People stuck in the snow become unexpected guests

IMG_20180301_164715On Thursday afternoon there was a red alert for snow in Devon and Somerset.  And did the snow come down, it was thick and fast, and before we knew we were knee deep in snow and drifts.

We got a call from a couple stuck in the snow on the A303 on a hill behind a lorry that couldn’t make it up the hill.  They asked if we had a room for the night and we said we did.  It wasn’t until about 7pm (after they had been stuck for over 6 hours and realised they were going nowhere that night) that they walked up the hill to our junction with the A303. Neil got suitably attired and plodded through the snow to meet them and walk them back to our house.  They were truly grateful to be in the warm and the first thing we did was make them a cup of tea.

Normally our guests would go to the local pub for evening meals but there was no way they were going to do that in the bad weather, so a I rustled up some dinner for them and we all ate together.

The next day after breakfast they togged themselves up and went back to their abandoned car to see if they could dig themselves out.  They managed to move their car a couple of 100 yards but couldn’t go any further as the A303 was still blocked and shut.

They realised they would have to stay another night.  This time I made a meat and veg chilli for us all and they shared their bottle of Cava with us to make it nice evening.

The couple had been talking to the Police who told them that snowploughs and gritters would be out all night clearing the A303 so they should be OK on Saturday morning. They duly kitted themselves out for the snow, waved us goodbye and trudged back to their car and were able to make their way slowly home.

We spent more time with them than normal B&B guests so it felt like we had made new friends.

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The ancient tradition of Wassailing

Wassailing is an ancient Pagan ceremony that has been celebrated in the West Country for a Millenium and more. The word “Wassail” comes from old Norse.  It’s a toast and it means “be thou healthy” and the correct response is “Drink Hail”. On Saturday 13th Jan the Holman Clavel pub hosted such a Wassail celebration.

We started by waking the new apple tree. The narrator was Steve Watkins who was resplendent in his top hat. We lit flaming wax torches and circled anti-clockwise (known as Widdershins), making as much noise as possible and singing “Here we come a wassailing”.

The next stage was to name the tree. So we took the first name of the youngest person present, Harper, and the last name of the oldest person, Morrow, and that became the name of the tree.

A young girl was the Wassail Queen and her duty was to place cider-soaked toast in the branches of the tree, to tempt good spirits to dwell there, whilst we all sang another song “Oh Apple Tree, we’ll wassail thee”.

Lastly the oldest person present poured cider from a wassail cup onto the roots of the tree whilst all the crowd recited

“Apples now,

Hat-fulls, cap-fulls

Three bushel bag-fulls

and a little heap under the stairs”

Wassailers repeated these words 3 times, getting louder and louder.

People then disbursed into the pub or around the brazier with mulled cider and the wassailing was over. A bit of madness? Maybe, but after all it’s tradition!!


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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Yesterday we bought our Christmas tree.  We always buy a real one, a Nordman Fir so a non drop tree, put it in a stand and keep it well watered.  That way it will last way past Christmas.

I love decorating the tree, this year the theme was red and gold. (Excuse the background wall, we have stripped the paper off getting ready for redecoration in the New Year).


Neil puts the lights up around the house.  Firstly the icicle lights over the Inglenook.


Then the lights round the inside front door.


And over the fireplace in the lounge.


Cards all written, Christmas cake made, so just some present wrapping to do and some shopping to get in and we’ll be all ready for Christmas.

The B&B is still open over Christmas


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On making a Christmas wreath again


I like to make my Christmas wreath for the front door each year completely from scratch. This year 2 friends came over to make wreaths at the same time, so firstly we gathered all the foliage and willow whips from the garden.

Here are some photos of us making the wreaths this year.



DSC01867To see how to make one please read my 2012 blog on the subject

This is this year’s wreath finished and hanging on the door.


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Xmas bazaar 2017 at Buckland St Mary

Wow, only a month to Christmas and the festivities have started already.  Yesterday was the Xmas Bazaar at Buckland St Mary village hall and we were on duty with the bric a brac stall again.  It’s surprising what people want to get rid of and give to us to sell, some really good stuff and some really not so good!!DSC01841

There were a couple of Xmas hats for sale, so I modelled one.  I really thought these would sell but no luck, so I will save them for our Xmas singing at the old people’s homes.


Father Christmas was there seeing all the little children in his grotto.


There were craft stalls and raffles, tombolas and cakes, all the normal stalls.


Plus the usual afternoon tea service which always goes down well, especially with added cake!!


We made £53.55 on our stall, not a great amount but £53.55 more than if we had stayed at home.  Overall £850 was raised for everyday church funds so a worthwhile effort.

The B&B is open now for bookings during December and Xmas. http://www.lodgehouse

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Sunday was a glorious sunny day and we visited Hestercombe House and Gardens, north of Taunton with Neil’s sister Carole and our friend Liz. The Hestercombe Gardens Trust was set up in 1997 to restore these world famous garden to their full glory.  The oldest part of the house dates back to 1280. It was owned by the family of Sir John de Warre for 500 years and went through quite a transformation in that time.  After Elizabeth Warre died the estate was bought by the 1st Viscount Portman and was later lived in by the Hon Teddy Portman, his grandson.  Teddy Portman died in 1911 but his wife continued to live in the house until her death in 1951 aged 96.


In 1953 the newly formed Somerset Fire Brigade rented the house as its new headquarters and continued there until 2006.  In November 2013 the Hestercombe Gardens Trust acquired the freehold of the house and formal gardens and opened the house to the public in May 2014 for the first time in over 800 years.  The inside of the house has a contemporary art gallery and a 2nd hand bookshop.


Outside the gardens are lovely with a number of lakes and a hydro electric plant. Over one of the lakes is a steep bridge which Neil posed on.


With still water and beautiful sunshine the reflections in the lake were splendid.


The Landscape Garden was built in the 18th century and throughout the garden are various seats, each with a view like a landscape painting.



We stopped a fellow walker and asked them to take a picture of all 4 of us.


This is the house from the garden.



And I just loved this single water lily.


The Portman family commissioned Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll to create the Edwardian Formal Garden in 1903 which took 5 years to complete.



All in all it was a great visit, with a stop for tea and cake.  Easily reached from Lodge House B&B. If you fancy a visit, come and stay with us



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Day trip to Dartmoor

Last week was the annual day trip for the Golden Age club that I am a helper with. We left Churchinford at 9.30am and set off for Buckfast Abbey.


The current Abbey was completed in 1932 but it’s history goes further back.  Desiring to find a peaceful location to continue their monastic community after the anti-clerical laws were enacted in France, the monks of the community of La Pierre-qui-vire were driven from their homeland and re-established monastic life at Buckfast in 1882.

DSC01656At the heart of the site is the Abbey Church, a spiritual haven for the many thousands of visitors who come each year.


There is an overwhelming sense of peace as soon as you enter the grounds with the church surrounded by gardens which in the summer come alive with colour.


The Monastic produce shop sells items made by monks and nuns in Europe and beyond. This includes a large range of Trappist Beers, wines from Austria, jams, honeys, toiletries, cards, candles, icons and statues. They also sell fudge made on site by their own monks. Neil bought a bottle of Buckfast wine which is supposedly a tonic but neither of us were that keen!!

We then journeyed across the moor to Widdecombe-in-the Moor where we stopped for lunch.


Many people explore the surrounding countryside on foot as there are several recommended walking routes from there but it is truly wild and remote.


We stopped in the local 14th century St Pancras church, known as “The Cathedral of the Moor” where from the churchyard there was a lovely view across the field.


Walking back to the coach we saw some Dartmoor ponies.


Our next stop was in Bovey Tracey where we visited “The House of Marbles”. This is a place where not only is there a large shop selling all manner of pottery, glassware and marbles of course, but also a games and glass museum, a marble museum and a pottery museum.  Behind the shop is Teign Valley Glass where you can watch the skilled glassblowers make an extensive range of pieces from traditional marbles to practical objects and decorative art.

There are also several rather mad and fascinating motorised marble runs.  This one call “Snooki” is the largest in the UK.


After enjoying a cup of afternoon tea we made our way back to Churchinford where we were dropped off after the day’s outing. We were quite lucky with the weather, only a little rain in Widdecombe but we were in the church so missed it. All in all a great day out.

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