Often named one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK, Bath Christmas Market sees the area between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths transformed into a magical Christmas market. It is certainly one of the prettiest, arranged in front of the floodlit Abbey. More than 150 traditional beautifully decorated wooden chalets line the streets selling high quality artisan products. Everything from handmade Christmas gifts to decorations, food, toys and festive drinks. The market is on every day until 13th December.
It’s starling murmuration season again (this runs from late autumn through the winter). The occurs as the local populations of starlings are boosted by their European cousins arriving to escape the harsh Scandinavian winter. A starling murmuration is an amazing sight, with huge flocks forning into an amazing acrobatic mass before roosting.
There have been huge gatherings of starlings over the lakes of the Cotswold Water Park over the last few days, with flocks in excess of 50,000 being reported. Amazing!
Often named one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK, Bath Christmas Market sees the area between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths transformed into a magical Christmas market. It is certainly one of the prettiest, arranged in front of the floodlit Abbey. More than 170 traditional beautifully decorated wooden chalets line the streets selling high quality artisan products. Everything from handmade Christmas gifts to decorations, food, toys and festive drinks. The market supports local businesses and 75% of the goods available at the market are handmade in the UK.
The market is on until Sunday 13th December – head over and enjoy picking up a few Christmas gifts in a amazing setting.
Hold Autumn in Your Hands this year at Westonbirt Arboretum
Staff at Westonbirt Arboretum, the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum have put together a list of the 10 best ways to enjoy autumn at Westonbirt. This is a spectacular time of year at the arboretum, with the famous displays of autumn colours beginning. The 10 best ways include: Wrap up warm Take part in a digital quest Join a photography workshop Become a leaf collector Get closer to nature Practice your survival skills Pack a picnic Hold autumn in your hands Challenge with conkers Get cosy after a long walk
To find out more and check the opening times for Winkworth visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/BEEH-A27FXS
We have loved exploring the lakes on the Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswold Water Park in our Canadian Canoe but we have been intrigued to try out a Stand Up Paddle board (SUP). We have seen lots of pictures of people on SUPs and have watched people using them but now it was time to try them out for ourselves. The Family Adventure Store have SUPs for hire on the Lower Mill Estate so we headed in their direction. We had arranged to have a board from 11am on Saturday morning. We had imagined heading out onto the water under clear blue skies, but it was not to be. The skies were grey and it was raining. We weren’t too worried as we were fairly convinced that our first encounter with a SUP would end with wet clothes – swimming things and waterproof jackets were the order of the day. We met Jenny at the Family Adventure Store and walked to collect a SUP. The Stand Up Paddle board the Family Adventure Store have available to hire is an inflatable version – don’t think squishy beach ball – more rigid board with a tiny internal honeycomb structure making it really firm, but not too hard to carry. The other vital piece of equipment, other than buoyancy aids which we were already wearing, was the paddle. A SUP paddle is much longer than a canoe paddle and the paddle part is quite shaped. Jenny talked us through how to hold it in the water (the opposite way round to the way we would have assumed) and how to steer. As you stand in the middle of the board you steer with the start of your stroke, rather than at the end of your stroke as in a canoe. We carried the board down to the edge of Somerford Lagoon, the largest lake on the Lower Mill Estate.
Setting off on a SUP is very different to setting off in a canoe. In a canoe it is helpful if someone gives the canoe a push off into the lake. When you a standing on a SUP, the last thing you want is for someone to give the board a push, upsetting your balance and propelling you into the water without your board! We were surprised to find how straight forward it is, and were quickly exploring the lake – it’s fun being that much higher than you are when you’re in a canoe – you have quite a different view. We quickly forgot that it was raining and enjoyed using the SUP. The children were very keen to have a go. We started off with them paddling while one of us sat on the back of the board, but we soon realised that they had taken to using a SUP like ducks to water and our role was redundant! As the children are shorter instead of using the SUP paddle they used a canoe paddle. Within a short time we felt at home with the SUP – and decided it was time to collect our Canadian canoe so that we could have more of us on the water at one time. The canoe is kept in the Lower Mill Estate boat park, 10 minutes walk from Daisy Chain, or a 10 minute paddle across the lake. We discovered that the SUP was quite capable of carrying one adult and three children across the lake! At the boat park 3 of us jumped into the canoe and our son enjoyed paddling the SUP back to Daisy Chain. It was fun to watch the terns diving as we passed by.
By Saturday evening the rain had cleared and so it was time for a barbecue. It was lovely to be able to barbecue by the lakeside while the rest of the family continued to enjoy playing on the lake in the canoe and stand up paddle board. There is an island in the middle of Somerford Lagoon which is fun to paddle around. From the middle of the lake the hungry paddlers could smell the barbecue cooking and so soon returned to shore for food!
The forecast for Sunday was grey – the weather forecasters seem to excel in talking down the weather. The sun came out and we had beautiful blue skies with fluffy white clouds and very light winds. Perfect weather for paddle boarding. We set off around the edge of the lake – there is always more wildlife to be seen in the reeds at the edge and we enjoyed gliding silently towards egrets. The SUP is able to explore slightly smaller, shallower passages than the canoe, so it was fun to explore new places. By staying close to the edge of the lake we were able to come ashore to swap paddlers. Whilst we discovered that it is possible to swap vessel in the middle of the lake it was slightly more wobbly, although our confidence had meant that today we were wearing shorts and t-shirts rather than swimming things! There were lots of swans on the lake, and it was lovely to watch a couple of them running across the water, lifting off and flying across the lake.
Jenny told us that a recent guest on the Lower Mill Estate had swum around the edge of Somerford Lagoon and measured it as 2.2km. I think we’ll stick to paddling (not with our feet!) We loved our adventures with a SUP and will definitely be spending more time on them. The children were very excited to tell their friends about their adventures on returning to school this morning!
To contact the Family Adventure Store to book a SUP, or indeed a kayak or bike for your holiday on the Lower Mill Estate give them a ring on 07971 252394 Hire charges are by the day or 3 days, but have a chat about what would work for you as they are very happy to work around you.
The Thames and Severn Canal passes along the edge of Cotswold Water Park. It was completed in 1798 and was planned as part of a canal route from Bristol to London. At its eastern end it connects to the River Thames at Inglesham Lock near Lechlade, while at its western end it connects to the Stroudwater Navigation at Wallbridge. Since 1972 the Cotswold Canals Trust has been working to restore the canal and the Stroudwater Navigation so that there can again be a navigable link between the River Thames and the River Severn.
A walk along the section of Canal that passes along the edge of Cotswold Water Park will bring you past Cerney Wick Roundhouse. It is one of five distinctive buildings that were built for use by lock-keepers and lengthmen. The roundhouses have 3 floors, the lower floor would have been a store, while the first floor provided a living area and the second floor a circular bedroom. The roundhouse at Cerney Wick is now privately owned.
The hare has a special place in the history of Cirencester. In 1971, a mosaic bearing a hare was found close to the River Churn and is now the symbol of the Corinium Museum where the mosaic is now housed. Last year, the summer Cirencester was invaded by 50 giant hares which had been decorated by artists and celebrities. The Hare Festival has just returned to Cirencester with 30 small hares hidden around Cirencester. Visitors can pick up a ‘Hare Passport’ from the Tourist Information Centre at Corinium Museum and then each time they spot a hare they can note down it’s name and have their passport stamped. Each of the hares is decoraed in a unique style.
The one pictured, ‘Hare’s Wally’ can be round in ‘Gift’ in Cirencester. Photo via their facebook page.
One of England’s prettiest small medieval towns is Burford which is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’ It is a busy community of about 1000 people. The town merchants were granted a charter to hold their own markets over 900 years ago and today Burford is a wonderful town to wander around dipping in and out of the exclusive shops and galleries.
Home to Huffkins, a Cotswolds bakery and tea room and The Cotswold Cheese Company, a visit to Burford wouldn’t be complete without sampling the local produce.
The Burford website lists some great insiders tips for how to get the most out of your trip to Burford including: – always make sure you explore down the little alleyways and side streets – there are shops and eateries everywhere – walk out of Burford along Witney Street to get to the River Windrush for a really pretty walk – always make sure you walk right through to the back of the pubs in the summer as most of them have really pretty gardens and courtyards away from the hustle and bustle.
The watercolour painting accompanying this post is by the artist Liam O’Farrell. To see more of his wonderful work and in particular more of his watercolour paintings of the Cotswolds visit http://www.liamofarrell.com/
It has just been announced by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust that 2015 will mark the final display season of the most iconic aircraft of the past 60 years. The delta-winged Vulan XH558 is the only flying example in the world and since being restored to flying condition in 2007 its thunderous, yet graceful display has wowed airshow visitors throughout the UK.
The Vulcan will be displaying at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fulford in July. She will fly into the show on Thursday 16th July, be on static display on Friday 17th and then take part in the flying display on Saturday 18th and 19th July 2015.
After her retirement from flying the Vulcan will be based in Doncaster where she will still be able to accelerate dramatically along the runway.