Sunday, 31 July 2022

Ups and downs

We could get used to this gentle pace of life, with nothing more taxing than deciding on the day’s itinerary, we mused, waking up on Thursday the 23rd of June. Gingerly lifting a corner of our bedroom curtain confirmed that the sun was already out in full force. 

Alas, the outlook on our phone’s weather app wasn’t exactly promising, forecasting rain, perhaps even a thunderstorm, later that day. What’s more, the forecast for the week ahead was a bit of a turn-up for the books, with a considerable drop in temperature and lots of rain to look forward to ... 

For now, the temperature was steadily climbing into the high twenties, and it looked set to be a bit of a muggy day. Our usual cooked breakfast was had with the patio doors thrown wide open, followed by a bowl of fresh fruit and mugs of coffee on the terrace.

Our destination for the day was selected with the possibility of rain in mind, opting for another National Trust property with lots of inside options. Again, it was one we had visited previously. 

Erddig Hall, a Grade-1 listed property set in a 486-hectare (1,200-acre) landscape park, and surrounded by a fully restored 18th-century garden, is just two miles south of the Welsh town of Wrexham, and a drive of about an hour and a quarter from the cowshed.

Courtesy of the ubiquitous roadworks, the morning was well advanced by the time we finally got there and, as we were parched, we decided to have coffees first. It was when we got out of the car that Jos realized he’d forgotten his straw hat in the cowshed and only had his wool cap at his disposal.

As neither this nor going bareheaded was an option on this sweltering day, we made our way towards the shop to see if they had anything suitable. However, the choice for men, other than baseball caps or safari-style hats, was rather limited, and the only hat which made the grade was far too big. We were just about to get desperate when I found one in a smaller size at the bottom of the pile.

That settled, we had a mooch around the estate buildings, which include a joiners' shop, smithy and saw mill, all of them left complete with all the fittings and tools inside, just as they were when the last craftsmen and artisans left.

Continuing to the Stable Yard, we explored the stables and tack room, before admiring the carriages, bicycles and vintage cars, including the red Rover, dating from around 1907 and the green Austin, which dates from 1927.

Then we walked to the creeper-clad front of the house, with its glorious view of the Welsh landscape.

Originally built in 1684-1687 for Josiah Edisbury, the High Sheriff of Denbighshire, the wings at each end of the central block were added by John Meller, a rich London lawyer, who bought the property in 1714.

 Obviously, I had to do my Lady of the Manor pose on the house’s curving double flight of steps. 

I was wearing the blue organic cotton maxi skirt I snaffled in the Mango sales last Summer, with my lobster printed top I found new with tags in a charity shop in May 2019. Apart from my trusty Clarks Cloudsteppers and the aforementioned skirt, everything was either charity shopped or found on flea markets. And yes, that includes the hat, which is from the German Mayser brand.

After lunch, we escaped from the afternoon heat into the relative coolness of the house which, unusually, is entered via the servants’ quarters.

Meller's original interiors have been left intact. On his death in 1733, unmarried and childless, the property went to his nephew, Simon Yorke, and the house was subsequently passed down through generations of the Yorke family.

In the servants’ quarters, the walls are filled with paintings and photographs of the people who worked below stairs. From the kitchen porter and housekeeper to the gardener and gamekeeper, the Yorke family had a close relationship with their servants and celebrated their loyalty, length of service and hard work. The portraits were commissioned by the Yorke family, a tradition started in 1791 by Philip Yorke I. 

Philip I also initiated the custom of writing charming, light-hearted verses about each of the servants. Jane Ebrell (above, bottom left), for instance, is referred to as “the Mother of us all” whose enthusiasm for cleaning is recorded by her Master:

"From room to room, She drove the dust, With brush and broom, And by the Virtues of her mop, To all uncleanness put a stop."

 John Meller created a set of elegant rooms facing the garden, each leading into the next with their doors arranged in a straight line. When the doors were open it was possible to look from one end to the other.

This arrangement originated in the French Royal Court and was called 'enfilade' and was very fashionable in the early 1700s.

The volunteer in the saloon regaled us with the story of the George III cut glass chandelier (above, top right) which still bears the marks of damage sustained in 1903, when it was dropped by the butler while he was cleaning it.

According to the lady of the house, Louise Yorke, he was "non-too sober" and rotated it until the thread ran out. It had to be repaired by Sheratt of Chester in 1904 for £38, and they had to send it to Bohemia to match the glass!

We trudged up another flight of stairs, but the rooms were quite oppressive and airless here, the initial coolness of the servants' quarters evaporated into thin air.

By the time we reached the bathroom, I was quite ready to use the unusual contraption which turned out to be a Victorian shower. Made from iron and wood, the uprights are painted to resemble bamboo poles. The tank above and basin below are similarly decorated, with integral stirrup pump and brass chain.


Leaving the house through a door leading into the garden did not bring any relief, as it had become decidedly sticky and stifling by now, the humidity index indicative of an impending thunderstorm.

Even the briefest stroll through the garden, keeping mostly to the shade, was enough to make us break out in a sweat. Still, I persevered, leaving Jos sitting on a bench just outside the house (below, top left).

When I passed the entrance to the kitchen garden and its Victorian glasshouses - the bilingual sign reminding us we were well and truly in Wales - I walked back towards where Jos was sitting and persuaded him to accompany me for some final Lady of the Manor photos.

After refreshments at the café, we geared ourselves for the return journey. Obviously, our car had become reminiscent of a hot oven by now, so that we definitely needed its life-saving airco.

If only Jos hadn't insisted on putting it on at full blast ...

Clouds started gathering on our way home, and the weather gods even regaled us with a couple of scattered raindrops, but the expected thunderstorm refrained from happening.

The temperature, however, had already dropped several degrees when we arrived at the supermarket where we stocked up for a couple of days. We'd only just made it inside the cowshed when the heavens finally opened.

Thursday's cloying temperatures, followed by the blast of the airco, had triggered one of my migraines, which came on during the evening. A good night's sleep usually brings some solace, but unfortunately I kept waking up at all hours, so that I felt tired with a lingering headache in the morning. Consequently, it took me a while to get going.

Adamant not to let a minor detail like that spoil all the fun, we decided on a trip to the historic market town of Bridgnorth. The town, which we have visited quite a few times before,  is split into Low Town, on the edge of the River Severn and High Town, the two connected by the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway

Meanwhile, the temperature had dropped to a mere 18°C, and with rain still very much on the horizon, I was wearing the first of the pairs of wide-legged trousers I'd packed (charity shopped back in May) and the famous green raincoat which has accompanied me on many a UK holiday.

The usual journey of just under one hour had taken quite a bit longer due to a road diversion, and as we'd had a late start, it was almost midday before we arrived at our destination. What's more, the minute we started walking towards the town centre, it started drizzling, which it would do on and off throughout the day.

We made a quick dash around the town's charity shops, which are plentiful, but I only ended up buying the Zara blouse (above, bottom right) and the yellow pleated scarf I started wearing immediately, as in our haste I'd left without one.

Then it was time for lunch, which we had at the local Wetherspoons. While I opted for fish and chips, Jos stuck to his usual jacket potato! 

Still not feeling energetic, we refrained from walking from High to Low Town by descending one of the seven sets of ancient donkey steps, and taking the Cliff Railway up again, which was our original plan. 

Instead, we strolled along Castle Walk enjoying the incomparable view over the Severn Valley, with the plaintive whistling of the steam locomotives of the Severn Valley Railway as a soundtrack.

Before returning to the town centre, and ultimately to our car, we sat down for a while in Castle Gardens, reigned over by the remains of Bridgnorth Castle. As a result of a botched attempt to blow up the building by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, the latter now leans at a 15-degree angle. 

My previous attempt to prop it up dates from our visit visit in 2018.

Would the weather and my migraine improve in the next couple of days? Please do stay tuned if you want to find out!


  1. Oh wow. What an adventure! I have to say that I absolutely love your "Lady of the Manor" pose. It is perfection and I just love the skirt. You were able to see so many incredible sights. I love that gorgeous chandelier and all of the beautiful flowers in the gardens. The blouse you found at the charity shop was such a nice find. It's always exciting when you stumble on something special!
    the creation of beauty is art.

    1. Thank you Shannon, I can never resist doing one of my Lady of the Manor poses when visiting stately homes :-) xxx

  2. The servant's quarters (and the garden) were the only part of Erddig open when we visited last Winter, if fuel prices weren't so steep we'd have gone back and seen the rest of the house. Thanks for sharing your fabulous photos, they'll keep me tided over until I return! I love your "To the Manor Born" pose.
    Jon had fish and chips in 'Spoons on Saturday (eaten like a typical Black Countryman, with curry sauce and mushy peas!)
    I'm sorry to hear of the migraine and your weather - you usually bring the sunshine!
    Looking forward to the next installment! xx

    1. I know, it seems we left the sunshine in Belgium :-(
      I wouldn't mind curry sauce with my fish and chips, but I absolutely abhor mushy peas! Yuk! xxx

  3. I always remember Erdigg for its unusual attitude to its servants. How unusual too to enter by the servants quarters! Lord Leitrim the Lord of the area of Ireland where my came from changed his landscape so he didn't have to see his servants at work!

    You'd make a great 'Lady of the Manor' you have the pose perfected...

    Great find at the chazza, btw.

    1. Thanks Vronni, and I do guess that Lord Leitrim's way was the prevalent one at the time! xxx

  4. sorry for the migraine - i can´t stand aircon at all - it makes me sick instantly.....
    the erddig manor is totally gorgeous and it must feel like timetravelling with all that interior still there. the blue skirt and german straw hat make for a posh lady of the manor ;-D
    bridgnorth is very picturesque - even in drab weather....
    but - we will need 5 years of wet summers to fill the ground water resources again to a normal level........

    1. Thank you Beate! I'm not a fan of aircon myself, but sometimes needs must. The heat is giving me migraines as well ... xxx

  5. Erdigg is a very interesting property with its outbuildings , kitchens and grand interiors. I find when I visit heritage properties I fam taken back in time and envisage the life of the owners and their servants. You have the Lady of the Manor pose down to perfection.
    Shame about your migraine but admire that you bravely soldiered on. xx

    1. Thank you Jill! It was hard going that day, but I didn't want that migraine to completely ruin the day! xxx

  6. Erdigg looks fascinating. It's so refreshing to hear that below stairs staff were celebrated and had a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with their employers. I really do think your lady of the manor poses should become a regular feature, regardless of where you are! Sorry to hear Bridgnorth's charity shops didn't deliver quite so many finds, but that view hopefully made up for it! xxx

    1. That view always makes up for anything! And I've been taking your advice and have been trying out some Lady of the Manor poses here as well ... xxx

  7. I need Triptan against migraine. I hope you got well.
    I enjoy again your wonderful travelogue. Never seen such a nice shower. 🤭 Thank you so much. 💕
    with a very huge hug Tina

  8. Nancy here again. I'm so enjoying the posts about the holiday. I can enjoy that part of England through your eyes! Ain't everything just so gorgeous and interesting! Whatever we visit when we are there, it's never dull. Jacket potato, that's a good lunch Jos!

    1. Thank you Nancy! Jos is a big fan of jacket potatoes :-) xxx

  9. You have my sympathy about the air conditioning induced migraines. Mine are always worse in summer and I'm sure the cold air blasting has something to do with it. I've been using Ubrogepant for mine but it only works to shorten the duration, not prevent it.
    Wide leg trousers make me swoon-they're just gorgeous.
    Good work keeping that rock in place:)

    1. Thank you Goody! Thankfully, my migraines usually aren't too severe! xxx

  10. Such erratic temperatures within just a couple of days! I'm so sorry to hear about your migraine, Ann! I hope it eased for you. Lovely pics - I love your "Lady of the Manor" pose!

  11. I always love to walk through the past. What an interesting sight you visitied. Sorry to hear that you suffered a migraine.

    xxx Regula

  12. I love a creeper covered house!

    That chair in the bedroom that holds the book at a good reading height looks very useful! I often find myself with a crooked neck after reading for hours!

    1. Thank you Laura, and you're right, I'm hearing you on the crooked neck :-) xxx

  13. I love how green everything is.
    Lovely outfit. It seems you two had a really nice time.
    Stunning photography.
    Thank you for sharing.

  14. Thank you for the tour of Erddig Hall Anne, with its tool outbuildings and interesting Victorian shower (with pump action?). Changing air pressures with impeding storm coupled with an air con blast would also give me a migraine :0 I hope yours was short lived. I see I've missed another post too, so see you again soon :)... x

    1. p.s. apologies for adding 'E' to your name Ann! - my mam's an Anne with an 'E' and she gets annoyed when people mis-spell her name :0

    2. Thankfully it was short-lived! And never mind about the spelling of my name, Lulu. The regular spelling here is An, with just one n, so I often get either that spelling or with an e at the end ... xxx

  15. Erddig is a wonderful place to visit. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip, despite the hot weather!