Monday, 12 August 2019

Two castles and a dragon

On Tuesday the 2nd of July, the day after our aqueduct adventure, we decided to stay a bit closer to home and go to Shrewsbury for the day, once again making use of the excellent Park and Ride system.

The bus dropped us off at the Barker Street stop, which is only a short walk from both the town's main shopping streets and the river. And the river is where we were headed.

A blanket of grey clouds, with just a watery sun playing peek-a-boo once or twice, prompted my outfit of choice for the day, which you'll get to see in more detail in a minute.

So, from the bus stop, we walked into the direction of the river, which we crossed by way of the Welsh Bridge. On our right, on Frankwell Quay, loomed the Theatre Severn, a contemporary riverside theatre which was opened in 2009.

Looking behind us, we caught a glimpse of the The Quantum Leap, the coil-like sculpture in the middle of the photo on the bottom right, which was unveiled to mark Darwin’s bicentenary in 2009.

Charles Darwin is Shrewsbury's most famous son, who was born in the town on 12th February 1809.

Frankwell, one of Shrewsbury's oldest suburbs, is lying adjacent to the River Severn.

We were off to visit Rosie, at Rosie's Emporium, an eco-friendly, zero waste grocery shop. I befriended Rosie on Facebook after following her shop's progress on a page called For The Love of Shropshire, so we thought it was time we got acquainted in real life.

The shop is a delight and so is Rosie who, upon learing of my blog, presented me with a funky polyester top! 

Having purchased some juicy peaches and a glass-bottled drink, we re-crossed the river and had what Vix would call a "slap-up 'Spoons lunch" at the local Wetherspoons, The Shrewsbury Hotel.

After walking off our lunch with a stroll around the town and taking in some of the by now familiar sights, we went in search of an antiques centre we'd spotted last year, but hadn't had time to visit.

And here's a peek of what I was wearing! The maxi skirt was making its second appearance of the holiday, this time combined with a long-sleeved tunic top. The top, with its little bow tie, started life as a mini dress. It was languishing in my wardrobe as I never wore it, so I gave it a little make-over. I'm quite pleased with the result, just don't look too closely or you'll notice my wonky stitching!

I added a yellow, round-buckled belt to accentuate my waist and pinned a large, blush pinkand green flower brooch to it. On top, the delightful Zara blazer I picked up on Saturday in a Welshpool charity shop.

It's at this antiques centre that we spotted the boring beige version of that fabulous red telephone we'd found that weekend. We were especially chuffed that this one had a considerably higher price tag!

After some browsing, I bought three brooches and an intriguing looking book with lifestyle lessons from the 1930s. 

The pair of pink and floral sneakers were just £ 5 in a charity shop and must have been waiting for me as they weren't only my size, but perfectly suited to my taste and style. Plus, no white soles!

On the bottom right is Rosie's funky top.

We ended the afternoon at the redundant St. Mary's church, with one of the tallest spires in England, which has been dominating Shrewsbury's skyline for over 500 years.

The church is the only complete medieval church in Shrewsbury. Its origin dates back to Saxon times and it has beautiful additions from the 12th century onwards.

At the back, there is a café, where we indulged ourselves with cakes and the inevitable cappuccinos.

The sun was out in full force again on Wednesday, when we planned to revisit some old favourites.

We first visited Stokesay Castle, an English Heritage property in the town of Craven Arms in South Shropshire, many years ago when we were staying across the border in Herefordshire.

Our visit back then was marred by rain, so this one was in total contrast.

Picturesque Stokesay Castle is one of the finest and best-preserved fortied medieval manor houses in England.

One if its most striking features is the 17th century timber-framed gatehouse, which has beautifully ornate carvings in its frame.

The magnificent Great Hall has remained unchanged for over 700 years. The fine timber roof and staircase, with treads cut from whole tree trunks, all show the same carpenters' mark from 1291.

Inside the solar, there is an exquisite overmantel carved with fruit, flowers and figures, which you can see on the bottom right of the below collage. Once brightly coloured it still has traces of the original red, green and gold paint. 

It's quite a climb to the top of the fairy-tale South Tower, the most castle-like part of the site.

Emboldened by my excursion on the aqueduct, I confidently climbed its narrow, winding staircase, but was nevertheless relieved to find high battlements and a solid, non-see-through, wooden floor.

Breathtaking views of the property and the Shropshire Hills beyond were our reward!

The photo above also offers the opportunity of a better look at my outfit, consisting of a 1940s style floral Summer frock, accessorized with a blue belt and necklace and a pink plastic ring. 

Wearing my new-to-me sneakers for the first time, I can tell you that not only do they look fabulous, they are fabulously comfortable as well!

After lunch - we'd brought a picnic - a 15-minute drive took us to Ludlow, a bustling black and white market town which is another old favourite. In fact, our last visit only dates from last year.

Our last visit to its castle, however, dates back to our Herefordshire days, so we thought it was well overdue another visit.

I'm left in no doubt that the weather wasn't up to scratch back then, but on this warm and sundrenched afternoon we took shelter within the coolness of its walls.

Guarded by both the Rivers Teme and Corve, the castle stands prominently on high ground, able to resist attack from would-be invaders from across the Welsh border.

Ludlow Castle, which started life as a Norman fortress, was extended over the centuries to become a fortified Royal Palace, passing through several generations of the de Lacy and Mortimer families to Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.

It became crown property in 1461 and remained a royal castle for the next 350 years.

The round tower-like structure are actually the romantic remains of the 11th century Norman Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene. 

Abandoned in 1689, the castle quickly fell into ruin, described as "the very perfection of decay" by Daniel Defoe, most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe.

Since 1811, the castle has been owned by the Earls of Powis, who have arrested further decline, and allowed this magnificent historical monument to be open to the public.

Tired after exploring the exentensive ruins, I climbed into this giant wooden throne to rest my weary feet.

In a shady corner, this fierce but rather comical dragon was guarding its lair. She turned out to be the protagonist of the Great Easter Dragon Egg Hunt held back in April. I thought she looked quite at home in the castle ruins!

After the obvious refreshments, we walked back to our car, which was parked at the other end of the town. 

I couldn't resist a quick look inside one final charity shop, where I unearthed this gorgeous Phase Eight jumpsuit. It poses logistical problems, as it closes with a zip in the back, but hey, it's got pockets!

The hat on the left, made in London for a Ludlow shop based on The Bull Ring, was picked up in another charity shop earlier that day.

I'm sad to say that my travelogue is nearing its end, so before regaling you with our final adventures, I will return with another outfit based post next time.


  1. I am just swooning over all these castles, and old buildings - how heavenly! We've nothing like that here (my Castle is not very old).

    I love your pattern mixed outfit! What a wonderful blouse that is that your FB friend gave you - my mom used to have one like that in the early 60s. I love your pink runners! Hooray for no white soles!

    1. I had to think of you when I found those pink runners! I'm still to wear the funky top, as it's been either too hot or too cold for it. xxx

  2. Wow Ann you look amazing in this jumpsuit! A hat made in London....great the way you find always wonderful things. I love your flowery sneakers. Perfect for you :)
    Swooning over for these old houses and castles. Looking forward the next, maybee last travelogue.
    a very huge hug Tina

    1. Thank you Tina! I love the jumpsuit and think it looks great on me, but I'll have to take a friend (or Jos) if I need to visit the bathroom ;-) xxx

  3. wow - this places are really stunning - especial the original medieval castle! bravo for climbing that tower!
    love your mix´n match outfit with the former minidress <3
    and you had great luck at the shops!
    hugsies! xxxxx

    1. Thank you Beate! I'll never get rid of my vertigo, but I'm trying to push some bounderies! xxx

    2. thats good - if you ever come here i´ll show you some gorgeous viewpoints!

  4. I'm totally in love with the façades and architectural details, and I would love to visit Stokesay Castle (probably I would squeal with delight all the time!).
    You looked particularly fabulous in your mixed prints outfit, love your maxi skirt and the zara jacket and the yellow belt which is such a brilliant detail!
    Ludlow and its castle look like amazing places, your pictures are so stunning!. Love your floral dress, so beautiful and your pink-floral sneakers look really perfect, comfy&cool!
    The jumpsuit fits you like a dream (and Pockets!) despite all the (posible) hassle.

    1. Thank you Monica! Stokesay Castle is particularly delightful. Might be perfect for a blogger meet-up some time ;-) xxx

  5. I've got the same book!

    Stokesay castle looks absolutely gorgeous, and Ludlow is always splendid. You do go to the nicest places.

    1. Imagine you having that book! I've a soft spot for Ludlow, St. Laurence's church is stunning! xxx

  6. Hooray for Spoons!!!! Goodness me, the last time I went to Stokesay Castle was in 1976 - maybe we need to go back, it looks glorious with that blue sky overhead.
    How lovely of Rosie to give you that funky polyester top, her shop looks fab.
    That maxi skirt with the Zara blazer and repurposed mini dress looks utterly fabulous on you, splendid pattern mixing! xxx

    1. Yes, you do need to go back. It's just over an hour from Walsall, we might have next year's meet-up there? xxx

  7. Shrewsbury is lovely isn't it. As ever you have dressed in your own unique to you and wonderful style, the photos are great.
    I love the red dragon. People have told us of a former owner of our house, who was apparently a real character and had a big red dragon above the front door, I love that story, your dragon reminded me of it! xxx

    1. Thank you Sally, and yet, Shrewsbury is a splendid town. Imagine having a big red dragon above your front door! It's a pity you don't have photos ... xxx

  8. So many intriguing places. Love old buildings like this. Your mixed print maxi outfit is fab. Great idea to make a mini into a tunic top. Will have to try that. 40s style floral is adorable as is that jumpsuit.

    1. Thank you Theresa. I can't really sew, so I'm quite proud of my remake. At least it gets worn now! xxx

  9. I'm swooning over your latest vintage finds and these marvellous castles you find to visit.

    I hate it when they make jumpsuits so impossible to get in and out of on your own.


    1. Thanks Suzanne. I had Jos do up the jumpsuit's zip when I tried it on. It was only when I got it home that I realized there would be a bathroom problem ;-) xxx

  10. I love that jumpsuit on you! I really like your maxi skirt too (of course, you know I love a maxi!) and the castle and the dress you wore to explore it are both beautiful.

    Hope that your week is going well! We have a day off today for the Ekka holiday, yay!

    Away From Blue

    1. Thank you Mica! How lovely that you had the day off. We actually had one on the 15th! xxx

  11. You sure visited some amazing places, Ann! The history and architecture is fascinating. I love the funky top you got from Rosie. So fun! Those floral sneakers are great too and I love your jumpsuit! Hope you're having a great week so far, Ann! XXX

  12. Shrewsbury seems like such a lovely place to visit. First of all, I love that colourful styling you wore on your first day there, while it was rainy. The mix of prints and colours look so wonderfully British. I didn't know that Charles Darwin was originally from Shewsbury. I only remember that he lived in the country (if I'm right). I remember watching some BBC special about him, it was really interesting. Anyhow, Shewbury seems like such a lovely historical city.

    I love the printed dress you wore. It looks simply perfect with those floral sneakers you bought. They do look like perfect sneakers for you. It seems you had fun sight-seeing too. That castle looks amazing and the she dragon is adorable. I love visiting ruins.

    The church of saint Mary looks very impressive. 500 years old? Well, that's quite something....and it is such a beautiful church too.

    1. Thank you Ivana! Shrewsbury is a wonderful town. Not too big and with lots of old buildings. xxx

  13. That was nice of Rosie to gift you such a lovely top.
    I'm looking forward to hearing just what women should know ;)
    Only you can decide if that jumpsuit is worth the hassle, but it looks perfect on you.

    1. I'll let you know when I've read the book, Goody! Oh, and I do think the jumpsuit is worth the hassle. Maybe I shouldn't wear it to work though .. xxx

  14. Oh gosh! As I read your travelogue and look at your photos it's *almost* as if I can see the stuff of history happening in those places. It's breathtaking, really. I can only imagine how you felt standing in the midst of it all, especially given your love of and connection to all things vintage.

    PS: Those sneakers!! Had I seen them in a charity shop myself I would have pronounced them as perfect for one Polyester Princess! They suit you so well with their delightful colors. Their comfort makes them a perfect find!


    1. Thank you Sherry. I do love a place with a bit of history. As for those sneakers, they were definitely made for me! xxx