Thursday, 18 February 2016

West Country Tour … igloos, cheeeeeeses, food and family time … part 21 ...

A good mix of stories to bemuse you, entice you, laugh at … during Jenny’s last evening in Somerset … and a right 'mingle' of photos - be warned!

The lady I knew as 'Aunt Maud' in 1915
I never mentioned Somerzet zider did I – probably because we didn’t get to have any … I think we both had cider on our way round … but once in Somerzet it got forgotten!  Too many other things to think about … that school house featured here ... 

Roses in full flower in late October 2015

This lady is Maud – wonderful chalk art work I thought – I knew her with a pile of white, beautifully coiffed hair … we would see her when we went to St Ives to see my great uncle and Maud’s sister … 

Roses by the front door ... 

... to play tennis, be tipped upside down by my uncle and tickled mercilessly … to be followed by a tea of thunder and lightning: homemade scones, Cornish cream, blackcurrant jam or treacle … I almost always had the lightning.

The Aga - with horse clothes airing ... and
a world map to help the kids with geography

Jenny’s mother was my great uncle’s sister … if this helps in the scheme of family – and thus the connections of us all.

Cupboard doors made from primary school desk tops

We were staying with Maud’s daughter, who had invited her own daughter and grandchildren (from the school house) over to meet Jenny – after all Jenny lived in the land of the igloo … all icy, freezing cold, and with lots and lots of snow: how does she cope?!

Igloo community from 1865 -
not sure if the kids thought Jenny lived this
sort of life style?!

This needed to be clarified … but provided us all with amusing thoughts and teasing of the young ones (the youngest a feisty lad – he needed to be with two older sisters); it was half-term so the family had friends from Wales down to stay … so we were ‘a crowd’ …

Somerset blue

Our hostess struggles with allergies to food, but had kindly brought all sorts for us … and had the family to foist left-overs onto.

Smoked salmon on bread

I helped with the snacks … I remember lots of smoked salmon on bread slices, some salmon slithers on their own, cheeses, veggie sticks and cucumber hunks – which I stuffed with one of the cheeses … some greenery … all good to go – and go it did.

There was lots of chatter and laughter, and making sure Jenny had time with the different members of the family …

The school room - with the raised dais as a dining area
… then we waved them off back to their school house … and settled to fixing up some supper – delicious … salmon with a lemon herb sauce, fresh veg and new potatoes … followed by a Waitrose dessert or fruit salad … I cannot remember what – but we were pretty full after the snacks etc

Herby sauced salmon

Then we had some cheese and coffee … Somerset cheeses – we could eat them, our hostess had a little of the goat cheeses … I love them all!

A variety of cheeses ... 
I was asked if I’d like some of the cheeses to take with me to my next stop (down the road) to see an English friend, whom I’d met in South Africa: which I wasn’t going to refuse! 

The other side of the sitting room - with the
mezzanine floor

Her parents live in the same town … so I was able to call in and see them … my mother and I had always called in, when they too lived in Sussex, for a sherry on our way down to my brother’s house in Sussex, when I came over from SA, and drop off letters, presents and news from their South African living daughter and grandchildren.

The other half of the house - up to the bedrooms

The next morning we ‘packed’ Jenny off to the train for London – and weren’t exactly early ... while the train was packed to the gunwales – still a porter was grabbed … and ‘orders’ issued to the guard on the train – to look after the treasured elder – a seat was found, the whistle blew and they were off.

View across the fields from the school room

We went back ‘home’ where I helped do what I could to clear up after our stay … and soon then I too packed and left.  A rest was needed for our hostess …

View from Maud's daughter's home

I took those cheeses with me … went off to pass the time before I could visit for tea and then meet Clare for supper and find my bed for the night.  The weather was now ‘wet’ … very damp and ‘depressing’ … still I found a place for a light lunch and a read …

The tiny lanes ... 

Every time during the rest of the day – I thought to myself – why on earth is my car so ‘stinky’ … it was wet gumboot smell, almost dung-like … I couldn’t fathom it!

It's almost November ... the leaves are still on the
trees, the grass is green ... yes Autumn is coming
but it took its time - now in February we wait for winter!

Oh well – tea calls … the car is still stinking … but it was lovely seeing Clare’s parents – it’s now been 37 years that I’ve been popping in to see them.

Chicken oven bake

Evening comes, Clare gets home from work and I wander across town to park – normally I don’t have a problem – but the local cinema was a few houses down … and the latest James Bond film had just come out – so no spaces.

We had a lovely evening just chatting and catching up - finding out how her sons were doing and generally nattering away.  She is an excellent cook ... and we had a chicken oven bake with lots of veg, then fruit and ... 

A selection of Somerset cheeses - not the ones we had!
… that packet of cheeses I’d been given – ah ha … now I know where the stinky-poo came from!!  We laughed … but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves – a treat of extra cheese.

Well that is the end of our journey … I stayed over one night, and then went home via Chichester, where I’d stayed the night at the start of my journey – with some other SA friends – as I needed to collect something I’d left.

Somerset Cider Press

For all these posts and travels, I’d only driven 600 miles: Jenny and I had six nights in hotels, two nights with friends/relatives … and I had a bookend night at the beginning and start of the trip. 

Carved Bench ends of the pews in
Altarnun Church

We had taken a few short side turnings – South Zeal, Brixham, Hartland Point, Altarnun … while some places needed more than one post …

Joss Merlyn walking from the Moors back to
Jamaica Inn
… as too our stay at Emily Hobhouse’s birthplace St Ive, near Liskeard, and where her story starts aged 35, in 1895 … the visit to the Moors … a few posts here … and why this journey was undertaken …

Lyles Golden Syrup - the very sweet
'lightning' part of thunder and
lightning cream teas

Jenny, I might say, went on to London and then onto other relatives, more Emily tie ins around the Bath area, before heading off back to Vancouver Island and her family.  

These are six Ciders and Perries from England
with some history to read

The worst thing about the whole trip ... is that I never had time with Jenny to go back over the trip, and to find out a few more of her thoughts and find out about that time in Bath.  I shall have to ring her.

Next comes my post on Emily Hobhouse …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Christine Rains said...

I love getting a peek into people's house. Such a lovely and cozy home. I have people joke that I'm from the land of igloos (Canada) too. Have a wonderful weekend, HIlary!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

That's a lot of cheeses!

What a beautiful portrait of a lovely young woman! Isn't it amazing when we get a glimpse at the youth of someone we knew only when they were older?

Vallypee said...

Lovely photos and a great wrap up to your trip, Hilary. I adore Somerset cheeses too, even if they are stinky! I can hardly believe you were only away for six nights. It feels as if you were travelling for months :) I've so enjoyed these revisits to my old home stamping ground. What beauty and what history. You should write a travel guide to the West Country!

Anabel Marsh said...

Journey's end! I've enjoyed following your trail.

Betsy Brock said...

Striking drawing of lovely!

I had an uncle that tickled me to pieces, too! haha.

Janie Junebug said...

Aunt Maud was strikingly beautiful.


Elephant's Child said...

Auntie Maud was incredibly beautiful.

Mmm cheese. When my father came to Australia Camenbert was virtually unhead of. Some years later the local grocer had some in stock. Father leapt on it with glee - and the grocer told him 'I really couldn't advise it. It is all soft and a bit smelly'. Which of course didn't deter my papa at all.
You packed an incredible amount into your surprisingly short trip. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Denise Covey said...

Ah, stinky poo...This reminded me of a story I read about a guy buying a Roquefort cheese in France and driving all over the country wondering what the smell was. All those delicious unpasteurized microbes multiplying! Thank you for teaching us a little more about Somerset. It is a county I'd like to visit, along with Devon. I've really enjoyed your trip!

Thanks Hilary!

ana said...

Loved reading about your travels great reading about family and friends it made me feel very nostalgic about my own family that once was.... great photos aunt Maude beautiful lady...Take care Ana..

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Christine - I thought you'd enjoy the photos - and it was a wonderful family home - with lots going on and horses outside! It's funny about how we see where people came from - especially the 'frozen north' ..

@ Dianne - well that's someone else's photos .. but it showed 'cheese'! The portrait is wonderful isn't it - and yes seeing her as a young lady was wonderful, especially as I only remember her on occasional visits ...

@ Val - the posts have travelled for months! So glad the wrap up matches up. The cheeses were wonderful .. and yes only 8 days of nights! So pleased I've given you some new glimpses of your old home arena ... thanks re the thought on the travel guide ...

@ Anabel - thanks so much ... glad you've been happy following us round.

@ Betsy - isn't she striking .. I couldn't take my eyes off that chalk work.

It's great those memories of being tipped upside down and tickled by uncles ... it's exhausting!

@ Janie - isn't Aunt Maud beautiful

@ EC - I'm glad I took a photo of Aunt Maud. What fun - it's a great memory of your father ... and when we find something we love and it looks the same, tastes the same, smells the same - we are so happy. I can totally understand your father.

I picked quite a lot up as you can imagine after I travelled and could put my thoughts together ..

@ Denise - stinky poo .. I was so surprised once I worked out it was the cheese that was ponging the car out. Your Roquefort story is such fun - now I know it's true!

I'm delighted I've put Somerset and Devon on the map for you ... hope you'll be over sometime soon ...

@ Ana - I can imagine you'll be thinking about your family and homeland - so I'm glad I've rekindled those thoughts for you. Maud was beautiful wasn't she.

Thanks so much ... I'm just glad you're all so happy to read about these travels - cheers Hilary

Out on the prairie said...

My grandfather always said the stinkier the cheese the better. He had to keep his collection in a separate refrigerator.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What a delicious post! Love the pictures of the cozy and comfortable home and the food that looked so real I felt I could reach over and take a forkful!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Those cheeses look lovely. It's a shame you didn't get to a cider farm in Somerset, but cider in other counties is just as good.

Talking back over a holiday is one of the best bits - definitely phone Jenny :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Aunt Maud was beautiful!

Sounds like lovely feasts of snacks,and salmon you had. And look at all that cheese!

Chrys Fey said...

Aunt Maud was beautiful!

Sounds like lovely feasts of snacks,and salmon you had. And look at all that cheese!

Danielle L Zecher said...

I really want cheese now! I adore blue cheese. It all looks so yummy! :-)

Joanne said...

I am stuffed to the gills - food, photos, history, family, and general good cheer. I've enjoyed the journey to no end. Your writing is just lovely and rich. Thanks so much for sharing

A Cuban In London said...

I love cheese. This post includes a lot of cheese, I love this post! :-)

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve - ah a separate refrigerator .. that makes sense! Cheese doesn't last around here ... if it's available! But your grandfather had good taste!

@ Elizabeth - yes the home was wonderfully comfortable - full of activity and with horses out in the field. Clare is a good cook - and we were well fed that night ... so pleased the food looks good enough to reach out your fork!

@ Annalisa - the cheeses were good. We had had some cider on the way round ... just didn't get to a cider farm - but Jenny's requirements came first and we weren't really site seeing. I will ring Jenny soon: promise!

@ Chrys - wasn't Aunt Maud stunning and the rest of the family are striking too. The food wasn't too heavy, but certain was an excellent feast - and the cheeses - delicious!

@ Danielle - good to see you ... and yes I just bought some blue cheese for this weekend.

@ Joanne - I have packed the stories in - so I'm glad you're enjoying the 'full works'. Delighted you've been happy reading as I've travelled.

Thanks too for the kind words re my writing - I appreciate that.

@ ACIL - I seem to be getting the cheese lovers commenting on this post - so glad you enjoy the mix of cheeses ...

Cheers and thanks for your comments - and appreciation of the post as a whole - Hilary

Nilanjana Bose said...

I have really enjoyed this trip of yours...learnt so much about the west country, so enriching...I am surprised to hear that it was as short as you say...both in terms of miles and time...your posts made me feel it was much more....altogether lovely! Thanks for sharing.

Best always,

Jo said...

I have never heard of a thunder and lightening tea. What is it, Tate and Lyle I recognised of course.

What a wonderful tour this was. I don't think I would have had the zider either because I am not keen on it in any form. Is it a scrumpy?

Not been visiting a lot of blogs lately. Think I may have missed some of yours. Sorry. But you know the problems.

Patsy said...

Oooh, love the idea of 'thunder and lightening'. I must try that. And some cheese. All right, you've twisted my arm - I'll have a cider too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nila - yes it was short .. I added the history in as I went round ... which I knew would interest readers, as well as me! It was very short - which surprises me when I think about it. So pleased the posts were enriching.

@ Jo - I've mentioned thunder and lightening before - it's scones with Cornish cream and golden syrup, rather than jam - delicious .. but a child thing rather than an adult desire - though I still have it on occasion.

You can have either cider, or scumpy .. but driving - can't have any.

No worries re not visiting .. and I do know what hassles you're having.

@ Patsy - yes it is very good - when you get down to Somerset or Devon or Cornwall .. give it a try ... so gungy!

The cheeses were delicious ... even better with a glass of cider and not needing to drive!

Cheers to the three of you .. so good to see you - Hilary

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. It's 11.40am and I find myself strongly desiring strong cider and cheese. Help! I know we have some vieux mimolette in the fridge; that will have to do with a nice Belgian beer; elevenses!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Jo said...

Obviously I don't remember your previous reference to thunder and lightening. Matt had never heard of it either and he spent a lot of time in the west country. Is it a more modern name? I don't remember ever hearing of using golden syrup instead of jam either.

Not recommended driving after scrumpy definitely, as I remember, it could knock you for six. I've never actually tried it although have, of course, tried cider. Not in Somerset though.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Beautiful photos - so quintessentially English! (loved the horse clothes drying on the Aga!) England really is a gorgeous country!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - I'm delighted to read I triggered your elevenses selection - hope you enjoyed the cheese and the beer?!

@ Jo - I've no idea ... just a name we grew up with ... and I see others call it that ... here's a link - though they mention toast - definitely I'd rather have a scone or a split (soft Cornish roll) .. and Wiki mentions it too.

Definitely no driving after Scrumpy - it's delicious .. though I rarely have it.

@ Judy - thanks so much ... so good to see you and thank you for coming by with such a wonderful comment: you picked the Englishness up!

Cheers .. and I've obviously tickled your English tastebuds ... enjoy your weekends - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jo - forgot the link!:

A Heron's View said...

Delightful photos as ever Hilary, it was a wonderful journey.
Your mention of Zummerzet Zider gave me a thirst, which I quenched with water, not quite the same !
I used to help a friend make cider when I lived in Glastonbury. It was very labour intensive and started with picking the apples and right through the whole process. The first batch was Brambley's made in October and drank at Christmas/

D.G. Hudson said...

An entertaining and informative post, Hilary, the kind I read without even noticing its length. It was fun to read. Some of my southern relatives also thought Canada - any part of it - was cold and that we lived in igloos. But that's only true in the far far north. Enjoyed the verbal and visual tour!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mel - sometimes water is just excellent .. I drink lots of it and always tap water. Zummerzet Zider is delicious though and I certainly had some Zider on the way round during our journey.

I imagine it's labour intensive - but so satisfying for the farmer, family and friends helping out. Sounds like a good Christmas was had by one and all?!

@ DG - so lovely to see you ... thanks so much .. I know I do write long posts - the next one is even longer ... but I'm glad you enjoyed the homely talk. It's funny the preconceptions we get about where others live ...

I'm not sure I thought about living conditions in Canada - but I'm sure I too thought about igloos ... we built one in the really cold winter of 1962/3.

Thanks so much for adding to the commentary re apples and Zider and also the igloos .. cheers Hilary

Gattina said...

These were wonderful holidays you spent together ! So many beautiful things you saw and then meeting with family and friends ! I love cheese, I would have taken all kind of cheeses too ! In each country I travel to, I try to eat the local cheese !

Elsie Amata said...

I'm not sure which I enjoyed more - the food, the beautiful scenery, or reading about the time you enjoyed with family and friends. It all sounded like so much fun.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - we had a fun trip .. it was a treat to spend time with Jenny. Then as you say the two meet ups - were extra special evenings. Cheese is good isn't it! We have some very good cheeses in the UK.

@ Elsie - thank so much ... I rattle and roll with my posts - so all sorts usually prevail. We laughed a lot ..

Cheers to you both ... all the best - Hilary

Lynn said...

Aunt Maud was so beautiful in that framed piece - I'll bet she was even more beautiful as she aged.

You describe things so beautifully - I felt as if I was with you on this trip. Love the food descriptions and laughed at the stinky cheese (which was likely delicious!)

I'll bet you missed Jenny after she went off on that train.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn - Aunt Maud must have been very attractive and she may well have become more beautiful - I only remember seeing her twice or three times - when she was much older.

So delighted to read you felt you were travelling with me .. and yes that stinky cheese was delicious ...

I do miss Jenny - and would love her not to live on the other side of the world! But extended family - that's what happens.

Cheers and thanks so much for the comment - Hilary

DMS said...

The schoolroom looks so cozy! I love cheese and it looks like you had all kinds of tasty cheese during your travels. Love that you got to visit with so many people you care about. :) Fantastic pictures!

Linda said...

What a culinary-rich trip. Such a treat to sample all those cheeses (except maybe the really stinky ones), the salmon and ciders. I'm sure I've never had a cider such as these. I see that at least some have made it to the U.S. Hopefully I'll come across some.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - the family and the house were fun .. full of life and the joys of living. I was lucky to be along with Jenny on this trip to meet this arm of the extended family - but love it .. always good to meet up with everyone.

@ Linda - it was bliss being in a home and having wonderful typically English food without having too much! I love stinky cheeses ... and we did have some cider on the way round - I'm sure you'll find some true West Country cider around in the States ..

Cheers to you both - so glad you enjoyed the visit to the school house and then supper a la our hostess ... Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

Nice little tie-up here. Isn't the ending of a trip kind of sad in a way? Especially when our travelling companion has to go their own way?
Haha - I knew that smell was going to be the cheese!
I'm from Wisconsin and we generally have a nice selection of cheeses, but I don't think anything compared to English cheeses. I would love to try something new.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jeffrey - many thanks .. yes I was sad to see Jenny leave and know she'd end up back in Vancouver Island before I could see her again.

Yes - the cheese was healthy ... but it was a delicious finish to another evening with the friend I stayed with on my real last night in Somerset.

Our cheeses are good ... I wrote about them for my A-Z Cookery in 2013, and then I see I wrote about the Cycling Tour de France and cheeses encountered as they cycled round - July 2014 .. but lots to choose from ...perhaps one day you can get over to try some ...

Thanks for the comment and coming over - Hilary