Sunday, August 18, 2013

We're going where the sun shines brightly...

We're going where the sea is blue....

I love holidays at home!

What could be better?  No scrabbling in your bag for your passport, no sweating at the departure gate because you have forgotten to get rid of that bottle of water, no watching the same lonely case go around the conveyor belt for the tenth time and worrying that yours is lost, no trying to order food in a foreign language -just waking up naturally in your own bed and wondering what adventures the day will bring.  Nice.

Last week we were mostly not at work.


I tried a salad out of a brilliant book that I borrowed from the Library, 'A Salad for All Seasons' by Harry Eastwood (page 155).  Tesco's gave us 4 packs of Stilton this week instead of 1 so I had to find lots of things to do with it!  I made a Stilton quiche too.

Stilton, apple and walnut salad


We tried out a new walk in the village to burn off a cooked breaky.

We found this lake at the top of a hill with a little wooden bench next to it.

Seeing pigs was a bonus.  Nice ears.


Wilton House - only rainy day.

Wilton House

I have only lived near Wilton House for the last 32 years!  Why do we never see what is on our doorstep?
I have visited the gardens many, many times but have never ventured inside.  I was so excited to see the famous Double Cube Room.  Wilton House has been used for many films, such as The Madness of King George, Sense & Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

The Knot Garden

We were lucky, we almost had the place to ourselves!

Inside the front hall is a large statue of Shakespeare and the guide told us that he quite often visited.  'As You Like It' was first performed here.

The D-Day landings were planned in the Double Cube room and I didn't know that the house holds the largest private collection of Van Dyke paintings in the world.

When we got home we sat looking out at the pouring rain, eating a cream tea and trying to do the crossword.


Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens. (Another first)

These gardens are the home of 'The Naked Gardeners' Ian and Barbara Pollard.  We didn't visit on an arranged 'clothes optional day'!

Sarah admiring the formal garden

I like gardens that are relaxed, arty and have strange statues or topiary - these gardens were perfect!

What is that?!

This is Brutus, the pet tortoise

I love a good archway

Benedictine Monks gardened here

Anyone for chess?

I have never seen so many roses, but unfortunately they were past their best.  There were still masses of gorgeous blooms though.


These beauties were covered with bees in the herb garden

Echinacea - I want some!

We saw these hiding in the woods.  We have some at home on the drive.  I don't know why I like them so much.  May be they remind me of a book I had as a child called 'Flower Fairies of the Autumn'.

Lords and Ladies

Other names:  Cuckoo-pint
Wild Arum

We descended down through the wooded glade to the River Avon.  It is hard to believe that a lot of this wasn't here or even accessible before 1994 when the current owners bought the house and gardens.

A Monastic fish pond

On the way home we enjoyed a delicious cream tea (with the obligatory wasps) in Castle Combe, a village renowned for it's pretty, quaint streets and also a popular film set!  ('Dr Dolittle', 'Stardust', 'War Horse' etc, etc).  I know it very well as my family are from round these parts.  

Cream tea (no. 2)

It's good to know that we aren't the only ones to have a wasp problem.  The farm manager had to drive his 'grabber' up our drive so he could squirt foam in to next door's wasp nest too!


Grovely Woods

Yet another first!  I have always wanted to walk from one end of Grovely Woods to the other, to join the dots and see what it's like in the middle!  It was quite a complicated affair as we weren't sure we could walk there and back (10 miles) so we drove both cars one end and then drove Sarah's back to the start (hoping that we'd be able to find my car again at the end of the walk!).  We ended up walking further than the 5 miles as we did get slightly lost.  It looks like a straight line on the map - it's not. 

We were very excited to see Fungi already.

One of my favourites - a Lurid Bolete (if you cut it, it turns blue - very strange)

It's so hard to identify Fungi!

Rooting Shank?  

We took a flask of coffee and a picnic in the backpack

I think that is a Pearl-Bordered Fritillary

By the time we reached the middle of the woods we saw no one.  

We saw Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies

Himalayan Balsam

Other names: Policeman's helmet
Kiss me on the mountain
Gnome's hat stand

I thought I had stumbled on a huge, rare Orchid but it is actually called 'Poor Man's Orchid' - says it all really.  It was introduced from the Himalayas in 1839 as a garden ornamental and can grow up to 3 metres high!  It is the tallest annual plant grown in Britain and is closely related to the 'Busy Lizzy'.  


Hengistbury Head

The v v expensive beach huts at Mudeford - I can look


View of Christchurch to Mudeford

I found mostly Slipper Limpets

and Tortoiseshell Limpets


New Forest

We are very lucky to live near to the coast and the forest.  Even though I love the sea, if I had to choose it would be the woods every time.  The New Forest is only 14 miles from our bungalow and takes half an hour to get there.  We try to visit a different area each time but it is so large and varied in landscape that we could explore it for the rest of our lives and not see it all.  

This time, we tried 'Telegraph Hill'.  It was quite windy in the car park but I later found out that it is the second highest point in the forest (128m above sea level).  How this area of the forest got it's name is interesting.  It was the site of a 19th Century optical shutter signal station.  It was one in a line stretching all the way from Plymouth to the Admiralty in London and used during the Napoleonic war to send messages at speed.  Apparently the shutters were opened and shut whilst someone with a telescope relayed the message down the line.  A message could travel from London to Plymouth in 20 minutes!!!   In poor visibility the message would be carried to the next station by a rider on horseback.  

Dosn't that look sooooo inviting....

Yellow Hoary Cinquefoil

A fungi lover's paradise

Pale Oyster Mushroom

Hoof Fungus

Dorset Heather
Bell Heather
Heath or Bog Heather
A dead heather!

We then had a weekend trying not to think about work looming on the horizon and being a bit manic and clingy about the house and garden.

The Rudbeckia that my sister grew from seed looks so good in our front garden

My sunflowers

I tried to ignore the ducks quacking and read my book

Sarah's peppers are getting rather large

How many different ways can you cook runner beans?

We found more fungi on a walk

Dryad's Saddle fungi

And we had a bake off:

Cheese and bacon loaf v chocolate chunk cookies

Best loaf yet.  So delicious just with butter and the next day as a bacon sarny - I nearly imploded.

We always wear our dogs out.  We went on so many long walks last week that she is now lying on her bed with all four paws in the air and begging us (with her eyes) to go back to work.  Still, a fab time was had by all and I suppose all good things must come to an end........ 


  1. Wonderful Blog, well done you, the pictures are fantastic, hope it's not too traumatizing getting back into work routine, see you soon, Linda x

  2. Hi Linda

    Thanks, glad you like the pics. Hope you have a fabby holiday - don't forget to have a ride on the donkeys! We'll make sure Bill behaves while you are away!!!

    Lots love
    Bungalow Sue