high days & holidays

Andrew's Auspicious Antics and Adventures



a very balmy weekend…

The picturesque village of Ashwell situated in the rolling downs of rural East Hertfordshire was our destination for this weekend.

New thatching at Ashwell

Although less than 50 miles north of London, it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.

View from the Loves Lane Campsite - Hot Air Balloon descending

The village is well catered for with a convenience store, traditional butchers, a quaint coffee and gift shop and no less than three pubs; The Three Tuns, Rose and Crown and Bushel & Strike.

Three Tuns Ashwell interior pub

While we just missed lunch service at the Three Tuns we enjoyed a glass or two of Prosecco in the lovely beer garden.

Three Tuns at Ashwell, Beer Garden

A restored 14th century cottage, home to the local museum is now open a couple of times a week showcasing local artefacts and houses a Resource Centre due in part to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Ashwell Museum

Ashwell Museum 2

Ashwell Springs, a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest is also a source of the River Cam; coincidentally the village itself was once home to Erasmus Darwin, great grandson of Charles Darwin, the English naturalist, geologist and biologist.

Another celebrated resident, Kiki Dee was the first white British artist signed to Motown and erstwhile duetting partner of Elton John; both having achieved their first No 1 single in 1993 with ‘Don’t go Breaking my Heart’.

Loves lane Ashwell

We stayed at Loves Lane, a Camping and Caravanning Club certified site.  Sheltered, peaceful, and with immaculately clean facilities this really is a hidden gem and one that we look forward to staying at again.

Bedford Bambi parked up and pitched at Loves Lane Campsite Ashwell Hertfordshire

The annual village open day Ashwell at Home has for the last 30 odd years taken place on a Sunday afternoon in May; another good reason for a return visit.



Each Sunday morning during the summer months there is a small market on the banks of the Nantes-Brest Canal in the shadow of the Abbaye de Bon-Repos that sells local wares and delicious foodstuff.  It’s a perfect location for a lunchtime picnic or bite to eat in one of the busy little cafés.

The walk along the canal is equally enjoyable in the winter months when a sense of tranquility abounds in the tiny commune of Saint-Gelven…

Nantes Brest Canal at Bon Repos in Brittany

The Abbey which is open to the public, showcases a wide range of contemporary art and in August provides the backdrop for a magnificent a sound and light show.

You can check out the website for market opening days, times and special events here

I’ll be posting about the Abbey soon, but in the meantime you can find details from their website and the programme for the 2017 Sound & Light show here.

Mid Century Bonanza!

This weekend we’re looking forward to a Sunday shopping treat like no other when Mid Century East returns to Hackney and as an added bonus it’s set in the rather splendid Grade II listed Haggerston School.


This stunning modernist building is Erno Goldfinger’s only secondary school and was built in 1964. The Hungarian-born London based architect was the first to develop the use of concrete aesthetically in the UK inspired by Auguste Perret and Le Corbusier; he was the architect behind the now famous Trellick Tower and the inspiration behind the Bond character of the same name!


check-out some more of my favourite London brutalist architecture here

back at la vallée des saints

Last weekend was the official unveiling of 13 new sculptures at La Vallée des Saints and a very grande fête it turned out to be on a lovely sunny afternoon.

Vallee des Saints

There are now over 70 magnificent statues in the fields gazing out over the Breton countryside; each in excess of 3m high and weighing in at several tons (check out my gallery of photos from previous visits).

An artisan market, sculpture demonstrations and talks were in full swing throughout the afternoon all accompanied by some rather charming  entertainment from another era…

It was great to see the place packed with interested locals and tourists, although I must admit to preferring the serenity and solitude of the site during the long winter months.

Lookng forward to seeing the next batch of granite giants soon…


New River Walk

There are hundreds of parks, commons, heaths an even a couple of forests in London making it one of the greenest capitals in the world.

Tucked away in a residential area of Islington is one of the smaller, less well-known ones, the New River Walk. This man-made park was created to follow the overground route of the river from Essex Road to Canonbury where it emerges from an underground tunnel.

The River was built as an aquaduct in the 1600’s to carry drinking water from Hertford to London originally ending at Clerkenwell near where now stands Sadlers Wells theatre and next to that the rather magnificent former headquarters buildings of the Metropolitan Water Board.


We took Herbie for a stroll along the Islington section yesterday, the weeping willows provided welcome shade, a respite from the searing heat of the summer that’s eventually landed.

At this point it’s little more than a stream, but provides a haven for wildlife. In addition to the ducks, moorhens and cranes we even spotted a terrapin loitering on one the miniature islands created by partially submerged  bales of  straw.

The next overground section of the 28 mile route upstream is at Stoke Newington; we’ll be continuing the journey soon…

Railway Royalty

If you go down to Kings Cross today you’re in for a big surprise! There’s something to stop you in your tracks next to Platform 9¾ …

Not this time the Hogwarts Express but the Princess (after Princess Alexandra of Denmark); built over 150 years ago in London and now fully restored, this beautiful little locomotive is one of the gems of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways which operate two narrow-gauge lines in the heart of Snowdonia.

Some of the crew from the railway are at Kings Cross until the weekend to guard their pride & joy and answer questions about the trains and railways. Now that really is magical…

Check out more details including timetables, events and news at the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway website


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