An area of outstanding beauty. That’s what they call the Cotswolds.And it’s pretty obvious why. We left Bath and had to go into a town or 2. Blockley was one of these towns. A very small village with a lovely church and a main street that is soooo pretty. We saw people occasionally in the street tending to their flowered walls (as was a resident just prior to taking a photograph of it). We went to a charming little cafe (Blockley Village Shop and Cafe) where I had my first ever “Black Pudding”. It was NOT what I thought it would be. For those not had it, it was a dark cake, if not an actual pudding. I thought it would be a dark, almost burnt large sausage with a distinct iron (blood) flavour to it. It was nothing of the sort, and it was actually quite pleasant. That’s not to say ALL black puddings are like this, but it was certainly something I would enjoy again. Although I dare not order it again, just in case it doesn’t have the same effect on me next time.
We made our way slowly from Bath and rested at Montgomery Wales. It’s in the central northern region of Wales. A stop for 2 nights in a charming tiny village that boasts a ruined castle and a Michelin Star Restaurant (The Checkers). Jane and I came across a nice chap doing some renovations on a front door of a 250 year old house next to the town square (which had been the offices of lawyers for 200 years from the mid 1700’s before being converted to dwellings. He told us that a few years ago, just prior to The Checkers being awarded it’s Michelin Star that is was a rough pub full of louts and bar brawls. How things can change.
Montgomery (and it’s Castle) was seen as the gate way to England for the Welsh and the Gateway to Wales for the English. It was the scene of several battles. Originally built in the 1070’s A.D. and later rebuilt out of stone by order of King Richard III of England (when he was just turning 16 years old) and build as a strategic stronghold for England.
Interestingly it was decommissioned at some point, after mainly being used a prison. The Castle came to be in disrepair and is obviously left in ruins. The accomodation we stayed at in Montgomery was the Dragon Inn (a lovely place to stay). The Inn was renovated in the early 1900’s and when parts of it were getting pulled down they found stone that had once belonged to the castle formed a part of the structure of the Inn.
We had a real quite day the following day. After all of the walking and driving we had done, we pretty much just crashed. I had all intention of heading to Snowdonia National Park for a drive. Another area noted as an area of outstanding beauty. But I really couldn’t face it.
A walk around town, a small trip and walk through the Castle Ruins and a talking to the locals and visiting some of the lovely, if not just quaint shops. One of those was the Ivy Cafe. It’s a lovely cafe owned by a lovely lady (who’s name I cannot remember). We (Jane and I) went there both for an afternoon coffee, and then the following morning all of us went there for breaky. 9am on a Sunday morning and she was opening. What a pleasant surprise. The cafe directly faces the town square and the town hall (plus the Dragon Hotel)
Montgomery was a lovely surprise for us all. Local beer and guiness on tap, great food in the restaurant, but more than that, a really friendly atmosphere between all the residents, the staff at every place we went. Next time we will most certainly book in to The Checkers for a 5 or 8 course Michelin Star class meal.
Not all kitchens are created equal
Enjoy the photo’s from the Cotswold and Montgomery – Wales