Saturday, 26 May 2012

Day 23 – All things Roman

Today we had a change of plan and went to Chedworth Roman Villa. It was a last minute decision as we planned originally to go to Fun City in Brean to see the Sooty display. I saw the brochure in the reception area of the hotel at breakfast time, we were so glad we decided to go to Chedworth. It was absolutely amazing.

The place only reopened a few weeks ago after a major refurbishment. There were no audioguides available at the time when we arrived as there was a group using them so we sat in the café and had a coffee and Kylie had a lemon polenta cake. By the time we finished there were some audioguides returned so we were able to set off. In the refurbishments they have erected a building which has been built to a similar size to what the original Roman wing would have been, it covers the valuable mosaic floors they have recently uncovered and they were still in the process of uncovering. Where the gaps are, it shows how the underfloor heating was built. In the dining room the mosaic tiles were tiny and the detail was magnificent. Along the way there was a changing room, then the hot room, hot baths then the cold plunge baths.  There is a tree stump in the middle where a tree had been growing. This is a good way of showing where the ground level was before it was uncovered.

The trail then takes you back outside to the other baths and rooms where the kitchens were etc. While sitting outside taking in the view, there was a tour in place and the guide was saying that under the grass and tarmac there are more mosaic floors. They are cover them temporarily in tarmac to protect them till they are ready to preserve them.  The plans are to build another wing so they can uncover them in a protected environment. Once this is done, it will be the longest intact Roman mosaic path in the country (or world)? So a return visit is a  must.

After leaving Chedworth, we thought we would visit Lodge Park at Sherborne estate. Unfortunately this was closed as it is only open on Fri, Sat & Sun. After that we drove around to another part of Sherborne estate which was a barn and maps of all the walking trails in the area. Instead we went for a drive around the area.

We started to head back to our hotel, but decided to stop in Cirencester for tea. We had a bit of a walk around the town but as it was after 5pm, all the shops had closed. We went to a pub near where we parked the car called The Bear. We both had Steak, chips and peas as there was a deal for two meals for £8 .. It was a great bargain and the meal was even good.  Back in the hotel room I sat up till after midnight sorting my photos for the last two days.  I hope to get bac on track with these blogs as I am running a few days behind.  It is taking me about 3-4 hours to do one with editing the photos etc … just as well there is nothing on in the evenings!

Day 22 – Jane Austen and Lacock Abbey

Today we headed off to Luckington in the search of Luckington Court which was used in filming as part of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice series.  If you have watched this series you will know this as the Bennett’s house Longbourn. On the way there, we took the scenic route and came across Malmesbury, it was such a lovely looking town we had to stop and look around. We had a cup of tea in the cake shop before wandering down the street. We stopped in a few shops along the way.  The Abbey here is stunning and so large.  It is smaller than originally built as you can see where big sections have been ‘lost’ over the 100’s of years, but what remains is well preserved.  The graveyard is well looked after and so many locals sat in in whilst having their lunches. We didn’t get to go into the Abbey Gardens, but since have found out they are known as the ‘naked gardens’ !!!

Luckington Court
After a couple of hours we continued on to Luckington.  We thought we were only going to get a drive by photo of Luckington Court, but discovered a walking path along the back of the property. We parked the car and went for a walk down the walking trail in hope of getting a few photos.  A lot of photos eventuated, taken over the hedges surrounding the back of the property. Then to our surprise we were able to go through the church that also was used in filming, then along the side of the property.  Also the gates were open so a few long distance shots were taken.  
Luckington Church

Lacock Abbey

After our photoshoot, we then continued to Lacock.  Lacock is a town and abbey which are owned by National Trust, in 1944, Matilda Talbot the then owner donated the whole estate and town to the National Trust for future preservation. We went for a walk around the town and took photos. It is such a shame there are so many cars parked as you couldn’t get full photos of the buildings.  The town of Lacock has been used in many TV shows and movies. Notably it is Meryton in Pride and Prejudice and also in the series Cranford. Some parts were also used in some of the Harry Potter movies. We had lunch at The Red Lion. I got to pat a white boxer and was covered in slop there while we waited for our food. Once we ate we went to the Abbey and spent a few hours there until closing time.
Lacock Abbey
Corridors used in Harry Potter

Random rooms in the Abbey house
Random rooms in the Abbey house
Lacock the village

Friday, 25 May 2012

Day 21 – Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

Today Kylie and myself set off from Uckfield for our 10 day journey which will take us through the Cotswolds to Warwick, then to Devon and Cornwall, then the New Forest and back again to Uckfield.  

Views of part of the Museum
Today we headed to a place called  Weald & Downland Open Air Museum.
What an amazing place. It is full of buildings that have been rescued from the ‘scrapheap’ (mostly from around the Sussex county) and they are ‘reborn’ here.

The first building we came across is an old Toll cottage from Beeding, Sussex.  It has one living room and a bedroom, that is it. Apparently a whole family and a lodger all lived in this tiny place. There was a board out the front which had all the tolls listed. It was quite a detailed list!
From there we made our way around the other buildings that were former shops, market places, church, school, workshop, houses etc. There was even a maypole but we did not go dance around it, tempting as it was!

The Toll Cottage - Beeding - 1807
We made our way around, when we got to the other end when we decided we needed a drink. On the map there was a ‘seasonal’ refreshment shop, when we went there it was not open, but there was a cooking demonstration in the Tudor kitchen next door. It was very dark and stuffy as the open fire was burning, it took a while for our eyes to adjust.  We sat through a cooking display of flat bread. The room was set out and cooking was done as in Tudor times, it was very smoky in there as it was being cooked over an open fire. When the bread was cooked we all got to try a bit but as Kylie and I are gluten intolerant we had to miss out on a sample L. Once the demonstration was over, we walked all the way back to the entrance to get a drink and ended having lunch as well.  We sat near the lake and watched everyone go by, it was so tranquil.

Watermill - Lurgashall - 1600's

After we finished lunch we continued on and looked at the old mill and other buildings.
We ended up spending 6 hours at Weald and Downland walking around. It is well worth the visit and a shame many people don’t know about it.
Stables used as a potting shed
Church - Wonston
Smithy - Southwater - mid 1800s
Plumber's workshop - Newark - late 1800's
Pendean farmhouse - Midhurst - early 1600
Market hall - Titchfield - early 1600's
House - Walderton - mid 1600's
Hall - Boarhunt - mid 1300's
Granary - Littlehampton - early 1700's
Building - Lavant - early 1600's
Bayleaf House - Chiddingstone - early 1400's
Early medieval house -  Hangleton - 1200's
Poplar cottage - Washington - mid 1600's
School - West Wittering 
Whittaker's cottages - Ashtead - 1860's
Wagon Shed - Wiston - 1700's
Treadwheel - Catherington -  late 1600's
When we left we headed off to go to our hotel which is just outside of Swindon. It is an old school house in Hook. .  The room was cheap, but not reflected in the service or room.  It has antique furniture, ensuite, comfy bed, wi-fi etc.  A bargain!
Karen who runs the hotel was very welcoming and we had a bit of a laugh. We mentioned how Kylie didn’t book twin beds and that we will have to share the bed like we did when we were younger.

Once we brought our bags in we went to the restaurant to have some food. At lunch time we thought we wouldn’t want much to eat but it didn’t seem to hit the sides so we ended up ordering the 3 course dinner. The food was lovely. I had pigeon breast for entrée, lamb chops for main and panna cotta for dessert. Kylie had chicory wrapped in bacon, salmon breast with hollandaise, and panna cotta also.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day 20 – Winnie-the-Pooh

Kylie had heaps of work to do before we leave tomorrow, so I left her to it.  I have backed up photos, done washing, made lunch etc.  Kylie got tea prepared early so we could go for a walk in the forest.  Tom, Kylie and myself went back to Ashdown Forest, home of Winnie-the-Pooh.  It was lovely walking through the pathways through the paddocks and forest.  We started 5ish.
Poohsticks Bridge
First stop was Pooh carpark where we hiked to Poohsticks bridge, this pace was so tranquil, with the stream/river running and it is so green everywhere.  We had a game of poohsticks of course, why not, we were there!  Tom won the race, I came second and Kylie last, hehehhehehee.  We then walked back to the car and drove to the Piglet carpark and hiked up to the Milne and Shepard Memorial.  This was a site that had lovely views of the forest, it was very windy and it sounded a lot like being at the beach with the waves crashing, quite weird.  Next was Heffalump Trap and Lone Pine, another winday site that had sound of the beach.  We decided to make our way back to the car as we were getting hungry, we went via the Enchanted Place and Roo’s Sandy Pit.  We didn’t have time to get to 100 aker wood and also, couldn’t find Piglet’s place … oh well another time.
Poohsticks Bridge
Milne and Shepard memorial and Heffalump Trap
Enchanted Place and Roo's Sandy Pit
Home to tea was the main priority.  Whilst tea was warming I made a batch of GF scones for desert.  So we had Moussaka and salad for mains, scones, jam and Cornish clotted cream for dessert.  Full as a goog now.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Day 19 – Sussex and Kent countryside

Today Kylie and I went for a drive through the countryside.  As it was early afternoon, we put a roast beef and potatoes in the oven and set it to cook slowly whilst we were out.  Everyone here seems to have roast for Sunday lunch, with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding hitting the top of the list.  We had the historic town of Chiddingstone in mind as our destination (which happily we got there)!  Our first detour of the day was to look at a part of the Ashdown Forest (which is the setting for Winnie Pooh).  There was a very cold wind so we only looked at one spot ‘Friends Clump’,  we will try to come back after tea tomorrow night for a walk as there is many other Pooh bear spots to see like fiddlesticks bridge etc.  A lot of the roads here are very narrow and either hedges on both sides or trees growing so they give a tunnel effect.   It is very pretty, but you can’t look out and ‘see for miles’ like in Australia, also you have to be careful as you can’t see very far in front of you!

Next detour was Hever, here we had a soft drink in the pub ‘King Henry VIII Inn’.  So many of the customers were having roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, which made us praying that what was cooking at home didn’t have a disaster, like burning!!! This building dates from 1647 but a pub has occupied the site since 1597. It has a Tudor chimney stacks, oak beams, open fireplaces, panelled bars and loads of Henry VIII memorabilia stuff, even the carpet has him all over it.  Hever castle was opposite but we chose not to go in today as you need a lot of time to thoroughly look through this.  Hever castle is where Anne Boleyn spent her early years.  The church here in Hever was built about 750 years ago and the site has been a place of prayer for at least 850 years! 

 Next stop was our destination Chiddingstone.  This is a very historic town in Kent.  The whole village was purchased by the National Trust in 1939 so it will be preserved as is!  One of the shops is believed to be the oldest working shop in the country.  This town is described as ‘the most unspoiled Tudor village in the UK’.  Obviously this village has been used for many TV/Movies for filming some being A Room with a View, The Wind in the Willow, Elizabeth R etc.  It is such a beautiful place. There is a castle here, but the National Trust don’t own this.  There is a Castle here names Chiddingstone Castle which can be traced back to the early 1500s.  We didn’t go in here today as we ended up being ‘time poor’!  We went into the church ‘St Mary the Virgin’, this date back to at least 1278, the first rector was Bartholomew de Farentino, during the reign of Edward I.  The stained glass windows were superb, there were also very old tapestries around and lots of slate headstones ‘sunk’ into the floors, mostly from the Streatfeild family, they were first owners of the Castle and are still around the town as the principal of the Primary School is a Streatfeild.

We were about to leave when we decided to follow a footpath to the 
Childer Stone.  This is another historic site with a very old history.  Chiding Stone is said, probably erroneously, to have given Chiddingstone its name.  The Chiding, or Judgement Stone, is a natural rostrum, which may well have been used in past times as a place of delivering judgement, mainly to remonstrate overbearing local wives. It was a very peaceful place and is situated behind the Castle Inn.

No detours on the way home.  The roast beef and potatoes was cooked just right when we got home.  I had to make Yorkshire pudding as it seemed to haunt us all day and Kylie did the veggies.  A god day all round J.