Summer 2020 was like no other. So many holiday plans cancelled, re-arranged, or postponed. We had the choice – be miserable about it (and believe me I favoured this option from time to time) or try to embrace it and look on the bright side of life (cue you all having the song stuck in your head!).
Whilst mindlessly scrolling the internet sometime in early July, I read a blog entry (sorry should have made a note of it!) that said you should use Summer 2020 to visit all the places in the UK that you’d been meaning to explore but for whatever reason not managed to….so in that vein we settled on a weekend in Herefordshire.
Now technically this is not a place we haven’t visited…my husband grew up in Herefordshire and his parents (my in-laws) still live in a little village on the outskirts of the Cathedral city. We’ve visited many times….but we’ve never stayed on a converted train and we’ve never really seen the area through the eyes of a tourist.
I love looking for holiday accommodation (mostly dreaming!). Holiday accommodation doesn’t need to be boring….when I saw this wonderful converted train carriage on Airbnb I knew we had to stay (in fact I’ve been eyeing it up for years!).
The train is nestled on the edge of a family cider farm (and they kindly give us some of their cider to try – The Orgasmic Cider Company, quite a name hey!) and has stunning views over the countryside (plenty of combine harvesters for our 4 year old to watch!). The train itself was converted from a Cambrian train carriage. It had everything you could need- a fully equipped kitchen (that also boasts an open fire!), 2 bedrooms (one double and one set of bunks for children), a living room area (with original train seats) and a shower room. There was also a lovely deck area (i.e. a platform!), and plenty of garden space.
It was a truly unique place to stay and one that sparked the imagination of our children who spent hours playing trains!
On route to Herefordshire we stopped at Ralph Court Gardens – on the outskirts of Bromyard. Why didn’t I know about this place before now? It is the most wonderful garden for little people, with 13 unique and magical zones to explore. We loved the Alice in Wonderland garden, the musical fountain in the Italian garden and the Monet garden (we were supposed to visit these at Easter!). The garden even boasts it’s very own dragon (that breathes out steam!). Delicious onsite cafe and all very Covid secure. Highly recommend.
(We’ve since returned to the garden for their Halloween event – incredible!).
Later in the afternoon, once we’d settled and explored the train, we made the short trip from the train to Oakchurch, a farm shop offering the best of Herefordshire food and drink, for some delicious homemade ice cream from their takeaway ice cream shop. They only launched their own brand of ice-cream in July. It is made in store, with unique recipes created in house by their talented team and made with the best of the soft fruit grown on the farm. Check out the flavour combinations….we were tempted on Stilton and pear! We couldn’t resist picking up a few other bits from the wonderfully stocked farm shop. The strawberries are honestly the nicest I’ve ever had!
Another glorious day so we decided to go for a long walk (one positive to come out of Covid!). Daddy sold us ‘an easy walk with a good view’ – we in fact walked for near enough 6 miles and made it to the top of Hergest Ridge!
Hergest Ridge traverses the border between England and Wales, between the town of Kington in Herefordshire and the village of Gladestry in Powys. Its highest point, which is in England, is 426 metres high. To be fair, the views were spectacular and we even saw wild horses!
Thank goodness we’d packed a picnic! The children were helped around by munching on our favourite Herefordshire crisps from the Two Farmers (bribery at its best!).
The afternoon was spent having a socially distanced bbq with my in-laws. With the children eventually tucked up in bed, the evening was spent drinking cider outside listening to the combine harvester busy at work. Living the dream.
On route home we booked to visit Eastnor Castle. Not the best if I’m honest. Too busy and Covid requirements were not implemented well. We didn’t stay long. In more normal times it would be a fab day out – with mazes, a tree top play area and woodland walks with rope swings etc. We’ll have to come back one day.
All in all, a much needed break. I didn’t want the summer to pass without making new family memories and we certainly did that. We also came home refreshed and ready for the continued juggling of work and childcare.