for stingers) and four season Scarpa mountain boots.  No wonder I overtook him with ease, it was like having a drag race with Frankenstein's monster.

There's a couple of villages along the Thames that are worthy of further investigation.  Despite having near identical churches, South Stoke has the edge over its Northern brother by virtue of a rather handsome pub.

I'm coming back.

South Stoke
South Stoke
North Stoke
North Stoke
South Stoke
And the reason why the South Triumphs

10:30am is too early for a stop off and I have 15 miles to go today.  I have checked out the map and there is the lovely Big Blue Cup of Joy marked at Nuffield, around 11 miles into today's walk.  That is the motivation that I need to get a plod on.

The A413 marks the end of the Thames walking and forces me to head east, where I pick up Grimm's Ditch.  Its cache laden and nicer than it sounds.

The Ridgeway
The Start of Grimm's Ditch

Grimms Dyke
Mappiman in the Ditch
The caches break up the walking, with the highlight involving a quick tree climb.  The trees provide some relief from the afternoon sun.

The ditch steadily climbs to the escarpment, providing views back over the Oxfordshire Vale and the ever present views of Didcot Power Station.

The Ridgeway
Giant Haystacks
Thoughts turn to the my lunchtime pint and I am worried by a sign that greets me on a stile.  Yes, I am having a nice walk but surely they cannot be talking about my Crown?

Bad News Ahead?
I don't talk them up on their offer of free tea and head on to check out the scene of devastation for myself.  It's a horrorshow.

The Ridgeway
A stolen pub sign and a knocked down goblet
It looks like my ever dwindling supply of luke warm camelbak water is all I am going to have to accompany lunch.

At least I have it in a nice place.

The Ridgeway
Lie down, look at the Red Kites above, eat Sausage Rolls
Sonia learned that I had booked a rather expensive B&B for the night, and not wanting to miss out on the complementary kit kat, has been hot footing it down to meet me.  In my car.

I get an excited text that she worked out how to get the Wonderstuff on the iPad, has parked up at the B&B and is having a drink in the pub garden.

Nice of her to share her joy.

I arrange to meet her at the first pub that greets me in Watlington, to the South of the village.  Unfortunately, I have given her the name of the pub at the far north of the village and I cannot really blame her for not checking the position of the sun.

I am just forced to walk an extra 0.5 thirsty miles to get my reward.

The Chequers, Watlington