Thursday, 30 June 2016

Cornwall, Devon, Somerset: Historic Houses, Abbeys & Gardens, Tin Mines and Choughs



















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)

Sea Campion

Choughs!


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?

CT :o)


38 comments:

  1. Britain is a truly beautiful place to holiday. Now I'm living in the Peak District I hope to see more of the North and North East.

    Jean

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    1. Fantastic place to live, Jean. Hope all's well?

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  2. Looks wonderful. The mirror surround is so detailed, the choughs are having a good chat. There are fantastic views from Cotehele, when it's not too misty. x

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    1. Down the valley? It looked lovely :-)

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  3. That all sounds lovely, apart from the weather. Having been to Cotehele in the rain I can remember how exposed it felt. Did you get to Cothay as well?

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    1. It's on the list for next time thanks to you ;-)

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  4. What a wonderful trip, glad you had such a good time. Absolutely gorgeous photos, you visited some beautiful places. I'm very envious of your choughs. The biggest boy tried SO hard to spot one when we were down on the Lizard peninsula a couple of years ago, but no luck. You're a wildlife magnet I think! Love the topiary and all that gorgeous ancient stone at Cleeve Abbey. Wonderful. Glad a few plants came home with you from Lytes Cary. And don't worry, there's always somewhere to squeeze one more plant. CJ xx

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    1. I think the choughs are spreading so hopefully he'll see one one day x

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  5. how exciting to see the Cornish choughs returning!
    (is it chow or chuff?)

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  6. Wonderful day out with gorgeous scenry dn fantastic old building with views through doorways adn windows. the shape of the arches are windows is beautiful as well as the gardens with the well manicured trees.

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  7. CHOUGHS! You are the 'nature lady' :-) It sounds like a lovely trip. I haven't been to Cornwall since the children were small and your photos have made me a little wistful. I'd love to go again. Perhaps I'll take them next year. Lovely photos, as always. Sam x PS There's no room for new beds when you have no lawn left...

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    1. Cornwall is a magical place, all that wild scenery x

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  8. You sound to be having such a lovely time. As I write this the rain is bucketing down here in North Yorkshire. Your photos are super. I love it that you rise early; we are early risers too - the best part of the day. Love choughs too by the way.

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    1. It comes of being farmers/ livestock people I think :-)

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  9. Oh wow, you are so lucky to see choughs! I have never seen any......I live in hope :)

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    1. I should think you're in the right place?

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  10. I have window envy! The eyes of a building. Oh Ct I had a good chuckle over your bemused B&B proprietor, fabulous altogether. Sounds like a great trip. S. xxx

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    1. I do love a good window (and door) :-). I managed to get more of that fabric for the hexies, btw. Will email you pics once I've sewn more! Hope you're well? Xx

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  11. What a beautiful post today. I can not even pick my favorite photo because I adore them all but.... the floor tiles with the surround of grass is just so perfect.

    cheers, parsnip and the hamish

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    1. You'd love it there, plenty of inspiration for painting x

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  12. Hey CT,
    You've outdone yourself with your beautiful photographs. I was so sorry not to have met you. My Dad was visiting last week, and demanded a lot of attention. I do have a little something for you though. I shall post it next week. All good here. We have sun!
    Leanne xx

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    1. I have something for you too! Please don't worry re meeting up, it was v last minute. Another time :-) xx

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  13. It looks like you had a wonderful time CT. I'm always smuggling plants home!

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    1. I'm not allowed any more till next year :-( x

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  14. This is a truly beautiful post and lovely written post too. I was born on the Bay, so feel right at home with your photos. lol

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  15. A beautifully written post capturing the very essence of the West Country and some of what it has to offer. What a great getaway for you both. I love that area and your photos took me back to many holidays. So glad you enjoyed and I hope the B & B lady became unperplexed at your early hours?? Poor love she probably isn't used to it.....
    Love to you all from a cold and damp Victoria, Australia xx

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    1. She didn't have long enough to as we only stayed one night! Lovely place and she was very sweet. Love back to you from a hot and sunny UK!!! XX

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  16. It sounds like a wonderful time. What a shame about missing Leanne she sounds like a fun person to meet up with. Ah I'm not allowed to buy any more plants or yarn come to that. I do fear that some very small purchases will be made next Monday though. Take care xx

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    1. I'm planning some fabric shopping to take up the slack.... :o) XX

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  17. This sounds like a lovely few days away. I especially love the coast of Cornwall and always try to see the choughs at the Lizard (when I go there early in the summer). That is incredible seeing the bat and the old houses look wonderful to wander around.

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    1. It is a beautiful part of the world.

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  18. Glad you had a great time. I hope you got to do lots of relaxing as well as having fun. Lytes Cary is a lovely place to visit isn't it. I am sure you will get more plants!

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    1. I really enjoyed Lytes Cary and will go back again xx

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  19. That sounds a wonderful trip despite the rain, your cottage and B&B were in amazing locations. It was a shame you missed Leanne. Did you see the video of a kit in the river Otter last week? Sarah x

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    1. I missed that, Sarah, Will have a look... x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x