Whilst halfway up a mountain in Wales over Easter, I turned round to my mum and said something along the lines of "Cake, coffee, second hand bookshops and castles: today has been pretty perfect, hasn't it?" We were being merrily buffeted by wind and rain at this point, I had a serious case of Castle Hair going on (does anyone else with long hair get this? The tangles are EPIC) and it was generally quite grim but I was so, so content with life.
Britain is an endlessly fascinating place. Trips abroad are all well and good but there's so much to see right here. We stayed in Bishop's Castle in Shropshire which is only about 80 miles away from home. Plus I've visited Shropshire quite a lot over the years and have done most of the obvious tourist things there. That doesn't mean we were short of things to do!
Bishop's Castle itself is tiny but rather lovely. You've got to love a place with polka dot houses and lots of yarnbombing, haven't you?
So where did we go? What did we do? We didn't stay in the cottage reading and playing Bananagrams all week, I promise.
We went to Montgomery and found:
Bunners, the BEST shop in the whole world. It's a proper treasure trove of ironmongery, hardware and kitchenware and even has old fashioned petrol pumps outside!
Also the world's most tasteful Spar
And a ruined castle. As I mentioned above, the weather was not great so it wasn't ideal for arty photos. Also I was too busy facing my fear of falling through gappy bridges to get my camera out. They scare the crap out of me. You can't see it properly but there's a drop of about 50 feet below this and oh my god, what if I fell through the gaps and DIED? It's a looooooooong way down!
We went to Much Wenlock and looked around the very beautiful priory. It was a visit full of topiary and Highland coos and lady selfies in the ruins of the Lady Chapel. Also me utterly failing to pose properly for photos.
We went to an Iron Age hill fort (as you do). It used to look like this:
Now it looks like this:
Imagination is a very helpful thing when visiting places like this!
We went to a stone circle in the middle of nowhere.
We went to Benthall Hall which is beautiful and has the friendliest volunteers. My favourite fact of all time is that one of the previous owners used to eat 16 sausages a day. Sixteen!! Also see that room on the left hand side of the ground floor? There was a Civil War battle in that room - cannons through the windows and dead soldiers all over the floor.
We went to Shrewsbury for the day where I had a delicious lunch and a lovely afternoon with Char.
We went on quite a lot of zooming around Z roads (my mother is a truly intrepid driver) looking at odd place names. Snailbeach or The Bog anyone?
Then on my birthday we all had cake for breakfast and went off to Stokesay Castle and Ludlow. The sun shone and it was utterly blissful.
Cats in shops alert!! This brilliant cafe/bookshop/record shop in Bishop's Castle (which also sells the best apricot slice I've ever eaten) has an excellent ginger moggy.
Then in a tiny, cluttered antiques shop in Much Wenlock we found this enormous fluffmonster. Apparently he lives in a pub, is called Carling and pays a daily visit to the shop.
ps - I bought some books. Quelle surprise.