This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. We do this in a bid to be less polluting and tackle climate change while at the same time keeping a global outlook. This post takes my family to a pub-crammed village famous for inspiring artist Stanley Spencer and Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame. It may be Berkshire, but for some art lovers it could be as satisfying a day trip as heading to Paris.
Big adventures are fun, but they are often hard to organise,
and can be expensive. Of course you don’t have to cycle the Alps to have an adventure.
You can have them in the UK, but as so much of British outdoor life is weather
dependent getting a party together (especially of mixed ages) to do something
on a set day you can all make can be easily spoilt by grey skies, a stiff
breeze and a downpour.
|Stick den in Quarry Wood. Clearly kids enjoy playing out around Cookham.|
And so micro adventures were born.
The name appears to come from Alastair Humphries, see his website here.
|Mistletoe seems to decorate a tree |
by the Thames Path.
Perhaps a micro adventure can just be going somewhere different, or going somewhere you know well and really exploring it in a different way?
Alastair’s website is all kids in sleeping bags roughing it without tents – you can do that in a garden too, it doesn’t have to be a super glamorous overseas location. His current challenge is to get people to commit to spending one night a month under the stars for a year. It’s a lovely idea and you’d learn so much from it. I'm thinking about it... but rather suspect that I won't.
Alastair is super creative (he funds his blog by asking people to shout him a coffee – the £2.50s add up and as a result he’s got a fab site). His adventures are incredibly varied and I am sure would be happy to spend a day climbing a tree to really develop a sense of what that particular oak is really like, and which little critters and birds visit it.
|A sunken (or green) lane crossing the woods on the Berks/Bucks border.|
I followed a 7-mile walk through Quarry Wood and up steep Winter Hill then down a chalk hillside for a last one and a half mile stroll along the River Thames back to Cookham and the Stanley Spencer art gallery.
|One of the houses Stanley Spencer lived and worked in, in Cookham.|
|In the Stanley Spencer gallery - it's a good use of an old chapel.|
|Kenneth Grahame's home - now a prep school - has a lovely Dutch gable.|
There are at least six pubs in Cookham, and all seemed to serve food (there's also the Teapot Tea shop in the high street which had delicious looking cakes). We tried the lovely old Bel & the Dragon, an old coaching inn. But a glass of white wine cost £9!! So for the next round we went to the Old Swan Uppers where for £7.50 I got a half of good beer, an even better glass of wine and a packet of crisps. Both were dog friendly, and both had lovely staff and roaring fires.
- Walk route was in Country Walks near London by Christopher Somerville. I used the 1994 edition, but this links to a much newer version. Somerville is my favourite walk guide -his routes are great because you don't have to have your nose in the book. It does help if you can bring an OS map too though.