With almost no mistakes we found ourselves pulling into the driveway, parking up just in front of the Farmers Market stall out the front of the house. We had to move the car to the next driveway so as not to block access to the stall and we knocked on the door to be let in by Jim, first letting Tom the Persian cat make his own way inside.
The next hour or so was spent talking after introductions were made and a feast of a lunch was had. There was a lot of talk of the animals that Jim and Angela farmed; pigs, cattle, sheep and chickens. The increasing impositions of EU regulations and bureaucracy featured strongly in our conversations over the next day, each new ruling making it that little bit harder to turn a profit.
With lunch settling Jim took us out and drove us around the Shropshire countryside and we visited a number of churches and little hamlets (I’ll have to get an update from Patricia on all the names of the places we visited). We saw a school that Granny had attended (which has now been converted into a number of houses) and walked around the adjacent Church. On our next Church stop we were able to go inside and we read about the Churches history (there had been a Church on the site for 800 odd years, even the visitor book had been there since 1979!). Outside we could see a house over the road that had been the residence for Jim’s Grandmother, currently covered in scaffolding as it was being renovated.
The final Church was St Walburga’s Catholic Church in Plowden where Granny and Granddad had been married. The caretaker mistook us for a group who had booked to view the Church as their wedding venue and after he had left us to look around his wife appeared and presented us with a guestbook to sign. We were the first to use the guestbook and the caretakers wife was very interested in our past connections to the Church so Patricia wrote a lengthy missive on the wedding all those years ago.
We headed back to Jim’s home and once back it wasn’t long before another sumptuous meal was on the table before us. Tom was kicked outside to complain about the wind and we ate dinner and desert. I took a few photos after dinner of the sunset and then returned inside we all sat and talked until after 11pm when we all retired to bed.
I was the last up in the morning and came downstairs to find everyone else having their fill of breakfast. It was gloomy outside and once we’d eaten and relaxed for a bit we collected our bags and headed out to the car to find a few spots of rain falling. It was blustery and cool as we said goodbyes and took a few photos. Into the car once more we departed, our whirlwind visit over.
Patricia, Jim, Angela, Brendon
Before heading back to Birmingham where Keryn and I needed to be by 6.30pm we headed towards Wales and the town of Hay-on-Wye. We spent the afternoon walking around the town looking at bookshops and having a bite to eat for lunch. After we’d seen enough we drove up to the Hay Hill, having to stop a number of times and reverse to let descending vehicles pass on the narrow road. At the top we got out and took in the view, watching a glider circle the peak behind us.
Once we started getting cold it was back into the car and off back to Birmingham. The trip was OK, we started hitting a few queues as we got closer to Birmingham. Once in Birmingham we took a few wrong turning and found ourselves on an impromptu tour of the Birmingham one-way system which wasn’t very pleasant. In the end we found the centre of town and parked up and unloaded mine and Keryn’s gear for the quick walk to the train station.
At the station we said our goodbyes to Patricia and Sam, we’ll be seeing them again in a few weeks on the other side of the world which is a little strange to think about. They were gone and I said goodbye to Keryn who then headed for her train, she has a course this week near Oxford so needed to go in a different direction to myself. I then walked back to the bus depot and found my bus back to London. The journey was tiring and was followed by tube and then train journeys before I got home shortly after 11pm. Sleep soon followed.
More photos from our Shropshire and Wales trip can be found in the gallery.