30 September 2012

(14/15) UK - Upton on Severn - Malvern Priory - Ledbury and Family Wedding

We enjoyed our first English Breakfast in ages as we have been self-catering. Personally, I prefer Self-Catering - it gives one more freedom and is perhaps also more healthy! And this also means that we miss our pub lunches as we are not hungry again by lunch-time! Anyway our room overlooking a car park is only for 3 nights then we head off to Alvechurch Canal if that does not flood.

See what I mean? A huge come-down after Barnsdale Country Club!!
However, the room was absolutely 100%

We visited some UK friends today who also have a house in Cape Town and whom we met many years ago whilst inspecting a building site in Blouberg where we had all bought units off-plan. Who would have thought then that we would go through really horrendous times with this investment but that's life and it could have been worse. It was great to see their lovely home in UK which boasts a stunning conservatory for catching the elusive rays of sunshine during the UK summer. It was great to have a catch-up and lovely to see them both.

We stopped at Upton on Severn and could see how high the water still is from the flooding. The benches along the river are under water and the chap from the pleasure boat was trying to clean off all the mud next to their berth. The river Severn is flowing very strongly and one hopes that no more rain is on the way. The river floods Upton annually but more seriously in 1770, 1886, 1947 and 2000. The river is crossed by bridge and was very important for trade in years gone by. Today it is used mainly by pleasure craft. Tudor House looks as if it will fall down any minute, it is so old. Unfortunately this only opened at 14.00 hrs so we could not view it from inside. There are plenty of pubs along the river and one would imagine that they do a roaring trade on sunny (????) days. It's an interesting town and well worth a visit.

Little Malvern Priory was our next stop as we are attending a wedding there tomorrow. The Priory was founded as a Monastery in approx 1127. It has survived to the present day, albeit with some changes. In the Church Newsletter somebody is advertising 2 Handkerchief Trees to good homes - large gardens required. There is also a warning sign at the car park telling church goers to take great care when crossing the road as the cars come down the hill very fast. Hopefully nobody has come a cropper whilst trying to get to church. The family of the bride were all frantically doing the flowers so we escaped quickly.

The Royal Oak serves great food - smiling chef who loves cooking!

Chris and Brenda joined us for supper at the Royal Oak, Much Marcle and it was great to catch up after 3 years. The food was good and I enjoyed a tasty chicken curry - hoping that the heat would chase the cold away.

The well preserved Tudor Buildings make Ledbury a great place to explore.

Today dawned with blue skies - great for the wedding later today.

We wandered off after breakfast to explore Ledbury, an English Market town nestling under the Malvern Hills. Cattle markets were held regularly in this town until 900 years ago and the town was most probably originally started for the wool trade merchants. The High Street is well preserved with many Tudor Black and White buildings, independent specialist retailers and a Tuesday and Saturday Market under the Tudor style market House. The market on Saturday was not very big - some fruit and veg, cheeses, lovely flowers and not too much else.

Church Street is famous in Ledbury and a walk down this piece of history is a must. The current Heritage Centre was built approx. 1480 and has seen a chequered history - it was most probably always intended for public use. St Michaels Church is at the top of the lane. It is indeed a place that comjures up mysteries and stories of the past if only the walls could talk.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived in the area from the time she was three until they moved to Sidmouth in 1832. Ledbury Street names honour a number of poets - Drinkwater, Frost, Gibson, Thomas, Abercrombie and Brook. The town holds a poetry festival in July each year.
Much Marcle which is close by, has many apple orchards and a celebration of apple, orchards and cider is held in October.
September 2012 has seen much rain and flooding in UK and Malvern is no exception with the wettest September on record since 1976. The River Severn burst it's banks and a huge hole was found in under the tracks of the railway which passes through this area. Trains were stopped for  days to inspect this large hole and a speed limit is on the line until the problem is permanently solved.
Our family wedding was at 15.00 so the sightseeing came to an end. The bride had sunshine all the way which was a bonus after the recent wet weather.

The reception was held in the Barn at Hellands, another very old home which is open to the public on certain days. The Barn was packed to the gills with approx 113 people - so tightly packed that it was a mission getting out for the loo! The groom has French and Welsh heritage but is South African born so it was a right royal mix. With many guests at around 30 or so years of age, we expected modern disco music. This was not to be and the (very good) band played Rock and Roll!! I was amazed that this went down so well with the younger set - not a modern song played, not even a 60's song played. Being UK, a bus was hired to take guests back to their hotels. How is that for wedding service?

The Bride was laughing so much that it was impossible to get her in focus!
Great Couple!

© Judelle Drake

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