Lan and Jane 'do' Western Europe travel blog

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Enjoying a cuppa out of the wind, Plough Inn, Ford

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Pretty Snowshill

Today we had to change towns and ride to the pretty village of Broadway for the last three days of our tour. The season’s second storm, Storm Ali, was developing off the Irish coast, and promised to be even more severe than Storm Helene. So this morning we needed to leave early to take advantage of the short, relative lull in between storms before the strong, gusty winds blew in again in the afternoon. Our luggage was being transported by truck, so the die was cast. No turning back now!

Our prescribed ride was to take us in a long loop down to the south of Moreton before turning and heading north again to Broadway. However, we decided to cut the ride in half to ensure that we arrived by lunch time. Even though the worst was yet to come, the morning was still pretty windy so the less time spent in it the better.

We headed out of Moreton-in-Marsh on the same busy road that we took to the Batsford Arboretum and it was just as hairy as yesterday. Our first challenge was to get through Bourton-on-the-Hill, which, not surprisingly is on a hill, and a steep one at that. We had to dismount and walk up this one, not only because of the incline, but also our apprehension, with narrow or non-existent footpaths, large vehicles whizzing past and quite a stiff headwind.

However, once up on the ridgeline, we were treated to spectacular views back over the Cotswolds (with big hills come big vistas). Such beautiful country. After riding south into the wind for some kilometres, we took our shortcut turn off, which had us being blown sideways instead, but on a quieter country lane. We encountered a local landowner who informed us we ought be riding in the other direction, with the wind. Thanks for that! There were also intrepid walkers with their poles and packs. Walking is a serious business in the UK.

We rode on with purpose to Ford, where we could make another turn and finally ride with the wind at our backs. But first we stopped for refreshments at the Plough Inn, a 16th-century gem. There were lots of pictures of horses and jockeys on the ancient low-ceilinged walls. The pub owner told us that we were across the road from the Jackdaw Castle racehorse training facility, run by Jonjo O’Neill, who is an internationally famous jumps trainer; so we were close to racing royalty.

Once we made our turn off, we felt pretty good, with the wind assisting us greatly and the road becoming a very quiet country lane. We noticed horses to our left and right, as these fields are part of the training facility. We stopped to look, and to our delight two horses walked over to us, expecting to be fed! All we had was a small pear; better than nothing. Horses are such beautiful animals and we loved the contact with them as they nuzzled and looked for more food (only to be disappointed).

We were off again on our mechanical steeds along the gently rolling road to the charming village of Snowshill, where we stopped to look at St Barnabas’ Church and admire the Snowshill Arms. It was steeply downhill from here to Broadway, with a few speedy wheeeee moments and both hands on the brakes.

Broadway is a truly beautiful little village with a High Street full of antique, knick knack and boutique stores, and boasting a long history. We were a little early for check-in, so we settled into a cosy café, the Market Pantry, and had lunch - delicious fishcakes, baked potato and salads. We dallied there for a few hours, which gave us time to recover from being blown about, and to feel pleased that we had beaten the rapidly deteriorating weather.

Checking in at our B&B, the Olive Branch, we found our host Pam to be a delightful South African woman running a great business with all the trimmings. The building dates back to the 16th century so everything is a bit wonky, but it has been nicely renovated and very comfortable (especially the bed!) Pam invited us down to the lounge room for Prosecco and a chat with other guests, and we had a great time getting to know her and about how she came to be living in this lovely little place.

On Pam’s advice, we walked down to the other end of the High Street to the only Indian restaurant in town for dinner. It’s being run by a group of Bangladeshis who actually live in Birmingham but travel to Broadway every day to run the restaurant! Apparently they were working at a top Indian restaurant in Birmingham but fell out with the management and so escaped to Broadway with the best chef to start their own business. And it showed, as we had a sensational meal before returning for a well-earned big sleep.

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