Down to the Cotswolds

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October 5th 2018
Published: October 6th 2018
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What a roller coaster of a day. We started with a lovely cooked Derbyshire breakfast in the breakfast room, and then packed up and checked out of the lovely inn. It started life as a farmhouse before 1850, then became a brewery and then an ale house.

We had a long drive down to Gloucester where we first went to the church of St Nicholas where one of Tom’s 4xG grandfather’s had been buried. The church is no longer in use, all locked up (with the key obtainable at the local museum, but we’re not here for that long). I suspect the flats next door to the church are probably built on the original churchyard.

We drove on then to St Swithun’s in Hempsted, the location of the burial of Tom’s 3xG grandfather, but the graveyard was very big, many headstones damaged and others worn beyond legibility.

So we pressed on to Ebley. The mill there started out as an oil mill, and then when Tom’s ancestors took over it became a cloth mill. It is now a snow mill! i.e. it’s the location of Darcy Crownshaw’s Snow Business. They produce snow for movies (Bridget Jones, Marvel Avengers, Maleficent, Me Before You, Harry Potter, The Day After Tomorrow, Snow White and the Huntsman, Batman, Gladiator, James Bond etc etc), TV shows (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones), department stores’ Christmas displays, the Olympics, real snow for tv ads for cars, even “black snow“ for coal mines. I had emailed Darcey to ask permission to take exterior shots of the mill and he insisted he show us around. So we arrived after lunch and Darcey was incredibly hospitable. To start with he was in a meeting but had organised a lovely lady to meet and greet us. We walked through an open plan office and all the staff said hello and were so friendly - they probably knew why we were there. Darcey has studied the history of the mill, and written a book on it (which he gave us a copy of). He took us on a tour of the buildings and the grounds, going to great lengths to show us all of the working mill parts that have been retained, and telling us of the changes in use of the grounds and the mill over time. Some of the windows are still the originals. He also told us how Tom’s ancestor had been a great forward planner. He knew the canal was going to be built and bought the mill and other adjoining land because of its proximity to the planned canal. When the mill was operating, he wanted more power from the water, so he straightened out the river to give it greater velocity. Darcey also showed us their snow, frost, ice and coal effects, and turned on one of the snow machines to demonstrate. We had a marvellous time.

Then it was time to head to our next accommodation, and what a poor choice that was!

After a long day we arrived with luggage for 6 weeks away from home, on the other side of the world. A couple in their 60S, a double knee replacement, with so much luggage? Let’s put them on the THIRD floor, with no lifts! They were going to get a porter to assist with the luggage but he never appeared. Luckily we came across a person from management who noticed our stress and kindly helped out. Thank you Thomas. We had thought we were checking in to a nice intimate upmarket pub, but no, it’s a conference centre/wedding venue.

After all our driving we didn’t feel like dressing for the dining room, so we thought we’d go down at 5.30pm and look at the pub snacks, available till 6pm. Steak sandwiches! Just what the doctor ordered! Let’s have a large red wine and a pint of beer with that! One third of the way through the drinks, the poor waiter comes over to tell us the kitchen can’t do steak sandwiches because the ovens are being cleaned?? The ovens? Really? Friday evening at 5.30pm, the ovens are so dirty from cooking all those scones for high tea? They can’t manage to fry a steak? Or fry the chips? Or mix the salad? That’s plain disgusting!

Oh look, there’s a fire escape up the hill we could take our luggage out to enable a non-stressed packing of the car. No, it’s locked! The fire escape has a padlock. Let’s hope there are no fires... we have another night here yet, already paid.

Oh well. Steak and veg at The Kings Head was wonderful, and so was the Yellow Tail Shiraz.

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