Monday, 8 July 2019

Look left, look right, the hills are bright*

Isn't it heartbreaking how time seems to whizz past when you're on holiday?

Getting up at the crack of dawn to start your journey on what is essentially the first day of your  holidays, those two weeks you have been looking forward to seem like an eternity.

All too soon, though, it's time to pack up again and return to the daily grind.

All that's left are memories and photographs - over a thousand photographs in my case - which will give you pleasure for years to come.

Blogging about it all has the added bonus of re-living your holiday, so let's get this started, shall we?

After our long journey, which started at 4.45 am on June 22nd, we arrived in Shropshire by mid afternoon. Our holiday cottage is tucked away in a tiny hamlet nestling in a valley below the Long Mynd mountain range, and is reached by a winding and rather bumpy single track road, 1,2 miles from the nearest two-lane one and just over a mile from the nearest village.

We were delighted to have the sun with us as we'd been hearing tales of torrential rains and floods in the weeks before our departure. We'd even driven through a partially flooded road on our way up.

The cottage, formerly a cowshed, is part of a working sheep farm and apart from the hypnotizing soundtrack provided by the bleating of sheep, the chirping of birds and the buzzing of insects, it is peacefully quiet.

The view is magnificent too, with a different part of the Long Mynd visible from each window.

We'd booked the same cottage as last year, so we knew what to expect. Still, it was a nice surprise to find most of the cottage redecorated, making it even lovelier than before.

After the initial excitement of our arrival, it was time to wind down and have a nap, as we were quite exhausted by then.

No rest for the wicked, though, as we were up bright and early again the next morning.

Although the sun was there to greet us, it was a bit chilly, and the weather forecast was yet again indicisive so, taking no chances, I wore a long sleeved blouse with the maxi skirt I'd chosen for the occasion. The occasion in question was the long-awaited yearly blogger meet-up with Vix and her partner Jon.

I'm sure you can see how excited I was!

Almost equidistant from both Vix's and Jon's home and our temporary one, the town of Bridgnorth is where we'd chosen to meet.

Bridgnorth is a market town which was founded in the 11th century and is virtually unique in England, being a town of two halves, with High Town perching on a sandstone cliff overlooking the River Severn, and Low Town built along the river's banks.

We met up in High Town and, after lots of squealing, exclaiming and of course, hugging, we made our way into the town centre where - oh joy of joys - quite a few charity shops were open for business in spite of this being a Sunday. They must have known we were coming!

As you've probably noticed, I was already in luck, as I found both the pristine pair of red Clarks shoes and the top I am holding up above.

High Town and Low Town are connected by several steep flights of steps, although the less able or energetic can make use of the funicular, or Cliff Railway, the oldest (it opened on 7th July, 1892), and steepest one in England, which makes the dizzying journey countless times a day, from 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Saturday.

I bet Jon was secretly pleased that it only opens at 12 am on a Sunday!

Beyond the cliff railway terminal in High Town, there are wonderful views of Low Town and the Severn valley from Castle Walk, which leads all the way to the landscaped Castle Grounds.

Here, all that remains of the once mighty castle, a gigantic fragment of the Norman keep, leans at an impossible angle courtesy of the Parliamentarians in the Civil War.

Back in town, it was time for lunch, which obviously was had in the local Wetherspoon, the delightfully named Jewel of the Severn.

After lunch, and before we made our way to our cars for the next part of the day, it was time for some state portraits, posed in front of one of the 12 artfully decorated locomotive sculptures, which form the Bridgnorth Art Trail project. This one is called Platform Severn.

You can see our portrait here in Vix's post.

But as I already hinted, the day wasn't finished yet. It was time for some culture, to be found a mere 10 minutes' drive away at Dudmaston, a National Trust property which comprises a stately home with galleries, gardens and parkland.

As it was quite late in the day, we only had time to visit the house, which dates from the 17th century, and adjoining galleries. 

The estate was passed to the National Trust by its last owner, Rachel, Lady Labouchere, in 1976.
Sir George and Lady Labouchere started collecting Modern Art in the 1950s while Sir George was working for the British Embassy in Brussels. The Laboucheres installed the galleries you can see at Dudmaston today.

Having completed a tour of the house and galleries, we were gasping for a drink, so we plonked ourselves down at one of the picnic tables in the orchard for restorative cups of coffee and tea.

It had become quite overcast by then, and the air was turning oppressive, threatening rain. I was rather envious of Vix's airy Summer dress, which she'd had the forethought to wear, feeling more than just a tad overdressed in my long sleeves. 

All too soon and with heavy hearts, it was time for goodbyes, as Vix and Jon were leaving for Glastonbury the next day.

The weather gods, who had been kind to us throughout the day, regaled us with the first drops of rain the minute we stepped into our cars, unleashing torrents of rain on our way back, requiring the use of our windshield wipers at full tilt.

Back in our single track lane, we found our lovely view almost totally obscured.

Having arrived back safely, it was time to unpack our presents. 

Jos's included a Harris Tweed hat to add to his collection, a pocket square and an amazing vintage photo album. Mine were two fabulous frocks and the most darling wooden handled fabric bag with a plastic cherries brooch pinned to it.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram might have seen that I already wore the dress for one of our outings. Yes, you have read that right. It wasVix who gave me the final push to join Instagram, so that you can now follow me @polyester_princess61.

I hope you'll join me again for the next installment of my travelogue.

* From A Shropshire Lad, by A.E. Housman


  1. Aah ! That was a good read. What a lovely first day you had with our lovely friends.
    The dresses are beautiful on you, they really suit you.
    Will you stay in the same cottage next year ? I like the look of Bridgnorth. I’m going to have a closer look at it xxx

  2. Wow! You achieved so much in 1 day! And what a fun day it was. I'm glad the weather held out so your reunion with Vix could be complete with shopping, sightseeing, and sharing a meal or two together.

    As I write this, I can hear sirens and buses in the street and blocks below. The idea of the quiet of your cottage is very appealing. :) And what a cute cottage it is!

    Although I've followed your adventures on Instagram, it's clear you've saved some tasty bits to share on your blog. Can't wait to see what else you got up to and found along the rest of your holiday.


  3. What a lovely meeting! And now I can read a new, too me, blog too! There is always something interesting to see in England, don't you agree! And always something interesting to buy!

  4. So many lovely photos and lovely outfits, Ann! What a gorgeous cottage and how cute is that sheep?! ;) How wonderful to meet up with Vix again. You both look gorgeous! What fab presents! Both dresses are so pretty and I love that bag! I look forward to the next installment! :) XXX

  5. What fun! Vix got your size down perfectly! I wouldn't expect any less from her. That knitting bag is SWEET!!!

    I also snapped up some red Clarks shoes on one of my last thrift hauls. I'll be keeping them for myself : )

    Your holidays always look so wonderful.

    You were very lucky with the weather holding off till you were safely in your cars.


  6. A great start to your holiday! Being able to stay at the same place each year does take some of the guesswork out of travel-and such a lovely place too.

    I'm glad you were able to meet up before Jon and Vix headed off to Glasto.

  7. gorgeous!
    perfect holidays start! what lovely photos of you 4 - and the picturesque town and castle.... and very stylish pressies from vix&jon - they know you well already.
    welcome back! xxxxxx

  8. what a lovely post!
    The cottage and landscapes look so fab!, and so lovely to see pics of your meeting with Vix and Jon, all the places you visited and all of you looking so fabulous!.
    Glad that you could enjoy the whole day without rain!

  9. What a fun but busy day! i love that you got to go shopping, you got some very pretty dresses, such nice presents! :) Welcome to the world of Instagram too!

    Hope that your week is off to a good start :)

    Away From Blue

  10. The cottage you stayed in looks dreamy. Rural stay can be so relaxing. How lovely you met up with Vix, I think I read about it on her blog. The city you choose for the meet up is gorgeous.

  11. I think it's brilliant you stay for two weeks it gives you time to unwind and get out and about as well. The cottage and its situation just looks fabulous. I don't know this part of the country at all and I need to rectify that as soon as I can.

    You look to have had a lovely day with Vix and Jon. Loved your purchases and presents. I hope you did well in the chazzas throughout your stay.

    Hope your week is going well - are you sad to be back?

  12. Housman is a wonderful poet.

    Your trip looks so fun and yet so peaceful. That tranquility is underrated when taking a vacation! Love your pictures, especially your meet-up ones with Vix and Jon! One day, I'd like to make it out there to meet all of you!

    Love your red Clarks and your pretty dresses. Still no Insta for me - please keep blogging!

  13. Oh yes I join :)) Great you meet Vix and Jon again. I know how lovely it is to meet other blogging friends.
    You look amazing in these gifted dresses :)
    How cute your cottage was!
    I am looking forward to more travelogue ;)
    With a very huge hug Tina

  14. Holidays always go by far too quickly!
    The cowshed looks lovely, when we go away I spend the first ten minutes in our hotel room photographing everything, before we make a mess :)
    It’s lovely to see you and Vix appear on each other’s blog. I meet up with a few fellow bloggers and it’s always such good fun.
    Bridgenorth looks like such a lovely place.
    I’ll find you on Instagram! Yay!

  15. How lovely it was reading this and transporting myself back to that wonderful Sunday! We had an absolutely brilliant time and, as usual, the weather played nicely!
    Wasn't it lovely that the chazzas opened especially for us and had a pair of Clarks' shoes in your size just waiting for you?
    Can't wait to read about the rest of your adventures! xxx

  16. Stopping by to wish you a fab weekend!

  17. It sounds like you had an amazing trip and those two frocks are lovely on you! I am very fond of Bridgenorth and have visited many times with my cousins. I've also swagged a few bargains from the Antiques Centre over the years though, disappointingly, never lucked out at the chazzas there.

  18. You had a lucky day with the weather Ann. I know it was bad around this time. And how lovely to meet a blogger friend!! xx