Thursday, 10 July 2008

Tunnel Vision
Nuneaton - a name to conjure with - is it the capital of dieting or perhaps religious cannibalism?
And what about Bedworth? I am not speculating about that one. (orders from er indoors)
We stopped in Nuneaton today in order to look at Astley Castle. Some years ago the Landmark Trust were offered this property but, after much deliberation, gave it up as a lost cause. The fabric of the building was just too far gone for a viable restoration. However they have now taken a new approach and have the bit between their teeth again. Their aim now is to stabilise the fabric of the building and build a completely new accommodation unit inside the castle walls. They have not tried this before and have run a competition for the best design. The weather was a bit changeable but we started the walk up to Astley late morning intending to get some lunch at the charming little country pub which will be next to the church. Apart from the rainstorm and the race-track of a road we followed, the five miles to Astley were fine. Arriving around 13.15 we found the castle, the church and the dozen houses which comprise the village. But no pub. The nearest pub, we were informed, is in Ansley about two miles away (everywhere round here begins with A). We arrived at The Lord Nelson at 13.45 but were just in time for lunch. This was really very goo. I tried a beer called OTT from the Tunnel Brewery which turned out to be in the back garden of the pub, on top of a railway tunnel. This must be one of the most bitter ales I have drunk but a superb aperitif. Of course I had to try the IPA as well. If you are ever visiting Arbury Park which is nearby I recommend you head for The Lord Nelson for a meal in either the bar or the posh restaurant and try the very local ale. We took a bus back to Gecko which accomplished the return journey in 10 minutes. On our walk up, however, we had encountered two modern incarnations of childhood memories - a rag & bone man and a chimney sweep. Haven't seen either of those for a while.
A few weeks ago we visited another Landmark. Silverton Park Stables are in Devon, just north of Exeter. It really was stables but now sleeps 14 with about six bathrooms in a magnificent building and location.

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