Shropshire for Christmas

It’s been three days since our month long winter caravan trip ended and we’re packing up the car again. This time it’s packed to the rafters. The cavernous space inside the Volvo is rammed. We’ve even squished the tortoise ‘Harriet’, also known as the Hedgehog, in and amongst bags of this and that.

Destination, Shropshire for Christmas. No caravan involved this time. The Jellybeans proposed Christmas in a cottage earlier in the year. We jumped at the chance. We’ve seen the photos of some of the cottages that the Jellybeans have stayed in over the years and so the search began to try and find one that lived up to the standards they’ve found in the past.

The Drover’s Rest in Church Stretton was to be were we would rub the sleep from our eyes on Christmas morning and surpassed all expectations. We would be Christmassing in luxury.

The drive to Shropshire revealed a very wet world. Countless wet days over the last month has left the world looking very soggy. Water logged fields and flooded roads, swollen rivers and pot holes disguised as puddles. The Volvo sported a lovely coating of muck, not just muck but real muck. And all the while on the journey, Harriet chose to sit almost on my shoulder watching the world go by, until about two minutes before we arrived, when she shifted her weight and decided to pee on me. Thanks Harriet, I’m now sporting a top that looks like I’ve splashed a little bit of water on. It’s a good job she’s only little.

Unfolding our bodies out of the car trying not to dislodge any of the bags packed in and around us. We are greeted by the owner of our Christmas home. Shaking hands and passing pleasantries with someone whilst sporting a puddle of pee is a first for me. All the while not mentioning the Hedgehog, she was to be smuggled in beneath coats.

Front door unlocked and we are met by the most perfect view from the living room. Breathtaking, situated on the cusp of the Long Mynd with the front of the house over looking the Stretton Hills all we could do was pray for seven good clear days to soak up the view.

With walks on the Long Mynd aplenty, our walking boots were tested. The ground was very soggy and wellies might have been more appropriate but in order to continue the test of the new camera versus the phone the walk must go on. The ponies posed and the countryside around us simply glowed.

Whilst the camera seemed to be taking some good photos the phone still seems to be the preference. Jellybean number two took to focusing and shooting and did manage to get a couple of cracking pics but the jury is still out.

Christmas Day and the weather was glorious. Veggies prepped, final joint of meat in the oven and it’s time for another mooch on the hills. Surprising how many other like minded souls we bumped into. A quick Christmas Day family selfie and we’re back to tuck into our Christmas Dinner.

We always eat at tea time, 5-6pm on Christmas Day, surprisingly late compared to lots of our family and friends. Blooming good it was too!

After filling our bellies to busting (we were all ‘pogging’ by the final mouthful … no translation required) we chilled out by the wood fire, I say chilled out, it was more scorched by the furness as the cottage was already warm, “We’ve paid for a cottage with a wood burner, so burn wood we will” says The Boss throwing on another log.

Boxing Day and we are up and at ’em, road trip to Bolton to see the parents for Christmas. Once again, have Tortoise will travel is loaded in her travelling case and carefully stowed on the back seat with the Jellybeans. She really must be one of the best travelled Tortoises around.

The day after Boxing Day, Thursday or is it Friday? It’s that time of year when all our days blend into one big messy weekend. We spend an afternoon visiting friends we met in Turkey, years ago, in a life before caravans. Belly aching laughter and copious amounts of tea are the tonic for today.

The holiday is almost over. One last supper at The King’s Arms in Church Stretton. ‘We’ve only got a booth at the back of the pub’ the guy behind the bar almost seems to apologise. We are lead through a Tardis of a pub to the biggest booth we have ever seen. Specials board checked, drinks ordered, we settle down for one last good scran.

Saturday morning arrives and we are heading home, the morning mist flows down the valley preventing one last look at the view. Although, the view seemed different every time the weather changed or the shadows from the sun rippled over the terrain, it really was a stunning place.

I wasn’t too sure about Christmas away from the family home. As it happens, it will have been our last Christmas together waking up as a family, and by gum it were a good un.

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