24-27 April: Heading back down the country

Author: Mrs A

Location: Ivinghoe, Bucks, Little Gaddesden, Herts & London UK

Tuesday: Leaving Milton Keynes we headed south, travelling just half an hour to reach our next destination. We settled for the night at a farm in the hamlet of Ivinghoe Aston, close to the rolling hills of the Chilterns. The evenings here are light until about 8.30pm, allowing us a chance to go for a stroll.

Ten kilometres (about 6 miles) later we had crossed beautiful countryside via a bridleway and had explored the village of Ivinghoe. We even managed to pop into the local pub for a quick drink before heading back for dinner.

A bee swarm in the apple orchard at our farm-stay
Many workers surrounding their queen
Quiet lanes in Ivinghoe Aston

Dandelions line our pathway as we walk
Hard to resist a pub with a good reputation
Old cottages in Ivinghoe – few with parking
Mr A strolling through the village of Ivinghoe

Mr A swears a half pint goes down much faster than half-a-pint within a pint
Truffy, outstanding in his field…

Wednesday: The following morning we departed and drove up to Ivinghoe Beacon. Ivinghoe Beacon is a hill standing 233 metres above sea level. It sits within the Ashridge Estate and is managed by the National Trust, but it has great significance historically. In the past, this location was used to send signals from and was also a fort during the Iron Age (around 800 BCE). More recently it has appeared in Harry Potter and Star Wars movies… For us though, it was a spot to enjoy lunch and a few cups of tea as we sheltered from the blustery cold wind and showers. A good day to be behind glass, as we say!

Fabulous views from the beacon
A couple of long distance walks/cycles start from this point
Truffy with dramatic skies

Eventually there was a break in the weather and we drove a short way down the hill towards Dockey Wood. This woodland is famous for its incredible display of bluebells, and my cousin Karen had let me know they were in full bloom after the warm Easter weekend.

We had only driven a few minutes and we spotted a carpet of purple by the side of the road. We quickly pulled over and went in for an explore. It was incredible, and unbeknownst to us, we were in the quieter less visited woodland area – the main display (and crowds) we found were just down the road where the official car park was.

Mr A wanders through the sea of blue
Just breathtaking – set off by the bright green new leaves
A mass of purple

Dizzy with the delicate perfume of the bluebells, we headed on down to our home for the next three nights, parked up on a farm track close to my cousin and her family in Little Gaddesden.

Before long a taxi arrived to take Mr A, my cousin Karen, her husband Iain and I into nearby Berkhamstead. There we caught up with my old school friend Jo and her husband Stuart for a beverage at a local wine bar, The Berkeley. From there we enjoyed a fabulous Thai meal at The Giggling Squid – delicious food and probably the best Thai we have tried in the UK so far.

The years flash on by with nearly 30 years of friendship
Much laughter – L-R: Stuart, Karen and Iain
Mr A finds himself beside a nude….

Thursday: After a relaxing night’s sleep, Iain gave Mr A and I a lift up to the cafe in Ashridge Estate so we could catch up with an old friend of mine from way back, Amanda. We last met up when she was visiting her sister in Sydney Australia, more than 15 years ago. It was great to see her, and we had a stroll through the woodlands, admiring yet more bluebells.

Footpath windings through the wild flowers
Amanda caught between two Andersons
Old friends reunited
Mr & Mrs A – (incidentally, I left my lens cap on this tree trunk, in case you find it!)
Walking back to Karen & Iain’s house via Ashridge House

Mr A and I walked back to Karen’s house through the estate, spotting many deer and enjoying the sunshine as we went.

We’d been back a few moments and I was back in the car with Karen off to visit my aunt while Karen took my uncle to the doctors. It was just enough time for a cup of tea and a tour of the house and garden before heading back for the evening.

Mrs A with auntie Pam and uncle Brian

Friday: Mr A and I hitched a lift into Berkhamsted when Karen was dropping off her daughters, Hannah and Ella to school. From there, we caught a train into London – Mr A heading off to do some shopping, while I went to Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospital to take part in a focus group about the major airway surgery I had there back in 2014.

After the group I caught up for an hour with Jacky, a lovely lady with iSGS I have met through the support group I run, before heading back across town to meet up with Mr A, and some more friends at a pub near Warren Street.

L-R: Karen, Mrs A, Mr A, Martin, Karen’s sister, Chris

It was a fun catch up, with Martin (who was best man at our wedding 17 years ago) plus friends from Australia, Karen and Chris, who are staying with Karen’s sister near Greenwich.

It wasn’t a late night though, we were back on the train to Berkhamsted by 6.30pm and back tucked up in Truffy for the night by 9.30pm. A great end to the week.

Saturday: It was time to say goodbye to Karen and Iain and the girls, and continue our journey south. We really appreciate the hospitality we’ve been shown by the whole family.

L-R: Ella, Ryan, Merryn, Karen, Iain, Hannah, Mrs A

Mr A and I are both are loving rekindling old friendships and making new friends on our travels, and particularly cherish the time such as this with family who are also good friends. I hope we are leaving each time with stronger relationships and a better understanding of one another and look forward to spending more time together when we’re back from our European travels.

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