The annual trip to see my friends the Budd family, who live in Chepstow in Wales, had come around again. Was it Easter already? Easter in England likes to display its most changeable weather just to keep us on our toes. It can be snowing, t shirt weather, hail stoning, stormy or still or any combination of these in the space of a day or two, and this year was no different. We had one beautiful spring day when we were able to get out riding into the local woods as the bluebells were just beginning to show.
Hacking out on George
I rode a new addition to the family, Big George, a lovely gentle giant who is a cross between a cob and a Clydesdale and so, suitable for the heavier rider. I was told he would run out of steam in canter after a hundred yards or so, but spring must have got to George as he steamed up the hill without pause following Barney and the black pony Star, lickety split!
The Budds live at Trem Hafren along with an assortment of animals that live here too. Horses yes, but also thirty one chickens who live in the Borough of Chickenopolis. They have lots of little huts within a gated community and always look like they have just emerged from some meeting with a packed agenda where Chickenopolis business was being discussed.
Hockey the dog continues his OCD obsession with sticks of any sort whatsoever. You can’t fault his enthusiasm for life but it is rather narrowly focused.
Hockey – Stuck on sticks
Stella the Labrador is as sweet and lovable as ever and she has extraordinary patience with the newest member of the family – Teddy the Jack Russell puppy. Teddy is an absolute star. An adorable, portable, pick me up dog with a penchant for stealing and chewing your slippers. I can definitely see him in the movies if we can get him a doggie agent.
Everyone loves Teddy
Later, to make the most of the sunshine, we went to the charming Wyndcliffe Court which is a Grade II listed house and gardens designed in the Arts and Crafts style. Situated along the Wye Valley between Chepstow and Tintern, they are beautiful formal gardens with views to the south and east.
The Cheshire Cat
Open every weekend from Easter to September, they are showcasing contemporary sculptures by local and well-known British artists. Sculptures were to be found around the gardens along with a fine ginger cat, and we had a delightful afternoon cream tea with home made scones and jam outside on the Terrace. There was also an Easter egg hunt going on with an Alice in Wonderland theme and the fine hedge honing in evidence certainly had a Lewis Carrol vibe about it. I do love a good bit of topiary.
Over the weekend chocolate was consumed and hot cross buns and too much wine – by me mainly. Day two brought high winds and icy rain, back to the March norm, and so we did what the Great British Public do on a wet Bank Holiday weekend, we went to the cinema. We saw Batman versus Superman which I confess, was all a bit of a mystery to me. How did Batman even know Superman? If they were being framed for someone else’s evil deeds, why didn’t they speak up and explain? Why could Lois Lane only say ‘Clark’ and sigh a lot – what kind of a journalist does that? Why did the boys only make up after very nearly killing each other when they discovered that their Mother’s had the same name – Martha?
Why can’t they just get on?
And what was that blobby monster at the end – wasn’t that from Lord of the Rings? So, if you’re not too worried about any character development, script, plot or plausible motivation for anything that happens – you’ll love it! Some in our party seemed to have less difficulty accepting this preposterous piece of cinema than others. Perhaps I was not the target audience. I headed back North the Easy Jet way, through a bumpy hailstorm which made me feel very nauseous indeed, looking forward to our spring and to seeing what the rest of 2016 will bring..