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Posted:  Sunday 25 March 2018

A ''Spring'' Break for
North East Associates

- Monday 19th to Friday 23rd March -

Since our AGM on 16th March the mini "Beast from the East" has come and gone without causing much disruption at lower levels here in north-east England.
The cold, however, remained with us as we waited for our National Holidays coach to be slotted into what appeared to be an endless stream of their vehicles leaving from central Newcastle between seven and eight on a Monday morning.

Making up just over half of the passenger complement our party of twenty-two were in good spirits as we began our customary tour of regional pick-up points before heading for Ferrybridge Services and a 'legal stop' for the driver.
Not to say that we didn't need this also!

Leaving Ferrybridge our 'new to National Holidays' driver took the slip-road to Hull.  His mentor must have been dozing in the front seat - so we saw a few miles of motorway new to us as we aimed for the planned route!  Exciting to be sure!!

The three spires of Lichfield Cathedral

Moving on our first 'itinerary stop' was Lichfield in Staffordshire, above, where the sun was shining but not warming us.  Roads were clear and safe but the signs of the snow had become more noticeable as we journeyed south.

Lichfield Meeting Point The Acorn Inn

After refreshing the inner man our hotel was the next destination on our "Cotswolds Leisure" break.  This was the 'Bromsgrove Hotel & Spa' to the south of Birmingham, being changed just four days ago.  It was twenty miles south of the original base but still about forty miles from the Cotswolds!

The hotel exceeded all expectations, being clean, bright, spacious and comfortable.
The "99p bar" was an added bonus!
Congregating in the reception lounge after a substantial dinner the group had a lot of catching up to do since our Blackpool holiday in November last year.

"Day-the-next" was a trip to Oxford, a little to the east of the Cotswolds, where the very cold weather resulted in us soon looking for warmth.  The city, however, was very busy with many tourist groups and students thronging the pavements.
Still, we were intent on keeping warm!

Even those going on the guided bus tour travelled on the lower deck, buses passing all had "plenty of room on top".

Oxford old

Oxford new

Oxford even older

Some sightseeing and shopping were in order - then to the meeting place.

Oxford Meeting Point The Four Candles

Heading out of Oxford our driver again 'went the wrong way', this time with a different mentor not noticing.  So, we saw an extra five miles of Oxfordshire in two directions.  Here there was plenty evidence of drifting snow along the sheltered hedgerows and in the ditches.

Another day, another excursion - this time to Stratford-upon-Avon in plenty sunshine and a little warmer in this.

     Holy Trinity Church, Stratford - William Shakespeare's final resting place

Only one swan here, further upstream they may outnumber the visitors      

Where are the Cotswolds?  Walking, and retail therapy, were the order of the day in Stratford, meeting up as usual before spreading out again prior to our return to the hotel where many took advantage of the included spa facilities.

Stratford Meeting Point The Golden Bee

With a change of coach, and driver, we are off to the Cotswolds at last, our first stop being the pretty village of Stow-on-the-Wold, and it could be even prettier without parked vehicles lining the streets to capacity.

Medieval St. Edward's Church, Stow

After a short visit for sightseeing, and shopping for some, Bourton-on-the-Water was our second stop.  The lack of vehicles here made such a difference.
The open and clear space in this village, with the River Windrush running through the centre, was an attractive change to Stow.

Visits to the Model Village and the Motor & Toy Museum - where many folks saw their 'first car' - were well supported.

    We would have drooled over this 1932 MG J2

Maybe a 1946 Standard 8 was more our type   

There is a gem to be seen in the museum -

Must be old - Thomas Hedley, Newcastle & Manchester
Wonder if the contents are real!

Then it was time for lunch and refreshment.

Bourton Meeting Point KIngsbridge

Shoppers returning to the coach found a handbag sale irresistable!

Later that evening, our last in the hotel, Peter Brougham amusingly thanked Colin Harris for organising the trip, supporting this with a few appreciated and useful gifts - all-the-while preventing us from seeing the fire!

Lily, with chocolates to share - a prizewinner today in Colin's daily quiz          

The fire, and, could be seen from four sides!                       

A visit to Royal Leamington Spa was part of the last day of our itinerary on Friday.

For two hours, not four, we agreed to stay here so some shopping, followed by refreshment indoors to restore body warmth.

Leamington Spa Meeting Point The Benjamin Satchwell

Noon - and we were off on the drive home after a very enjoyable stay in the West Midlands.  After an uneventful journey we followed the typical NH drop-off trail back to Tyneside where at seven in the evening we said our farewells at the spot where we had met-up early on Monday morning.
Perish the thought of what could have been a nine-at-night arrival!

The next holiday trip is to Weston-super-Mare in November for which many folks have already booked - ho, ho, ho, it's "Turkey & Tinsel" time.  We'll be there in time for low tide so can have some exercise with a walk to the waters' edge!

Until then, for north-east Associates, we have a series of monthly pub lunches and several other events to which you and a partner or friend are welcome.

Please come and join us - details of all the events will be delivered to you in mid April.


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