Posts Tagged ‘Travellers’ Rest’

Dead chuffed

Just been to the pub. I’d forgotten I’d spent most of my cash on my riding lesson, which meant i couldn’t pay for my supper and drink. Barman Dave’s response: “Tchah, locals. Drop it in tomorrow.” I’m considered A LOCAL! I love them:

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Also some sad news, I heard from Sue at the stables that one of my elderly neighbours at up the road has died. I’m going to drop his wife a line. That’s how different things are here. It would seem improper not to do so but in London you wouldn’t think of it, unless you had known the person reasonably well. There, you can live somewhere 20 years and barely greet the people across the road from you when you meet. Of course, the downside, is that they probably know all about me too but I can’t say that bothers me in the least.

Oh dear, now the title of this post looks like some horrible poor taste pun. But  it wasn’t intended that way at all, I only added the last paragraph as a postscript once I’d saved the original short post…

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Spring Cottage is on half term, sweetly slumbering, unaware that it will be rudely awakened today by the transfer of Lad HQ from London to Somerset, when the Boy and seven friends descend for three days of rural activities like clay pigeon shooting, mountain biking and going down to the Travellers’ Rest pub. I am so happy that the cottage is being used for this, as that’s the whole point of it. But I’m hoping that my ban on midnight fireworks – one of our nearest neighbours is 93 – will be heeded and that I won’t suddenly become local persona non grata

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Weekend here with Boy, who can’t stop talking about his new job and about a flat that he wants to move into with some friends, for the first time in over six months. Nice to have some family time here together, although he is hell bent on going back to London as soon as possible. Hold on to them loosely to keep them close – I must remember this…

new cabinetOn Saturday, we picked up my new cabinet from Tracy at French Gray near Dulverton. She has a lovely farm on the fringes of Exmoor, where she restores tired pieces of furniture by painting and distressing them. Something that I’ve done myself but recently haven’t had time for. It looks nice in the living room, although the accent of the room has become twee-er, but hope to set that right with my new prints.

Then we drove to see JM, who was staying with his sister near Chard, about 45 minutes south of here. We went on a lovely long walk, unfortunately in the wrong shoes, so sore toes for me. map of ChardstockIt was interesting to see how the countryside is subtly different to the Quantocks – the local stone is a lot more flinty and electricity pylons, large and small, more prominent everywhere (but I think I’m particularly lucky in that respect – go another couple of miles north from Spring Cottage and they’re everywhere), but it was lovely to see another glorious part of the south west.

On our walk we found an abandoned-looking little thatched cottage, which would have made a wonderful project for someone, in a place called Cuckholds Pit. In rather a state, with a  collapsing thatch, but it was actually also fascinating to see what cottages looked like before they were gobbled up and made all delightful by townies like me.

Supper at the Traveller’s Rest – great steak today – and they have a new Otter beer, Otter Ale, which is much stronger than the bitter. So now I’m going to have to be much more specific about my favourite tipple.

Riding lesson was fun on Sunday: a hour in the arena with Sally and a horse called Spot, learning how to sit (I thought I knew that already) and control the horse properly. It’s rather like driving a car, with all your extremities needing huge amounts of concentration and coordination to keep them in the right place.

cow

Cow posing

pylon

Even this pylon was fine looking

flower

Echinacea purpurea – I must get some for the garden

"Where are we?"

JM and Boy missing the obvious

lost, tired people

Lost, tired people

Yes, we did get a bit lost… despite a host of navigational aids.

Postscript: We drove past signposts to places that sounded quite delicious today: Beercrowcombe, Stewley and Curry Mallet.

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Arrived today to find the farmer building some kind of irrigation shed in the field by the garage. As a result the gate has disappeared. First the front gate in London and now this one. But they own it, and I’m sure they’ll put it back as they need access and my access to the garage is over their land. Weird though. They are bombing up and down the lane outside with silage today – a tractor literally every 10 minutes, so I’m assuming they’re going to leave the field alone while I’m here. They must be connecting up to the spring up the hill, I think.

Took the little blue DLR out of the garage to dry out and run the engine for a bit. The floor in there was damp as it was raining on the day that I garaged her, so it will do them good to be aired. I’ll run the engine a bit later on as well.

Garden is a riot of bluebells at the moment and the weather is fantastic. Click on the image on the left to see the detail. Beautiful! Cats came down in the car with me and I let them out part of the way down as the were making such a fuss but then they had to be caged up again, as Dixie insisted on sitting by my feet which just isn’t safe, even with cruise control!

Planning not to do much this weekend. I’ll go and have a half at the Travellers Rest later on and see if I can get the low down from Bar-Lady about what’s going on in the field. I should give them my telephone number so that they can contact me if they need to.

This afternoon there were five really big birds of prey circling over higher close, the field behind the house. I watched them for ages through the binoculars but couldn’t quite identify them. They looked most like red kites but weren’t the right colour, and the wings weren’t the right shape for buzzards. They were also fighting with each other which was interesting to watch.

Rather limiting to my activities is having terrible tennis elbow. I can hardly lift the kettle, let alone do anything more energetic. It’s the first day this year that I haven’t had the heating on or made a fire in the evening.

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JJ was here for the weekend, which was very nice. Her mother’s family is from Somerset and we spent Saturday revisiting Minehead and Porlock. Weather was wet, and Sunday was lazy. Travellers’ Rest steak less nice than usual and Bar-Lady reported that she had spotted my new car, “not that we’re being nosy or anything”. I love it.

The house painting is finished and the colours look far better than last weekend with the extra coat. Really still pinker than I’d expected but plaster not flesh, at least. And the doors aren’t quite so vile. They are the colour of the cats’ eyes. I think it will look great when it settles.

We brought down the new little Edwardian desk that I bought on eBay for £45 from Bristol. It looks good in the living room and I’m very happy with it indeed.

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This weekend has seen the advent of pictures at Spring Cottage. However, putting them up has not been entirely successful. In fact, one could say that it has been relatively unsuccessful, as only one of them has stayed on wall, one has fallen off and there are now two large holes in the previously freshly painted plaster. It turns out that the walls are uniformly solid and that I’m going to have to use a drill and polyfilla to get any art onto the walls.

Patently not making a chest of drawers

Patently not making a chest of drawers

On a more positive note, Girl and I made a chest of drawers, which we only had to remake partially once. I don’t know what it is about self-assembly things but the little drawings just aren’t very clear. However, now made, it is great having actual furniture in my bedroom and somewhere to keep my clothes after all these months. Just one more to go, but that can wait until another windy and wet weekend.

Walking over Manor Farm

Walking over Manor Farm

We went for a bit of a walk locally, just down the bridle path and into Manor Farm’s fields to pick blackberries and sloes. Looking forward to making sloe gin and more jam, when we get back.

Went for supper at the Traveller’s Rest, where I really felt I’d arrived, when I saw that our tab actually had my name on. So bar-lady had taken it in when I announced who I was, even though she didn’t appear to have. I am really thrilled!

It’s turning autumnal now and I’m looking forward to seeing the countryside changing yet again. There are bonfires already and fine smells of smoke in the air.

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Spring Cottage with the Honeytree ladies this weekend. The weather was wonderful, it was really nice to have company and we had a lovely time. It was the last weekend that we will have both girls with us before university – and another era – starts.

We drove to Watchet on Saturday, via lunch in an excellent pub/restaurant in Bicknoller (a find that I must remember), where there was an art exhibition as part of Somerset art week. I bought a giclee print by a local-ish artist in the show. Soon the cottage will have colour on its walls.

Followed by a quiet drink before supper at the Travellers’ Rest, which was quieter than I’ve ever seen it. I discovered that it doesn’t open until 7pm which is why I couldn’t go last weekend. What a clot! I felt a bit guilty that we didn’t eat there, but went home to have some delicious pasta made by one of my guests.

The silliest part of the weekend was when we were suddenly invaded by about seven pheasant in the garden. I’ve never seen so many of them, or such brazen ones, before. IMG_3072 pheasantI think they must have been attracted by the growing crop of ripening blackberries a the back of the house. I think they were juveniles as they didn’t have long tail feathers or female colouring.

We did mainly local walks from the house this weekend, up Broomfield Hill on Saturday, to get a sense of the locality and then over to Manor Farm on Sunday.IMG_3079walk

I am so lucky to have found such a wonderful place. The more I learn about my neighbours and the surrounding area, the more I like it. On our walk through Manor Farm, we met John Honeyball, whose details were given to me by Lady-Vendor way back in April. He was on his way back from church in his mobility vehicle with a trailer on the back with two lovely big dogs and offered us a lift. He is such a character  — I don’t mean that to sound patronising, he just is more colourful than ordinary mortals — beautifully got up in a tweed suit, waistcoat and bowler hat and possessed of a wonderful turn of phrase.)

He told us that he’d trained racehorses, which I already knew from the farm’s website which I’d been looking at when I was thinking of going riding, and that he’s been a master of hounds, which I am recording here for my holey memory’s sake. He showed us the way to the path that we were trying to follow through Manor Farm’s yard and explained a bit about the countryside stewardship scheme. The Rowes at Great Holwell do his hedge topping for him nowadays as he can no longer drive a tractor. Although very limber, he’s clearly quite elderly but very spry with quite a twinkle in his eye. I hope I get old like that. He reminded me of Granny and her siblings as I remember them during my childhood before they got decrepit.

It was very nice to work out more of how everything locally fits together. I get a very clear sense of how the immediate local area is split between these two farms more or less. The walk home along the path pretty much across the field opposite Spring Cottage, so now I know a short cut to the farm, if ever I need one. And can start a walk virtually over the road from the house.

Fabulous.

Postscript 27 September 2010: a year later, I now know that Lady-Vendor owned a racehorse that was trained by John Honeyball in the 1980s. They clearly knew her well. I researched this after a slightly mystifying conversation while I was on a ride with Sue Honeyball. It doesn’t help that conversations on horseback are often over the shoulder… It’s fascinating to find out about people, it really is

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It’s frustrating trying to be in two places at once. I’ve now spent a few nights sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag in order to be there while things were being delivered, and while work was being done to the house. Then I got flu and had to rush back to London, having not managed to do half the things I wanted to.

I spend every evening on the web hunting out things that I need for the house and trying to contact people who need to work on it. This weekend I’ve got a plumber and two gardeners coming to give me quotes for various things, and I’m going to take the keys round to the painter. I feel like Lady Muck, sometimes, and just have to remember that people don’t want you to be their friend: they need an employer! And it’s an odd thing but I’ve never either this resourceful or as determined to get things fixed up in London, which has long since ceased to feel like a project and now feels like a slightly disintegrating shell that I’ve just become very familiar with over the last almost 18 years.

One thing I did achieve this weekend was getting some old chapel chairs for round the kitchen table and I also found a lovely old chest, which will be useful. So the place is starting to fill up a little. I want to keep it spare, spare, spare – a complete contrast to London in every way.

One good thing about this blog thing, is that it is a way of charting achievement and I find, reading back over the entries, that I’ve actually done quite a lot in the last week or so. But I’m still grappling with what the point is of doing this online rather than in a paper journal. Being able to include images, obviously, but who is going to care about what I think. It’s a bit like some kind of vanity publishing project. Still in two minds about whether to continue.

The children are appalled that I’m not thinking of having a TV at this point. But I love the way that I either have to reach for a book or head to the pub in the evening. More on the lovely Travellers’ Rest Inn soon… That deserves a post all of its own.

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