Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wears Farm in Abbotsbury, Dorset - On the Jurassic Coast in England

 Well, the place we stayed during our week in Dorset with the family was called Wears Farm; and it was beautiful.  As is increasingly the case all over the countryside, many farmers are converting their beautifully rustic outbuildings into vacation homes for tourists who wish to spend some time in the country.

Abbotsbury, where we stayed, is right on England's "Jurassic Coast," and not very far from the famed Lyme Regis, where Mary Anning discovered the first Ichthyosaur to come to scientific attention back in 1814.  She was 12 years old at the time.  Sam and Emily did their level best to follow in her foots steps, but more about that in a post coming up soon.
One of the bedrooms

Lots of original brickwork preserved

We thought the kitchen was beautiful

view from one of our bedroom windows.
The back garden bordered a sheep fields, which delighted Sam and Emily, as the lambs hadn't yet grown up.
Anyway, Wears Farm was the perfect location, shielded from the ocean winds by the South Dorset Ridgeway trail.  And it was just a quick but steep climb to the top of the ridge to this view of the coastline . . .
How's this for a reward after a steep climb?
Emily and Sam on the first afternoon there

Makes ya' wanna' pull on yer wellies and head out, doesn't it?

Alex and I found this to be humorous, as we never did see any horses in this field.

Foxglove were everywhere.  I've never seen so many!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Railway Cafe on Our Way to Abbotsbury in Dorset

It was well over a three hour drive from Alex's parents' home in Welford to Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast.  Of course, there was road construction that delayed us (a to-be-counted-upon feature of any Summer journey to the seaside when you're in England).  By the lunch hour, we were well sick of driving and getting rather hungry and resigning ourselves to some dried up sandwiches from a petrol station, when by some fluke, we found the Railway Cafe, right by a nice little farm shop called the Trading Post (midway between Lopenhead and Watergore).  We only spotted it because we had stopped to turn around after giving up in our search for a pub, and I happened to glance down and see the small cafe sign in the gravel lot - right below the Trading Post's sign, down near the ground!  It was really a miracle, as this lovely little re-purposed rail car was hidden from our view by the shop.

So, if you're ever in the area . . . Five Stars!!!

With a lunch like this in such a bucolic setting, I was starting to wonder if we had actually perished in the traffic and hadn't realized yet that we were in heaven . . .

After we finally made it to Wears Farm, where the family rented a converted barn vacation home, Emily escaped the clutches of her seat belt and  immediately discovered the lambs who neighbored the back garden.

Rambling the Sheep Fields in Chipping-Campden

A day or so before the family all set off for our week in Dorset, Alex and I took the opportunity for a quick lunch out in Chipping-Campden, which is a very pretty village that is very popular with visitors to the Midlands.  The buildings all have this yellowy-golden colour, which is characteristic of the local stone.  Having been there so many times before, I didn't remember to bring out the camera for a shot of the high street or the most excellent market hall.
We were instead craving a quiet stroll through the countryside; so we took ourselves to the fields out behind the Cathedral.  Very, very pretty day.

After finishing a meal at a very quiet pub, we headed out to Stratford-Upon-Avon to take a look at the newly re-done Shakespeare Theatre and took a stroll alongside the quieter end of the Avon.  

Do not know what these are.  They look like Queen Anne's Lace on steroids!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can't Leave the Castle without Seeing the Peacocks!

Of course, nowadays, you can't go to any major attraction in England without taking a look at the gardens and their resident peacocks, it seems.   It was a rather crowded day, as it happened to be a teacher's workday or some other school holiday (can't remember which at the mo.); and so we were ready for the quiet of the gardens by this point in our visit to Warwick Castle.

Emily and I liked the Monkey Puzzle tree here.

Trust me, there are even more peacocks here.  They like to lie down behind the hedges.

An awesome tree

Raptors at Warwick Castle

We had a really, really full day at Warwick Castle. Three posts and I'm still not done!

Anyway, aother neat thing to see there was the Master Falconer' demonstration, during which we got to see their many birds in flight. Both events (I made sure to see 'em both!) were packed with a lot of interesting information about large birds of prey. I came away with a deeper appreciation of just how much energy it takes for the larger birds to fly, (The winds were rather still that day and we were short on thermals.) which explains why birds of this size tend to sit still a lot, looking for prey.

Look at those orange eyes on the European Eagle Owl!

Golden Eagle (I think) having a cool-down in the tub

Palm Nut Vulture (not a raptor)

Warwick Castle . . . The Castle

It really is quite amazing to walk around a real medieval castle.  The castle at Warwick was constructed during the Eleventh Century . . . just stop for a minute and think about this:  the Eleventh Century!!!  Talk about "if these walls could talk"!

Anyway, Warwick Castle is well worth visiting, if you are ever in the area.  I think those who run it as a park do a pretty good job of bringing alive some of the history for visitors (with the aforementioned Trebuchet demo, the rat tossing, and other popular pastimes of the age).  And considering how weak so many of us tourists' knowledge of history is, that's a pretty tough job for an historical attraction.  So you have to forgive them some of the more . . . Disneyfied portrayals.  Actually, now that I think back on the rat tossing and the trebuchet demo . . . perhaps that's not the term.  (But I digress . . . )
Cousin Sam tried some archery - and did very well too - very near the bulls eye each time.

Know what these were for?  Not just decoration or expressions of Christian devoutness.

Emily and Grandpa, a little tuckered out after the long climb up to the top of a turret.

The Cousins attempting to win the throne.

View along the castle out towards the weir.

The Trebuchet at Warwick Castle

Since Alex's family are in the area, on May 30th (I think it was.  Hard to keep track of dates when you're in vacation mode.) we went to visit Warwick Castle with the kids.  One very cool thing was their Trebuchet demonstration.

18 metres tall . . . that's about 59 feet!

They used men in these "hamster wheels" to wind it  up taut.   Very, very dangerous job!!  Watch a real hamster on his wheel, and take a guess why.  (clue: Hamsters are better at landing on their feet.)

As you may have guessed, Cousin Sam was a bit more interested in the demonstration than was Cousin Emily.