Monday, October 31, 2011

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Cider House Rules

Hatch Beauchamp is a little conservation village in beautiful rolling farmland between Taunton and Ilminster. The Cider House where we were staying is a spacious barn conversion where the cider apple press for Taunton Cider was housed.
It adjoins the Hatch Court Estate which comprises a beautiful Palladian House, a 600 year old Church, Belmont farm - of which the Cider House is a part - a deer park, acres of woods, parkland and a small lake which John , the owner calls a pond. The estate was bought by John's family in 1900 and Harch Court - the house, was sold by his sister and BIL in 2000. John has now retired from farming
The 70 acres of woodland contain the remains of an 18C landscaped garden. In the visitor's book there are mentions of walking in the woods in the evening and seeing wild deer and badgers whilst herons and kingfishers visit the lake/pond. Recently John sold the woods and farmland to Hatch Court and is now workinjg to enhance the new walk on the remaining 20 acres, which has gloriousviews of the Blackdown Hills and fine trees.

Back left is the church and next is John's house with The Cider House behind. Hatch Court is the large building

Facing the Orangery and the South front houses an arcaded piazza

Two heroes - one Canadian and one British are commemorated in the Church - of which more later.

The Cider House

A warm welcome - fresh flowers and a bottle of wine.

I didn't tidy before the photo - obviously.

Views from our bedroom.

More later.

Friday, October 21, 2011

For Scarlet

Actually it's an autumn break but we're off tomorrow to Cider Cottage - a new venture for us - just the other side of Taunton but hopefully with lots of goodies I can tell you about when we return in just over a week. Keep the faith and the home fires burning. If you get time please water the wallflowers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Flu' jab. We had ours yesterday. Don't neglect it if it is relevant to you.
My American friend Unbearable Banishment (see side bar my linkage isn't working) has just had so bad a dose that his little daughter said:
'Are you going to die Dad?'
Fortunately UB is young and healthy and has recovered. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Where me and my true love may never meet again,
On the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond."

I like to think that they will meet again - even if it isn't by Loch Lomond

the words of ou'll take the high road song

Monday, October 17, 2011

Older, Wiser, Women’s words

I’m like old wine. They don’t bring me out very often, but I’m well preserved.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

I’m not sixty, I’m sexty.

Dolly Parton

Sex appeal is 50 percent what you’ve got and 50 per cent what people think you’ve got.

Sophia Loren

It’s true some wines improve with age, but only if the grapes were good in the first place.

Abigail Van Buren

Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives.

Julia Child

The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.

Virginia Woolf

When Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner, than I’ll clean the house.

Roseanne Barr

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.

Eleanor Roosevelt

If you survive long enough, you’re revered- rather like an old building

Katherine Hepburn

After thirty, a body has a mind if its own.

Bette Midler

I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.

Erma Bombeck

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

Katherine Hepburn

The lovely thing about being forty is that you can appreciate twenty –five –year –old men more.

Colleen McCullough

You can’t turn back the clock but you can wind it up again.

Bonnie Prudden

Fitness – if it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Sofas and a Stalker

It looks a bit buxom but will soon settle down - it is very sophorific. Happily the deep pink is repeated in two of the pictures a lamp and the orchid.

The men have just collected this old friend. I shan't miss washing and changing the covers.

MTL called me in to see the robin. It had spemt the whole afternoon watchin him - looking directly at him and occasionally singing

I whistled in unison and he nearly fell off his perch doing a robin chortle.

He spent hours stying perfectly still and fleeing the minute I raised the camera. He's a real teasebut I got him in the end.

He is such a character and really seems to ccommunicate with us. Could it be someone we know?

See his mouth agape when he's twittering.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Smartening up.

Today I await the arrival of my new sofa. All I have is a square of material to remind me of what I chose. I’m hoping it blends in and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. I would like to hang on to the old one but four sofas is one too many – even for this house. At least my old one is going to someone who needs one.

With the accompanying disruption and crashing computers I’m behind. At least once a week I try to visit my side bar friends so forgive me if I’m late. I’m finding that a few now have been inactive for quite a while so - in the interests of efficiency I’m going to move them to ‘resting ‘ in the hope they start up again before too long. I still love you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Runaway Dames!

These ladies were in place in the post below at 5.30 pm - when I came back after dinner they had disappeared.
Please ladies - stay put!
Jane Asher

Dame Edith Evans

Dame Maggie Smith
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This photograph escaped from the post below - which I almost lost - to my horror'
Dame Sybil Thorndike and her beloved husband Sir lewis Casson

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There is nothing like a Dame.

Jane Asher is the latest Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of being Earnest
It seems only yesterday she was the red-haired girl friend of Sir Paul McCartney (who married this week-end for the third time)
She has never spoken of her time with him
She married the illustrator Gerald Scarfe and they have three children. She has written three novels and has a cake shop business in London.
Jane, now in her sixties is at the Rose Theatre in Kingston playing Lady Bracknell much younger than usual and replacing the battle-axe
persona of Lady B with a cool sarcasm. She isn't yet an official Dame - but give her time.

Dame Sybil Thorndike 1882-1976 was a Dame par excellence. She trained as a classical pianist but hand cramps put paid to that
so she became an actress
In 1908 whilst understudying Candida she was spotted by George Bernard Shaw who wrote the play St Joan for her.
At this time she met her beloved husband Lewis Casson
and eventually they were both knighted. They were active members of the Labour Party, Pacifists and when they toured South Africa strongly anti apartheid. Sybil always insisted on washing her own stage costume. 'It knows exactly what to do and it mustn't be touched!

Their marriage lasted until his death aged 93. When asked if she ever thought of splitting with her husband she replied:
'Divorce never - murder often!'
When she was awarded the Companion of Honour Olivier sent a telegram saying he couldn't imagine a nicer companion for the Queen. She showed great courage on stage well into old age, in spite of crippling arthritis

Dame Edith Evans 1888-1976
She was nominated for three Academy Awards and is best remembered for her haughty aristocratic Lady Bracknell. Her unforgettable 'A Handbaaaaaag?' using half a dozen musical syllables makes a pitfall for actresses to beware of. She started out as an apprentice milliner and didn't act till the age of 24. In spite of her beautifully modulated voice she was a cockney. She married George Booth and they were very happy for ten years when tragically he died of a brain tumour. She never remarried.
Bryan Forbes - actor, director and writer adapted a film The Whisperers for her and also wrote her life story Ned's Girl. They became close friends and I remember her saying in an interview she always liked to be a little bit in love - it made the days so much happier.
After her triumph as Lady B - what Forbes described as her 'great essay in dragon hood,' - she tried to avoid being cast in similar roles.
She said:
'Actresses are such very dull people off stage. We are only delightful and brilliant when we are doing what we are told to do. Off stage we are awful chumps.'

Dame Maggie Smith 1934... Nominated for 6 Oscars and winning 2. she was born in Ilford - an Essex girl.
In 1951 she joine the Oxford Playhouse School and had an all round education in the theatre becoming an Assistant Stage Manager
the next few years she was involved in all kinds of productions including farce, paantomime and revue. Billed as a singing comedienne
she went from the revue The Singing Lettuce to playing Shakespeare at the Old Vic. In 1963 she signed up with Olivier's Royal National Theatre company and I remember seeing her Desdemona with Olivier playing Othello. He was reported as saying he woud never act with her again.
In 1967 she married Robert Stephens and they had two sons. She had a great success in Coward's Hay Fever and her 'this kipper is disgusting' was remembered with glee. She was excellent in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie but whilst playing in Private Lives her marriage foundered
She married an old flame Beverly Cross and they had 23 happy years until his death in 1998.
She had done a lot of revue work with Kenneth Williams and at times could sound eerily like him
There were accusations that she was caricaturing herself so she took herself off to The Stratford Festival in Ontario and played Cleopatra, Three Sisters and Macbeth to great acclaim
Back home she redeemed herself acting in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads and the Lady in the Van
Bennett said 'The boundary between laughter and tears is where Maggie is poised always.'

In spite of a bout with breast cancer Dame Maggie Smith is now at top of her game playing Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in Julian Fellowes' Downton Abbey on ITV1 making Sunday nights an unmissable delight

Friday, October 07, 2011

Random stuff

Seated one day at the organ I was weary and ill at ease,

And my fingers wandered idly over the ‘something’ keys.

I know not why I was weary,

Nor what I was thinking of …

This song is reverberating in my head – after another couple of lines I think Jerusalem bursts forth; a firm favourite at our Sunday School Concerts during the war (WW1) so I’m regressing again. Since writing this I have listened to ‘The Lost Chord and of course it is NOT a precursor to Jerusalem – but it would work IMO.

The cupboard was bare when I went to look for a post today. I looked back at an old notebook written in 2000 soon after my mother’s death but it was full of pain and anger and I didn’t want to go there. I looked back at my blog – roughly a year ago and was cheered. We were just about to leave for the hospital for MTL to have his second op – a reversal which if successful would get our life back on the road to normality before bracing ourselves for six months chemo and all that entailed. We had cancelled our holiday in the cottage at Fremington as any upset is so much easier to cope with at home.

I’m so thankful to be where we are now -MTL is eating and sleeping well and getting his bounce back and we have a week’s holiday soon. So much to be thankful for.

We were startled yesterday evening at a big thump on the window. I couldn’t see anything but today Sheila pointed out the clear imprint of yet another owl. After the last collision I draw the curtains before it gets dark but now will have to do it before I put the light on. - I don’t really want to move the mirror. I’m amazed that it flies so low - Sheila thinks it is a tawny owl – it should wear a crash helmet.

My tubs are looking a little tawdry; Karen suggested I get wallflowers – Persian Carpet and Tom Thumb and I need more compost for when the lovely anemones I ordered appear. We are having violent deluges at present so back to buckets in the flat-roofed garage. Yesterday I met the girls for lunch and managed to walk there and back – do some shopping and keep dry.

I notice that kindles have come down in price but I still can’t imagine getting the same pleasure as I do from reading a book. My latest is Sister –Rosamund Lupton’s debut novel – an exciting thriller. I’m on the lookout for more gripping books as reading has assumed the importance in my life that it always used to have. Also an unmissable film - as on holiday we’ll be within easy reach of a cinema for a change.

Our habitual silence is rudely punctured at present with J C B’s and the like. A neighbour is having his garaged demolished and rebuilt and we have had a week of incessant noise. The neighbour has – wisely – taken a holiday. Have a happy weekend.xox

Tawny Owl

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Meeting of Titans

Map mentioned this; I had to hear it and then I had to share it. A good memory of Amy; I love the way - after she successfully completes the first phrase - she kisses her necklace and looks Heavenward.

Monday, October 03, 2011

To the Beach

My help who was born and bred in Somerset spoke glowingly of Dunster Beach

Friday's dawn looked promising so we decided to explore. Dunster Beach BTW - like Dunster station is quite a cock stride from the village of Dunster.
At first I thought it was new to us but then remembered a long walk with #1 son from Minehead to Watchet when we passes the beach huts.

Looking towards Minehead.

There is Grabbist Hill with the little castle thing on top. Behind and to the left is Dunster village

The good weather brings out all the hordes of people - as you can see.

Looking the other way - the Quantocks and probably Bridgwater.

It must be fun to have a beach hut. The sea in front and a lake and the little steam train behind

There are the ducks - we missed the geese

The bridge looked inviting so I accepted.

And here's the lake

I set off on a nature trail - careful badger's crossing.

I could hear the little puff puff but didn't catch a glimpse

I can't resist bridges. One of our favourite occupations is to gaze at the water below and sometimes play Pooh sticks.

At the Smuggler's I had to try the caramelised orange brioche with sticky toffe ice-cream to make sure it really was that good. It was.
I almost aborted this post; although my computer said I wa on line - I wasn't.
For hours! Strange things afoot. I must publish before it disappears.
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