Sunday 19th June was my 52th Birthday (Oh My God .... am I really that old? Oops .... look in mirror ..... yes, I am!!). We always try to go away for a long weekend for our Birthdays, so we had Friday 17th June off and had a long weekend at Ansty Hall Hotel near Coventry. This is a great way to use up Tesco Clubcard Rewards tokens and effectively means a great long weekend away for very little cash! This hotel is part of the MacDonald chains of hotels ..... and no, not the burger people ..... they are McDonalds ... no connection at all!!
We've been to quite a few of their hotels now and this is one of the nicest. It is quite an old building with lots of interesting features inside. Our room was very spacious and actually in the top left-hand corner of this photo. The staff are also very good and we got very good service at breakfast over the weekend.
We arrived just after mid-day on the Friday and decided to go out for a walk along the Oxford canal that is located not that far from the hotel.
You might think that, by now, we'd be sick of walking alongside canals but we love it! The paths, by definition, are pretty flat so the walking is not too strenuous. Added to this, there is always lots to see. We passed a farm with what looked like several rare breed animals; I think the sheep above are soy sheep? Not sure!
Not forgetting that the water attracts so much wildlife. Aren't cygnets cute?
We actually walked quite a way on the Friday, covering 15.4 miles over 4 hours 52 mins. This did involve stopping at a lovely pub called The Greyhound at Hawkesbury Junction for our evening meal. I didn't take a photo as it was too dark but the link goes to a photo. The pub was very good with fantastic food. Can thoroughly recommend it!
On Saturday, we again aimed to walk along the Oxford canal but in the other direction. However, we started by looking round Ansty Church which is actually right next door to the hotel. This is a very pretty little Church and luckily it was open enabling us to have a good look round. I love looking round old Churches. The craftsmanship that has gone into the stained glass windows, the wooden carvings on the pews and other fittings and the stonework on memorials is a delight to really examine. And even if you have no religious feelings, who can deny that the atmosphere in many old Churches is magical?
Of course, what I have failed to mention about Friday was that we did get caught by the rain a little bit! This also happened on Saturday as well. However, the weather was really odd ...... blue skies one moment and then very heavy rain that lasted for a little while but would then stop!
Have I managed to capture the heavy downpour in the photo below? Not sure! Still ..... it wasn't cold and the rain didn't dampen our enjoyment of the walk.
Part of our walk on Saturday involved walking through Newbold Tunnel. This is an amazing 1/4 mile tunnel that is illuminated by red, blue and green floodlights. Because of the reflection in the water, it creates the illusion of circles of colour and it is very eerie to walk through there.
More swans and cygnets, this time on the path. The parents are obviously more used to people than many swans as they didn't hiss at John for getting this close to their babies! Earlier in the day, we'd had to cautiously skirt our way round some swans and their cygnets that were sitting on the towpath! Their hissing definitely meant, Keep Away!!
We walked a total of 17.3 miles on Saturday and were plodding just a little during the last couple of miles. Still, we liked The Greyhound pub so much that we had booked a table for dinner in the evening and after another lovely meal there, we felt better!
On the Sunday, my actual Birthday, we went into Coventry. Here is John alongside a statue of James Brindley, 'the Father' of the British Canal system, in the Coventry Canal Basin. The Canal Basin looks like it is designed to have an artsy-craftsy feel to it but, unfortunately, none of the shops were open and some were unoccupied ..... perhaps feeling the current economic pinch? A shame because it is a very attractive place, much nicer than the main Coventry shopping area.
However, the main reason we went into Coventry was to see the Cathedral. Our first view of it was this rather austere concrete view of the back!
And, of course, everyone is familiar with this image of the statues on the front. Both the angel and the devil look rather frightening, don't you think?
I loved the modern etching on the glass wall near to the Cathedral entrance. The inside of the Cathedral I'm afraid I'm not too keen on. The masses of concrete walls and the darkness don't appeal! I'm of the view that Cathedrals should be about light and airiness and leave you feeling uplifted. The very dark stained glass and very low light levels are just too depressing.
Right next to the Cathedral are the remains of the Cathedral destroyed during the bombing in WWII. Although it is a sad place in that the results of the terrible destruction during WWII are only too obviously visible, it is nevertheless a place that inspires hope. There are many sculptures that express how people are working towards reconciliation and peace and it leaves a very positive impression of how things could be.
All in all, a great Birthday weekend :)