We’re not a couple for big holidays, but just recently our life has taken a turn for the glamorous. Job interviews and subsequent relocation mean that we’ve been exploring some of the finest budget hotels in the greater Midlands area, including the fancy likes of Bicester and Northampton. It’s always a good excuse for a trip away though, CST-style, and staying in Coventry Travelodge takes some beating in the glamour stakes. We were only sad to have forgotten our 2-for-1 Toby Carvery breakfast vouchers.
This time, we eschewed the vast flyovers and concrete road-mazes of central Coventry and headed out on the road towards Leamington Spa and Warwick after having had a quick drive around the pretty fancy University of Warwick. This route brings you into the ridiculously scenic country town that is Kenilworth. It may be surrounded by the medieval big hitter at Warwick, the Regency smartness of Leamington, the ashphalt maze of Coventry and the hulking West Midlands conurbation just the other side of the M42; but Kenilworth retains a bucolic air of calmness and relaxation, all watched over by a wonderfully ruinous castle. Arriving onto The Square in search of breakfast, a gloriously sunny day lay stretching ahead of us, and we ate our scrambled eggs on toast very cheerfully in a café aptly named Escape.
There seems to be a correllation between the sort of wealth of residents and the proximity of a railway station. Kenilworth has none, excluding many commuters; but the town exudes a comfortable wealth and community that’s evident in its charity shops and the bustling, friendly vibes of the high street. Up at the Square end, Oxfam bears evidence of this with its wealth of genuinely interesting artefacts. There are silver-topped walking canes; an excellent and interesting book selection; several substantial sets of Denby stoneware; and best of all some ancient cameras complete with some sort of concertina-type mechanism.
Close by is Cats Protection: less fancy, but very good for a rummage. We came away with a £2.50 leather suitcase and very nearly a pile of caravan-friendly melamine cruets, dishes and the like. There’s a cheerful selection of vinyls and books, and some fairly constant singing staff. Head down Warwick Road and you’ll find plenty more: RSPCA, AgeUK, Acorns Hospice, Myton Hospice, Cancer Research and Headway all offering a variety of goodies. There’s also a Scope tucked around the corner in the new pedestrianised development
It’s rare that I’ll suggest this, but with a town centre crammed with no less than nine charity shops, you still haven’t seen the best of Kenilworth. Get your comfy shoes on and take a hike up the hill: there’s another, more select High Street; street after street of the most beautiful, rambly old houses, many overlooking Abbey Fields; and best of all, the massive Kenilworth Castle in all its crumbly, red sandstone glory. While it’s only a little town really, there’s plenty to explore, and it’s just about worthy of a rare five out of five.
Find: Kenilworth @ Google Maps
Get there: Like at Stow, the railway is a luxury you don’t get in Kenilworth. Plenty of buses though.
Consume with: There’s a number of good looking eateries – we broke our fast at Escape, and The Almanack also looked nice.
Visit: The castle, obviously.
Overall rating: five vintage cameras