Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Glastonbury

I've been to Glastonbury twice before; once when the girls were small and once again with E at the start of her MPhil. On the latter occasion, we had gone to Burnham on Sea for a couple of days to celebrate the end of her degree. As it turned out, the delights of B.o.S. were limited and we whizzed through them in a single day. Knowing my youngest's hippy tendencies, I suggested Glastonbury as a place for a trip and have happy memories of a very enjoyable day, with some delicious vegan food thrown into the bargain.
R, however, hadn't been for a while and so, when pondering about a weekend away, I suggested it as a possible destination. Metcheck didn't look too promising the week before, showers being forecast. In the event, we were very lucky indeed, and enjoyed glorious sunshine for the whole weekend.

We set off early on Saturday morning, with a picnic of bagels in tow, meandering along A roads and arriving just before lunchtime. Saving the bagels for later, we refreshed ourselves with pots of tea and a shared piece of (very yummy!) chocolate cake from Rainbow's End Cafe. This was a veggie/vegan cafe with an excellent menu, along with an adjoining beautiful garden. 
Suitably fortified, we pottered slowly along the High Street, popping into the numerous independent, and decidedly quirky, shops. The locals were a colourful bunch too. One chap sat in the sunshine feeding his parrot (named Zulu, I asked!) orange segments before settling it down for an afternoon nap!
The air was thick with the smell of cannabis and I was amused to see a female police officer threatening to fine one chap for drinking a bottle of alcohol, whilst, behind her on the church grass, there was a low smog of fumes as hippies blatantly lit up. Maybe the usual rules don't apply in Glastonbury?

Glastonbury Tribunal: This 15th Century building was a merchant's house and shop. It was previously thought to have been the Abbey's courthouse, hence the name:
Glastonbury Market Cross, erected in 1846:
Realising that I had forgotten to pack a book, I bought a 50p copy of Susan Hill's ghostly 'The Mist in the Mirror' from one of the many charity shops. I also splashed out on some incense and a crystal which currently hangs in my living room window, throwing rainbows round the walls. Well, it was Glastonbury, it would have been rude not to!

We then paid to go into Glastonbury Abbey and enjoyed our picnic in the grounds by the ruins:

The Abbey, founded in the 8th Century, was one of the richest and most powerful monasteries in England. Suppressed during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the last Abbot was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor on Glastonbury Tor in 1539:



The Abbot's Kitchen:

Fish in one of the 2 ponds in the grounds:
St. Patrick's Chapel, set within the Abbey grounds:
Late afternoon, we set off for our B&B. As our trip had been organised at the last minute, available hotels/guest houses in Glastonbury itself were not only few and far between but also expensive. Ashcott is a small village 5 miles away. It was easily accessible and, in retrospect, probably much quieter in the evenings compared to staying in Glastonbury itself. Our accommodation was 'The Lawns', a converted residential home that now hosts events and acts as a restaurant and B&B.
The room was pleasant and clean and , even though we appeared to be the first vegans they had hosted, the breakfast was more than acceptable - once they had obligingly removed the fried egg!
View from our room:
We popped back into Glastonbury for dinner at the 'Elaichi Tandoori'. The food was delicious and the mango juice more than made up for the alcohol-free menu. Well I thought so, R wasn't entirely convinced!

First on Sunday's list was a trip to the Chalice Well and Gardens. This, along with the walk up the Tor, was my favourite bit of our trip. Run by the Chalice Well Trust, founded by Wellesley Tudor Pole in 1959, the well and surrounding gardens are a sanctuary designed to soothe the soul and revive the spirits. The gardens surrounding the 'Red Spring' (so called because of the iron content of the water) were incredibly peaceful. My soul was certainly soothed and I could have sat there all day, listening to the birds and the running water. 

The Vesica Pool:

The Healing Pool - note the red staining owing to the iron content of the water:
The Lion's Head - the pure spring water can be drunk here. It had a blood-like taste, presumably the iron content again.
The Well Head and Sanctuary - the cover features a wrought iron Vesica Piscis with a lance passing through it. This ancient symbol of 2 interlocking circles apparently symbolises the union of Heaven and Earth or spirit and matter. The symbol appeared throughout the gardens.

Round the corner from the Chalice Well and Gardens, lies The White Spring. This cavernous, candle-lit sacred space is used for meditation, prayer and reflection. When we arrived, a chap had decided to get his kit off, plunged into the pool and then sat chanting at the water's edge. It didn't really add much to the quiet, reflective atmosphere!

St. Michael's Tower on the top of Glastonbury Tor:

The climb up to the Tor is a trifle steep but well worth it for the view.  158m high, you can see 5 counties from the summit. Well's Cathedral is clearly visible 5 miles away - my geography isn't that great and I hadn't realised that Wells was so close.


We sat at the top admiring the view for quite some time, before returning to the town and Rainbow's End Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner before heading home:

Even though it felt like longer, we had only been away for 2 days. Hamish barely had time to miss us! 
If you can cope with the ever-present smell of cannabis, Glastonbury is a great place for a mini-break and, as viewed from the Tor, there are plenty of other places nearby if you want to extend your visit.
I'll leave you with a photo of my souvenir:

Toodle pip for now. x
 

Monday, 16 May 2022

A Loverly Time!

Before anyone points out the error in the title of this post, can I just say that the typo (in this case anyway!) is completely intentional. Saturday saw me catching the train to London for my Mother's Day present, viz. a trip to the Coliseum to see 'My Fair Lady'.

L met me at Paddington and, after popping into her chambers to drop something off, we walked through Covent Garden to get to our pre-matinee lunch at a South Indian vegetarian restaurant called 'Sagar'. The masala dosa was, unlike the ones I attempt at home, wafer thin (can anyone else not say that without pronouncing it like in Monty Python?!) and the mixed Uthappam - a sort of lentil pizza topped with onion, tomato and coconut - was delicious.

Then it was a quick walk to the theatre where a 'loverly' time was indeed had by all. The Coliseum is a stunning bit of architecture and the play/musical was brilliant. Amara Okereke as Eliza could belt out a tune effortlessly and Harry Hadden-Paton as Professor Higgins and Sharif Afifi as Freddy were none too shabby either. I had been complaining of a slight bout of conjunctivitis in my left eye (note to self: don't rub eye with soil-encrusted hands whilst gardening!) and had spent the previous 2 days vainly trying to make myself cry in order to irrigate it thoroughly. Well, 'My Fair Lady' did the trick and it is now much better. :O)

We treated ourselves to an interval cocktail. Our 'Flower Girl' (one glass, 2 straws!) was a mixture of violet liqueur, elderflower and prosecco. The first sip was a little startling - think an alcoholic version of those parma violet sweets (do they still make those?) and you'll get the idea. Once the taste buds had got over the shock, however, it slipped down rather nicely.

After the play, we had time to grab a takeaway coffee and sat by the river in the sunshine, people watching and catching up some more. Then I headed back to Paddington for the train home and L met J (and her rucksack) at St. Pancras and caught the Eurostar for a few days in Paris! 

Other happies this month:

A trip to Bristol to see E. I admired her new flat - lots of light and a view to die for - then we had a lunch at 'the laundrette' - this was actually much classier than it sounds! There are indeed a few washing machines at the back but it is more a trendy cafe with yummy food, and drinks served in homemade pottery mugs.


Then we did a tour of the local plant shops and I treated E to a plant and 2 plant pots as a flat-warming present. 'Wild Leaf' was amazing and it's probably a very good job that I don't live closer!

A walk and a picnic around Ashampstead and Yattendon:


Our local vegan market, where we treated ourselves to some surprisingly nice vegan 'cheese' - if that isn't an oxymoron! 


Trying my hand at more macrame - inspired by the Bristol plant shops:
The pilea peperomioides in the above shot is a baby from one of the plants that CJ kindly gave me last year. I'm hoping that they all take. I do have a bit of a problem with fungus gnats at the moment - I think they arrived in a bag of compost, as it was only the plants that were potted on that were affected. I've tried sticky traps, Ceylon cinnamon, 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, bottom watering and letting the plants dry out more than I normally would ............. and the little blighters are still breeding! So, if anyone has any surefire way of eliminating these pests, all suggestions would be very welcome!

Trying my hand at making injera. They were very nice but, a bit like with dosa, the restaurants must have very large pans to make them big enough.

An evening of Opera at Dorchester-on-Thames:
We had a picnic by the river beforehand and then sat in the most beautiful garden listening to 4 singers and a pianist perform operatic highlights. To add to the joy, a local robin joined in..... all the way through!



Making lots of pottery blobs which my tutor kindly smoke fired in her garden - the plan was always to hang them from one of the apple trees but, as the smoke marks will gradually fade when exposed to the elements, I hung a few up inside:


Lastly, another picnic and walk at Fawley:
My favourite rape against a stormy sky:

Well, that's my camera unloaded for another month. I hope things are fine and dandy at your end and please do let me know if you have a cure for fungus gnats. It's like a flamenco event here at the moment with people suddenly clapping without warning!

Toodle pip for now. x

Monday, 25 April 2022

Spring Happies

It's gloriously sunny outside and I really should be out there doing some more gardening. I have, however, just been for a swim and, as I'm catching my breath and having a restorative cuppa, I thought I'd take the opportunity to upload the photos from the last few weeks. I'm going to try and keep it short as I'm feeling guilty about all the weeding that I should be doing!

A day trip to Wells. This is probably as far as I'd like to go in a day and we really could have done with it being a weekend break instead. It wasn't our first visit though, so it was really a whistle stop tour of the highlights with a nice lunch thrown in.

The wondrous Cathedral:

The Chapter House:

Vicar's Close - claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings in Europe:

The Bishop's Palace and Gardens:

Jack and Jill Hill in Kilmersdon. We popped in briefly on the way home and climbed it:

A Mozart Concert at Dorchester Abbey. We enjoyed Ave Verum, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik and the wonderful Requiem, which always makes me think of Oxford as they play the Lacrimosa a lot in Endeavour.

A trip to the Naturalist Gilbert White's House and Gardens in Selborne. He first described the Harvest mouse, the Noctule bat and was supposedly the first person to use the letter 'X' to represent kisses!

It also houses the Oates Collections focusing on 2 members of the Oates family, including Lawrence (Titus) Oates:

I always love a good kitchen!:

Watching Verdi's 'La Traviata'. The main character, Violetta, was played by Pretty Yende, who was incredible - both as a singer and an actor:

A walk along the canal at Hungerford. There was a kayak race taking place which was quite fun to watch - especially as they had to lift the crafts out of the water and run round the locks!

Easter Sunday circular walk at Nettlebed:

There were lots of lovely newborn lambs!

We picked wild garlic and I made some pesto. It was delicious, even if it did look as though I had liquidised Kermit!

Stumpy is still thriving. He now has a Mrs. Stumpy and a baby Stumpy! I'm so glad that the RSPCA didn't manage to catch him after his accident. He seems to be having a lovely life:

Watching Henry V. I have to admit that I wasn't that keen before we went, not being a huge fan of the war plays. R, however, had studied it for English 'O' Level (yes, we are that old!) and really wanted to see it. My expectations sank even lower when, during the introductory interviews with the cast, it became clear that the play was being set in modern times. To my surprise though, I really enjoyed it. They had me at 'Sweet Caroline' playing in a night club at the start! :O)

A trip to The Watermill with L to see Graham Green's 'Our Man in Havana'. It was a musical version of the novel and , whilst I did enjoy the Cuban music, I felt that it would have been better with a little more prose and a little less singing!


Last, but definitely not least, a walk and picnic with L in the Savernake Forest:

Well, that's it for now. I'd better go and hit the garden - those weeds won't pull themselves!
I hope there are lots of happies at your end this month too.

Toodle pip for now. x