Monday 22th April 

Abbey cloister wallHailes Abbey

Rag Doll Jolly lovesHailes Abbey is just the other side of Winchcombe. 

Tea and biscuits is available from the nearby fruit farm. Pleasant restaurant overlooking orchard. A field busy with "pick your own" signs. How voluntary? I'm not sure. There are several minibuses parked in the field. It looks like a scene from India. Colourfully dressed people are bending over picking spring onions.

Oh yes, the remains abbey are worth exploring. Even Jolly Molly walks around the square of the cloister. 

The Pitkin guide DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES gives a good introduction as to why these splendid buildings were abandoned.

The skeletal ruins of monasteries throughout England and Wales stand as stark reminders of the four years (153640) during King Henry VIII's reign when 10,000 monks, nuns and friars were dispersed. This reasoned guide explores whether religion or money motivated the Dissolution, and evaluates the results.

"The Pheasant", a pub on the nearby crossroads serves us generous sandwiches for lunch.

Harris HawksNational Birds Of Prey Centre

The National Birds Of Prey Centre is situated near Newant, a half an hour drive through  Cheltenham  and around the Gloucester ring road. There's no bypass around Cheltenham. Cheltenham is one way hell. It's damned tedious to drive through.

BlueOwlyAt the centre there are lots of birds to see. Many are un-caged, sitting on perches, tethered.
EagleGareth and OwlThe centre is run by Jemima who, and I'm sure she would agree, is what is termed a character.

It's great fun seeing her show the birds. I imagine she treats her dogs, staff, and visitors the same way. 

She teases her assistant, 17 year old Gary, while he puts an owl through its paces. 

Dog looks onOwlSome black Labradors help. There are 5 adults and 6 pups within the grounds.

The flying demonstration exercises an albino kestrel, a pair of Harris hawks, a Golden Eagle, a falcon, and Gareth's Owl. The handlers explain that some of the birds are not at their peak - a tad overweight. This is normal for this time of year, just after a 5 month wintering rest.


PeckySecretary A captivating show, and fascinating place to explore.

So far away

I return via the motorway, a 20 minute drive, delayed by a puncture.

Jolly Molly was astounded that I should have driven so far! 

"Newant - That's almost Wales! The other side of Gloucester. This is a Cotswold holiday - You really should stay in the Cotswolds!" she reprimanded.

Evening Meal

Tonight's venue: Old Farmers Arms, north of Bishops Cleeve.

Soup, dead pig, and we return home for scrabble. Jolly Molly wins 238 points to my mere 219.

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