Hestercombe

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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This is the house from the garden.

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And I just loved this single water lily.

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

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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    www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Walking back to the coach we saw some Dartmoor ponies.

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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.

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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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Making Blackberry Gin

Having a bumper crop of blackberries this year, and having already made jam and stewed up lots for crumbles and pies in the Winter, I was thinking what else could I do with them?  Then I thought what about Blackberry Gin?  I researched on line for a recipe but there were lots of contradicting quantities so in the end I sort of made up my own from a combination of a couple of different recipes.

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First you need to wash the blackberries well, as flies are definitely attracted to them. Place the washed blackberries into a demi john. I had lots so I used 1 kilo of fruit.

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Next add the sugar, just ordinary granulated or caster will do.  I used 300g.

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Add the gin, I used 2 x 70cl bottles (the cheap stuff from Lidl).

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Add 3 dessert spoons of lemon juice.

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Then give is all a good shake.

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The gin immediately took on the colour of the blackberries, so after the 3 months infusing it, it will be dark and glorious.  Just ready in time for Christmas!! The French call it Crème de Mure.

Want to try some?  Come and visit or stay with us at Lodge House B&B. http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Spring chicken thank you

Our guests who have been staying with us for 5 nights commented on how we had a chicken theme going with the crockery, the table mats, the pictures on the wall and some chicken ornaments.  We said “naturally” as we have 24 hens and one cockerel, we liked to keep to a theme.

Our guests really enjoyed their stay and on the last morning presented us with another chicken ornament which they said they just had to buy us when they saw it.  Hence “Spring chicken” has joined the flock. It’s a bit like a Wallace and Gromit figure. What a lovely thank you present!!

If you want to see our chicken collection or even our live chickens then stay with us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Perry’s Cider Mill

Today Neil and I took his sister Carole for lunch at Perry’s Cider Mill in Dowlish Wake, close to Ilminster. We drove along pretty and narrow country lanes into the village, past the Dower House and turned into Perry’s Cider Mill, where we had a most convivial meal with good service and excellent food.

DSC01557We wandered around the shop, sampling different ciders and admiring all the delicious looking groceries before making our way to the museum to see how apples were pressed in days gone by.

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There was an old plough and many pictures of farm labourers from the past.

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An old apple cruncher reminded us of more modern ones we use in our apple pressing.

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I loved the old carts

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and the old bellows

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And then alongside, a piece of modern machinery.  They still do apple pressing and cider making and bottling here.

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If you want to visit Perry’s cider mill, and stay with our B&B then visit us at

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

 

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4 new hens

Having had a couple of recent fatalities in the hen run (due to natural causes I hasten to add, no fox treats here), we decided to add to our brood and yesterday purchased 4 new hens from Darren at Manor Fram in Ilminster.

All 4 hens are point-of-lay so not chicks, and we were able to put them in with the flock straight away.

Two hens are known as “Silver Rocks”.  They are mostly black with silver streaks.  Here is Neil holding one.

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Our other two hens are a “Sussex Rocket” which is white with little black and a “Rhode Rock” which is black with a golden bib.  I’m afraid I don’t have pictures of those two as my camera ran out of puff and today whilst it is charged up, it is raining so not a day for pictures.  I’m wondering how our new girls are liking the rain, having been kept in a barn up until now and not having encountered the rain.  We shall have to see how they get on and when they start laying.

Want to see our birds, then come and stay at our B&B.

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Staple Fitzpaine Church Fete 2017

On a glorious hot and sunny day today, we went to the Staple Fitzpaine church fete.  This village is approx. 3 miles from us and we often pass through it on the way to Taunton. The village fete was being held in the manor house,

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a lovely old house with a beautiful lake in the back garden.

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There were lots of stalls, the cake stall, the bottle tombola (Neil and I both won something), the coconut shy (Neil got a coconut first try), the book stall, skittles, bric a brac and ladies hats to name but a few, as well as the prerequisite burger stand and ice cream seller.

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The Wellington Silver Band were seated in the shade of a large tree and were playing when we went in.  It was lovely to hear them and we stopped a while in the shade.

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Later in the afternoon Punch and Judy were appearing and a dog show was taking place in the field, with afternoon tea being served in the walled garden.  How nice it would be to own a pile like that, and a wonderful setting for the Summer Church fete which is only held every 3 years.

visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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