|Medieval Graffiti of a Monk|
|13th C floor tiles at Cleeve Abbey|
|Surround of a mirror, all hand-stitched|
|6-spot Burnett moth (they contain hydrogen cyanide)|
Old doorways and windows. In-between places. I am drawn to photographing them and often return from an old house to discover that's mostly what I've recorded.
Our trip down to the West Country earlier this week was no exception. But then there were lots of lovely old doorways and windows to admire at Cotehele, Lytes Carey and Cleeve Abbey.
We stayed the first night in a cottage perched too close to the edge of a cliff at the bottom of a very long, narrow, steep trackway. The North Atlantic pounded the restless shore of the cove below where a fair share of wrecks had been claimed over the centuries and where pilchards had once been collected. To access the deserted cove we scrambled down the pathless cliff which was hairy, but exhilarating. M went swimming while I wandered over the white sand and took pictures of muscles (the sea kind). We scrambled back up as the tide was turning and starting to reach the bottom of the rocks.
The following morning we were up early and out on the South West Coast path. When we returned to the cottage a little past half seven, four Choughs were sitting on the roof, talking. Members of the crow family distinctive for their bright red beaks and legs, Choughs are rare creatures these days and I'd never seen one before. They returned to breed on the Lizard a few years ago and have since spread up the coast. I was thrilled to see them, and even more thrilled when another four turned up later that morning, wheeling across the storm-tossed skies of the local tin mines (Poldark, anyone?).
We went to St Ives and got well and truly soaked at Godrevy (hoping to see Leanne but just missing her. Hoping to see seals too, but they had more sense than to sit on the beach in a wet gale waiting for me), then went inland and on up to Devon. By the time we arrived at the B&B the sun had come out so we got out the map and found a two mile run across the local countryside which shook out the stale car sensation but which for some reason perplexed the lady who ran the B&B.
The following morning we were up at 6 (which also perplexed her) and headed up the coast to Blue Anchor Bay which has a lovely sea-front cafe where we sat and ate a full English breakfast with steaming mugs of tea and hot chocolate while looking out across the bay through the drizzle to Wales.
Cleeve Abbey is only a short drive from there and it is well worth a visit. There was no one else there when we arrived so we had the place to ourselves. It is tranquil, soothing and peaceful and has some of the best preserved medieval floor tiles and wall paintings in the country. While I sat in the window of an upstairs room soaking up the atmosphere and feeling rather like I didn't ever want to leave, a Pippistrelle flew out of the fireplace, circled the room and me once, and flew back up the chimney. If it weren't for the distinctly batty smell in the fireplace when I went to investigate I might have believed it was the old building teasing my senses.
The rain easing, we drove to Lytes Cary Manor in Somerset, a 14th Century manor house with lovely gardens which was the birthplace of the Elizabethan herbalist Henry Lyte. It's now run by the National Trust. We wandered through the beautiful gardens which, being billowy and wild rather than clipped and formal were right up my street and then went to the tea rooms for a cream tea while I contemplated how to best recreate the garden at home. In the plant shop, I managed to smuggle home a Tom Thumb fuchsia and a pale lilac Clary Sage, salvia turkestanica, which is going in the second new bed my husband has just finished for me this morning. It was completed with the immortal words: you do know we've no more room now for any more new beds, don't you? So I'm not allowed to buy any more plants....for a while :o)
Hope all are well?