Posts Tagged ‘Devon’

Those who’ve read my blog for a while, will know that I’ve been battling with my inner dog lover for some months. Actually, it’s years, since the birth of puppies Dot, Dash and Ray (they were actually called after their markings… but are also aka Dorothy Parker, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler) to my friend JJ’s border terrier, Zoe. Dash was temporarily the object of my desires but then, sense prevailed and I realised that I didn’t have time for a puppy. Since then, I’ve just been longing for a dog and frequent many dog rehoming websites as a means to torture myself think about a dog.

The other day, during yet another dog conversation, my friend JM commented that it was now possible to rehome battery chickens. Not being much of a television watcher, I’d missed all the ‘save the chickens and fish’ programmes that various celebrity chefs have been doing and knew nothing about this.

Now, a person who hasn’t the time for a dog, which is a portable and relatively adaptable animal, certainly hasn’t got the time for a brood of traumatised battery hens in recovery, so I don’t know why I even entertained the idea long enough to search out the website of the British Hen Welfare Trust, but I did. I’ve got rather fond of the hens that peck around the horses’ feet at the stables and gather at the sides of the road in certain villages. And lo, was discovered the subject of this post, which doesn’t require any husbandry (wifery?) and just serves to grace your kitchen with an object that will forever be the subject of interrogation by interested visitors: the Egg Skelter.

It keeps your hens’ eggs in the order that they were laid, so that you always eat the oldest, and displays them in a really interesting way. Presumably, they don’t roll down the ‘skelter’ fast enough to break, since this was invented by someone who keeps chickens in Devon – so, coincidentally, this turns out to be another fabulous Wet West Country find.

Just to add, before anyone goes ands gets me one of these for my upcoming birthday, please bear in mind the quantity of eggs that this will hold and the number of eggs someone with an empty nest can eat…(sounds almost cannibalistic) but for anyone with a household to feed – it’s a great idea if, like me, you don’t like keeping eggs in the fridge.

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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 posing


Even this pylon was fine looking


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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Had a slow start to the day, being woken very early by the cats, then going back to sleep. I have been up early every morning I’ve been here, so I don’t feel bad about that and the weather was dreadful anyway. Grey and rainy, but at least the strong wind of the last couple of days has dropped. Despite the bad weather it was clear over Bridgwater Bay and I took this photograph of the River Parrett as it winds its way  inland in spectacular fashion.

I found a nice duck egg blue painted glass-fronted cupboard online, which I paid for and will pick up from a place in Devon in a couple of weeks’ time. It will look nice in the living room and then that will be complete. My friend J offered me a piece of her Conran furniture, which she doesn’t have room for, but it wouldn’t suit the living room and one thing I don’t want in this house is stuff that I haven’t chosen. London is like that, but Spring Cottage is not going that way.

Stopped off at the little shop by the Pines Cafe and bought a bedside table, off-white distressed paint. It’s a funny shop, a bit directionless with an odd mixture of things that doesn’t quite work. It feels like an afterthought, which isn’t helped by the fact that it’s staffed by the owner’s sons, who are obviously earning some money in the holidays, but don’t make it feel very loved. It needs nice smells, better lighting, a little bit of very quiet radio in the background, so that you don’t feel so self-conscious, and above all a coherent stock. The old-looking clothes need to go – whose are they, why are they there? Are they old, new, new old stock? It’s impossible to tell. But they’re off-putting. Maybe it sounds harsh to be so critical but it’s a wonderful location that I was very interested in, and it’s frustrating that it doesn’t quite get it right. But then, perhaps it doesn’t matter to the owner and maybe it’s not important whether it makes money or not. She lives at Cothelstone Manor, which means she has a lot of other fish to fry, including an interior design business, and unfortunately in retail terms it shows. A shame, because with the cafe drawing in a guaranteed footfall, it’s missing an opportunity.

Drove to Wiveliscombe in the hope of finding some interesting furniture at Yew Tree Antiques, but it is really just full of the heavy mahogany pieces that are so unfashionable these days. I wonder whether they sell anything much – there are certainly some pieces in there that haven’t moved since I first went therea year ago. They do have some lovely pieces at very good prices that would be beautiful in the right setting but they aren’t to my generation’s taste, or at least only in very small quantities. I suspect London dealers might pick up stock in a place like that and sell it for double.

Came home via Taunton and was lucky to find some good waterproof jackets in TKMaxx. I didn’t have time to find a proper outdoor clothing shop (I only had enough money for an hour’s parking after I’d paid to park in the wrong bay and had to pay again)  but it worked out well, so there are enough clothes here permanently now, to keep two people dry at any one time. And to keep me dry while I ride tomorrow!

I’m also starting to look forward to going home. It’s been lovely here but I’m ready for a bit of real life again.

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