Monday, 20 February 2017

Last Summer pt 2 - Dunster

Day two of our holiday and it's a Sunday. So, first things first, finding somewhere nice to have a Sunday lunch, we chose the Stags Head in Dunster.

Dunster is a medieval settlement with iron age roots.  The basis of what you see now was formed in the late 11th century, and Dunster Castle is mentioned in the Domesday book, being built just after the Norman conquest.  The village grew up around the castle, which sits atop a Tor, or rocky hill.

 Dunster castle from the beach

By the time we had parked up for free in the castle car park, courtesy of National Trust membership, it was almost lunch time. We meandered through the castle grounds, straying into the village beyond, and discovered a 15th century grade I listed packhorse bridge (Gallox bridge, so called as there were gallows nearby) on the way.

   We spotted a chap mowing the lawn to the left and struck up a conversation.  He told us all about the television programme Time Team, and their visits to Dunster and the history of the area around the bridge, that the nearby mature trees will have to be cut down soon as they are unstable and threaten the bridge (the ones behind OH in the photo), and his own walks, he was approaching 80 (and looked no more than 65) and was planning to walk Hadrian's wall for his big birthday!

These quintessential cottages were nearby, how very English is this!

 A quick look around the town and we honed in on the pub for our lunch at noon, prompt.

OH had the roast beef but I plumped for fish, and surprisingly, they reduced the price as I asked for a smaller piece of fish.

We were so pleased we went in at noon, as by half past the place was heaving, mainly with other tourists. We finished up and had a slow walk back to the castle for our tour.

 Dunster church

Dunster yarn market, another grade I listed building and from 17th century

The impressive and original 13th century gates to the castle, at the top of one of the steepest hills I've walked up!

The impressive frontage showing Victorian improvements to Dunster castle

All very Romantic and Gothic!

Inside is very much what you would expect, grand rooms huge fireplaces you can walk in, opulent decoration and sumptuous fabrics 

Look at that massive gong!

Four poster, anyone?

I had to have a go on the snooker table

Nice place for a read

 Interesting to see this guide to the shooting season was produced by a Birmingham company (Birmingham was known as the city of a thousand trades at one point) as were the cartridges, no doubt.

The view from the castle was stunning, and the weather wasn't too bad either!

Right, this is where it gets a bit spooky, we followed the signs to the crypt, and the lights go on and off in some areas,when the lights went off I took a photo

I took this, there was no mist in the crypt, and that swirly bit in the middle is a bit odd.  I'm not a great believer in things that go bump but I'm not sure what to make of it, it was certainly a little creepy down there

Yes, those are eyes you can see shining in the doorway, we could just make out the statue, which was intermittently lit up to scare people

Back down to the village we went, through one of few original bits of the medieval castle, the gatehouse

Wearing: DKNY jeans £1, BNWT Artscape top £2, leather Coccinelle handbag £1, all charity shopped, Eddie Bauer leather sandals Ebay £4 plus postage.

On the photo above you can see the incredibly steep hill up to the castle

Outside of the castle walls and we wandered the village, the narrow medieval streets twist and wind and compel you to go just a little bit further to see what delight is around the next corner.

We found these delightful gardens with a lovely view of the church

 Which happened to lead us to a craft and coffee shop offering cream teas!

 More wandering and we soon discovered secret gardens at the back of the church, how idyllic

Through a heavy wrought iron gate and into a lovely open space

Back around the base of the tor, through the castle grounds to the car park, we stopped to admire the watermill, this building was constructed in 1780 and stands on the site of an earlier mill, mentioned in the Domesday book

The mill is still grinding wheat today, how fast is that mechanism!

After a lovely day with very good weather, so good that even I had to change into sandals, we set off back to the holiday cottage to plan our next trip in Somerset.

Join me soon for more tales from last Summer

Monday, 13 February 2017

Cheap sew and sew

I mentioned recently that I found an Aquascutum skirt in a charity shop, it was minus the label, but I saw the hanging loops which had the branding on.

I nearly fell over in the shop, but hid my excitement and paid the £1.95 and ran out

Anyway, excitement turned to dismay when I found the moth holes, the hem was riddled. There were also several stains in the fabric too.

 I contemplated taking the skirt back as really it should have been ragged.  However, I realised I only wanted a short skirt, so deconstructed the bottom half, and removed a good 4 inches off the length, before sewing back up, and hemming by hand.  

Here is the finished article, all hand washed in Stergene (despite the dry clean only label, it is wool and silk, which can be washed, the only dodgy part was the lining but I crossed my fingers and that came through!)

This is before it was pressed, it looks a lot better now

A few weeks ago I also bought this blanket wrap, it was on a pound rail and something I wanted to try wearing but wasn't sure about. These things are so far out of my comfort zone it's untrue.  I loved the colours so bought it anyway.

My mannequin is set up at my height and you can see from this that the blanket wrap is way too big.  I tried it on but it just drowned me. Also, it was way too fussy for me, I don't like having to think about what I am wearing once it's on.

So, much searching on the internet and I decided to change the blanket wrap into a poncho with fixed sides and a slash neck

It is about 15 inches shorter than it was, plus the sides are partially sewn, so it just pulls on like a poncho.

Slash neck detail

Sleeve seam detail.  Not brilliant sewing but the light is bad in the cottage and I don't have a craft light at present.  There is a seam down the front, but it is offset to one side in the fold at the shoulder, so hidden from view.

I've had a few nice bargain buys lately as well. The first one is a bit of a surprise as it is the most I've ever spent on a jumper, £30.

Bit of a back story to this: In May last year I was involved in a car accident.  I was hit whilst in a traffic jam, and the person who hit me turned out to be a learner on his own in the car.  My car was written off but only because the repairs were deemed to be more than 60% of the cars value.  I arranged for my car to be repaired and had to pay for it to be fixed (I didn't go through my insurance, I went through a claim company, which was probably a bad idea), I had to borrow the money.  It has taken 8 months to sort out, and was on the point of going to court, but I finally got a settlement cheque the other day, and decided to treat myself.  

We visited a Fat Face outlet shop at the Valley shopping village near Evesham.  I saw this jumper and fell in love.

It was reduced from £52 and I have since found out that it is out of stock virtually everywhere. I also ended up buying a size 8 as the style is rather oversized, and a 12 would've looked ridiculous on me.

It is an incredibly warm jumper, I've worn it once and it really kept the Arctic wind out.

Next, and back to those lovely cheap chazza purchases, I found this snow white Lands End fleece for £1

These Olsen jeans, also a pound, they really stank as I found out while rummaging in the charity shop holding on to them tightly, no, the local smelly person wasn't following me, it was the stinky jeans I was hugging!

They need to be shortened by about an inch, so I'll get that sorted soon.

Vintage band t shirt for 50p, just because I need some more t shirts!

Odd spray body oil for 50p, it was sealed, and a scarf clip for the pressie drawer for 10p.

Lastly, a very recent ebay purchase, this gorgeous nightie was £2.50 with free postage. It is brand new with tags (this is the ebay photo)

We've had snow on Saturday in Worcestershire, this morning I was met with this view from the lounge, the buzzard was having a good look in through the window as I had the light on

More tales form last Summer coming soon!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

I know what you did last Summer - Watchet and Cleeve Abbey

As I had blogger's block for most of last year, I thought I would fill you in with a few posts looking back at what we got up to last Summer.  

We had a week long break in Somerset at the beginning of July 2016. 

As per usual, the weather was changeable to say the least, as any holiday in the UK tends to feature shorts and t shirts, wellies and everything in between.  

We stayed in a detached holiday cottage, adjacent to the owners house, and originally their double garage which had been converted to house an elderly relative, it was well thought out and comfortable.

We awoke on our first morning and the weather was good, cold but good.

Picnic packed, we set out for the nearest beach, Kilve.

Turns out that Kilve beach is just a little bit rocky,

Yeah, OK, a lot rocky!

With fossils though!

Thank goodness we brought woollies, it was fresh

That's Hinckley Point nuclear reactor in the background

Nearby Watchet was a little disappointing.  Such an obviously historical old seaside port, now very jaded and forgotton.  We discovered the statue of the Ancient Mariner (complete with albatross) referring to the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which was written here.

and Yankee Jack, a nineteenth century local sailor who sailed aboard boats involved in the American civil war, hence the nickname

The shops in Watchet are sad and tired, it was all a little depressing.  It's the sort of place I would have loved as a child, but I suppose these days children want different things. Such a shame as it could be a thriving little town.

  The harbour appears to be busy though, which is good

After a disastrous tea and cake (we were served coffees after waiting 20 minutes for tea to arrive in a very quiet tea room) we set off up the road to Cleeve Abbey, an unplanned diversion.

What a pleasant surprise! 
 The sun was out, and as we crossed the road from the car park we were confronted by a stream with plenty of wildlife.

 We stood and watched this little family dabbling for their lunch for quite a while...

 ....before walking through the gatehouse into this lovely place, 

a late 12th century Cistercian abbey founded by the Earl of Lincoln on land given by King Ethelred the Unready 


The correct Latin name for Cleeve is Vallis Florida
15th century angel ceiling in the refectory

Medieval paintings

13th century tiled pavement

Dormitory windows

They hold weddings at Cleeve and this archway entrance is a favourite spot for photographs.

It turned out to be a stunningly hot day, we were slightly overdressed but had brought a change of footwear, Still, there's nothing like sitting in the grounds of an old abbey in the sun, with an ice cream from the shop and the grass between your toes.

Hello holidays!