Thursday, 21 June 2007

June's Caravan Tour (who's June?)

Sue and I were very kindly invited to join Rae and Don's Silver Wedding celebrations. The weather was very good so much of the time was spent outdoors. Here we all are before going inside for a few words and an excellent meal.

Jennifer and Dave.

Michael and Don

Stuart, Sue, John and Margaret Stennard, Richard and Sue Bunten the old Prince Rupert school connection.

Hilary completing her Silver Wedding competition. I didn't manage any of the answers.

Champagne and cake in Rae and Don's garden.

On the Sunday morning I went biking to do a couple of geocaches and this is one of the views I was treated to at Horton Camp Iron Age hill fort.

After the Bristol area we moved up the road to Kidderminster (the real Midlands). Here you can see a lock on the Staffs. and Worcs. canal. The pub you can see is called The Lock, funnily enough The fish and chips I had here were a bit iffy, Sue's pie was OK. The campsite was 100 metres away.

The reason for coming up here was to see Coalbrookedale and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

In 1773, Thomas Pritchard wrote to a local ironmaster, John Wilkinson of Broseley to suggest building a bridge out of cast iron. By 1775, Pritchard had finalised the plans, and Abraham Darby III, an ironmaster working at Coalbrookdale in the gorge, was commissioned to cast and build the bridge.

Being the first of its kind, the construction had no precedent. Very large parts were needed to create a structure to span 100 feet rising to 60 feet above the river. The largest parts were the half-ribs, each about 70 ft long and weighing 5.25 tons. The bridge comprises more than 800 castings of 12 basic types.

This is how much it cost to cross the bridge in the old days. Today it is free'ish'. If you are visiting the museums here it is best to get a museum pass which is valid for a year, it's not cheap, but worth it.

At Blists Hill you can meet the Victorians in this recreated Victorian town.
Costumed staff give a warm welcome and a fascinating insight into how life was lived in Victorian times. Here is an old Victorian at the bank.

Just waiting to catch the robbers after the bank job.

The main street.

As I write this the news today is that the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) is out of action because some of the track has been washed away by flooding. It was early June when we had our trip on the railway. We started our trip in Bewdley (famous for flooding) and then went to the end of the line in Bridgenorth. I don't know much about the engines, but I know some of you out there do.

Bridgenorth station.

That was a hard day!

Wightwick Manor is one of only a few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Arts & Crafts Movement. The many original William Morris wallpapers and fabrics, Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Kempe glass and de Morgan ware help conjure up the spirit of the time. An attractive 7-hectare (17-acre) garden reflects the style and character of the house.

One of the other places we wanted to visit was the Cosford Air Museum. The buildings themselves are a work of art. Here are a few of the aircraft. The highlight of the visit was riding shotgun with Red 7 of the Red Arrows, quite some ride *.

For those of you reading this who have been based in Germany will find the next 2 items interesting. The wording down the side of this G-Wagen is Albinga (insurance). To read the information about this vehicle double click the picture and it should enlarge for easy reading.

Remember BRIXMIS? Here is one of their cars with an info board.

* The flight with Red 7 was in the simulator!

Kidderminster Lock

The Tar Tunnel another of the Iron Bridge Gorge Museums.

Over 200 years ago natural bitumen trickled like treacle into pools. It was turned into pitch, lamp black and rheumatics remedies. Now you can walk along this brick-lined tunnel where the bitumen still oozes through the walls.

Potter in the Coalport Pottery Museum.

After Kidderminster we moved onto Chipping Norton (CN), home of Jeremy Clarkson. The caravan site was at the edge of the town and was very well kept. We had a couple of problems while there, someone reversed into one of the EHU's (electric hookups) and cut off half the site from their power supply. That'll cost them £600. Fortunately we were reconnected within a couple of hours. We didn't have hot water for a day, so no hot (or cold) showers, they had run out of gas, tut, tut!

Chastleton House, close to CN, is filled with a mixture of rare and everyday objects, furniture and textiles collected since its completion in 1612, but also with the atmosphere of 400 years of continuous occupation by one family. The gardens have a typical Elizabethan and Jacobean layout, with a ring of fascinating topiary at their heart, and it was here in 1865 that the rules of modern croquet were codified.

Unfortunately on the day we visited the heavens opened when we were in the house and so didn't manage to see the gardens.

Just outside the town stands Bliss Tweed Mill, designed by George Woodhouse, it looks like a cross between a mansion and a folly, rather than a late 19th century factory having an unusual domed based chimney which is a landmark for Chipping Norton from miles about. Tweed of high quality was made here for many years. The owner William Bliss was instrumental in bringing the railway here to supply coal for his mill's steam engines. The Mill finally closed in 1980 and has now been converted to luxury apartments.

After 5 nights at CN we returned home. We had a good trip back which wouldn't have been the case if we returned on the following day. There were storms overnight and significant flooding.


Anonymous said...

Great photos Stuart. I was thinking of taking Carol to this area as she has never been, but I don't need to bother now! Thansk for the photos and the background History which we always enjoy. We are looking forward to your next trip. We are saving a fortune by not having to travel anywhere!

David and Carol

Carol said...

As always, very interesting. Who needs to go travelling - just read Stuart's blog instead!