Merlin and the Chamber of Beer & Pimms
Team Merlin was again on the Donnington Way Ale quest but one-sixth down in numbers on this, one of the driest (ie only 2 pubs to visit) legs of the trail. Two Lanes Lane had become One Lane Lane as Mrs L spent the day looking after her not so well daughter. Starting point was the Golden Ball at Lower Swell, where One Lane Lane rolled up last, just off the plane from Crete and after only one hour of sleep – allegedly, the holiday was cut short so as not to miss this stage – that’s called dedication [take note, the rest of you reading this].
Merlin again provided the team with a pin-point precision itinerary, so first things first – into the pub at 12.00 for Pint no. 4 (no, not the 4th pint of the day, but the 4th pub visited so far) in order to tick the Golden Ball officially off the list. Twas not a good pint, in fact rather flat, but the Queen’s Head in Stow (Stage 1) had already shown us that the first pints of the day can be eminently quaffable, so the Golden Ball was given a low rating for this. However, it made us all the more eager for the pint awaiting us at the end of the 9-mile walk – well, it said 9 miles in the book but it actually turned out to be 10.5 miles!
After a fairly quiet start, the walk became more challenging when, first, we had to go through a gate that was guarded by some very inquisitive and hungry horses – all our food-laden rucksacks were subjected to an intense scrutiny; having survived that, we then found ourselves in a field with a herd of very frisky cows, clearly high on a different sort of grass. Lunch was taken soon after by a pond in the delightful village of Wyck Rissington; said pond was stocked with some large fish, many of which were the welcome recipients of some of our pre-packed lunches – later cries of ‘I’m hungry’ met with little sympathy.
Eventually, we encountered a stretch of road where Wilson was allowed out for some exercise. Unfortunately, our efforts to keep him busy caused us to miss a turning, so Wilson was ultimately responsible for most of the extra mileage covered – he’s now on a yellow card. The detour however meant we had to pass the same conker tree twice which thus gave Mrs Merlin two opportunities to collect conkers, to the amusement and bemusement of Miss To, who spent most of the rest of the walk learning all about the history and techniques of this most English of pastimes.
Not before time, the Fox Inn appeared like a beacon in the now fading light. For most of us, Pint no 5 went down very smoothly and very quickly; one person however (not Mrs M – you work it out), deprived of her favourite tipple during the walk, found herself in heaven - Winter Pimms on offer – the first one with mango juice was soon followed by a second with rhubarb juice. All this - and great food as well – made the Fox Inn a pub definitely worth another visit.
Stage 3 follows shortly – Merlin and the Prisoners of the Donnington Way
Report ghost-written from notes made by Matt Hartwell Event took place on the 10th October 2009