On Friday afternoon the weekend loomed in front of me. Not a single plan had been made. Fab! Normally my weekends are packed full and I’m here, there and everywhere! My parents were initially intending to visit, so I kept the weekend clear, however their plans changed. So I had a bright sparkly weekend all ready to go.
Friday night I ended up at my friends house making chicken and chorizo paella. My family make this recipie all the time as it is happy, bright, tasty and kinda healthy. So my friend’s kitchen was cozy and smelling like home. Saturday morning dawned and I was in a “lets sort out my life” mode. I picked up the weekley shopping, cleaned the flat, recycled a tonne of old travel magazines (pretty but not necessary…), read half of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Attwood, baked a batch of apple turnovers, two lemon drizzle loaves while watching two terrible action films (my favourite film genre) and finally made myself a fish finger sandwich for dinner. So pretty productive!
I had checked the weather on Friday night and the reports were promising some sunshine on Sunday- I woke up to grey skies disheartened. Checking the forecast again, the sunshine had moved to 12:00 onwards. So more sorting, packing rucksacks, phoning friends to see if they wanted to come on a short hike with me. My friend was keen, but delayed- so I took the opportunity to visit my Grandma as I was driving in the same direction. After a cup of tea and refusing some cake about 6 times, I was finally on my way to Ashridge Park, a National Trust Estate.
The sunshine was at full strength now so the park was crazy busy! I managed to spot a car leaving so swooped into the spot- woohoo. I waited for my friend to get lost and eventually we met at the visitor center at the heart of the estate. Ashridge is famous for it’s bluebells in Spring and they were out in full force, which also contributed towards the crowds. Rather than go along the crowded “bluebells” routes that the park had organised, we chose to follow a “3 Wood Walk” that was posted on the national trust website as a self-led walk. I have followed a few of the self-led walks before, however I do have a bit of a tradition of getting lost!
Almost as soon as we set out onto the paths and away from the central visitors center, the crowds thinned out. We were left with wide paths bathed in dappled sunlight. The odd bluebells poked up in the surrounding banks, however I knew that there would soon be a blue purple carpet. We rounded a corner and found a quiet little wood with the little indigo flowers as far as the horizon. It was just us and some birds singing, although a crazy springer spaniel soon joined us! We followed the route round, crossed the main drive car park and off into the woods again the other side. We curved around for a few kilometres, debating if the junction we just passed was the t junction we were meant to turn at.
I then bumped into a friend I knew from university that I haven’t seen in 3 years, also out with some friends and enjoying the bluebells! What are the chances. We soon found the path to the centre again and hatched a plan to see out the last of the sunshine in a pub down the road. We were only going to grab a quick snack, and both ended up with a 2 course meal and a half pint of cider! £20 total bill- what a steal! A lovely little microadventure for my sparkly free weekend.
The Budget Explorer