Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tetbury - Prince William's home town

It's his big week so I thought I would tell you a few things about our future King....

Tetbury was almost unheard of until his Father moved in to Highgrove a couple of miles to the south of Tetbury. William is a mad motorcyclist and is often seen burning off rubber with a PC in tow. Here I spied him having a rest.

He also loves to surf, and like all trendy fellows is mad about VW camper vans. I spied this one at Doughton hidden away in a barn opposite his Dad's home.

But, like all true-blue Royals it is to the "Sport of Kings" that he is most attached: Polo. And, he can get into all sorts of trouble....

But, it is to Kate that he has lost his spurs to, and good luck to you, Sir.....and may I wish you many years of happiness...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Aliens visit Braunton

It was the HG Wells moment I had been dreading....the Aliens' Wings were being transported across my land....only kidding. Quite a sight. 

Click on image to enlarge

My Easter Treat - The New Cotswolds Map-Guide

At last, after many months out of print, "The Cotswolds Map-Guide" is back! 

With an up-dated layout and 5 Scenic Drives (car tours) added to the map and described in the guide - see an example below...

Peter, my sales agent is furiously chasing his tail up the Fosse Way and beyond, to deliver these maps and our guidebooks to our loyal customers. Herewith, some sample pages to delight and encourage you to consider a purchase.

The Front Cover and my Easter Chick
A Sample of the Map
A Sample from the Gardens Page
A Sample of Scenic Drive 2

This was the first Map-Guide I produced that has now evolved into a much more sophisticated design, but the concept remains the same; to combine a leisure map with a travel guide. At the time, 25+ years ago, map publishers were only printing on one side of the paper. That seemed ridiculous to me, and an opportunity was born. To produce a double-sided map that pertained to be a map and guide in one. I developed the series with Goldeneye to cover most of UK's major tourist regions. Since the onset of digital and free info the series has been culled and only the better sellers remain in print.

The Cotswolds Map-Guide has always been the best-seller....and from this acorn have developed my other Cotswold publications resulting in "The Cotswold Collection" launched last November. 

I must now up-date the Goldeneye website....

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Aliens of Fullabrook Down

From the window of my cottage I can see strange shapes appearing day by day. Three miles, as the crow flies, the horizon's flat shape is changing into a tower of obelisk proportions. At first, a monolith, soon joined by massive wings, and now today the wings are threefold. Put together with the ease of an Airfix model.  Giant propellers front this beast, put there to collect the wind to heat and light our homes...
I was curious, so I set off on my motorcycle to see for myself what these gigantic objects looked like close up, and, on my travels would I come across anyone who had an opinion on these turbines, or any scientific knowledge about the uses, potential and merits of this phenomena? In fact, I did, by a strange chance, meet the very man responsible for initiating, and or, designing these wind turbines, and our conversation was most enlightening and carried out in a friendly manner. He informed me that he had worked at Sellafield (Windscale) and the Hinckley Point Nuclear Power Stations, and had put forward his plans for this alternative energy site some 23-years ago! The constant litigation had ruined him and he had lost most of his friends. Politicians encouraged him to pursue his plans but  when it came to the crunch (election time) they had turned their backs on him.  What had he learnt from all of this: "The cussedness of human nature..." He has nothing to gain from this but the knowledge that his obstinacy and self-belief realized his dream, or the beginning of a nightmare in the countryside.  There is of course, another side as well if you read the endless Blogs and Comments on Google, the proposals made by the National Parks, and the like.
In this climate of political spin, questionable scientific data and spivs seeking the Main Chance.  What truth can we expect from our local and national politicians and do they represent our interests, or are they too, smitten, seduced by the riches of political endeavour?  Perhaps, we are ourselves to blame for being too passive, for not following our passions, our instincts? Should we take to the streets and protest...?
Surely we all realize (after seeing the horrific events in Japan) that we need an alternative to Nuclear Power?  What cost must we put up with to realize constant energy? A few wind turbines on the skyline that interrupts our view of this "green and pleasant land" is surely worth the sacrifice to bring warmth and light into our homes?
The First Wind Turbine to be installed
Is it not a beautiful object? Some aesthetes would argue that it is indeed fine and true, and clean and forthright. An architectural monument of perfection. Others would say it is a "Blot On The Landscape".

Whatever our opinion (which rarely counts for anything) these 23-24 objects are here to stay, and stay they will across a very wide area. I am told there are at least 6 farms involved, and all will merrily be counting the pound notes, very soon....and, there are quiet rumours that "Land Fill" is a future option, too.
But, the debate goes further and way beyond the windswept hills of Fullabrook Down. Does the government have any clear policy on Alternative Energy? The Tidal, Hydro-Electric, Hydro Genetic solutions, Thermal and Pulse Energy sources have been largely ignored by the bureaucrats and financiers. The oil and nuclear (read Military) lobbyists continue to win the day. Why would the Treasury risk loosing millions of pounds worth of revenue to Hydogen generated vehicles  (designed 50 years ago) and other "silly" ideas? And, are we naive to believe that sense will prevail? All eyes will be on Japan - How will they deal with the alternatives? You can bet that human ingenuity will determine a way to overcome these problems but how long before the Chaos Theory prevails, and in effect do these objects not resemble Butterflies?

The Delicacy of Marwood's Flower Power

Roaming around this garden I was enchanted by the fragility of the flowers, and their amazing shapes...

Cotswold Off-Road Bike Route from Bibury

Herewith, the perfect introduction to off-road cycling in the Cotswolds. Perhaps, the easiest of these ten routes and a great activity for the Easter holiday. It is just one of the ten routes to feature in the May publication of Goldeneye's 
Cotswold Off-Road Touring Routes

Click on image to enlarge

Recommendations on Places to Stay, nearby: From camping to B&Bs, to a gastro-pub, to a classic Cotswold hotel, the choice is all yours:-
Far Peak Camping, Nr Northleach  http://www.farpeakcamping.co.uk/
Home Farm B&B, Little Barrington  www.wolseylodges.com/Lodge/view.aspx?LodgeID=157
No.12 Park Street, Cirencester  http://www.no12cirencester.co.uk/
Village Pub, Barnsley  http://www.thevillagepub.co.uk/

The above choice should, hopefully, cater for all  budgets. Enjoy the ride...
All these establishments are described in "The Cotswolds Guidebook" published by Goldeneye who also produce a series of maps that feature cycling on Country Lanes & Traffic-Free Routes.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Rhododedrons in Spring Time - In Devon's Secret Garden

As promised, herewith more images of the chastened Rhododendron. I am told nothing grows beneath these, and for this strange reason the National Trust are destroying these magnificent plants in their hundreds. Is this Control Freakery gone too far? When is a weed, not a weed? When it sits undisturbed amongst your borders without an invitation. Walk slowly around Marwood..... and the spirit of James Smart lives on. You are in the presence of a Visionary, a Master Painter, a man of passion, and a man who couldn't give a damn about pleasing the world. It is quirky, imaginative and his. It is not all controlled borders with B&Q edging. There are weeds and rough patches, and long vistas, and sudden surprises but it is all yours to meld into, and with a bit of nerve and hard work you could use Marwood's example to transform your own garden. So be with good cheer and get down to North Devon.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Marwood Hill Gardens - A Ray of Brilliance in a Spring Landscape

On my travels, it is too rare a moment to come across a place that has been created with passion and such verve, that one is thrown into a state of awe and humility....Dr James Smart (now deceased) created this garden out of a barren hillside in  North Devon. He arrived here in 1949 and it took him some 50-years to realize a dream where you can now experience his famous collection of camellias - the largest in the country, and a rare collection of rhododendrons (to be featured next week). There is a large bog garden, lakes, clematis, a Rock and Alpine garden, and a Nursery selling unusual plants. The garden is open daily from 1 March to 31st October, 10-5. Tearoom, too for refreshments.

All these images were taken on a dull, grey morning. You don't need bright sunshine for flower photography, just a tripod, but be prepared for grubby knees!

Don't drive away if you find it difficult to park, be persistent and find a spot. If you have any influence with the Church Commissioners, please demand to know why they don't allow the visitors to park in the field belonging to the adjacent church. Our pleas for a response has been continually ignored, after all, the garden has had planning permission for three years!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Marazion Exhibition

A friend of mine, Sara Brittain is holding an exhibition in Marazion, and it looks just amazing. So, if you are in Cornwall today, or are planning a trip very soon, get down to lovely Marazion just opposite St Michael's Mount (that fairytale castle that sticks out in the sea opposite Penzance), and bathe in some Cornish Art....and live the Life Fantastic.

Cornwall Contemporary in Penzance is Sara's gallery and they are staging a special, one-off mixed exhibition at Ebenezer Chapel in Marazion over this Easter. Sara Writes:

"I was approached by Lesley Price, the owner of Ebenezer Chapel, to stage an exhibition there and I have always been interested in presenting work out of the gallery environment. The chapel has been beautifully converted into a large, spacious, modernist building and it is the perfect backdrop to the stunning work in this exhibition. The two large canvases by Paul Wadsworth look particularly fantastic and I think this exhibition offers potential investors in art, the chance to see how a painting fits into a home, rather than on a gallery wall."
Artists in the exhibition include Jessica Cooper, Shirley Foote, Paul Lewin, Aladair Lindsay, Janet Lynch, Maggie Matthews, Emma McClure, Fiona Millais, Nancy Pickard, Neil Pinkett, Paul Wadsworth, Peter Wray and Judy Collins.

Ebenezer Chapel can be found on the left of the main road as you approach Marazion from the A30 and Penzance, just before the Godolphin Arms Hotel and the exhibition is open every day until Monday 25th April from 11am - 6pm.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A Trip Around The Lakes, My Favourite Lakes

Given the price of fuel you will want your money's worth when on an afternoon's drive around the Lake District. The Lakes illustrated below have such intense moments of beauty that you will be left spellbound. But, take your time, and perhaps your journey will turn into some long, lazy days rather than a manic rally.

Buttermere is a gem. There's a cracking ice cream shop in the village worth visiting before you tackle the circular walk around the lake, and then around the corner is Crummock Water, often forgotten...
Crummock Water is surrounded by mountains, and is in the centre of fine walking country
Derwent Water is the "Queen of the Lakes" and is surrounded by majestic mountains. No doubt to be visited soon by William and Kate?
Dear old Elterwater, best seen on a frosty morn. Just stunning...
Grasmere photographed from a private viewpoint, and a favourite picnic spot of Dorothy and William Wordsworth
Loweswater is often forgotten because of its remoteness, and it is therefore a good reason to visit for there is a very fine inn nearby and you can cycle around the lake, too
Rydal Water from a viewpoint familiar to the infamous Thomas de Quincy, considered the greatest prose writer of his Age but sadly only remembered for his ill-spent youth, not his fine intellect and great friendship
Wast Water, the most dramatic, the deepest, the moodiest and most awesome of all the lakes. A trip up the west side will bring you to Wasdale Head, home of a fine inn and a little camp site where you can rest your weary limbs and enjoy the famous Cumbrian hospitality. Bravo.

If you seek further information about this splendid corner of England, May I recommend my two publications on the area, both illustrated below and available from Goldeneye:-

The Lake District Map-Guide now great value at £4.99
The Lake District Guidebook, £12.99, and Runner-Up in 2010 for the "Lakeland Book of the Year Award"

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

My New Cotswolds Map-Guide

I am proud to announce that this is now available from the end of this week.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Cotswold Scenic Drive (Car Tour)

This is my favourite short drive through the Cotswolds. I hope you can follow the directions, simultaneously available in my new Cotswold Map-Guide @ £5.99.

The Directions, hitherto:



This route follows two small river valleys which feed the River Thames; the Rivers Windrush (Sherborne Brook) and Coln. The landscape is rich in imagery rolling, galloping country”, dry-stone walls dividing sweeping sheep pastures, trickling trout streams and quaint hamlets undisturbed by coach, sightseer or time itself. The villages en route are fine examples of the English domestic architecture so typifical of the Cotswolds.


BURFORD. Pass through traffic lights, and over River Windrush at the bottom of the High Street, L at mini-roundabout (SP Stow), then in 150 yards left again (SP Taynton). 1.5

TAYNTON. Straight on.

2 GREAT BARRINGTON. Turn L at War Memorial, and downhill to River Windrush. (Detour L after Fox Inn for Little Barrington). Route continues R after Fox Inn for

1 WINDRUSH. Bear R at Village Green opposite Church.

1.5 SHERBORNE. Straight through to, and over, X-rds (SP Farmington). Route runs beside picturesque wooded valley.

3 FARMINGTON. Pass church and bear L at Village Green (Memorial) (SP Northleach/Turkdean).

1.6 NORTHLEACH. Turn R at T-junction (SP Cirencester), continue along High Street to traffic lights, and turn R (SP Stow/Cheltenham), then almost immediately L (SP Hampnett).

1.3 HAMPNETT. Straight through. Shortly reach A40 X-rds, directly over and immediately L (SP Hazleton).

2 HAZLETON. L at T-junction, and bear L through village. At A40 junction, turn R (SP Cheltenham), then immediately L (SP Compton Abdale/Withington).

1.7 COMPTON ABDALE. Turn R at T- junction (SP Withington/Chedworth), and bear L at fork (SP Withington).

2 WITHINGTON. Enter village, and take first L turn (SP Roman Villa/Yanworth), or continue into village for the Mill Inn and church. In 1 mile pass beside Cassey Compton farm on LHS. Then shortly, straight over X-rds. In 11/2 miles the road swings left and ascends to Yanworth (Turn R here for detour to Roman Villa).

5 YANWORTH. Just before entering village turn R (SP Fossebridge), and in 1 mile turn R at X-rds (SP Chedworth).

1.5 CHEDWORTH. Into village. Turn L (SP Lower Chedworth) after the Seven Tuns Inn, and after a few hundred yards bear L at fork. Shortly to bear L at telephone box (SP Yanworth). In 1 mile, turn R at T-junction (SP Fossebridge).

3.5 FOSSEBRIDGE. Turn L at T-junction (A429), then almost immediately R (SP Coln St Dennis). Hazardous junction. Good pub. After 400 yards bear R at junction (SP Coln St Dennis). Straight through Coln St Dennis bearing R at church. And straight through Coln Rogers. 2.5

WINSON. Turn L at junction (SP Bibury).

1.5 ABLINGTON. On outskirts of village turn L at junction (SP Ablington/Bibury). Continue through, bearing R at T-junction (SP Bibury).

1.5 BIBURY. Bear L at Swan Hotel. In 1/2 mile, turn R on sharp bend (SP Coln St Aldwyn). In 2 miles, turn R at T-junction.

2.5 COLN ST ALDWYNS. Bear L at X-rds to continue route (SP Hatherop). (Straight over X-rds for village pub, recce of village and meandering River Coln).

2 HATHEROP. Turn L at T-junction (SP Westwell/Burford). In 1 1/2 miles on LHS Macaroni Downs, and shortly bear R (SP Eastleach), and R again in 1/4 mile. Continue for a further 1/2 mile, then turn L (SP Eastleach).

4 EASTLEACH. Straight through. Victoria Inn on LHS. Cross the River Leach and turn R at church (SP Southrop). After 1 mile, bear R at fork (SP Southrop).

2 SOUTHROP. On outskirts of village the route bears L (SP Filkins), (turn R here to explore Southrop). In 2 miles, turn L at X- rds (A361), then almost immediately R (SP Filkins).

4 FILKINS. Straight through until you reach the main road (A361). Turn R (SP Burford). In 2 miles, turn R at X-rds (SP Shilton) (or turn L for the Cotswold Wildlife Park).

5 SHILTON. Straight through. Rose & Crown Inn. At end of village, over X-rds (Unsigned). In 1 1/2 miles, turn L at T- junction (SP Swinbrook/Witney). In 1/4 mile, a major T-junction (A40). Turn R, and in 1 mile, L then L again. Straight through Asthall. In 1 mile, X-rds, (detour R for Swinbrook village and The Swan Inn) continue straight over for Burford. In 1 mile, the road has a right of way from the L, bear R here (SP Burford).

8 BURFORD. Turn R at T-junction and continue down High Street to traffic lights and River Windrush.

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