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Friday 30 September 2016

Devon - Buckland Abbey

A visit to Buckland Abbey.  Home of Sir Francis Drake.
Well, I didn't go there myself, this Michelin Woman version of myself went.  Yes, maties, I am now into Puffa season and I have doubled in size overnight!

I stopped first in a pretty walkway.  I liked the mix of Virginia creeper and stone.

Autumn at Buckland Abbey

Here's my version of the abbey, and the National Trust version.  I think bottom one may just win!

Cistercian monks built the Abbey more than 700 years ago and since then it has changed from a working abbey to the home of, amongst others, seafarer Sir Francis Drake who changed the shape of the house and the fate of the country during the Spanish Armada.
The abbey now houses a significant museum to Drake.  Parts of the abbey are laid out artfully so that you can get in some small way the feel on being onboard an Elizabethan ship, albeit a much more glamorised version, I am sure.

Neil Wressell and Emma Jones hanging the portrait in Drake Chamber

The earliest known portrait of Francis Drake (above) is on display.
The painting is believed to be the earliest likeness of Drake and during 2014 was matched to his facial worts showing on other later portraits.

Also on display until the end if September was a newly verified self portrait of Rembrandt, so we rushed over to the Abbey to get a glimpse if it "in the flesh".

Rembrandt's Selfie.

It's an amazing piece of work, especially his velveted shoulder. The self-portrait hung for some years in the abbey but was only verified as the work of Rembrandt himself in the last year, so its value was immediately upped, along with its security!  The room included well-laid-out information about the artist's life.

Some interesting etching in the glass panels.  Whilst photographing this, The Photographer announced that he'd only sailed in the 400 year commemorative Armada re-enactment voyage in 1988.  A surprise to us all!

A nicely laid out dining table.

An Elizabethan a wine-cooler.  Drake must have lived the life - well, he was pretty big back then!

A fine tapestry atlas.

The man himself!

And here Michelin Woman stepped into the picture to show you just how big this really man was!

A selfie with Drake in the background went horribly wrong.

Nice coat of arms.  These days people stick a telly over the fireplace.

A display of the type of herbs used onboard Drake's ships.

A fine staircase.

Queen Elizabeth I and Drake agreed to a shot with me. 
Doesn't she look elegant.  Nothing smart casual about Queenie!

I'm drawn to the kitchens in these stately places. That's where the real action took place.

But I'm more often drawn to comfy places to sit, like this settle.

I instinctively put myself to work with a monster pestle and mortar.

Nice table setting of yore.

The hob.

And more hobs.

The more rustic eating hall.

Fine examples of Elizabethan panelling throughout the house.

The chapel.

Gloomy shots of the exterior.  It was a grey, wet day.

And a shot of the pooped Photographer taking a rest after, with a backdrop of billowing deck chairs - oh, and add "windy" to "wet and grey".  A hattrick!

Of course, a last chance to see the newly identified Rembrandt selfie was the key driver to our visit.  But it was an interesting place to visit generally, and so nicely laid out.  The artefacts on show were so interesting.  The guides were all so knowledgeable and friendly. The gardens are apparently nice to potter around and there are some nice woodland walks to enjoy too.  We chose not to "enjoy" these, given the weather and the tiredness of my poor Photographer.

Hope you enjoyed your peek into Drake's home.

A la perchoine.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Such a Perfect Day

I have just celebrated the anniversary of a very special day.

My OOTD then.

And my OOTD now.

I'm still digging into my capsule so on went M&S jeans, necklace and jade cardi, black Next top.

The weather was gorgeously sunny and warm the day I wore that fancy long dress, and so it was again on my yesterday.  We had a leisurely day, driving to Pashley Manor Gardens for a stroll around the pretty grounds, then a tasty quiche and salad lunch on their cafĂ© terrace.  It was so warm, the cardi came off and I sat out eating lunch in my vest top.  What a funny autumn.

In the evening we chose a seafood restaurant that we hadn't tried before.
Just a 15 minute walk away.  

OK, dieters, I think you know the drill by now.  Food alert!

I sipped pink prosecco and nibbled on black olives, focaccia and anchovy butter. 

As we have pensioners' appetites these days, we did our tried and tested two-starters meal, which gives us just the right sized dishes to taste without feeling uncomfortably full,
or leaving lots on the plate.

A crab dish with beetroot and mango.  So light-tasting.

My date chose a scallops and chilli "main", with sides of chorizo mash and creamed spinach.

I chose prawns piri piri on patatas bravas, with a green salad side.

The food was wonderful - fresh, good ingredients prepared and cooked beautifully.

A good Sancerre was the perfect accompaniment.

A fabulous limoncello on the house.

And after a superb meal, we strolled home along the dark seafront and stopped to listen to the waves pounding softly along the shore. 

The day was absolutely perfect back then, and so it was again yesterday.

Such a perfect day.  I'm glad I spent it with you.

A la perchoine.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Devon - Moor Days and Mew-ing

Hi peeps.  Hope you are well.

During my recent trip to Devon, I ventured on to the moor.  Dartmoor. When I hear the name, I cannot but conjure up a memory of a bald-headed, broken-nosed escaped criminal from a televised play of Dickens' Great Expectations that I watched as a child.  It gives me the creeps even now!

Dartmoor is usually colder, wetter and windier than the rest of Devon.  This day was no different.

Sheep and horses wander around grazing on the moor.  They look so pitiful in mid-winter but it is what they do.  The horses are very friendly, the sheep more timid.

These ran off and missed a PP photo opportunity!

They wander on to the roads.  In winter, they lie sleeping on the tarmac at night as it is warmer and dryer than the nearby turf.  The night time driver must be very careful.

Looks quite bleak, eh?  It is!  But beautiful in a wild sort of way.

Other memories of the moor?  Leaping over a little stream and missing the other side.  Landing in the stream.  In winter.  Walking home with wet clothes.  Brrr.
Trudging up a hill on another cold winter's day, knee deep in wet mud and turf.  My indigenous walking partners waiting clean and dry at the top of the hill, unpuffed and  smiling.  More brrrr.

But there are good memories too!  Like Grimspound.  I love this place.  I feel in touch with its people when I am there.  Spiritual.

A house.

Grimspound and surrounding countryside.

The entrance to the settlement.

It's a prehistoric settlement dating from the late Bronze Age, and the remains of 24 stone roundhouses can be seen. 
 I must be a real little nest-builder because as I wandered around the remains during one visit, I found myself mentally placing candles and vases filled with moor flowers in the little nooks and crannies in the rock walls.  Prettying the place up.  I don't think prehistoric woman had the time or the inclination to think about prettying up her house, do you?

As I said before, the moor is often cold and windy.  But we stayed in a more clement area, on the south coast. 

 We stayed with some lovely friends.

Their house has uninterrupted views over this bay.

I enjoyed beautiful walks around the headland and beach.
(Oh dear, we're now in Michelin Man Season - a puffa does no woman any favours!)

Our friends' house overlooks the Mew Stone.  What a view to wake up to!  I was a lucky lady.

This quirky church lies just off the beach from where this shot is taken.  
It looks slightly wonky.  It didn't in real life.

I hadn't visited this area before.  It is truly stunning.
It got warm during the walk.  My puffa had to come off.  Most of the walkers I passed were t-shirted.  I arrived home "glowing"!

A cream tea +,  miracled from nowhere.  Our friend baked so many cakes that morning.
Again, I really was one lucky lady!  

In the shot above you can see a half demolished plate of scones, jam made by our friend's father (he's 92!), clotted cream, fruit cake and cheese, Westie-shaped biscuits, and one of my faves, a lemon drizzle cake.  On the other side of the island unit lurked rocky road cakes, Victoria sandwich and a few gluten-free options.  Phew!  What work this lady put in.  We were so grateful.

This part of Devon is well worth a visit, with its contrasts of chocolate box pretty and wild natural beauty.  I was so happy to visit East/South Devon. I hope you get the chance to pop in on the county.

A la perchoine