Monday, April 30, 2007

Dolforwyn Castle & Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle

Lost the morning due to waking up with a migraine. Ugh.

Ventured out around lunchtime, the weather being too good to waste. Over the border into Wales today, and up to Dolforwyn Castle. Spectacular views and no one else there until we left, which was great. Built in the 1270's. Dug up again more recently by York University...

Went in search of Mitchell's Fold stone circle next. Note to self: check the map before taking the first likely looking footpath, otherwise you will lead your expedition up the wrong hill and be left glaring at the stone circle perched irritatingly on the next hill over, with something of a large drop in between you and it.

Still, we got there eventually, and had it to ourselves. It's a Bronze age circle, of around 15 stones (from a possible original 30) remaining. Spectacular views from up on the hills, and the winding lanes are full of birds and flowers. And the occasional coach. Eek.

Got back around 5pm and had hot chocolate and Yorkshire tea loaf. Had the remains of the meatballs transformed into a pasta sauce for dinner.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stokesay Castle and Ludlow

In the cottage across from us are an older couple who were sat outside the previous evening - went to the window in the bedroom this morning to find him standing outside the door gawping up at me while munching his cereal, which was a bit off putting. I may have to buy a gun.

Had a fry up to fortify ourselves for our first expedition - the bacon was from the Wenlock Edge Farm and was smashing, and the local eggs were lovely too.
We are placed just outside the edge of the forest, and the garden is full of birds.
Went outside to say hello to the small yapper-type dog who was seeing off someone walking past on the bridleway. This appears to be Hetty. Sweet little thing, despite the barking.

After having both managed to concuss ourselves on the low-hanging, extremely solid glass lightshade over the table, the first stop of the day was Stokesay Castle. A fortified 13th century manorhouse with great hall and stone tower, this was a terrific place. The rooms are full of swallows darting in and out of the open stone windows and you can wander about as you like.

We were equipped with audio guides, which I hate, it means you're surrounded by people with things clamped to their ear and the hiss of other peoples' commentaries like walkmans on the train (or is it iPods these days, I dunno). Fortunately I had the guide book which was quite enough. You can also walk round the moat which we did - it was full of lilacs and apple blossom.

We then had a cream tea (well I did, what do you mean it was only just gone lunchtime?). Which was nice, although they're not going to bankrupt themselves by being over-generous with the jam.

Next stop Ludlow, which seems to be predominently made up of shops selling posh antiquey things for doing up your house - like the contents of the average Edwardian scullery at five hunderd times the price. It's very pretty though, lots of black-and-white timber framing. We only had two hours so did a fast tour of the castle and still had time for a beer, an ice cream and a trip round Tescos. Oh yes. No slacking on this holiday.

Ludlow castle is officially the bestest castle I have ever been in, it is full of spiral staircases and creepy rooms down dark passages and a huge keep you can go all the way to the top of. I thoroughly approve. And nobody made me take an audioguide either.

Having eyed up the large collection of motorbikes parked outside the castle gate,
we went into the Chocolate Experience to have ice creams - I had blackcurrant and cream and Chris had cappuccino and moccha swirl. We sat on a bench round the corner and talked to what I like to think was the castle cat.

Quick detour into Ye Olde Bull Pen Tavern (yes, I'm a sucker for timber framing) for a swift half and then it was Tescos for a bag of assorted breakfast pig products and off in seach of petrol.

The hedgerows are lovely at this time of year, full of flowers, and occasionally you can see a pair of ears sticking up from amongst the dandelions and then see a little rabbit peeking out at you (or, judging by the frequent state of the roads, flinging itself under your wheels, but that's not quite the Beatrix Potter image I was going for).

Oh, and on the topic of roadsigns, which we weren't - they're not very complimentary about their saints round here - so far we've been told that St Owen's cross and St Mary's round (oh, please yourselves. It made me laugh).
Back home to consult the maps for tomorrow's venture. And to try the Tyrrell's sausage and mustard crisps. Take a tip, don't. They're minging.

Tonight's supper was also brought to the door, green Thai chicken curry, very nice.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

What I did on my holidays, part 1...

Left Falmouth at 10:00, and had hot, hazy weather all the way up. Stopped off at Exeter services for coffee (remembered to pack the flask which was a good start, last year I left it sitting on the dining table). Brought food with us too - cold pizza and pork pie, the long-distance navigator's snacking of choice...

Two red Ferrarris zoomed past on the next stretch, which was a lot less galling than the point we were overtaken by a phlegm-yellow Smart car...

Stopped again for a pee at Gordano services - their loos are painted a radioactive bubblegum lime/yellow and their lights flicker. Eww.

Went over the Avonmouth Bridge which was fun (although the barrier is at head height so you can't see much other than mud). Still, the bridge is impressive. £5.10 toll to let you into Wales.

Drove through Monmouth (right through it, due to a slight miscalculation in navigatory directions, as I was scrabbling for a Fleetwood Mac tape as we were going through a tunnel: "Yeah, turn off here". Er, or not. Still, it was a very nice town, very bustle-y and pretty in the sunshine - felt a bit like Helston in looks/structure.

Back on route as far as the directions went, and it was north through Hereford and then past Leominster and Ludlow. The hills draw in on you, and you start imagining bandits. Well, I do...

Turning off the main road at Craven Arms (a town rather than a pub) it was about another eight miles to Clun (through Clunton - a town sign crying out for tippex abuse if ever there was one.)

After a bit of a false turning we eventually found the
cottages at 16:30 and were greeted by the owners (Sue and Peter Murray) and their two dogs (Hetty and Jasmine. Little and large, but I don't know which one's which yet.)

There are three cottages, of which ours is Keeper's Cottage, and has its entrance further away from the others, which is good. Not that I'm antisocial or anything. Much.

Made of local stone (very local, the quarry is somewhere on this hillside) it's a relatively recent build, and is absolutely fantastic.

Downstairs has a very nice living/dining area with a well equipped kitchen at the end, and upstairs there is a lovely bedroom with bathroom off, in its own little room built out over the porch with a slipper bath.

Only quibble so far (no, I am never entirely happy, so sue me) is that there is no lock on the bathroom door - not *such* a problem, only there is no catch whatsoever. So it just sort of rests in the doorframe and swings gradually open. No, I know I'm not sharing the house with a horde of strangers but I like to be able to at least close the door. On the plus side, you can take your mind off this while sat on the loo by watching the rabbits frolic in the field opposite.

We have fabulous views down into the valley - one of the bedroom windows looks west and gets the setting sun - you can see right down to where Clun nestles in the valley - and if ever a town nestled anywhere, this most definitely does.

I had ordered eggs and milk, but we were also provided with complimentary local bacon, smoked salmon mousse, bread, Tyrrells sausage and mustard crips, and a small Victoria sponge cake (the latter of which we've already eaten).
At half seven, Sue brought our first ordered meal to the door - spicy meatballs with tagliatelle. How civilised's that!

We were too knackered to do much after dinner, other than drink wine and play cards - went to bed at ten. The valley was quite bright with moonlight.


Friday, April 27, 2007


Last Sunday saw us take a trip down to Zennor, and the Gurnard's Head hotel. The intention was to meet up with friends for lunch before joining a guided walk run by the area's National Trust archaeological warden (a long walk after lunch? arse about face that, shurely?).

Anyway, we found the place, and some of the friends, and ordered lunch (after a very long wait for service but then they were very busy). They brought out slices of homemade bread, warm from the oven while we waited, which was heavenly (although with only one tiny slice of butter between the four of us, which we eked out being too scared to ask for more).

When the food arrived it was definitely worth the (slightly higher than normal for pub) prices - the quality was higher than most restaurants. There was a small selection of starters/mains/desserts (three of each I think) allowing them to prepare the best food I've eaten out on in a long time.

Battered hake was probably the freshest fish I've ever had and the chips were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just how the likes of Gordon Ramsey are always banging on about. Up till now I'd always thought 'yeah-yeah, a chip's a chip'. Now I know better. It came with a pot of - I'd guess it was some sort of herby tartare sauce but I've no idea. Nice though. No ketchup and no offer of any. Too scared to ask for any and thus look like a pikey.

The other two had the tomato lasagne which was fabulous, and was also declared so by the member of the party who'd ordered it despite not liking lasagne, as it was the only veggie option.

After lunch and another drink (good selection of local beer) and the arrival of another member of our party - fortunately, being the only one who knew what the walk guide looked like - we ventured out.

Completely failing to find any sign of the group, we struck out on our own, and were soon heading up a footpath between Carn Galver and Hannibal's Carn. The weather was overcast but dry, and the ground was covered in bluebells, violets and wood anemones.

Striking out to our left up Hannibal's Carn, we spotted a likely looking group gathered down in the next valley. It was indeed the missing group (we never did find out if we had the time wrong) and we joined up.

We were just in time to be shown round the beehive hut/possible above-ground fogou at Bosporthennis, and Iron Age/Romano British courtyard house. On the way back towards the road we struck off on our own again to see a quoit that they'd looked at on the way up (second pic).

Down here in the valley, the gorse was in full vivid bloomand the sun finally came out, to round off a very nice day out.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Change is bad

So I've finally been forced by the prompt boxes of evil into switching to blogger2. Which means I now have to remember that to log in I need a different email address, and then a different password from what I would usually use for that email address. What? Eh? I'm confused now.

Also, why does the flaming site not remember that I'm logged in anymore? I never had to re-log in before, and now I have to pretty much every time.

And now it wants me to upgrade my template too.

By upgrading, you will lose many of the changes that you previously made to your template.

Why, exactly, would I want to do that then?




Glendurgan Gardens - Easter Monday

The gorgeous weather over the Easter weekend warranted a trip out somewhere - but somewhere not too far away, to avoid the inevitable swarms of people clogging up the highways.

So we went to Glendurgan Gardens in Mawnan Smith. Having lazily left it till lunchtime to go out, there were cars queuing out to the road. Still, it was only about a ten minute wait in the end, and the attendant directing the cars wasn't too hard on the eyes either.

The gardens are large enough to swallow even a capacity car park and wandering round it never felt too crowded or uncomfortable.

Everywhere there were carpets of primroses and violets and in some places the early bluebells were coming into flower. The camelias and magnolias were almost over, but there were still some very pretty displays.

We walked down one side of the valley and sat on the beach at the bottom. The Helford was calm and sparkling, with some very expensive looking yachts in evidence. The water's edge was lined with small boys skimming stones.

Then back up the other side of the glen, past the maze (full of small children parents had obviously herded in to get rid of them for a good twenty minutes).

We had intended to go for a cup of tea, but their signage could do with some improving as all we could find were the plant sales and the loos. So we drove the ten minutes home and had tea in the garden. Job done.



Friday, April 13, 2007

Marketing to inspire confidence

"Advertisers waiting to here from you"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Wishing everyone a very Happy Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2007

More Radio 2 wittering

Having been moving from room to room doing various things it's just dawned on me that every radio in the house is already tuned to Radio 2. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I'm fairly sure it's not terribly hip.

Also, "seized by the Iranians" should not sound so funny.

Dara O'Briain in tones of awe: "In Cornwall they have a Gnome World". Yes, yes we do. Erm, sorry.

Richard Hammond on Radio 2

Just made me giggle insanely by saying "Izzy, this is for you darling".

Yes, I am deeply sad.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

To earth we return

Well, we had the burial yesterday, only four weeks later than we were lead to expect, the C of E doth grind rather slow.

It was a beautiful Spring day, blue sky, sunshine, birdsong, the chestnut trees coming into leaf. The spot is lovely, overlooking the town and the bay.

The ceremony was short, only five minutes, but even so the vicar had to follow the text in his little laminated book with his finger. Not the most passionate leader of ritual I've ever witnessed, have to say. Still, did the job.

Back for tea and chocolate tart.