Flashback Friday #39

This is a fairly recent post from 2019 about the place where I live in response to a Lens-Artists’ challenge about the word ‘Magical’ posted on my Cornish blog – Cornwall in Colours


My Magical Place

Summer already seems long ago; the year has swiftly embraced autumn. The light is subtly different now. The sun is lower in the sky and shadows are longer and hard-edged. There is warmth in a sheltered spot, but an underlying chill lies in the air like a harbinger of winter.

The country lanes are no less interesting with the hips and haws and berries, wild flowers turning to seed; the bracken copper brown. On a clear day Trencrom hill still affords the most wonderful views to the Celtic Sea in the west and Mount’s Bay in the south.

Last week’s “micro harvest moon” (so named because it is the smallest it has been for a while on account of being at its furthest point in its orbit around the earth) appeared tiny and bright in our cloudless sky. So bright it kept waking me up during the night as it rose around sunset and set at sunrise. By early morning it had changed from being silvery white to golden yellow before sinking behind Trink hill. At the same time I saw the most wonderful saffron sky at dawn on my early morning trip to the bathroom and once again chastised myself for not yet having gone up onto ‘my’ hill to see the sun rise. In contrast the evening skies have been glowing red and orange and purple or more subtle peach and lilac. My favourite time of the year for sky watching is here.  From my magical place. Home.


This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.

World Photography Day

World Photography Day is an annual, worldwide celebration of the art, craft, science and history of photography.  And this year it is the 19th August.

Lacock Abbey

I thought I’d share some photos of Lacock Abbey once home to William Henry Fox Talbot, polymath and pioneer of Victorian photography, who moved to Lacock Abbey in 1827 and created the earliest surviving photographic negative in 1835, taken of a small window in the Abbey’s South Gallery. Not much bigger than a stamp!

When we visited in late May only part of the building was open, including the north cloisters. I do like a cloister though this one is quite small and the light was challenging.

Flashback Friday #31

In 2014 we took an add-on holiday to Dumfries and Galloway after spending a week in the Lake District based at Keswick. It is not a part of Scotland either of us had visited before, but it turned out to be one of the best holidays we have had.


The Gatehouse of Fleet

The town takes its name from its location near the mouth of the river called the Water of Fleet which empties into Wigtown Bay at Fleet Bay, and its former role as the “Gait House” or “the House on the Road on the River Fleet” or toll booth of the late 18th century stagecoach route from Dumfries to Stranraer, now the A75 road. It was a safe haven along this route, and travellers would often stop in the area rather than furthering the journey at night due to the high numbers of bandits and highwaymen at the time. Wikipedia

We drove a few miles from Kirkcudbright to visit the converted mill ‘The Mill on the Fleet‘ (1788) to have  a look at the art gallery and bookshop and also have coffee and cake on the terrace at the  Tart n’ Tea  café. The most delicious cream choux pastry I have ever eaten.  Cardoness Castle is on the outskirts of the town too and Cally Nursery, which I didn’t get the time to visit.

DSCF8502

Having picked up a leaflet from the Information Office in Kirkcudbright of a Walking Tour of the town I dragged the OH off for a stroll.  I think he’d have quite happily remained on the terrace or in the second-hand bookshop if it hadn’t been closing time.

The Mill and Terrace

Leaving the Mill behind you cross over a pedestrian bridge and through the park to the Riverbank – a housing project built in the 1950s to cope with the overcrowding and poor conditions in Gatehouse. Turning left on to Hannay Street you pass an interesting little Episcopal Church with robin’s egg coloured painted windows.

DSCF8584And on the corner stands the rather dilapidated Ship Inn (previously Anworth Hotel) where Dorothy L Sayers wrote Five Red Herrings. One of the Gatehouse artists of the ’20s and ’30s, Alice Sturrock, also lived along here.

Continue reading Flashback Friday #31

Flashback Friday #24

Just Back From… the Cotswolds was written in June 2013 after a lovely spring break to celebrate the OH’s birthday. Spring was a little late that year.


the old post officeWhen you think of the Cotswolds it is the warm honey-coloured limestone and cute thatched cottages inviting romance and tranquillity that spring to mind and where market towns (formerly centres of the wool trade) have wide squares and streets and are the centres of activity. Brooks and rivers bridged by tiny stone arches  meander through the hidden villages in the rolling hills and farmland where country pubs have flagstone floors, beamed ceilings and inglenook fireplaces with log fires.

You may also think about crowds of tourists and visitors up from London for the day, often on large touring coaches; ancient churches and manor houses; picture-book tea-rooms; expensive antique, retro and vintage shops. You’d be right about all of these things, but there is another side to the Cotswolds to be explored if you look.

The Cotswolds district is mainly in the counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire with parts of Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Somerset at the edge. It is an area filled with hundreds of small towns and villages that don’t appear on the calendars and book covers or hog the limelight, but are equally attractive. Discover them by driving along the plethora of narrow, winding roads which often provide the most amazing views over the Wolds and the valleys. There are public footpaths, national trails and bridleways galore. Find yourself in a charming and unspoilt village away from the main tourist spots and walk around listening to the birdsong and admiring the chocolate box cottages and striking parish church. In the late spring sunshine, with so many shades of green it is impossible to count, you may stumble across a woodland carpeted with bluebells.

adlestrop laneIn the north of the region take a romantic circular drive from Moreton-in-Marsh to Stow-on-the-Wold stopping at Broadway Tower and Country Park for a picnic with a view, Broadway village with its wide main street, Snowshill Manor with its collection by the eccentric Charles Paget Wade, Snowshill Lavender farm in the summer, and Hailes Cistercian Abbey ruins, a most peaceful spot on the Cotswolds Way. Continue through Guiting Power with the ‘Hollow Bottom Inn’ and the picturesque Lower Slaughter with the tiny River Eye running through it.

There are dozens of lovely homes and gardens for you to visit, some owned by the National Trust, others in private ownership. Some are large estates such as Sezincote or Hidcote and attract the coach parties, others are smaller and often quieter. All are worth a visit.

sezincote

The Cotswolds is a vast region and requires several days to explore it thoroughly. We only touched on a small part in four days; there is a lot more to discover.


This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.

Just Back From… Mid-Somerset

I have waited four years to write another ‘Just Back From’, it’s not only been the pandemic that has interfered with our lives over the last four years. My middle son has been seriously ill and hospitalised for months at a time (2017 and 2019) and then my mother-in-law needed extra support until her death in late 2018. Fortunately for us we live in a county that is visited by millions of other people each year so we are one of the lucky ones where every day can seem like a holiday.

Our first break away was looked forward to both with anticipation and some degree of trepidation. What was it going to be like ‘out there’ among people, going to restaurants, being in a town/city? We were suffering from social anxiety after over a year of keeping to ourselves.

Cathedral Green, Wells

This trip to Wells, the smallest city in England, was long overdue. I had wanted to go there last spring, but then the pandemic hit. We considered the autumn, but decided to wait. And we are glad that we did. Fully vaccinated and with a birthday to celebrate we chose the week before the half term in the hope that everywhere would be just that bit quieter and when restaurants could open for indoor service again.

Wells Market Square

It wasn’t the usual May weather: this year May has been very wet and cold, but it was hopeful for a warmer end to the week. Raincoats were duly packed, just in case, and the itinerary was left fluid. There were a few “must sees” – the main being Wells Cathedral – and Glastonbury.

A drive through the north Somerset landscape took us to Chew Valley Lake not far from Bristol airport where we had hoped to have a couple of walks and look for some interesting birdlife, but the walks were inaccessible due to repairs in the car park and the weather turned wet. We drove back via the famous Cheddar Gorge (the B3135) and the village of Cheddar, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, but decided against stopping. Climbing up to the top of the gorge is beyond us now and definitely not in the rain. Those who love exploring caves may like to stop at Wookey Hole, again, not for us, but we love the name!

Nunney Castle

On a drive to Frome we diverted to Nunney where there is a picturesque moated castle that dates from the 1370s. Its builder was Sir John de la Mare, a local knight who was beginning to enjoy royal favour.  It is situated in a very pretty little village with a lovely church and grounds.

Frome itself was a huge disappointment. We had considered whether we could move there given it is a market town, but it seems rather downtrodden and the dismal weather didn’t help. I was hoping for nice river walks, but we couldn’t find any.

We spent a day in Wells itself, walking the 20 minutes across fields from our B&B on the outskirts of the city to enjoy the Bishop’s Palace Gardens before going into the Cathedral. The moat around the gardens is impressive and we loved seeing a swan family complete with five cygnets.

No, not this swan, this is a sculpture

Rain arrived in the afternoon whilst photographing Vicar’s Close, so after a well needed coffee sitting in the gardens under an umbrella, we decided to give up and head off back to the B&B. Feet sore and legs tired. Walking all day is not what we usually do.

Vicars Close

We took the bus in on the Wednesday morning to visit the open-air market. Now that is well worth visiting. Lots of lovely stalls including a great fresh fishmonger. There are some great restaurants and cafes in Wells and lots of shops. The only downside was that the impressive iconic West Front of the cathedral, featuring 300 medieval carvings,  is covered in scaffolding!

Wells Cathedral West Front
Bishop’s Palace Gardens
Entrance to the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens

Our day in Glastonbury turned out to be one of the best days of the week, bright and sunny and warm. Perhaps a tad too warm for climbing up the tor, but we gave it our best.

Market Cross, Glastonbury

It is a unique town “…in Glastonbury history, myth and legend combine in such a way that most visitors cannot fail to feel the “vibes” and powerful atmosphere of the town. For not only is Glastonbury the cradle of Christianity in England but is also reputed to be the burial place of King Arthur. where many of the shops are involved in the sale of mystical objects and artifacts. Glastonbury with its myths, legends and ley lines has become a centre for New Age culture and spiritual healing.” from (The History of Glastonbury)

Glastonbury shops

The abbey and the grounds are lovely and tranquil and we enjoyed wandering around for a couple of hours before driving closer to the tor and stopping to go into the Chalice Wells Gardens for an hour. More will be written about all the gardens on my flower blog in due course.

Glastonbury Abbey ruins
Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Chalice Wells Garden

Whilst in the region we also headed up to Lacock Abbey and Village up north in Wiltshire, near Chippenham.

Lacock Abbey Cloisters

The whole village is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust and the unspoilt village has been used in many period dramas such as Cranford and Downton Abbey (and for those who care, apparently some of the Harry Potter films). The abbey located in the centre of the village was founded in the 13th century, but due to covid only a few rooms were open at the time. We had a very enjoyable walk around the Abbey grounds and the cloisters at the abbey and a brief look at the the Fox Talbot Museum, devoted to the pioneering work of William Henry Fox Talbot in the field of photography, before heading to the Red Lion for a leisurely lunch and then a wander around the village. However the charm of the buildings is spoiled by the number of cars parked in the village. It is a shame they don’t have a car park on the outskirts for the villagers and ban parking altogether.

Lacock Village

More gardens were visited at the end of the week in sunnier climes, this time heading south to East Lambrook Manor Gardens, the home of  plantswoman Margery Fish who famously said “When in doubt, plant a geranium.” And yes I came away with several. A 15 minute drive from there took us to Montecute House (NT) and coffee then we returned for lunch at the Rose and Crown in East Lambrook before finishing the day at Barrington Court (NT) another 15 minutes away down the road. All built out of the lovely local honey-coloured hamstone.

We had a good week away, despite unsettled weather and enjoyed driving through the Somerset countryside and lots of little villages due to some interesting routes provided by Florence (our SatNav). If you are big on shopping then the Clark’s Village (retail outlet) on the outskirts of Street / Glastonbury or Kilver Court in Shepton Mallet, with its designer shops may interest you. We visited Kilver Court, but only to go to the gardens there which have been designed around a viaduct. They are quite interesting with the rock garden and pools and the small nursery attached has some very interesting plants for sale.

Going away in these odd times was different. It felt quite strange to be amongst people on fairly busy streets, though most people respected your space. Masks were worn in every shop and restaurant (until seated), staff wore masks or visors and tables were kept at a distance. You do have to be patient and tolerant with the service though as we found it tended to be very slow in many places. To be expected as businesses had only just opened to indoor service when we visited. Many hospitality venues are struggling for staff too. And it is best to book tables especially at the weekend and check if booking to venues is required.

PS You can tell that we are unused to going away from home. For the first time ever I managed to leave my camera battery charger at home. So many photos were taken using my phone which drained the battery as you can imagine! One way to limit the number of photos taken.