October 2014


October half-term holiday - and another visit back to the lovely Walnut Tree House in Cheltenham with friends and relatives. Dave and Natasha with Isabella and Jacob, The Roberts's plus Linda, Richard and Jazz.
Megan had just taken delivery of a new phone and was getting to grips with it in the car on the way and spotted the ideal subject on which to try the camera - a VW Beetle bedecked inside and out with sunflowers. It takes all sorts.

By the time we arrived, Megan had mastered most of the features and was now able to create special effects directly over the photos ... like this in the cottage's pool...

And then, with a degree of nervousness, she tried out its most advertised feature - the ability to take photos underwater. After a few botched attempts, she soon got the hang of it...

 

 

 

The kids enjoyed playing together so much, it was sometimes difficult to persuade them to leave the house. However, just a few minutes walk is the local heritage railway where steam trains can still be seen most days. As an added incentive, Matthew and Megan hunted out a few geocaches on the way - and found a particularly well-disguised container...

Actually, we got quite lucky with the timing. Not only did Megan get this nicely timed photo on her phone...

... by the time everyone arrived on the platform, the kids were allowed up onto the footplate of the engine to take a closer look.

Next day, we lined everyone up for a nice walk on nearby Cleeve Hill - taking us to the highest point in Gloucestershire. Having Jazz the dog with us helped as each child was keen to take a turn holding the lead. Here the are not too far from the top (the TV aerial in the background is pretty close to the highest point)...

It was really nice - not too many other walkers and the weather held out just enough for some lovely views of the English Countryside....

... including Cheltenham Racecourse here behind Clare ...

... and our cottage behind Matthew and Megan.

The car park was actually quite a fair way up the hill so to do our long loop around ended up taking us quite a way down the far side. This was fine - in fact, it included a really nice woodland section - but it did mean the last bit was a uphill. And some chose a more direct (and therefore steeper) route than others...

We didn't stick together as a big group every day (although in the evenings, our tradition of board games continued unabated). On the Thursday, we headed over to a National Trust place called Snowshill Manor near Broadway.

Not a particularly large property nor particularly large gardens - but uniquely filled with an extraordinary collection of a great number of things ranging from clocks to cabinets, bikes to battleship models - all collected by a wealthy eccentric who travelled the world picking up (and often learning how to create or repair) the things that caught his eye along the way.
Here's Matthew trying on some Samurai Armour - one of the few things you were allowed to touch.

The gardens, although not particularly large, had been divided up into lots of lots of little spaces, each with their own collection of curiousities, such as this elaborate timepiece

Finally, the more modern custodians of the place had tried to inject a little fun into the walk from the car park to the house with a willow-arched maze and by the distributing a set of plastercasts - each showing the footprint of a woodland creature along with an example of its poo. Here's a picture of the maze. We'll leave the other to your imagination.

When we left for home on the Friday, we looked for another National Trust place to break up the journey. Rather than a property this time, we ended up on the beautiful White Horse Hill at Uffington. Whilst its the white horse that attracts most visitors, its probably the ancient hill fort - known as Uffington Castle - that is more impressive with its large moat and commanding views.

The horse itself is only barely visible from the ground when you're far away and hard to make out as a shape when you're close by. However, the surrounding countryside is a pleasure to walk around, especially on a bright crisp autumn day. Lovely.