Little trip continued....
8am on the Monday morning saw me heading off on my little solo adventure. I'd randomly picked Whitchurch in Staffs for my first stop, and very pretty it turned out to be. It was a real mix of medieval and modern with an imposing church which, unusually these days, was open. As I'd arrived so early there was really nothing else to do so I had a little wander round in there - very cool stained glass windows and a small brass plaque in the floor which was catching the morning sun through the coloured glass beautifully. I've always enjoyed being alone in any building and, atheist though I am, churches always provide at least a very peaceful atmosphere. I had the place to myself for a good half an hour. As I left, my attempt to get into the wooden choir stalls was thwarted by the locked door at the top of the old stone staircase - one of those where years of footsteps have worn a smooth curve in each stair.
I emerged into the still-early sunshine and, spotting my reflection in a car window, decided I couldn't put off a haircut any longer (needless to say, that's not all I thought when I caught sight of myself, but the hair was the only immediately fixable thing!) The very first hairdressers I found on the High Street were able to offer me an appointment immediately so half an hour (and a very predictable "Been anywhere nice on holiday/Looking forward to Xmas? conversation) later, out I came with, as usual, the exact same haircut, just 2 inches shorter!
I found a little café which enticed me in with the offer of veggie sausage sandwiches for breakfast. It was a friendly place where everyone (except me) seemed to know everyone else by name. My steaming hot pot of Earl Grey came pretty quickly but I'd practically finished it when I heard a voice from the back say "Oh no, the veggie sausage girl!" I quite reasonably assumed they were talking about me, not least because the other customers were a couple of ambulancemen, a builder, two ancient pink-rinsed women and a guy with one leg. A rather harried-looking waitress then rushed to my side and said "SO sorry, we totally forgot - have another pot of tea on the house". Admittedly, I'd rather have had the sandwich for free but what the hell, swimming in Earl Grey tea wasn't a total disaster. At least once the sandwich came, it was worth the wait!
Duly sated, I surprised myself by successfully finding where I'd parked the car and hit the road, this time heading for Ironbridge, which Dade had said was worth a look. Again, a cute little place, straddling the banks of, um, a river. I'm sure I should know which one! I parked and went in search of the source of such metallic fame. I wandered across a small, unimposing bridge, looking up and down the river to see if I could see THE bridge - only when I reached the other side did I discover that I'd just been walking across it! As with so many other things in life, it was a lot smaller than I expected! I took random photos of it from the towpath, had a short wander along the banks and treated myself to a quarter of Everton Mints from one of those over-priced Olde Worlde Sweetie Shoppes.
Since it was still only lunchtime, I decided to head towards Telford but, on the way, see if I could find The Wrekin, a hill Dade had mentioned just a few times! The Sat Nav was no help but I very soon found a tiny white sign towards it. The roads got narrower and narrower, the hedges higher, the corners more twisty and at one point I swear I was actually driving on a cycle path. Now although this is my idea of driving heaven, my rally driving temptation was thwarted by the very real possibility of meeting something coming the other way. Just before I was about to give up any hope of actually finding it, there I suddenly was at the little car park for The Wrekin. With the promise of "spectacular views from the summit" I commenced the ascent. There were very few other people around but the ones I did see were decked out in hiking boots and walking canes, and looked rather fit. I climbed and climbed but I had to admit defeat before the top when most of my body gave out! I discovered on the way down that it was steeper than I'd realised on the way up so I reached the bottom rather faster than expected thanks to slippery gravel, ill-advised shoes and, of course, my poor single Achilles/calf muscle!
Photos of the weekend can be found HERE
Bored with my own company, I headed to Dade's place. I'm sure I heard Sid's little car gulp at the mountain of stuff it was going to be crammed with for the journey south the next morning though, given the strong winds that were forecast, I actually thought the extra weight might help glue the poor little thing to the road! We randomly passed the evening with chat, online TV and a HUGE Chinese takeaway. A perfectly good way to spend Dade's last evening there, before embarking on his own little adventure as my new flatmate and his independent photography career in Brighton. But of course that's for another blog...