The M5 southbound on a summer Friday. What joy! Who in their right mind would undertake a trip like this? Maybe the traffic would've been lighter if we'd travelled yesterday as planned but there was that small matter of the heart pounding away, the GP consultation, the 999 call, the trip to A&E, the blood tests, the ECGs...
Still no wiser with regards to what is happening on the cardiac front, and happy that those with more knowledge of the field than me don't feel that death is an imminent probability, we're heading to the Outlaws with cake and whisky in the boot, albeit a day later than intended, for today is Pa Outlaw's 92nd birthday.
On account of the pandemic I haven't seen Ma or Pa Outlaw for about a year and a half and the traffic levels suggest that it might be that long again before we reach Glastonbury. Time to see what Malcolm has to say for himself. Time to turn the Tom Tom on.
Malcolm, our minder of electronic maps, encourages us to leave the motorway at Junction 14 to avoid an hour's delay between there and the M4 and another forty-three minutes on the M32. With my current state of heart health it feels that it's possibly a good idea to save as much time as possible, so we take the proffered advice, turn off the motorway, and start on Malcolm's Magical Mystery Tour.
We pass neat stone cottages and spired churches, cross rivers with weirs and travel through the arches of tiny railway bridges. We pass the boarded-up and on the market Live and Let Live in Frampton Cotterell, two of whose key highlights in the sales details are 'Large 0.55 acre site' and 'Residential development opportunity' and, in huge contrast, the bursting at the seams Brassmill in Keynsham, before being dumped onto the A37 just north of Farrington Gurney. We're back in familiar territory.
This meant that we would be passing the Pound Inn in Coxley – pronounced Coaxley and not Cocksley, as I'm regularly reminded. This former coaching inn on the A39 between Wells and Glastonbury, along with the still operating Queen Vic in Priddy and Beckets on Glastonbury's High Street, was one of the first hostelries I visited on my early trips to the Outlaws before they'd become the Outlaws. I vividly remember my first visit, even though it was forty years ago. Entering the front door located in the corner, and having to step down, I found myself in a dark room with round tables and shelves containing boxes of games: Lexicon, Ludo, Contraband, Snakes & Ladders...
The inn had been operating across the road from the village's animal pound for more than four centuries before my first visit, with part of it reputedly dating from 1649.
Around 2014 the long-term owners sold the pub when they moved to another. Despite its age The Pound was not a listed building and ended up being demolished in April 2015, leaving the village publess. This was in the face of opposition from locals.
Ten houses were built on the site.
No pub left in the village, but the previous owners of The Pound also owned a field behind the pub which they did not sell and have since donated an acre for the community to build a 'hub' 'which will include a shop, café, toddlers’ play area, lounge, bar and a community activity space for skittles, pool table, darts and table tennis etc.' The Pound mk 2, perhaps.
That's the Pound away. What's the story with the heart? Well, at the weekend it's back to the hospital to be wired-up once more to a recorder whereupon I'll have to go out on the bike and pound away on the pedals to try to provoke the heart to pound away. Hopefully this won't be my last post. If you hear nothing more from me I hope that you've enjoyed my musings!
A bit of good news is that whilst in Glastonbury I discovered that the Crown Inn, which featured in this post, is open again.
That's something to celebrate. Just like a 92nd birthday.
The photographs by Derek Harper and David Smith are copyright and are reused under this licence.
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