Saturday, 9 October 2010

Lizzie's Adventures in Cotswold-land

Hello all Blog Friends! 

Assuming Blogger will let me load photos, this post should be fairly photo-heavy!

On Tuesday morning, very early, I set off for Gloucestershire, to visit my aunt, who has leukemia and is quite poorly.  I was very lucky as the weather was really nice and great for driving.  Door-to-door, including a stop for a second breakfast (I don't eat well before 7am!), it took me 3 1/2 hours. I arrived at 11am and was able to stay with my aunt for about 45 mins, before she was tired and needed me to go again.  We agreed I would drop in on Wednesday at 10:30, then I had the rest of the day free. 

I went down to Chipping Sodbury first of all.  This is a small and very traditional Cotswold market town, with the very common layout of a wide main street, with the road down the centre, a wide paved area either side and then houses or shops.  It's current most famous child is Joanne K. Rowling (as in Harry Potter!). 

Forgot to take a photo of the main street, but this one's from Google Street View:

Broad Street, Chipping Sodbury

These are some of the pretty old Cotswold Stone houses in the town.

I had a nice lunch in a small cafe ("Poppy's Cafe", in case you happen to go there and want a nice place for a snack/meal!).  I ate home-made Cottage Pie, which was yummy.  So tempted by the amazing selection of cakes and puddings... but I was full of cottage pie and decided to wait til tea-time for some cake!

Then after spending too much money in the craft shop (!), I headed off to Wotton-Under-Edge, the other side of the village where my aunt lives, to stay the night.

This is where I stayed.  It's called Carlton House
It's a beautiful building which has been lovingly restored by the owners, to a wonderful period home, but with plenty of modern features.

Views from my bedroom window, across Wotton and the Cotswolds.

My lovely room. It wasn't huge, but it was just right for one person, the bathroom was great, there was plenty of storage, table-space, coffee and tea, tv etc.  It was also peaceful and quiet, at the back of the house; and it was very, very clean!
and this is where I ate my breakfast the following morning!

The breakfast was beautifully cooked and very tasty; I asked for bacon and egg - and was gently talked into having two eggs, also some mushrooms in butter and half a tomato, grilled with chives!  I also had toast and home-made marmalade, really great coffee and very nice orange juice (though not necessarily in that order...).  I felt rather well fed after all that and didn't want any lunch until about 2pm!

On the Wednesday morning I took a drive up to St. James' Church, to leave these:
We lost my Dad ten years ago today and my Grandma seventeen years ago yesterday.  It seemed a good plan to go to the churchyard and just remember. I was able to tidy the area round the stone and to leave this little plant behind, smiling in the sunshine.  I also left a similar flower on Bill's grave. Bill was my aunt's husband, who died 12 years ago.  She can't get up to the churchyard any more, so I thought I would visit for her.  I showed her a photo of the flowers and she was pleased.

The sun was shining and it was a lovely day.  That's my aunt's village, nestling behind the tree-line.  Beyond that is Wotton. The views from up here are just wonderful. It's a good place for remembering good people.

After I had visited my aunt again, I set off for another special visit before I went home.  It happened that Peter Roberts, who owns Carlton House, is a printer.  He started his business in a small office, based in Carlton House, back in the 1980's when it was divided into offices, dentist's, dr's surgery etc.  (My aunt remembers going there to get large-size photocopies for her embroidery work  - she used to have a business making fabulous embroidery - mostly gold-work - usually church hangings and altar hangings, vestments etc.).  He gradually expanded his business, taking over more space in the building as it became available.  Eventually, he bought the whole building and has turned it back into a home again.

Pete Roberts is now the M.D. of a large printer's at Alderley, about 2 miles from Wotton.  He has a big, new building, which has offices and a large area for their machinery.  I was lucky enough to be invited to visit, after a very interesting conversation about print-making at breakfast time.  It was really a chance that I couldn't miss!

A view of the Clarendon Press offices and their lovely countryside setting.  

Stream and little waterfall nearby.

Views across farmland, to the Cotswold Hills.

It's an idyllic setting.  Imagine looking out of your office / printshop window and seeing views like this every day!

Pete was very kind and showed me round himself.  He explained carefully how the huge Lithographic presses work and how the whole offset lithographic process works too - I've long wondered about this and reading didn't really help me to understand.  Now I have seen it in action and I do understand - it is so clever!

They have 3 big presses, one which can do four/five-colour printing and two which do three colours.   All were working busily when I was there.  They also have small presses to do stuff like letterpress and gold-foiling, for special projects, stationery etc. 

They are proud of their design department, which has several state-of-the-art Macs with fab software, enabling them to do wonderful design work.  They have a contract with the Highbury Estate, to produce stationery, leaflets, product labels etc.  They're hoping to retain that contract and gain their "By Appointment" in the next couple of years.  I wish them luck!

There are also machines to fold and cut things, also to glue and fold; so they can make envelopes, cards, folders, brochures etc. and to pretty much any custom size.  They can also do prints for artists and smaller stuff, like wedding stationery.  It was quite exciting to see what has grown from one little, teeny Adana Letterpress platen in the 1980's, to a roomful of huge machines and about ten or a dozen staff!

Oh, and you never saw soooo much Paper! I love paper... it was amazing to see shelves-full of packs of paper, of all kinds and sizes.

I think I was a teeny bit envious... but it was all so interesting and I admire the courage, determination and vision of Peter Roberts and his wife, in setting up their two great businesses, combined with a fabulous family home.  They certainly deserve what they have worked so hard for.

Oh, and then I drove all the way home again!  It was a good trip; my main reason for going was to see my aunt, which I'm so glad I did. But it was great to have some time to relax and explore, then the chance to visit Clarendon Press, which was really fab.  I'm glad to be home again though - I missed my men!


  1. Lizzie that sounds like an interesting visit to the printers and I love the Cotswold area from your photos - another place on my to visit list!

  2. All the pictures are so lovely. I'd love to visit all these places and it sounds like you enjoyed not only the views but the learned a bit too. I'd love to learn more about printing processes too and I'm a bit jealous :)

  3. Oh your lovely photos of the English countryside always make me a little homesick! What a beautiful place; glad you got to see the printers too, I can imagine that would be really interesting.

  4. What a beautiful area - I'm glad you had a good trip :-)

    I'm sorry to hear about your aunt's illness though, and sending you love and hugs on the anniversaries of your father's and granmother's deaths xx

  5. What a lovely and sentimental post, Lizzie. I enjoyed reading about your adventure and seeing your photos. I'm sorry about your aunt's illness, but so glad you got to visit her. xo

  6. I love the Cotswolds....such a beautiful area...sounds like a really interesting visit,Lizzie...and lovely for your aunt to have you visit.

  7. A fascinating post - you always seem to know which details we will all be interested in!

  8. Sounds like you had an interesting visit, although I am sorry to hear about your aunt's illness. Nice that you were able to visit the church on her behalf.

  9. Your short break sounds very successful, I'm sorry to read about your aunt, but she must have been pleased to see you. You certainly were able to make the most of your time and the visit to the printers sounds fascinating. What a beautiful part of the country it is.

  10. wow! love everything, every place!


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