Spring Walk round Mere | Review
Eight members enjoyed this walk with our two leaders, Barbara Smith and Evie Willis. We toured the historical sites of Mere and then enjoyed the views of Mere Downs from the top of White Sheet Hill and explored the archaeological sites. The weather was good, and after the walk we all enjoyed the lunch at the Walnut Tree Inn.
Spring Lunch | The Grange Hotel | Oborne | near Sherborne | Review
A very successful event enjoyed by 70 members. Parking was restricted but the hotel staff were helpful. Iris Jenkin played the piano. As Lynda was away, Suzan and Philip handled the admin for this event, and wrote to thank the hotel. The only criticism heard was about the self-service coffee arrangements.
Lacock Abbey | Fox Talbot Museum | Lacock village | Review
The coach ran well to time on the outward journey. The low step facility helped everyone, but was particularly appreciated by several members with limited mobility.
The private room at the Stourhead restaurant had been prepared for us, and coffee/tea and huge shortbreads (which some wrapped up and kept for later consumption) were served efficiently.
At Lacock Abbey we were welcomed by a NT staff member, who give some basic guidance on what was where and distributed to everyone the “Discover Lacock” guide and map, plus a couple of other items. Members were then free to discover Lacock Abbey and the village at their leisure.
The driver took us home along the ‘Deverills’ route to Mere. Unfortunately we had drizzle by now which detracted from the great scenery on this route.
Peto Garden @ Iford Manor | Kennet & Avon Canal Trip | Review
It was a day to remember why Harold Peto had chosen this site, set upon a hill with the river running past and surrounding farmlands, to implement his vision. The garden is set out in tiers with sculptures various and architectural columns intermingled with the odd sarcophagus, stone urns and wonderful trees, a box parterre and, amongst many interesting flowers, iris to die for. Beside the house there is a glorious purple garden restructured by the current owner. Our packed lunches in the courtyard, organised independently by our Chairman, were masterpieces and much appreciated.
Accompanied by a light shower and an exciting exit up their newly devised just-enough-for-a-coach driveway we arrived down at the Kennet and Avon Canal and took our seats in our narrow boat for the tranquil trip down the canal where we saw birds various and most spectacularly five great lazy herons who were loathe to vacate their fishing spots; energetic baby ducklings; the old, enormous and famous Tithe Barn in Bradford on Avon; an amazing selection of narrow boats, some like floating gardens, some inhabited and some looking never to move again. We enjoyed a cream tea while we watched the world go by.
The weather had been kindly until we reached our final home destinations when we were treated to a spectacular display of lightning and thunder bangs and truly flooded roads and participants!
Newark Park | Westonbirt House | Review
A full coach set off for the Cotswolds and though the clouds looked threatening we only had a few spots of rain.
After a brief coffee stop at Kingston Deverill we made good time on the drive to Newark Park and our coach driver received applause as he manoeuvred through the narrow gates and around the sheep and calves lazing on the drive.
Newark is a small property that opened quite recently but staff were ready to greet us, and guided tours of the basement were on offer. The main rooms were interesting and we were able to enjoy our lunch in the garden with wonderful views to the Mendip Hills.
The short drive to Westonbirt House allowed some of us time for a post-prandial nap before the driver inched through the impressive but equally narrow gates there. We were divided into three groups and guided through the Grade 1 listed house with Florentine ceilings and marble fireplaces that is now a girls’ school. We had glimpses of the costumes and scenery being used for the end of term productions and tried not to tremble when visiting the headmistress’ study.
After our tour an excellent afternoon tea was served in the dining room and we then had time to explore the gardens and church before heading for home.
Cleeve Abbey | Dunster village | Cothelstone Manor | Review
The day was, unusually, a fine one! The “new” Coffee Stop at Wyevale Garden Centre outside Taunton worked well and all the party were served within the time allowed.
At Cleeve Abbey the guided tour was excellent and the visit could have been extended. A particular feature was the tiled floor now housed in a protective pavilion.
The lunch stop at Dunster provided a variety of eateries, so all tastes were catered for.
On arriving at Cothelstone Manor the tenant, Nigel Muers-Raby, warmly welcomed the party. He then gave a history of the house and its owners since Norman times, as well as a glimpse of life today in an old manor house. In the adjoining parish church the churchwarden provided a fascinating history of the building. Finally the visit was rounded off with a splendid tea provided by Finny Muers-Raby.
Yeo Valley Organic Garden | Bristol Blue Glass | Arnos Vale Cemetery | Review
Members enjoyed a full Bristol-based day, visiting three very different venues in lovely weather. Yeo Valley, our first stop, is the only Soil Association certified organic garden in the UK. After a quick coffee break, we explored the gardens, led by three of the gardening/design team. We learned about the development and philosophy behind the garden, as well as benefitting from lots of organic gardening tips. Yeo Valley Organic Garden offers unexpected delights – as well as vegetable plots, the composting area (very important!) – there are quirky sculptures, a magical birch copse, a grass maze (hiding more sculptures), and most stunning of all, a large gravel garden with swathes of purple and pink planting, with fabulous views around. A delicious 2-course lunch was served after our tour.
Bristol Blue Glass and Arnos Vale Cemetery were our next stops, conveniently directly opposite each other. At Bristol Blue Glass, we descended to the workshop to watch a glass blowing demonstration, and listen to a talk on glassmaking. Hot, but fascinating, and of course the shop offered a good opportunity to buy some of their blue and ruby red glassware.
Arnos Vale, a 28-acre Victorian “Arcadian” garden cemetery, offered a calmer retreat. Two small exhibitions explained the history, and – if you were interested – parts of the old crematorium could be viewed!. Others wandered the trails in the wilder unrenovated areas, or just explored the monuments and memorials to Bristol people. We wended our way home in quiet contentment.
Beaulieu | Buckler’s Hard | Review
After our coffee stop at Wilton we travelled to Beaulieu where we were frustrated by a large cow asleep in the middle of the road! Cattle have right of way in the New Forest and they seem to take full advantage.
We were ushered into Beaulieu where everybody seemed to vanish into the numerous attractions and it was only to be hoped they would reappear in time for the short ride to Buckler’s Hard. The time flew by and all appeared having taken in their favourite themes – the problem seemed that there was not enough time. Entrance is free for six days after the visit but history does not relate if anyone took advantage.
The coach negotiated the very narrow lanes to Buckler’s Hard where we were to embark on the 3.45pm cruise on the Beaulieu River, which meant there was time to examine the preserved village which in the 1720s was a centre of trade and ship building and had provided warships for Nelson’s Victory at Trafalgar built from oak trees obtained from the nearby New Forest.
The half hour cruise was very pleasant amongst the moored yachts and historic sites. On our return we were able to partake of the refreshments provided by the Captain’s Cabin Tea Rooms before our journey home.
Summer Lunch | Rushmore Golf Club | Tollard Royal | Shaftesbury | Review
Members enjoyed a splendid meal overlooking the wonderful parkland surroundings. Take-up was perhaps modest, but the members who attended found the food excellent.
Dingles Fairground Museum | Launceston Narrow Gauge Railway | Review
A select band of members assembled on a very humid and overcast day to venture west into Devon and Cornwall. As we arrived at Dingles Fairground Museum the mist lifted and the sun shone.
The party enjoyed the exhibits at the museum and some more intrepid members sampled the delights of the Dodgems, the Ghost Train, the Speedway and the Gallopers.
After lunch we made the short journey to the Launceston Narrow Gauge Railway in time for the 3.00 pm train. The open carriages were airy and refreshing, just right for a warm day. On returning to the station we were served with a very generous Cornish Cream Tea.
The return journey was smooth and speedy and concluded a “good day out”.