Berkshire Revisited and a Devon Country Wedding

24 Aug

Weddings are a wonderful excuse to travel. The wedding that brought us to the UK was that of our nephew (Stuart’s brother James’ son), Justin, to his lovely Cornish lass, Rachel, in country Devon.

Justin is the first of the English cousins to marry so it’s an historic occasion for the Elliott family.

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We’ll stay on and spend the week with family and friends in a country cottage near the wedding venue.

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To hasten our recovery from jet lag we holed up in Berkshire for two nights, not far from the village I first visited in 1976 on my arrival in the UK. Back then I stayed with my travelling companion and best friend, Marion, at her Aunt and Uncle’s home in Leckhampstead. A retired banker and keen golfer Uncle Cyril was a great walker and jolly company while Aunt Molly baked fresh wholemeal bread, scones, roasts and puddings that piled the pounds on us. They became my surrogate family for a time. We joined the young farmers’ social scene and I well remember my first British New Year’s Eve as I saw snow fall for the very first time as we returned home from a dance.

The countryside is unchanged since those days. On our seven mile circular walk from Upper Lambourn’s Malt Shovel Inn we traversed golden barley fields in various stages of harvest. Great flocks of seagulls patiently circled overhead awaiting the harvester to swoop on the distrubed insects and grubs.

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Lambourn is thoroughbred racing country. Setting off along the Fulke Walwyn Way jockeys and trainers trotted past along the bridleway returning from early morning sessions on the gallops.

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Besides jockeys and farmers we didn’t pass a single person. Seems Berkshire folks don’t walk when they can ride. This seven mile ramble was the first test of our stamina and Stuart’s dodgy knee as we’re in training. One week from now we’ll tackle a week-long walk along the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall. Pleased to report all parts are in working order!

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Start and end point of the walk, The excellent Malt Shovel Inn
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Newbury

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