Saturday, 30 September 2017

Castle Acre Priory day 6 part 2

After we left Oxburgh and began the journey back to the chalet, we popped in to a little village called Castle Acre for a cup of tea and a leg stretch. We had spotted a sign for an English Heritage property, a priory, on the way there and thought it would make an ideal stopping off place on the way back.

We didn't realise as we rolled up, how huge the place was, it is one of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England, and we just popped in on a whim.

So with no prior knowledge (no pun intended!) and a couple of hours to spare before it closed we had a wander round.

  Dating back to 1090, the priory was home to a Cluniac order of monks, who lived there until 1537 when, under the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, it was disbanded and afterwards fell into ruin.

As you can see, the site is huge, this was a thriving monastery for over 450 years and parts are still almost intact. The huge west front, as seen in my first photo, and the attached prior's lodging are stunning. By climbing some pretty uneven stone steps you can go upstairs into the prior's house, where parts of the painted ceiling remain.

Just look at that amazing woodwork and art!

The main room was also very cosy, with a large bay stone mullion window and huge fireplace, we posed for a selfie.

The view through the window of the west front was amazing, all that stonework.

Downstairs and beneath the main living quarters we found an entrance hall, leading straight through to the cloister

This fabulous brick ceiling is medieval and was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries. 

Looking back at the part intact tower and prior's house.

As with most of the very early properties we've seen in this area, the main priory walls are constructed mainly of flint.

More information on Castle Acre priory here

We finally made it back to the chalet, and after tea took our now habitual evening stroll on the pebble beach

    Finishing off the day with another relaxing wander to the sound of waves crashing up the shoreline. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Off to Oxburgh day 6 part one

Back to our Norfolk holiday.

Day 6 and with the weather still good we set off on our longest trip of the holiday, the hour long drive south west through Swaffham (always makes me laugh, think it's thanks to Harry Hill) to Oxburgh Hall, a rather romantic looking medieval moated property originally built in the 15th century, and now managed by the National Trust.

 As we arrived around 10.30, we cracked open the flask and had tea and cake in the rather pleasant car park before going in

 I have to say that for WOW factor, this is the most gorgeous property I have seen. I love a moat and this one was teeming with fish, and you could see the bottom, which is good as I have a thing about deep water. Rather disconcerting though was the half a pike resting in some pond weed at the bottom of the moat, I was wondering what bit it in half!

 We spent a good hour just walking around the outside, the weather was gorgeous and the property was just breathtaking. Also, a junior school were visiting and they were inside, so we let them out before attempting to go in!

You can see some scaffolding in the above photo, the roof on the courtyard part of the property is being repaired

 The property looks like an architect's advert in places, there does appear to be every style of window as you go round the outside

Fishies!  The moat is huge, around 250 feet long on each side

Love the name on their moat boat

After wandering aimlessly around the outside, we ventured in. I suppose I was expecting great things, but as you enter it is explained that family had to club together to buy the property back from an insurance company in the 50's and so several descendant families now live in private apartments there.

I took a few snaps inside, but they were dark and uninteresting. Better photos exist on the National Trust site here

The property was first built in 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld, after he obtained a licence to crenellate.  The same family still live there, apart from a short period earlier in the 20th century when the land and property was split up and came under the ownership of an insurance company. To save it from being pulled down by a local builder the family clubbed together, selling whatever they had to save the building.

Bad photo of leather wallpaper, yes, seriously, leather!

The property is known for a few things, one of which is stunning needlework by Bess of Hardwick and her charge, Mary Queens of Scots, whom she had under house arrest for Elizabeth I.

As we've been to Fotheringhay, where Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, it was interesting to see the huge panels of stunning needlework she and her captor had worked on together.

Mary wasn't held here, but I believe the works arrived at Oxburgh as part of a dowry a few centuries back

They are huge, around six feet high

The room they are kept in is dark and only lights up when you enter, to keep them from deteriorating, hard to believe they are over 400 years old 

My only photo of the King's room, there is a famous priest hole off this bedroom, and the more adventurous visitor is allowed to slip through a hole in the floor into the secret chamber. We both decided we were not going in!

I made my way up several flights of stairs to the Queen's room above, via this very narrow staircase, with the rather cleverly built in handrail, only to find it shut! 

Back outside, and we wandered around the walled garden, a later addition to the property, and mostly allowed to grow to meadow proportions to support wildlife, this outside area was kept much smarter

A few last glimpses of the impressive brickwork and all those beautiful windows

The stunning entrance over the bridge, with the window for the King's room immediately over the archway

Not sure if these gorgeous little lamps are original or repro, so much of the original property was sold to save it

A decidedly glum looking blogger! Not sure why I don't look too happy here, possibly because OH has already taken one photo. Anyway, 50p top and Laura Ashley linen skirt which was £1.

As we left for our holiday chalet, we decided to pop in to an abbey we had seen signposted along the way.  It turned out to be a lot bigger than we thought so part two of our day 6 is to follow!  

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

These boots aren't made for walking...and other bargains

I realised I haven't done a bargains post for ages, around two months I think, so here are a few things I've picked up since June.

The latest bargain were these unbranded leather boots, really well made and high, I'm sure I won't be going far in them but they will come in handy as a smart wardrobe staple.

Found in a charity shop £1 bargain bin.  Go on, tell me the last time you found a pair of hardly worn leather boots for a pound!

Found these boots on ebay and forgot I was watching them. The listing ended with no sale and they were relisted again. The photos were dreadful but I could see there was hardly any wear on the heels so took a chance and bid. I won as no-one else bothered.

100% leather and suede.  They are in superb condition and are Clarks, total paid was £14.44 I think.

Next item was a skirt I found today, the brand is Mantaray and it looks unworn, thick printed jersey cotton with deep elastic waist.

Found this fab t shirt a week ago, good quality and I love the print.

Paid £1.50 and it's a perfect fit!

Treated myself to a few Gringo tops in their sale, they only had M/L left so I took a chance and one is a perfect fit the other a little loose.

The black one is the perfect fit, and cost £12.99 

This one is a little baggy but the design is gorgeous and repeated on the back in negative, £15.49. I also bought a tunic dress which was a bargain at £10.99 but it's too long for me so I will take it up.

I also found this top on ebay with best offer on, it's an Orla Kiely design and I love it. I offered £5 plus postage and the top was mine!

Love the close up of the little cars

Back to August and I found this M&S Magenta top for 50p

Couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the sleeve of this Orla Kiely top peeping out of a rail of clothing in an expensive chazza I like looking round.

At £2.99 the price wasn't bad either.

Just goes to show, those expensive shops are worth looking around.

Another M&S top, this one was £2.25

It's really nice but when I put it on OH said "haven't you got one like that already?"

Mmm, it does resemble a couple of other tops I have, we'll see which ones stay the distance.

Lastly a few items from June

 Pac a mac for £1.50, bit dark but they are difficult to source round here.

Capri pants already turned into shorts

Cost £1

Last item was this gorgeous M&S top I bought over a Fat Face one for the same price

This cost £3.75, but looks fab and I've worn it loads already, as you can see in the photo below

So comfy!

Well, that's all my bargains, OH has had lots of things, several pairs of footwear, several pairs of jeans, a hoodie in the sales and a new to him 50p leather cowboy buckle belt.

Hope you are all finding great bargains out there!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Boleyns, Blickling and the beach

Day 5 in Norfolk, and we were treated to yet another warm and sunny day.

We had decided on a one stop trip so headed due south towards Blickling Hall.

This amazing Jacobean mansion, constructed around 1616, is built on the site of the former home and birthplace of Anne Boleyn, second (and beheaded) wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.  All three Boleyn siblings were born here during the short ownership of the estate by their father.

Jacobean architecture at its finest

Supposedly haunted by Anne Boleyn herself and voted most haunted house in Britain in a 2007 National Trust survey, we saw no spirits while we were there

The inner courtyard entrance to the house proper is slightly less grand

Painted ceilings in one drawing room, with a previous owner being Ambassador to St Petersburg in the mid 1700's who knows how many notorious leaders have been here? 

My personal favourite area in any property has to be the kitchens and these at Blickling had the best outlook 

Upstairs, and the doorways were grand indeed

The bedrooms are grand of course and are dressed in the style of various stages of the history of the property

Look up and you will find grander ceilings!

More important tapestries than you can shake a stick at, these were a gift from Catherine the Great of Russia and the room was built to house them 

And one of the finest libraries in the country, with some extremely old books, and very modern nylon printed copy carpets, a trick the National Trust is now employing to save important carpets but to still give the feel of grandeur underfoot.

 The library is over 100 feet long and packed with leather and vellum, all secured behind discreet wire doors. At the base of the photograph above you can just see the frame of a mirror so you don't strain your neck looking up at the ceiling.  

The room below I understand was built for Catherine the Great of Russia, she ended up not visiting but now the guides tell you there is enough bling for President Trump and his wife to feel at home. Unbelievably, the gilding has never been retouched since it was first done in the 1700's 

Outside, and we wandered around the immediate gardens. Blickling is so large that I imagine it requires more than one visit to cover it all.

The fountain created an enjoyable fine mist as the day got hotter

We discovered this analemmatic sundial in the grounds. I recognised the letters spelling out the name Jason as the months of the year and we realised what it was. It even accounts for British Summer Time.

Selfie in the garden!

 After a quick walk around the walled gardens it was time to head back for tea, just time for one last look at the beautiful meadow opposite the entrance, complete with cows, it could almost have been painted by Constable

 After tea, and we were back on the beach near the chalet. There were swimmers, fishermen and these paragliders enjoying the fine weather

The weather was glorious and the noise of the sea breaking against the steep pebble shore was soothing and mesmeric.

We spent almost two hours enjoying the sea spray.

More tales from Norfolk soon!