My husband, P, and I were presented with an opportunity this weekend which we haven't had in a long time - time to ourselves with nothing planned. With our two oldest now firmly ensconced at University, my youngest headed off on her first bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition with school, and was away for the night camping. We decided that it was our chance to do something new, so we booked ourselves into a lovely inn in Bradford-on-Avon, a little town not too far away. We had less than 24 hours, so wanted to keep the travelling time to a minimum, and went straight from work. Here's the inn, right next to the busy Kennet & Avon Canal.
The inn is next to a lock which is busy all day with narrow boats and pleasure craft pootling up and down.
As we walked into town after checking in it all felt very exciting to be out and about with the time to ourselves. Bradford is a very pretty little town nestling in the Avon Valley near Bath. It grew up around the woollen industry, and so many of the little cottages which tumble down the hillsides are old weaver's cottages. I always smile when I see this ancient house - it bulges in an unnerving way as if it's about to burst!
As well as the canal, and the railway line, the River Avon runs through Bradford towards Bath and Bristol, and was looking very tranquil.
On the bridge is a curious little building which I later discovered was originally a chapel, and then later the town lock-up. A night in there would make any miscreants rather reflective, I think!
After a delicious evening meal, we slept like logs and woke to an even more delicious breakfast. Needless to say, we didn't need any lunch that day.
Inside the pub it was beautifully decorated, and very cosy, and we could have happily sat and drunk coffee all morning, but it was time to explore again.
Back into town again, we wandered around the little streets and shops. The buildings are built from the local Bath limestone which has a very mellow appeal.
Everywhere winding streets curve up steep hills and disappear intriguingly from sight.
I loved this sweet ironmongers shop with it's goods displayed outside on the pavement, a very traditional reminder of times gone by.
We explored the Shambles, a very pretty little medieval shopping centre, including a greengrocer, a pet shop and a book shop.
I couldn't resist buying some cotton yarn from a sweet wool shop in some rich autumnal hues. Not sure exactly what I'll do with it, as I haven't yet finished J's blanket for Uni, but I succumbed to those colours.
I also bought this card which really grabbed my attention. It's called 'Girl With Greyhounds' by an artist called Dee Nickerson, and I love the girl's hair flying in the wind, top with seedheads and the coastal setting. I might even frame it.
After a while walking around the town we wandered along the canal past pretty narrow boats like this one.
And arrived at Bradford's medieval Tithe Barn, where farmers would take their 'tithes', one tenth of their produce as a tax which supported the church and government. It really is an impressive building, and you can just see P on the left of the picture reading a book he'd just bought whilst I explored.
I loved the amazing wooden structure of the roof.
Gorgeous medieval tiles on the outside.
And amazing trusses on the inside.
Back along the canal, I was rather taken by this attractive purple-painted barge.
And by the time we got back to the lock, the cafe was open and the canal was bustling with walkers and tourists.
We took one last look at the lovely pub and canal and headed home to meet our tired daughter after her expedition. It was an exciting opportunity for us to do something new and fun, and I'm so glad we were able to enjoy such a treat. Here's to many more adventures!