Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Stow-on-the-Wold - 51° 55' 45" N 01° 43' 14" W

While Kate was busy with the Fastnet race, I was left free to explore.  Seeing as I was in England, I decided to turn some acquaintances into friends.

First, I had a few days in Portsmouth.  After doing some administration (finding the Customs office and working out where to pick up my hired car in a few days), I walked all 'round the port area.

It's always good to know where you are starting from.

Portsmouth is very much a working port, as well as hosting a huge naval base and international ferry terminal.

Good use of space for pleasure craft storage.

A waterfront promenade made it much easier to ensure
I was still as close to the waterfront as I could be.

Found the sailing club!

Still seems weird to have ferries regularly chugging past sooo close to the sea wall and footpath.

Old trolley tracks along the waterfront.  It wasn't always this touristy.

Pub lunch.

Loads of museums and ship on display.
I could have stayed three more days to poke around.

Robert Scott, Antarctic Explorer.
We have plans to sail south to see his grave
on South Georgia Island.

Nature adds its beauty everywhere.

... and a good message to send to the world.

After a few days of pottering around Portsmouth, it was time to get further from the water.  I rented a little car (an MG) and did my best to drive on the side of the road that everyone else was using.

Once I left Portsmouth, I was on my way to visit to the Harley family.  Martin, a musician, would be staying with us in a month or so in Canmore for the Canmore Folk Fest.  He dangerously offered that "if you are ever in the area, drop in to visit."

The lovely Harley family

The Harley family live in Cholesbury, Gloucestershire, on a little farm and have offered up their granny flat for me to stay.  They lovingly call it the Hobbit House because, as beautifully appointed as it is, the flat in the finished attic of a garage on the property and has a ceiling clearance of about 170 cm (5 foot 7 inches) - a bit challenging for someone close to 6 feet tall.  I truly enjoyed staying in such a well-set-up guest accommodation but did have to be careful not to spring out of bed.

Top-end accommodations ... for a person of a certain stature.

Great kitchen facilities. Next time I may stay for the winter!

Lucky me, it wasn't just great company I was in for.  Martin had a mountain bike that he kindly let me take it out for my first day there.  He even furnished me with a helmet and directions to one of his favourite rides.

The Harley Homestead

Touring around the area had me on roads AND trails.

My steed.

Nice day for a ride in Wendover Woods.

23 kms over 3 hours.  Very leisurely.

... and a Gruffalo.

After hosting me for two nights and sharing some delicious meals and delightful conversation, I was on my way with plans to see them all back in Canmore in less than two weeks.

Jo and Ed met us while Kate and I were snowhosting at Sunshine Village.  With just the two of them touring with us, we did enough chatting on the chairlifts to find out that they were sailors, too!  We mentioned that we were going to be spending a year or two in Europe - specifically in France/southern England.  They quipped that we should look them up when we are in the area so once again, I took them at their word!

Their lovely farm in the Cotswolds.

The view going down their driveway to the main road.  So very James Herriot.

Ed has lived in the area his whole life.  He still farms, but has found it is increasingly less sustainable to just work the land, due to industrialization of the agriculture industry.  Many of Ed's old neighbours - some generations into farming - have decided to sell their holdings and leave farming.  Their properties - too small to run as stand-alone farms, have centuries-old barns, animal sheds and other structures one them that Ed knew needed to be preserved, as they define aesthetically the look and feel of the region.  Ed and Jo have purchased the farms and are slowly converting the buildings into funky, well-appointed holiday rentals. They let me stay in one of them for the night I was visiting and took me on a tour of one of the old milk sheds that was being remodelled.

One of the old farmsteads they have converted to holiday rentals.  Ed and Jo will have five separate rental units (sleeping roughly 10 people each) on this farm when it is complete.

Ed and Jo are creating some cool holiday rentals.

The Drying Shed.

The old livery.

Amazing details that add to staying there.

In one of the outdoor dining spaces, he has suspended the chassis of an old
Jaguar E Type that was found in the barn. Now it is a light fixture.

Ed manages to find great items that have been left, and turn them into funky architectural details.

An old silo becomes a centerpiece for a courtyard.

As they are keen sailors and have lots of experience, we hope to see them on Chinook.

After Ed and Jo took me to one of their local spots for a lovely pub meal, I was treated to a good sleep in one of their holiday houses and the next morning a hearty farm breakfast at their home.  During breakfast, they recommended I introduce myself to the Cotswolds by exploring Stow-on-the-Wold.  Little did I know what a quaint town I would find ... complete with the oldest continuously operating pub in England!

Some of the shops are tourist-focused, but many are the standard baker/butcher/barber shops you would hope to find in a farming centre.  I happened to be there on Market Day.  What a treat!

Of course I had to have a beer here ... but just a half-pint (after all, I was driving).

Next stop: the ferry back to Cherbourg, France!

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