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Treasure Hunting in Somerset. My favourite places to shop for unique finds.

6 Jul

I am not a fan of shopping, well not ordinary shopping.  Going into a High Street Chain store and seeing foreign made goods stacked up and sold cheap has never appealed to me. I do however, like Treasure Hunting.  Treasure Hunting is how I describe my secret shopping trips off to hideaway shops in Somerset.   I can disappear for hours without warning and then come back to Middlewick with a car full of exciting finds.

Now I guess I shouldn’t be revealing my secret shops but as my cottages are getting pretty full now with all the bits I have picked up, I am happy to share.

On our doorstep here in Glastonbury are my 2 favourites.  Glastonbury Reclamation and Wells Reclamation are a few minutes drive from us here at Middlewick.  Both are bursting at the seams with interesting finds.  I spend a lot of time shopping here and you will find many of my purchases in our cottages.

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Myakka FairTrade Furniture is a company based down the road in Wincanton.  They have a shop attached to their head office where you can pick up slightly damaged pieces.  There are some that have slight scratches or bumps and some do need repair work. One of my cottages, TorView has been decorated entirely with repaired Myakka furniture.

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Now the person who usually helps me with all my furniture projects is John Tucker Carpentry who also has a few treasures hanging around his workshop.  Quite a few of his upcycled and new creations you can see dotted around our cottages.  The headboard in the Cabin from some old shutters and a coffee table made from a wardrobe door from Russet are two of his.  For Glastonbury Festival we borrowed a few bits and pieces from him to decorate including a pop-up bar, some wooden stags heads and the coolest comic book table.  The table and the stags heads he has for sale if you fancy a little bit of quirky Glastonbury to take home.

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Owen Barry are a family owned leather and sheepskin factory based in Street.  The factory has been manufacturing there since 1948.  Attached to the factory is an outlet where you can buy samples and slight seconds.  Here you will find some amazing interior furnishings at really reasonable prices.  For Glastonbury Festival they decorate our function room with gorgeous beanbags, cushions and rugs.   They also make the leather cow doorstops  which we are always a topic of conversation here at Middlewick.

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The Green House in Ilminster is a bit of drive from us here in Glastonbury but well worth it.  Here you will find some gorgeous upcycled furniture made by the talented Georgina Spencer.  You will find her lights on many of my bedside tables and my favourite piece of hers is the fossil table in Bramley Cottage.

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Emporium in Yeovil is a treasure trove of goodies.  With an array of individual traders including OohLaLa Lampshades there is always something interesting.  Add to this a fantastic cafe upstairs you can spend many hours browsing.

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Bath & West Giant Flea Market and Antiques Markets.  My idea of heaven.  Dozens of stallholders selling the weird and wonderful.  I have picked up so many interesting pieces at these shows.  The bed in Blenheim, tables in Russet and Appletree as well as quite a few of the paintings that you find on the cottage walls.

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Happy Treasure Hunting.  Let me know what you find on your adventures.

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Bird Watching in Somerset

13 May

Update from my original post from January

themiddlewickblog

I wrote this back in January but thought I would repost it today as I say goodbye to a lovely group of Bird Watchers that have been staying here with us in Glastonbury.

They were with us all week exploring the wonderful Nature Reserves in our area and they were so pleased to have spotted 99 different species of birds while they were here(to be honest I didn’t know there were that many here in Somerset- but what do I know)

They even managed to see 2 of the Great Cranes that are now found in the wild here in Somerset after an absence of over 400 years. For more information on this project you can visit this site Great Crane Project

The group also heard the most booming bitterns they have ever heard.  If you have never heard them before – click on this link and it will take you to  what…

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Seven Places to have a drink in Somerset with Man’s Best Friend.

4 May

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Take your pooch to the pub and enjoy a pint.  Seven places close to us here in Glastonbury where your dog is very welcome.  Some even give your dogs their own doggie beer.   Maggie, Ellie and I have tried all these out.

  1.   The Natterjack Inn, in Evercreech has a very famous 4 legged customer.  Jilly, a Petit Basset Griffin who was Crufts winner in 2013, is a regular drinker there, of water of course.  They do serve delicious human meals here but make sure and save room for desserts as they are to die for.

     

  2. The Red Lion, West Pennard is a beautiful 15th Century village pub with a roaring fire for the dogs to curl up beside. They do a fantastic Carvery on a Sunday that is worth going along to.  There is pub food served 7 days a week here.
  3. George Inn at Croscombe  Peter, the Canadian owner has 2 of his own dogs that welcome everyone into the pub.  The last time I visited I think there seemed to be one dog at every table, so if you don’t bring your own dog there is usually someone else’s you can borrow for the evening.   It is very relaxed pub serving good pub food.  There is a dart board that we always enjoy when visiting.
  4. The Who’d A Thought It Glastonbury are always very welcoming to visiting pooches.  It is a nice pub with quirky interior and exterior. Inside is a red phone box with a mannequin in it which does Keep the dogs wondering what that is all about.  The pub has a very nice atmosphere, bustling with tourists and friendly staff.
  5. King Arthur, Glastonbury . The only place I know of that you can take your dog dancing with you.  They have regular live music with a mixture of genres. They do get some really good bands playing so worth checking out their gig list.  Dancing is usually on the menu when the bands play and this includes any dogs that fancy it. There is a Glastonbury Jack Russell  that can be regularly seen doing some particularly great moves. Located in the centre of Glastonbury it benefits from a really big beer garden and they often have music and BBQ’s in the summer months.
  6. The Globe Inn, Wells is where we head to for a sports night.  They have rooms off of the main bar showing the best sporting events on.  Maggie and Ellie are football and rugby fans so we often go to watch matches on their large screens.  They do great food choices for sport watching – like burgers, chili and curries.
  7. The Sheppey Inn, Godney  This is a favourite of ours.  Four legged visitors are treated royally with biscuits and  doggie beer.  Yes a beer – non alcoholic and chicken flavoured. It is super popular so so you do need to book in advance if you plan to have food.  This Trip Advisor review sums it up, it is written by one of our guests that went there recently.  Sheppey Inn Trip Advisor Review 

Walking, Cycling and Lunch. What Sunday in Somerset is All About.

3 May

I think Sunday lunches are best enjoyed after a very long walk or cycle.  The food always seems to taste so much better.  Fortunately there are some great places to walk, and cycle close to us here in Glastonbury.  Here are seven of my favourites.(correction – 8- couldn’t stick to just 7)

  1. Sharpham Tea Garden is based at the edge of the Avalon Marshes.  You can park in the Ham Wall Nature Reserve Car park and then walk the 3km along the Glastonbury Canal.  Or if you are cycling it is on the National Cycle Path Number 3.  You will need to book in for their Sunday roast dinner which they serve until 5pm.  Roasts start at just £8.   Sharpham Tea Rooms
  2. The Red Lion in West Pennard makes a great lunch destination for a walk out of Glastonbury or from us here at Middlewick.  From Glastonbury the walk is up and over the Glastonbury Tor to Stonedown Lane.  From us here it is a short walk through our back fields to join the Lane.  At the bottom of Stonedown Lane you will find Norwood Park House and a public footpath beside their kitchen gardens.  From there the way is marked with Red Lion signs that will take you across farmers fields for 3 miles to the pub.  On a Sunday there is a great Carvery which runs from 12pm- 2.30pm.  It is a good idea to book first as it is popular with the locals.  The Red Lion
  3. Eco Friendly Bites at the Somerset Craft Centre and Avalon Marshes Centre.  For a lighter lunch this great little café is a perfect Sunday lunch destination.  It is also perfectly based for walks across the Shapwick Nature Reserve. Avalon Marshes Centre Somerset Craft Centre
  4. Nunney Acoustic Café.  This is my secret favourite Sunday lunch destination.  You will find it in the tucked away Nunney village hall.  Not only is the food fantastic(it is run by our resident Middlewick chef- Keren Hayden), you also get to enjoy 4 hours of great music.  It only happens once a month, on every second Sunday and is on from 2pm – 6pm.  The café has been going for many years now and it has a reputation for showcasing some great new musical talents.  Nunney Castle and the surrounding footpaths are perfect for a great walk before or after food.  Follow them on Facebook to keep up to date. Nunney Acoustic Café
  5. Rose and Portcullis is a great pub ideally located for some great cycling or walks through the extensive paths of Combe  Hill Woods and the Polden Way.  Based in the village of Butleigh, it is extremely popular with locals so do make sure you book in first. Rose and Portcullis  Combe Hill Wood
  6.  Sheppey Inn is one of the top 10 restaurants  in Somerset and so worth a visit.  It has a lovely deck that backs onto the River Sheppey so perfect sunny Sunday destination.  Located in the village of Godney, the cycling and walks are fantastic around the quiet lanes on the Somerset Levels.  The more adventurous could hire a kayak to travel through the waterways of the Somerset Levels. Kayak Hire
  7. The Kitchen Langport is another waterside Café located on the River Parrett, in Bow Wharf.  The River has a 50 mile pathway that starts in Dorset and then heads through the Somerset Levels, into Langport and then ends in Bridgwater.  The food at the Kitchen is always delicious, they also have an Artisan bakery in the town itself but it isn’t open on Sunday . The Café is open from 8.30- 4pm everyday.

Be British and Eat Cake – 7 places for Cake around Glastonbury.

28 Mar

 

The actress Emma Thompson recently described Britain as ‘a tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled misery-laden grey old island’.

Needless to say she was in a lot of trouble over her words and she did backtrack a lot.  It may be a bit rainy and grey sometimes but how can a nation that eats so much cake ever be called misery-laden?

Cake makes you happy, especially on cold rainy days.  Luckily around us here in Glastonbury we are spoiled with places to eat cake.

Here are my favourite cake stops, and not just for rainy days as many of them have lovely gardens to sit out in and enjoy the sunshine as well.

Eco-Friendly Bites.  This little café is based at the Avalon Marshes Centre which is also home to the Somerset Craft Centre.  It sits at the end of the Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve so perfect base to explore the extensive walking and cycling trails in the area.  They do delicious brownies. It is open Tuesday- Sunday 10am – 4.30pm

Double Gate Farm.  Located on the main road in Godney, this lovely little tea room is part of a Farmstay B&B.  As well as gorgeous cakes they have a spectacular looking afternoon tea. Open Wednesday- Sunday 10.30am – 5pm

The Lemon Tree Café, based at the Willows and Wetland Centre.  A definite visit, for the exhibit and the cake.  There is also a nice little wetland walk from the café if you need to burn off some calories. Open every day except Sunday 10am-4.30pm

Sweets Tea Rooms is set at the Peat and Science Museum on the road from Glastonbury to Wedmore.  ‘Merv’ Sweet has gathered together some very unique artifacts including parts from a crashed WW1 bomber, retro radio’s and items that have revealed themselves from the peat works over the years.  Open Wednesday – Sundays 10am – 4pm

 

Strangers with Coffee in Wells.  Not only the best coffee in the area but delicious cakes. Across from St. Cuthberts church which is the largest church in Somerset. Open every day except Sunday 8am- 5pm

 

Abbey Tea Rooms, overlooking Glastonbury Abbey offer a traditional afternoon tea experience.  Open daily 10am – 5pm

 

Glastonbury Assembly Rooms, which you will find down a little alleyway off of Glastonbury High Street.   Go up the stairs to find a little café selling delicious vegan and vegetarian cakes and biscuits. They also have 2 computers in there as well for anyone needing to use the internet. Open Tuesday – Saturday 12- 6pm

 

 

Combe Hill Woods- Marathon Training in the Gorgeous Somerset Countryside

2 Mar

Revisited Combe Hill Wood so decided to repost this as it is a fantastic place for an explore.

themiddlewickblog

I am back in Marathon Training again.  I have entered the Paris Marathon that is in April 2016.  After completing the London Marathon earlier this year I had said that it was a one off.  But after a summer of not doing a lot, well except for working very hard here at Middlewick with the busiest summer yet, I have decided I missed the training.  Actually not the training part, the getting sweaty, aching muscles and feeling tired is not fun, but what I had missed was the exploring of countryside while I put the miles in.  I enjoyed seeing some of the most beautiful parts of Somerset and enjoying the views as I plodded along.

So my run today was around Combe Hill Woods, a 45 Hectare woodland just a few miles from us here in Glastonbury.  The trails are fantastic and the views across the countryside are stunning. …

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Bird Watching in Somerset

2 Feb

I wrote this back in January but thought I would repost it today as I say goodbye to a lovely group of Bird Watchers that have been staying here with us in Glastonbury.

They were with us all week exploring the wonderful Nature Reserves in our area and they were so pleased to have spotted 99 different species of birds while they were here(to be honest I didn’t know there were that many here in Somerset- but what do I know)

They even managed to see 2 of the Great Cranes that are now found in the wild here in Somerset after an absence of over 400 years. For more information on this project you can visit this site Great Crane Project

The group also heard the most booming bitterns they have ever heard.  If you have never heard them before – click on this link and it will take you to  what they sound like. Listen to the Booming of a Bittern

If you want to learn more about the birds of Somerset there are some great Bird Watching events, for both beginners and regular birdwatchers. If you follow the link below you will see some of the courses offered at the Avalon Marshes Centre on the Somerset Levels.  Avalon Marshes Centre

Here is my ramblings on  from January 2016

Just a few miles from us here at Middlewick lies the Avalon Marshes where you will find RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserves.   On a cold weekend in January I had the pleasure of taking part in an organised bird watching walk with a couple of the RSPB volunteer guides.

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View of Glastonbury Tor from Ham Wall Nature Reserve

I regularly use the Nature Reserve for my marathon training runs.  I get dropped off at the end of the reserve and run back to Glastonbury along the disused railway line that runs through the lakes and rivers of the marshes. Today though instead of running through I took the time to explore the area properly and learn about the many birds that make the area their home.

6000 years ago most of what is now Somerset’s Levels and Moors was open water and reedbed.  Over time the reedbed was replaced by wet woodland and then by a raised bog. This formed layers of peat. In the late 20th century the demand for horticultural peat was high and the local peat industry expanded rapidly. Huge quantities of peat were removed from the area leaving behind a scarred landscape.

These stripped areas of land were passed on the RSPB in the mid 1990s to re-create vital reedbeds for struggling bird populations in the UK.  The land was dug out and shaped with machines and then thousands of reeds were planted by hand.

The main focus for the RSPB was to help with the threatened Bittern population in the UK.  Prized as a medieval banquet dish and hit by hunting and the loss of its reedbed habitat, the Bittern became extinct in the UK in 1886.  The bird returned to Norfolk in 1900 and by the 1950s there were 80 booming males again.  The population of the Bittern then declined again and was down to only 11 booming males when the Ham Wall Nature Reserve was established.

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Bittern

 

In 2008 all the hard work of the volunteers paid off and the first pair of Bitterns returned to the Somerset Levels.  The population has grown every year and according to this year’s figures the UK’s top county for Bitterns is Somerset, with over 40 booming males. 20 of these were in the Ham Wall Nature Reserve.

Other birds that have benefitted from the work on the nature reserve have been The Great White Egret.  I was fortunate to see one while we were on our walk and with only 35 of them in the whole of the UK that was an unexpected treat.

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Great White Egret

 

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Great White Egret

 

We spotted Teal, Gadwell, Shovellers, and Wigeons which are all on the RSPB Amber list as the population is in decline.

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The guides who took us on our walk were so full of amazing knowledge of the birds and the area. So much work has gone into creating this natural paradise for wetland wildlife.  There is so much to see and do on the Nature Reserves and the best way to find out the latest events is to go on the Avalon Marshes or the RSPB websites. http://www.avalonmarshes.org/

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/h/hamwall/

I like the sounds of the Mr Boombastic walk to visit the Bitterns. They take place in April and booking is essential as I know they fill up quickly.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-412661

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