Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Maggie on Tour 2011: Day 2, Tuesday 9th August

I surprised myself by getting up and showered early which meant we could get an early start for Ironbridge. We drove through the town looking for a long stay carpark not realising we had passed it on the way in..d'oh! The car park was at the entrance Dale End Park which was notable for the fact that it cunningly conceals a bloody great power station. Take note, town planners in the rest of the UK. A few trees can go a long way to covering up an eyesore. Ironbridge has a pleasant riverside of shops and cafes and as we walked, the sun decided to put in an appearance. It was still early and so there weren't that many people about, which suited us down to the ground. Feeling rather peckish, I got a pie from Eley's world famous pie shop...so many world famous pie shops, how come I've never heard of any of them? The pie was rather good, but an extra mouthful or two wouldn't have gone amiss for £2.30. What swung the deal for us with this shop was the name - we pondered if there was a family connection. We had a little walk around, had an ice cream and decided we'd pretty well seen all we wanted to since we were not in a museum mood.

The day was still young and hours to fill. This is the situation where the National Trust membership really comes in handy. A browse through the handbook and you can usually find somewhere close enough to visit for free. And so to Dudmaston, ancestral home to...someone or other! Every NT house has something about it, it's own particular character. We entered the property via the orchard which was in full fruit. There were picnic tables and a cafe and we made a mental note to have tea and cake there later. We had full sun now but given the unpredictable nature of the weather, we opted to sample the delights of the gardens before going into the house. And what a garden! At the rear of the house was a truly splendid and well manicured garden, with pathways beyond into woodland. The lawn was gently terraced, leading down to a magnificent lake. In this truly tranquil setting, I managed to persuade himself to have a lie down on the grass while I did my bus snooze in the sun, bolt upright with nodding dog tendencies. Then, refreshed by the idyllic setting, we decided a walk was in order. We followed the signs to the Dingle (not in Liverpool!), a little woodland walk and then on to the 'Big Pool' walk around the lake taking a full 45 minutes. At one point we chanced upon the biggest number of geese I have ever seen in one place! A bit scary, in fact, but we escaped unscathed.

Once we got into the house which has a number of works of art of note. The last owner, Lady Labouchere, inherited the place from an uncle who wished it to go into the hands of the National Trust. She herself was a trained botanical artist and had a collection of botanical art. Her husband was an Ambassador to Belgium and to Spain. He had a fairly impressive collection of modern art. There is also a connection to Charles Babbage somewhere! By now, tea in the orchard was calling. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Dudmaston.

Dinner that evening was at the George and the Dragon in Much Wenlock.

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