Nothing like a weekend away for re-energising! Nicholas and Lucy bought us a ‘farm weekend’ for Christmas, and we booked it for this weekend just gone. We decided to go to Shropshire, somewhere we haven’t explored much in the past. The weather looked fine so we went on the motorbike. It feels like a real adventure when we go on the bike! Just us, the satnav, and a couple of bags with change of clothes, and a few toiletries!
Although we save time by riding down the middle of traffic jams (bit scary sometimes when the gaps are very narrow!) we seem to spend ages doing this! Disconnecting the satnav and bracket, locking helmets, sorting ourselves out….
We stopped at Gloucester and had lunch at the cathedral cafe. Sadly it is not as good as our local cathedral cafe at Chichester! However, the cathedral itself is quite magnificent and has a really ancient medieval feel to it, with lots of ancient burials.
The best bit for me were these magical cloisters. Just look at how the light shines through the stained glass windows throwing all the colours of the rainbow, truly magical!
Our B&B was not actually a farm, but was a lovely house in the middle of nowhere. (I think most of Shropshire is in the middle of nowhere!) This was a spectacular view on the way to Ludlow. That’s me and the bike as shadows!
We decided to eat in Ludlow and found a lovely Indian restaurant. There are many of these really old higgeldy piggeldy black and white buildings. How I love an English market town!
On Saturday we spent the day at Ironbridge, which was a lovely one hour ride through the beautiful, green countryside of Shropshire. Ironbridge is such an interesting place! A small pretty village full of tourists today, it was a real hive of industry in the 18th century, when the Darby family had a thriving iron smelting and casting works here. Abraham Darby I found a better way to smelt iron using coke instead of charcoal. Along with improvements in steam engines and pumps, iron casting and transport links, the family business thrived until Abraham Darby III built this cast iron bridge over the river Severn in 1779, the first iron bridge in the world!
Today the Ironbridge gorge is a popular tourist attraction with no less than 10 museums! We concentrated on the Coalbrookdale museum which charts the progress of the Ironbridge Company. We also toured the Darby houses, 2 gorgeous villas above the gorge that the Darby family and works managers inhabited. One is still undergoing restoration, and is planning to be furnished and decorated in Abraham Derby I’s time, the other is furnished as a Victorian house, including a dressing up room, where visitors can try on Victorian costumes, what fun!
A refreshing beer by the banks of the beautiful and tranquil river Severn energised us for our ride back via 2 more Shropshire towns.
We loved the town of Bridgenorth, and wandered round the castle walls, before stopping at Bewdley for dinner.
I stayed here as a 20 year old for several accountancy courses. My employer at the time, Metal Box Ltd, had factories all around the UK, and arranged these accountancy revision courses for it’s trainee accountants. Although I was actually doing a different accountancy qualification to the rest, I managed to wangle my way into these courses. What a riot! We used to stay up all night drinking, and then walk up to the top of Malvern Hill before breakfast! I don’t think there was much learning going on! Gosh, amazing to think that was over 30 years ago! I wouldn’t be able to (nor want to!) stay up all night drinking now!!
Malvern was the home of classical music composer, Edward Elgar, and here is his statue looking towards the fabulous view over the river Severn valley.
After a very windy ride, we arrived home very tired about 5pm. A great weekend!