Remember April 2012? the wettest on record. 15 families were all set for Stratford, but the campside was called Island Meadow. Now 'Island Flooded' after some fast re-organisation we booked into Thistledown, sited on a hill near Stroud in Gloucestershire.
Number one in the cool camping guide, it promised an envoironmental stay, with composting toilets, woods and camp fires and a good choice it turned out to be.
We arrived Friday night, wheelbarrowing all our stuff down the hill to a secluded area, adjoined by a wood full of bluebells. Fire duly lit, 4 of us shivered on one of the coldest nights of the year
Saturday brought good weather, as we set of towards the Severn Valley. Being on an escarpment meant a fast descent to Frocester and the only puncture of the holiday. North to the Sharpness Canal and into Frampton-on-Severn where a very fortunate lady was putting out a 'Open for tea' sign. Children filled with Hot Chocolate we cycled Sustrans route 45, passing through the Stroud/Nailsworth connurbation. The first 6 miles was a mixture of pavement and cycle track, tricky to follow, but this led to 5 miles of disused railway that was lovely to ride and to cap it all it ended very close to Hobbs House bakery which is a top bakery/tea stop. It was a steep final climb back to the site, but that didn't seem to matter with a stomach full of merangue. Siobhan had organised the Black Horse pub for an evening meal and by the time we'd all found it, the majority munched burgers from slates and warmed ourselves by the log fire.
Sundays weather was even better and we were even treated to sunshine, anyone would think we were on holiday. Heading south west, we passed through Kingscote and a glorious back lane to Tetbury. At one point we rode between 2 rape fields that produced a photographic moment akin to sunflowers during the Tour de France. The Badminton horse trials had been cancelled so the townsfolk were grateful for the ice creams and coffees consumed, before we split in two for the journey back. Abbie, Emma and Gabriella aren't long of the kiddibacks, so their parents took them the fast way back. The rest of us went back via Eastcourt and a picnic at Kemble before returning through the rape fields. The campfire was better attended as we toasted marshmallows and watched the full moon rise over this extraordinary campsite.
Monday was.......well wet. Like the ambulance from 'Ice Cold in Alex' we winched the wheelbarrows up the hill in the drizzle and all set off for home waiting to re-assemble in Stratford next May