Sunday, July 09, 2006


Went to Cotehele House yesterday - two hour drive to nearly Devon (eek). Definitely worth it, lovely old medieval manor house, with most rooms draped in floor to ceiling tapestries, and a great hall full of armour and interesting weapons of various provenance, including Chinese bows, Persian helmet with spike, swords that fit on the end of your arm, not just in your hand, Zulu spears and shields, a proper blunderbuss...fab! It's got a tower with a spiral staircase, more four posters than you can shake a stick at, there's no electric light in the house, and each room has a stack of laminated sheets showing you info on every object there - ideal, if, like me, you prefer to mooch about on your own without being bothered by guides.

Wandered through the formal(ish) part of the garden - all soft cottage-garden-y borders in pink, white and purple - then down through the increasingly steep lower part, which is wilder with bigger trees and shrubs. Passed waterlilies on a pond, a thatched summerhouse and the medieval dovecote, before coming out onto the public track down by the river, and a chapel built by the house's founder, supposedly on the spot he escaped from soldiers by making them think he'd drowned.

Along the path to Cotehele Quay, where we had lunch in The Long Room, above the Edgecumbe Arms. Not a large choice, if you're not big on flans, but I had a passable jacket potato and beans (£1 extra for the beans, ooh, this must be a National Trust cafe) and side salad (very nice homemade coleslaw, but mainly undressed shredded iceberg) and Chris has a bowl of minted pea soup, which he liked. The lady who brought it said "ooh, excuse the slop love, but with such a big portion it only takes a tiny slip". Why not buy some bigger bowls then missus? For all of the 5 paces you had to take from kitchen to our table.

From there we walked on through the woods to Cotehele Mill, where a working waterwheel grinds their own flour for sale. They have other workshops set up showing a range of tools that would have been used on the manorial estate - a blacksmith's, saddler's, carpenter's and wheelwright's. All blessedly empty, apart from the mill, whose attendant was desperately trying to strike up a conversation, while I just wanted him to go away. He wanted us to watch the film about the mill, and the last thing I want to do in these places is sit on a small plastic chair and look at a blurry video with badly punctuated subtitles. So I smiled and nodded politely until he gave up and wandered off. Sorry mate.

Back through the woods for 3/4 mile to the house for a poke about in the gift shop and an overpriced tub of ice cream(nice though) before leaving.

All in all a fantastic place to visit (lot of walking though if you want to see house, quay and mill), and somewhere I would definitely recommend.


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