Yep – it’s holiday season once more but let’s see what else has been going on this month…
I went to church.
As churches go, there’s rather a lovely little Norman job in Harborne next to an equally venerated hostelry – the Bell.
Saint Peter’s Church is a village church in a big city – a tombstone’s throw away from the centre of Birmingham. The Bell next door has been frequented on a zillion occasions so I thought it was time to give the church the once-over.
With an impressive 14th century tower, the church squats nicely amid seven and a half acres of sturdy woodland with some key personnel housed within its graveyard.
Luminaries include Anne Chamberlain, wife of former Birmingham Mayor and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and the famous Midlands landscape artists Thomas Baker and David Cox. Victorian bruiser Bob Brettle, a renowned bareknuckle fighter in the 1850s also ended up here.
There has been a church here since Saxon times and St Chad is thought to have preached here. Several influential characters have worshipped here over the centuries including the first Birmingham MP, Thomas Atwood, the poet Edward Capern and former US Consol Elihu Burritt (appointed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865).
In Burritt’s book, Walks Around the Black Country and its Green Wonderland – essential reading in 1869 apparently – it began with lyrical praise of this ‘velvet-bound area of fire and smoke.’ However, it is descriptions of the Black Country – ‘Black by day and red by night, cannot be matched for vast and varied production, by any other place of equal radius on the surface of the earth,’ which make him an important historical source.
Stuart was leading this month’s walk and here are the essentials. It was a stunning day through some stunning countryside – and we never met a single walker along the way!
Map: OS Explorer 206
Grid reference: 500488.
Post code for SatNav: OX17 1LB (The Griffin).
It’s a pleasant undulating walk on the Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire border with no major hills. There will be some mud, boggy areas and long grass to traverse but nothing too bad.
Chipping Warden had an important RAF airbase during WW2. It is located to the north of the village and is now occupied by an industrial park. Near the end of the walk there is a memorial to the crew of a Wellington bomber that crashed in April 1945. Only one person survived.
Crash Report: http://www.aircrewremembered.com/hillier-william.html
From Chipping Warden we head roughly south east following Millenium Way to Trafford Bridge. Near here in 1469, the Earl of Pembroke, a supporter of Edward IV, was defeated during the Wars of the Roses at the battle of Edgcote Hill by a rebel army led by Robin of Redesdale, who was marching to join the Earl of Warwick. Pembroke was executed and Edward IV was taken prisoner.
We continue east passing under a bridge which used to carry a railway (in 1900, the Great Central Railway opened a double track branch to Banbury from Culworth junction on the GCR main line. It was closed in 1966), and reach Culworth where we then head south to reach Thorpe Mandeville for lunch at “The Three Conies” (rabbits if you didn’t know). Excellent Hook Norton beers are on tap.
After lunch we head north and then north west along Jurassic Way crossing the railway again to reach the delightful hamlet of Edgcote passing the impressive Edgcote house to return to the cars.
July also provided the end-game to Wimbledon tennis and the European Championships where England were obliterated by the mighty Iceland. Following Aston Villa’s tame relegation, this really has been a season of wonders! Fortunately, the Birmingham Beer Bash, held at the Bond Co, a former canal warehouse in Digbeth, was on hand to soothe fevered brows.
Then it was off on one of those blog-friendly holidays that straddle two posts – a week in Croatia!
With the frolicsome side of the family in tow, and with blazing sunshine, gut-busting buffets and tankards of good cheer, what’s not to like?
Rovinj is a Croatian fishing port on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, with the old town standing on a headland. Scrunched-up houses and narrow, cobbled streets are topped off with the hilltop church of St Euphemia, the creaky bell tower of which led up to wide, encompassing views all around.
Lime-flavoured Slush Puppies kept us going until beer o’clock, and bold Caspian Gulls tried lynching us for our pasties.
The Rovinj archipelago’s islands lie immediately off the mainland so a boat trip out and around them was the order of one day. There was even a cultural interlude with a retrospective of a Russian artist – Marc Chagall: Beyond Colour – with lithographs and etchings housed within the Rovinj Heritage Museum.
Once described as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century” by famous art critic Robert Hughes (no, me neither), he was more notably remarked upon by Pablo Piasso thus “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”
He would have enjoyed the flawless blues of the cloudless Croatian skies (see what I did there?), the equally lavish waters and the smokey greens and blues of the surrounding pine and cedar woodland.
But mainly the whole holiday was about the R&R, the swimming pool, the always-blistering sun and the great company. That shaded it.
Here’s a few more sun-drenched photos: