Arriving at Castle Coombe just as it starts to go dark we set Hank up, check he’s level, gas on, heating on, Silver screens on, water heater on and then relax!!
Evenings in Hank are a wonderful affair, if somewhat of a juggle. Tilly, who is 12 yrs old needs room to eat her foods she goes on the floor. Belle on the other hand likes to be on her own with no distractions to eat hers, so we feed them and have to stand still and out of their space so they eat. It’s then a waiting game as once they are done with said food its water bowl time and for those of you with hounds you know the ‘lakes’ of water formed from greyhound/lurcher splashing!! Once done its settle for 15 mins then out for a walk. Belle at this point kicks into Lurcher going out mode and gets super excited with a liking for grabbing and trying to ‘dead’ anything soft toy/furnishing within a grabbing radius. Whoa betide anything or anyone who gets in her way!!
Out we go, Belle said Lurcher jumping out without a bother in the world, Tilly said Greyhound likes to stand on the threshold sniffing the air, staring at the solar system above and generally hesitant before taking the plunge down to terra firma, normally by this time Belle has had a wee and just wants to get back in Hank. I hope you are feeling our pain but these are the small procedures we have as we go about our vanlife living!!
Eventually after evening walkies we all pile back in, Tilly obviously with no hesitation this time and its dining table up for the humans, houndies on their own single bed and we get on with the evening meal, tea and a biscuit after early having a meal in Avebury. Bed time calls and we settle in warm and cosy in Hank all looking forward to tomorrows Woodland adventures.
Up early at Castle Coombe we are greeted by some early morning runners, its freeing cold and they seem super fit and healthy, even though they are making us feel cold as they stand around waving their arms frantically trying to warm up and obviously puzzling why there is an ancient German motorhome in the car park!! They head off so we all get out for the morning walkies, 20 minutes later and its back to Hank for doggie breakfast, human breakfast and heading off.
We decided yesterday that we’d just have some quick cereal and scoot, well if you can scoot in a very slow, plodding Hymer to Westonbirt as we had the feeling it would be pretty full and we desperately wanted to get in, park up and spend the day enjoying the trees.
Lucky we set off early Westonbirt was getting really full, there was a queue of traffic to get in and we hoped to avoid parking on the ‘overflow’ grass, visions of a sinking Hymer passed through my brain but luckily the helpful ( and obviously) sensible staff directed us towards the coach parking!!
We’ve visited Westonbirt Arboretum many times in the past, luckily taking advantage of the fact I worked for Forestry Commission Wales and therefore qualified for free entry but no such luck at the moment, Natural Resources Wales staff don’t get free entry anymore, but hey there’s a whole world of pain in relation to that association, I wont bore you!!
The Arboretum is essentially two huge woodlands, Silkwood and the Old Arboretum one allows dogs the other doesn’t. We headed off to Silkwood with the hounds and followed the crowds over the Stihl treetop walkway, a very cool aerial bridge at tree height that takes you into the woods.
First stop at a great exhibition of traditional woodland management, timely given its National Coppice day, and we wander through the haze of woodsmoke looking at the great woodland products and crafts on display. I was in awe of the retort kiln an amazing bit of kit for producing charcoal. I’ve seen and used many ring kilns but never one of these, made my day really!!
Onwards we trundled, houndies enjoying the woods and us in awe of the magnificent trees. Its pretty busy but nevertheless just step away from the herd and you find yourself in peace and quiet surrounded by a cathedral of trees.
The Acer glade was spectacular, the fiery reds, yellows and oranges almost hurting your eyes and feeling somewhat unnatural.
We spent a brilliant morning in Silkwood before heading back to Hank for a spot of lunch. It was nice to escape the crowded areas and chill for a while, the houndies having a snooze and us having a refreshing cuppa!
Suitably re-charged we tucked the houndies in while we set off to visit the Old arboretum area (no dogs), the shop, Great Hall and other visitor stuff. This area is amazing, for someone like me who loves trees of all shapes and sizes it’s a hoot. The suggested seasonal trail showcases all the cool stuff and there really are some massive trees here!
Trail adventures over we visit a brilliant craft fayre in the Great Hall with some excellent locally made crafts, ceramics, wooden and glass treasures and some fantastic art. Off to the Arboretum shop next and we gaze in awe at the mountains of Christmas decorations on sale, jams, calendars, cuddly woodland animal toys, you name it they sell it!!
With our wallets and money still intact we head back to Hank, greeted obviously by excited Tilly and Belle who have probably been snoozing but the whining makes us always feel bad for leaving them even though it was a pretty short time. Guilt trip over, cup of tea and cookie time before heading home after a treetastic day and thoroughly fab weekend advanture.