Trip to Cardiff (Caerdydd) Castle and town

Yesterday we went on the Buckland Bellringer’s coach trip to Cardiff. A 9.00am start saw us in Cardiff by 11.00am and we headed straight for the castle.

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Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance. Located within beautiful parklands at the heart of the capital, Cardiff Castle’s walls and fairytale towers conceal 2,000 years of history.

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After the Norman conquest, the Castle’s keep was built, re-using the site of the Roman fort. The first keep on the motte, erected by Robert Fitzhamon, Norman Lord of Gloucester, was probably built of wood. Further medieval fortifications and dwellings followed over the years.

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The Castle passed through the hands of many noble families until in 1766, it passed by marriage to the Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port. The Castle and Bute fortune passed to his son John, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who by the 1860s was reputed to be the richest man in the world.

Following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family decided to give the Castle and much of its parkland to the city of Cardiff. For 25 years, the Castle was home to the National College of Music and Drama and since 1974 has become one of Wales’ most popular visitor attractions.

We climbed up the steep steps to the Keep.

We walked the Battlement walk, and across the lawn where Neil paused by an 8lb gun.

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The Castle Apartments were really splendid.  First we visited the Arab room which had an amazing ceiling.

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Beautiful wall paintings and murals decorated the Banqueting Hall.

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The Library was well stocked with ancient books.

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Outside was an ornate and detailed clock tower.

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We stopped by where the Falcons were kept and used to scare off pigeons.

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In Cardiff town along the main shopping street where we stopped for some lunch were really colourful hanging baskets displays.

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Our next stop on our tour was the Brecon Mountain Railway but that is a subject for a separate blog.

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

 

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Visit to Fairfield House, Sturgosey

Today we visited Fairfield House, in Sturgosey, North Somerset with the Combe  St. Nicolas History Group.  It took us quite a while to get there through the country roads.

The known history of the manor begins in the reign of Henry II, when it was granted to an ancestor of the present owner, and it has been in the same family ever since. The present house has a medieval west wing with the remains of a carved 15th Century roof; the rest is Elizabethan, except for part of the back which is 18th Century. It is now lived in by Dame Elizabeth Acland Hood Gass who was Lord Lieutenant of Somerset from 1998 to 2015.

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As Lady Gass still lives in the house we were only shown some downstairs rooms that are open to the public.  There were many large oil paintings of ancestors and some lovely carved wooden furniture.

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After the tour we visited the gardens. The borders of the walled garden were particularly lovely with lupins and peonies (my favourites).

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

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The Green Scythe Fair 2018

Yesterday we went to the Green Scythe Fair at Mulcheney, in Somerset.  It is an annual event which is as”green” as possible with power from solar panels or stationary bikes, compost loos, lots of recycling and no mains electricity on site.

There are various stalls all round the arena which is where the scything competitions take place.  But no Ross Poldark here, they all kept their shirts on inspite of the warm weather.

This is what greeted us at the entrance, wicker figures.

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There were lots of stalls selling food, some vegan, some veggie and some not.  Neil and I shared a pizza.

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Dancers formed a circle and danced along to music from a group of musicians.  People were dressed up and lots of children had their faces painted.

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Another group of musicians, this time dressed as pirates, were performing on a stage and whilst we were there, played a raucous version of “Riding on a Donkey”.

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At a green crafts area our friend Emma was teaching basket weaving.

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The fair was finishing with a ceilidh in the evening , although we didn’t stay for that.

We were lucky with the weather and it made a very enjoyable day out.

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

 

 

 

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First Blackdown Hills Repair Cafe

Last Saturday 24th March, the Blackdown Hills Transition Group held their first Repair Cafe in Hemyock Memorial hall from 10am to 12 noon. The concept of  the Repair Cafe comes from Holland where the inaugural event was held in Amsterdam, on October 18th, 2009.  The principle is that rather than throw broken items into landfill, people bring these things to be repaired or mended thus giving them new life.

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A dozen people volunteered their time to do the repairing. Two did sewing repairs, another repaired computers.

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People repaired bicycles, woodwork, electrical items, garden tools, leather work and upholstery for example.

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Many items were repaired in the two hours and 50 people turned up including the local MP.  Neil took the photos and generally helped with the administration .

The morning was a great success, so much so that another Repair Cafe is going to take place on Saturday 26th May in the same hall. So if you have something that needs mending you know where to come.

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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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.

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

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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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http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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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).

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

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Then the lights round the inside front door.

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And over the fireplace in the lounge.

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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 http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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