Neville & The National Trust

We’ve been National Trust members for a few years now. I’ve always been a history geek, but if you’d asked me a decade ago if I thought I’d ever join the NT, be an avid jam-maker and currently be planning my winter sewing projects, I’d have laughed at you (whilst buckling up my stilettos and ordering another cocktail). How times change!

We’re massive fans, and try and make the most of our subscription by visiting as often as possible. My favourite by a mile is St Michael’s Mount; it really is magical to see the castle rising from the sea as you round the bend into Marazion, and whether we walk across the causeway or get a boat across to the tiny island, I don’t think I’ll ever lose the excitement I felt the first time we saw it.

Yesterday, we decided it was time that Neville became a fully-fledged National Truster and duly popped him in the boot to drive to The Devil’s Punchbowl. He’s really quiet in the car now, and I had to stop when we’d driven about a mile as I wondered if he’d managed to escape while I was shutting the boot!

The weather was perfect; dry and windy, and it seemed that half of the county had decided a pre-lunch outing was the thing. No problems for our confident little puppy, he just sees loads of dogs who will definitely want to be his new best friends, and hoards of people who will think he’s the cutest thing on the planet (he is).

You can come here hundreds of times and take a different route, and we always see new things. If you are feeling energetic, the walk down into the bottom of the bowl and the steep climb out is great, but in Autumn my joints start their annual seizing, so a gentle amble around the top was in order yesterday. My excuse was that I wanted to be able to appreciate the turning of the leaves from above….

Our attention was somewhat distracted by the small chocolate beast, so we didn’t catch as much wildlife as usual, but we did find a few interesting things we hadn’t seen on previous visits. This is an original milestone from the old Portsmouth to London road, which has been re-routed through the Hindhead Tunnel, allowing this amazing place to return to nature.

And this is ‘The Sailor’s Stone’, erected in the memory of an unknown sailor who was murdered on the spot after being robbed by some locals he’d befriended in a local inn. No good deed goes unpunished! If you wander uphill from here, you can see where the guilty parties were hanged, and their bodies left dangling for three years. Nice.

Neville is fast becoming a country boy! When we brought him home from Outer London, we told him that he was going to love living in the countryside, and we were right. So many things to sniff, lots of other dogs to meet, and the freedom to roam. Phelim, one of the (always) lovely volunteers at the cafe, was ready with a special biscuit for him. Nev was disappointed in the ‘one per dog’ policy though!

One tired little pup and two grown-ups returned to the cottage, made lunch from local food (I’ll be writing about eating local soon), and settled down in front of the fire for a perfectly lazy Sunday afternoon. This is what weekends are all about. Hope yours was as wonderful as mine.

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“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”

Autumn is my favourite season. The shortening days, warm clothes, open fires, hearty dinners and general slowing-down are all things I look forward to every year. Chris and I did the Keats Walk on our first date, so I love this poem, written as he walked around the Hampshire countryside. From our little corner of the world, we have a window on the countryside, and I love watching the farmers gather in their harvests of hay, potatoes and wheat which they’ve worked so hard for all year. I worked from home this week, and was treated to the distant sounds of the primary school having their Harvest Festival in the church. I don’t like change, so the thought that in an age of technology and speed, people still take a moment to celebrate nature’s gifts makes me really happy!

This week we heard that a local estate was holding it’s annual apple tasting. Innocently, we assumed this would be a fairly small affair, with perhaps a few different stalls selling fruit or cake. Instead, we pulled up to see fields full of cars and had one of the loveliest mornings for a long time! There were dozens of apple and pear varieties to taste, local crafts, and a real celebration of rural life.

The latest addition to the family, Neville, is now out and about, so this was a fantastic opportunity for him to socialise with other dogs and people. He isn’t up to much walking as he’s still very little, so Daddy carried him a lot! Neville is a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, and is 13 weeks old today. I’ve been without a canine companion since my beloved Mastiff, Chance, passed away almost 10 years ago, so bringing another dog into my life was well overdue. Despite the accidents and sleepless nights, he is an absolute delight, and I can’t get enough of his cuddles.

We bought some Egremont Russet apples. They are quite ugly, being a weird brown colour, but the taste is like cake! There was also a fantastic selection of gourds, so we’ve got some Red Kuri pumpkins to try out – if it’s not a massive disaster I’ll share the results of our soup experiment!

The church, St Matthews, was offering tours of it’s tower; I really wanted to join the people sitting around the top, but I think poor little Neville had had enough excitement for one morning, so we’ll definitely have to go back again next year.

Happy Harvest!


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Happy Beltain!

This bank holiday weekend we were fortunate enough to spot that Butser Ancient Farm were having a Beltain Festival, the climax of which would be the burning of a giant wicker man (no unfortunate individuals inside). So, a big welcome back to the blog, Happy Beltain, first day of summer.







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