Monday 25 April 2022

Me on Monday

 I mentioned before that our son and daughter in law gifted us a hotel voucher as a Christmas present, and we made our booking for last Friday.  Coco was booked into my niece's house for a couple of days and we headed off, bright and early, for the Chiltern hills.

When we were trying to decide where to go, we didn't want to go too far afield and waste our limited time away in the car so we chose Amersham, which is only about an hour and a half away.  Isn't it strange how we tend to venture further afield to discover new places and not visit places closer to home?  We based ourselves in Old Amersham at The Crown Inn.  If you've seen the film Four Weddings and a Funeral you will have already seen where we stayed as it was used as a location where Hugh Grant and Andi McDowell stayed there!

We started our exploration in West Wycombe which has close association with Sir Francis Dashwood who built the mausoleum dedicated to his family.

Quite an impressive structure!  Francis was a member of the Dilettanti Society and co founder of the Hellfire Club.  The Diettanti Society had a mysterious reputation and seemed to have an element of secrecy about it. The original club was disbanded but reformed under a different name 'The Order of the Knights of St Francis' organised by  Dashwood who arranged for the construction of a series of tunnels to be built beneath the local church and mausoleum so that they could have their meetings in complete privacy.  It was known as the Hellfire Club.

You can go into the Hellfire Caves to see where all the mysterious goings on took place and we kind of 'half explored' that.  

I'm not a lover of caves, but the entrance to them looked well lit and not too claustrophobic so I cautiously agreed to go in on the understanding that if I got spooked we would turn round and come out again!  The layout of the caves is not straightforward and you would go down a passage to be met with a choice of two directions to travel down.  Do you go left or right?  There weren't many other people around and we got about 3/4 of the way through when it seemed to get narrower, more steep, not so well lit, suddenly there was no one else in the passage we had chosen and water was dripping on my head.  I'm ashamed to say that this was my 'I need to get out now' moment!  So I've seen most of the infamous caves but not the inner sanctum!

So while I recovered from the stress we ate our picnic lunch we decided that we would stick to an afternoon of exploring open air places. We headed for Wendover Woods and enjoyed wonderful views over the Chiltern Hills.

Time to return to the hotel, have a shower and then head down the hotel restaurant, Hawkyns, which is run by Atul Kochar, a Michelin starred chef who specialises in modern Indian cuisine.  What a delicious meal!  Quite unlike any Indian meal I have had before and has possibly spoilt me for future Indian evenings with friends!  

The following day we headed up to Coombe Hills which has amazing views over the local area.  Apparently it is the highest viewpoint over the Chilterns.  Views too of Chequers, the countryside retreat that is used by every serving Prime Minister during their time in office.  

That's the house in the centre of the photo, isn't it a wonderful location?  

Next stop, Hughendon Manor. Now, those of you who follow Ruth's blog, will know that this is a favourite of hers!

What a beautiful house, with a fascinating history.  We have been to many National Trust properties over the years but I think that the volunteers who were available inside the house were the most knowledgeable and friendly we have ever met.  This was once the home of Benjamin Disraeli but holds a fascinating wartime history when it was used as a secret map making operation for the RAF with the codename 'Hillside', you can read more by clicking on the link.  The man in the short video is one of the volunteers who we met on our walk through the house.  

In addition to the house, there are more wonderful walks through the woods,

By then it was time to head home, having packed as much as we could into our couple of days away.  

So Monday finds me getting back to normal routine and not walking quite so many steps every day as I did over the weekend!  


Ruth said...

What a lovely time away you've had - I'm glad my recommendation met with your approval!

Patio Postcards said...

It sounds like a perfect mini get away. This was a perfect Christmas gift. I'm not sure I would have been a willing partner to walk in the tunnesl/caves, in the gardens & woods yes, but not underground!!

Barbara Eads said...

We call these kinds of trips---"road trips." They are my favorite. I love seeing little known and unusual things. That's why we love geo-caching so much. I guarantee you there are caches in every place you mentioned. You'd be surprised! Now I have to add these places to my list for the next time I'm over--depending on where they are. We plan to head to Nottingham and then on to the Lake District in 2023.