Conveniently Located for a Family Day Out
I imagine we're probably not alone in having friends and family scattered across the UK. Living in the Midlands, it's fairly easy to travel to most places, but even so, distance makes it tricky to meet up as often as we'd like without synchronising diaries months in advance to organise overnight stays.
This year, I've resolved that in order to spend more time with loved ones, we ought to try and find equidistant locations for days out that everyone can get to without too much travelling. We can have a great time together yet still collapse in our own beds at the end of the day.
With this in mind, when planning a get-together with family who live on the south coast, we looked around the Oxfordshire/Berkshire area for somewhere we could meet up with the dogs, and settled on Bowdown Woods, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust's largest woodland reserve in Berkshire.
We parked in the car park off Burys Bank Road and set off initially on the surfaced track, accessible for less mobile visitors, and my nephew didn't hesitate to start exploring and climbing trees...
We then headed down a steeper, stepped path into the valley. We had to jump over fallen branches and trees resultant from the recent stormy winter which in the spring sunshine felt like a lifetime ago.
At the bottom of the valley we found a shallow stream and had loads of fun building bridges from the fallen branches and splashing around with the dogs.
We'd worked up a real appetite so headed to dog-friendly and aptly named pub The Sun In The Woods at Thatcham.
Being as it was such a lovely day we sat outside on the terrace in the garden overlooking the play area which my nephew loved.
The interior of the pub is cosy and stylish with open log fires and muted tones. There was a lot of choice on the menu, but only one vegetarian meal and uninspiring pesto pasta at that. The duty manager explained that as they had only taken over the pub in the last two days, they were still finding their feet with the menu which was fair enough. The staff were really friendly and helpful and I got the impression they would have come up with an alternative vegetarian dish had we needed them to.
The food itself was very good though and served in decent portions. Olive was unimpressed not to have been offered a taste of the pork loin.
We had a great day out, managing to catch up and enjoy each-other's company without anyone having to travel huge distances or go to great efforts to rearrange diaries. I thoroughly recommend this approach to get-togethers, and Wildlife Trust nature reserves lend themselves perfectly to meeting up outdoors with dogs and kids, often free to visit and handily located all over the UK.
I'd be interested to hear about other handily-located WT sites, or other tips for finding ways to spend time with loved ones who live far away, comment below!