Scandal at Cliveden

For the bank holiday weekend, we headed to Cliveden to see for ourselves the luxurious yet scandalous home of the Astors and the Profumo affair. A beautiful house that is now a rather grand hotel, the grounds are managed by the National Trust. (Unfortunately there’s a lot of scaffolding at the moment!)

Cliveden

There was a new rose garden, which gave ample opportunity for some close-up shots…

Rose

Rose

Cliveden has some beautiful vistas and peaceful spots, although it was a rather grey day!

Bench

Around the front of the house was rather more bustling and busy, with some great vintage cars parked outside (apparently the present-day ‘Cliveden set’ were in residence!)

Old Bentley

The ornate fountain adorning the front drive, complete with some resident ducks…

Cliveden fountain

During the First World War, Nancy Astor turned the house into a hospital, in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross. As a result, the Italianate Garden was turned into a small memorial, with gravestones naming the soldiers and nursing sisters who died here during the War.

Memorial garden

The formal gardens on the Parterre would have been even more spectacular in bright sunshine!

Cliveden terrace

But the gardens were beautiful, and big enough to accommodate even a bank holiday crowd.

Bridge in the water gardens

We are now left daydreaming about staying in the stunning hotel itself – even with NT visitors gazing in through the dining room windows…

Cornwall part 3 – Mevagissey

As a bit of a surprise after three nights’ camping, on the final day we drove to Mevagissey, a part of Cornwall I’d never previously been to (or heard of!). A gorgeous little fishing village nestled into the side of a hill, it struck me as being rather like Padstow without the tourists. [I fell in love with it instantly.] We stayed in the wonderful Tregorran Guest House with beautiful views over the harbour.

Mevagissey at dusk

As the sun set, we were captivated by the light and the different colours of the houses…

Mevagissey harbour

And the way the reflections looked in the tranquil harbour.

Mevagissey harbour by night

In the other direction it was extremely rural… Truly a Cornish gem. We were recommended this village by a colleague, and it was a great tip!

Sunset over Mevagissey

Although smaller than Padstow, Mevagissey isn’t without its share of lovely places to eat and drink. Our wonderfully friendly host at the guesthouse recommended Sharksfin as a great place for dinner. Newly opened this summer, we initially worried it would be an uncomfortable mix of pub, bar and restaurant. Quite to the contrary, though, it was amazing!

Sharksfin

The food was great (I had a pint of prawns and a glass of rose, and he had some variation on American BBQ chicken), although we were both floored by the size and sugariness of the puddings (sticky toffee pudding and a chocolate brownie). The atmosphere was lovely and we were seated next to each other, which confused us for a second until we realised why – it was perfect to look out through the big window/french doors at the dusk on the harbour, as Sharksfin is right on the harbour front:

Mevagissey harbour

The next day, we spent the day exploring some of the beaches around Mevagissey (after watching the bird life out of our window!)

Seagull taking off

We first visited a remote beach accessed by 190 steps (they said 200; we counted, they were wrong) which was very beautiful, although not as empty as we’d hoped.

Coast

Coast

Then we had some final fish and chips back in the town itself and discovered what for one half of the group [she loved it almost more than I did, despite what she might try to convince you] was the highlight of the trip; the Mevagissey Model Railway. An epic miniature world including a beach, mountain range, industrial and residential areas, this really was something to behold… (and extremely hard to capture on camera!)

Model railway

To finish our trip, we found a nearby holiday park which had an exceptionally sandy beach, so I went for a swim (nearly… It started to rain!) This beach had an exemplary tractor ready and waiting to haul any boats out of the water, as the other is doing in the distance in the photo below!

Tractor wants to swim

It was a brilliant holiday, despite the inconsistent weather, and we’re glad that we had our ‘staycation’ – if you haven’t been to Cornwall, we’d definitely recommend a visit! If you have, what’s your favourite part of the county?

Cornwall part 2 – Lanhydrock

On one of our Cornwall days the weather was looking faintly ominous, so we decided to visit Lanhydrock, a National Trust property near Bodmin. With over 50 rooms open to the public alongside beautiful gardens and over 900 acres of land, it was possibly the most impressive National Trust visit I’ve ever had. The focus of the Trust’s vision is to bring the family (the Agar-Robartes) alive for visitors, and they certainly managed to do so for us.

From the impressive gatehouse, built in the 1500s, down the drive to the house, largely burned down and rebuilt in high Victorian style in the 1880s, we were discovering gorgeous architecture and interesting details throughout our visit.

Gatehouse

Doorway in the main courtyard:

Door

One of the cottages in the gardens:

Cottage

Built near the coast, the grounds were on a hill, giving superb views of the house from above.

View over Lanhydrock

The gardens from the drive:

Gardens

We could have filled this post with thousands of photos, but if you find yourself in Cornwall we urge you to visit – we thought it was a wonderful place!

Cornwall part 1 – Padstow

We recently escaped London for our summer holiday – hurrah! However, we decided to keep it British and opted for a ‘staycation’, heading down to Cornwall for a few nights’ camping near Padstow. I’d been before, but he hadn’t – and it was so lovely to be able to introduce some of my favourite places in the UK.

We were staying at the lovely Old Macdonald’s Farm campsite, where we were made welcome. Although I’ve camped at places with more glamorous washing facilities, the best thing about this campsite is the open farm on site where both children and adults (as I proved!) can stroke the animals [someone was a little excited about the rabbits] and have breakfast. The highlight was an extremely cute bunny which I *may* have attempted to take home!

Bunny

In the evenings, we had some delicious meals at some of Padstow’s many restaurants. We tried the new Burgers and Fish, where the food was pretty good – better than the service, at least! Then we wandered around the harbour and watched the boats…

Padstow harbour by night

By day, we checked out the shops and watched the many dogs parading around the harbour! We took a speedboat ride around the bay, which was exhilarating (if damp!), and had a fair few ice creams, despite the not-always-this-sunny weather.

Padstow harbour by day

Naturally, we sampled Rick Stein’s fish and chips. Excellent as always, I’d never ‘eaten in’ before and it was a little stressful in terms of service!

Rick Stein's fish and chips

We walked along the stunning coastal path around Bedruthan Steps and down to the beach (175 steps). It’s not a swimming beach but beautiful to walk along and check out the wildlife. This was taken back up on the cliff:

Coast path walk

Looking in the opposite direction, over nearby Mowgan Porth Bay:

Coast path walk

The last day we were in Padstow (and I can’t believe I’m writing this), we rented a tandem and cycled 20 miles along the Camel Trail! We rented it from Padstow Cycle Hire, who weren’t brilliantly helpful as my seat was too high, wedged on the pannier rack, which led to a rather uncomfortable ride back! [If you're looking to do something similar, it might be worth checking out Trail Bike Hire, which is also at the start of the Camel Trail in Padstow, but quite a bit cheaper!] However, learning to navigate the tandem was an interesting challenge and certainly improved our skills of communication…

Tandem

Midway back, we stopped at an inventive bicycle-based refreshment stand called ‘Treats on Trikes’ for a quick cup of tea and cake!

Treats on Trikes

It was a wonderful few days and we felt thoroughly relaxed. However, our trip wasn’t at an end…

Tour to Dublin

[I didn't fancy carrying around the DSLR on this trip, so these pictures are from my trusty compact, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35]

My first visit to Dublin [I'd visited before, but a few years ago] was in the form of a choir tour with some good friends. We decided to get the ferry from Fishguard, which made for a ridiculously long day’s travelling [never again], but at least we could admire the wildlife on the ferry crossing!

Seagull

Once we arrived, after a spot of singing and a lot of pubbing, we had a day to explore the city. We went on a brilliant river boat cruise, which took in some of Dublin’s famous bridges, including the striking, modern Samuel Beckett bridge.

Samuel Beckett bridge

Our cruise sailed past the famous Customs House

Customs House

and the Four Courts

Four Courts

And finally, the stunning Book of Kells, housed in the beautiful Trinity College Library.

Trinity College library

We might not have had the greatest weather, but we had a great trip, and it was fun exploring a new city for the first time [or the second!].

WWI commemoration – #LightsOut

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”

Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, August 1914

Marking 100 years since the start of the devastating First World War, we joined others across the country in lighting a candle as part of the ‘Lights Out’ WWI commemoration. It was wonderful to see the candles flickering in the windows up and down the street, along with the huge spotlight over London, courtesy of the ArtAngel Spectra project.

Candle

Trip to the Isle of Wight

[My Canon 600D was unfortunately out of action for this trip, but my flatmate kindly lent me his Nikon 3200, so all was not lost]

We recently had a wonderful trip to the Isle of Wight for a weekend away. Expecting rain, we were pleased and surprised to have hot, dry weather and beautiful blue sky for all three days. We visited beautiful, unspoilt beaches like this one and paddled (although the pebbles were painful!).

Isle of Wight beach

Walking down to another beach, we found a stream of little notes, taped to branches and fenceposts, and sometimes to the path itself. So romantic! [She gets excited about these things.] We decided it must be for a husband or boyfriend returning from the army.

Returning love notes

Another day, we visited Osborne House, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s favourite home. It was surprisingly intimate and filled with their furniture and memories of their children’s upbringings. The gardens were stunning and stretched down to the sea.

Osbourne House

We didn’t mind that the ferry was delayed on our way back because the harbour sunset was beautiful!

Isle of Wight sunset

Speaking of ferries, we found this next to the Cowes Floating Bridge (a chain ferry) - we would indeed have had time, had we tried!

Cowes Floating Bridge cafe

It was a great weekend and felt like such a holiday, even though it was just an extended weekend. We came back sunburnt [speak for yourself], sandy and happy!