Sunday, 6 October 2013

Catching Up With Wimborne

Today I saw that the tree outside my window is starting to go yellow, and I am way behind. I meant to blog  about staying with our inlaws in Dorset. It was one of our best trips for ages, the weather was great and it was such a restful and carefree time - so it really deserves a post. 

Our inlaws live in Wimborne, a small country town which feels dominated by its large and imposing minster church, as you see.   Click here if you'd like to read more about Wimborne Minster.

Wimborne's a good place to shop, a good mix of locals and independents, including a bookshop and a record shop - the latter a real rarity these days. I specially liked the greengrocer in the square, too.

Our inlaws have a season ticket to Wimborne's Priest's House museum, one of the oldest buildings in town, so of course they took us there.   At one stage in its varied career, part of the Priest's House became a  "Miss Havisham" style Victorian stationers which was boarded up complete with all its stock in 1872 and only rediscovered decades later. There's a display in one of the rooms showing part of the stationer's as it was when open - except that all the shutters were closed and the room was lit only by lamplight.  Spooky!

Other rooms in the rambling old house show it in other periods. I fell in love with these painted cloth walls of the 17th century room. A cheaper alternative to tapestries, they were insulation for chilly rooms. If I ever have time, I'd like to do something like this myself. It's better than wallpaper because you can unroll the fabric and put it away for a while when you are tired of it.

Outside, there's a long, well stocked garden,  tended by local volunteers, with lawns, fruit trees, shrubs, flowers and plants, all centred on a first class tea room.

As I mentioned in this recent  post, we visited the National Trust's Kingston Lacy House, and on another day we packed a picnic and headed for the Blue Pool, near Wareham.

Decades ago, it was a clay pit, and its bright turquoise waters seem un-English somehow.  The once-industrial area has now reverted to nature and has been unobtrusively laid out with woodland paths, benches, etc. as well as plenty of places to scramble over hills and down dales.  Just the place for kids, of course.  We liked the cafe, designed in appealingly retro fifties style with turquoise touches to match the water, and enjoyed the little museum. There was also a large display of teddy bears, known as the Wareham Bears. Bears are not my cup of tea to be honest, but it was ingenious and the bear-loving visitors were entranced.

We spent most of the day at Blue Pool idling about, sitting around, talking and looking at the wildlife. At one point, we were joined for about half an hour by this robin which clearly had nothing else to do either...

We were also lucky enough to see a decorative dragonfly laying her eggs on a tree stump

Back in Wimborne, there was a small drama, with a chip pan fire not far from our inlaws' house.  Nobody was hurt, and normally I wouldn't have taken much notice, but one of their sons  happens to be a fireman, so we were able to see him and his colleagues at work.   I am only posting the picture because the affected place was insured and all was well - but it was impressive to see how well organised the firemen were, even for a small incident like this.

By the way, several of them told us they'd never have chip pans in their own homes!

We had a meal at the Anchor at Shapwick, a pub which seemed very popular and was quite hard to get in, even midweek.  Prices weren't high, and the food was good, so I recommend it if you are ever in the Wimborne area.

I also discovered rose lemonade. It is weird stuff, tasting of a mixture of lemons and roses - but it's perfect on a hot day.

This week I had a 2 hour interview about Lewis Carroll with CBC Toronto,  As I was a  journalist for many years, I still can't get over the slightly weird feeling of being on the other side of the mike, but the CBC interviewer, Cindy Bisaillon, was such a professional that it all seemed easy and fun.  There is talk of another translation of "The Mystery of Lewis Carroll" happening, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed about that. 

At home, we had a house guest who is nuts about folk music and he introduced us to a whole new world which I will try to blog about soon.  We did some boat work, and since it was a real indian summer day today, it was a total pleasure to do it, even though some of it did involve emptying out bucketloads of bilge water and feeling like the Sorcerer's Apprentice.  

But the sun was shining down, swans were floating by and there were nice little boats all around, so who could really complain?


  1. What a pretty street. All the facades look so fresh. I love the word "greengrocer" which rolls off your tongue, but is not common here. When I was a child and went shopping with my grandma, there were many such stores along West 25th street, the fruit and vegetables displayed outside, under an awning.

  2. I've never heard of Wimborne (my ignorance concerning small English towns is profound) but it sounds exactly like the kind of quaint place I'd like to live. Bookstores and record shops are indeed very rare nowadays. I used to haunt them when I was young (I mean YOUNGER.....I'm not quite ancient....).
    Never heard of rose lemonade, either, but I'd like to try it (I doubt if it would be popular here in the wilds of Texas).

    Using painted cloth to insulate walls isn't a bad idea.....most of the Texas houses have poor insulation and get extremely cold in the winter......
    What a beautiful robin!

    I'm so glad to hear that the BBC project is chugging along!

  3. Such a sweet and cheerful post. Even the chip pan (what is a chip pan?) fire seemed to turn out okay.

  4. What a lovely place to visit...chip pan fires notwithstanding.
    Did your folk song enthusiast tell you about the English folk Dance and Song Society's 'Full English' project to digitalise their holdings?
    Fingers crossed for your project with the BBC.

  5. I had to look up chip pan to see what it was. Nope, I don't have one of those either. Instead I use a deep fryer that has a fill line for the oil so that you can't boil the oil over. Plus, if it gets too hot, it shuts off.
    I like the street view too. The church does loom over the town!

  6. We visited Wimbourne once, maybe about 20 yrs ago. I remember visiting the Priest's House Museum and chatting to the then curator, and being totally shocked when she was murdered not long after. It seemed such a random, out of place thing to happen in a small town like Wimbourne and so so sad.

  7. Hah - I had to google "chip pan" as well. See, I learn things on your blog every single time!

    I love those late summer days when the harvest is ready and the temperatures are starting to cool down a bit. I think Indian summer is a great time for a vacation.

    And what a cute picture of a fat little robin!

  8. It sounds like you've been so busy, it's hard to describe what's going on before the next exciting episode unfolds!

  9. I had rose water in Turkey but rose lemonade sounds much better.

  10. What a rich post! Makes me long to visit

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    =^..^= <3

  11. I remember making homemade "chips" (french fries, as we call them) with my mother when I was very young. We would use the same grease over and over. It always seemed dangerous. I haven't made them, myself, in over twenty years, I think.

    The produce looks wonderful, especially the watermelon. So red and juicy-looking! I love a good watermelon.

    Nothing of great interest to say about Miss Favisham, except MY WIFE just recently read one of the books was in love with it. She's quite the Anglophile and adores stuff such as that. Odd that you mention it so soon after my just having found out about it at all.

  12. looks like a good time for the most part. I loved the robin photo most of all! good that the fire wasn't serious. I think I DO know what a chip pan is, is this not a deep pan for oil or fat, in lieu of a deep fryer for making French fries?

    Got to ask, are you a Corrie St. fan? I was for many, many years...but recently gave up on it. The story lines were just getting too far fetched imo.

    Happy Week to you Jenny!

  13. What a lovely place Wimborn looks! And with such perfect weather and great company, no wonder you enjoyed yourself so much.
    Rose lemonade sounds exactly like my "cup of tea" (or, glass of lemonade). They serve rose sparkling wine here at the rose festival each year in June at the palace grounds, and my Mum and I both love it.

  14. Old church, robin, fruit, lovely countryside, all in one post. This is one satisfied reader. :)

    PS: Already looking forward to some autumn photos from England.

  15. The Church does dominate the street view but what a beautiful street. Lucky in-laws to live in such a beautiful place,
    Love the cheeky Robin.
    Congratulations on your interview.

    cheers, parsnip

  16. Thank you, Jenny. That brought back some memories. I used to visit Wimborne quite a few decades ago, and it doesn't seem to have changed at all. Theres such lovely country all around, especially that magical Blue Pool.

  17. I can feel the sunshine in Wimborne and your world fascinates me, though your style of introducing us it is not too professional. I also can hear your lively conversation at the market and Blue Pool (interesting name).

  18. Great to read the comments, as usual. I never realised that "chip pan" was such an unfamiliar expression to so many people. Though, thinking about it, I know that Americans do call them French Fries. (and yes, it is a deep fat fryer). I would never have one, it makes me think of having an open tub of gasoline in the kitchen or something but I know that the modern ones are safe. This lady had apparently gone out of the kitchen and was not supervising hers. *holds head*

    Murders out of the blue are the most unexpected, Maryom. I hadn't heard of the curator (it might have been before my inlaws' time) but I remember how devastated I was when the woman who had just made loose covers for our sofa was murdered. She had been telling me all about her son and then he murdered her, turns out the thing she did not say is that he suffered from mental health problems and had been sectioned.
    Helen, yes, we live near Cecil Sharp House and gave our house guest a lift there every day. He told us all about the digitalisation and I will explore that when I get the chance. I hope I get the chance to blog about it all. It was a bit odd but I feel deserves further investigation from me!.
    Joanne, greengrocers are a bit of an anachronism these days although many do continue and do well in rural communities. Actually one has just opened in our area, but I don't know quite how they manage the rents which are almost central London level here and not sufficient to be covered by the profit on bananas and carrots, etc.

  19. So many interesting things, Jenny: the painted wall-coverings, so pretty and I love the idea of taking them down for a break. The turquoise pool is gorgeous, and I love a pretty robin. It is a very attractive town, despite the chip fire. I had a chip pan when my children were growing up, and thankfully it never caught fire. More good luck than good management I suspect. Haven't made chips for about 25 years now! Great post..

  20. I loved this post because it's about places in my youth and of course Dorset is the county I have written about recently, so I've been remembering it with much nostalgia and affection through these descriptions and photos. Lovely Wimborne! Sorry about the chip pan incident, though. They are such dangerous things aren't they? I didn't realise you had a boat. How lovely! It looks as if it is in a delightful spot too!

  21. So glad you had such a good time - that Blue Pool is amazing, and, as you say, very un-English. Is it minerals in the clay that gives it that colour? Does it go grey when the clouds come over (like some of the blue lakes in New Zealand do?).

    Ah Cecil Sharp House - I spent the millennium there, with my daughters, as they had a 24 hour ceiligh - we danced for 13 hours (couldn't walk for a week!)

  22. I did visit Wimborne a while back, the museum, the Minster and bought a book in the bookshop! How nice to see it still exists! Glad you had such a good time there, chip pan fire and all. Years ago our neighbours twice twice destroyed their kitchen with a combination of electric cooker and chip pan.
    Glad you Lewis Carroll stuff still brings them in!

  23. Wimborne looks lovely
    I'm fascinated by the too cuteness of the English robin (compared to the American robin).

  24. We're not far from Wimborne but it's ages since I've been for a visit. Your piece has inspired me to do so! Jane xx

  25. Sounds like a great visit. I enjoyed everything but was most taken by the wall cloths. I have tried making a couple of "floor cloths" and wonder if the process is similar. How much fun it would be to do a cloth for the wall. A pretty large project though.


  26. Erm, I need your address to send your blog giveaway prize. Can you mail me via my blog, please? AJ

  27. Memories of wanders on my bike in my teens when I lived in Southampton....Thankyou!

  28. Hello Jenny, sounds like you are having way too much fun, photographing firemen, and drinking rose lemonade! I am in love with the painted fabric walls...divine! I am amazed by your photograph of the dragonfly, such detail. Wimborne and surrounding area looks delightful, and I am so pleased that you are eating well. Much love to you, Linda x

  29. There is so much to love in this post, I wish you were sitting right beside me so I could ask you questions about this and that! Those painted cloth walls -- those are stunning. Oh, I would love to see that place -- especially the creepy stationer's room.The town looks just charming -- I love how each town has its churches and they do take over, don't they.

    The robin you show looks different from the ones we see here -- smaller, more squat. And a chip pan? I'm thinking it is like a deep fryer here... just a guess. And congratulations on the new agent -- Oh, I hope everything goes so smoothly! I was glad to hear BBC is still a possibility. Now, your CBC interview -- Radio or TV? Is there going to be a link? I would love to listen to it.

    And the folk music. I'm eager to hear the kind to which you were exposed. We have one of the larger folk festivals in the U.S. here each year but the music is not your typical Peter/Paul and Mary. More Celtic and Quebecois and Cajun and African...I'd be curious to hear about your discoveries and will eagerly await that post.

    And on another note, thank you SO much for your recent comments on Marmelade Gypsy. I am settling in rather well as far as retirement goes. I am very lucky to have such guides! Happy day!

  30. What lovely comments and they are just a pleasure to read. I never realised "chip pan" was baffling to non English readers. Yes- it's a deep fryer!
    Wimborne's "official" name is actually "Wimborne Minster" which reflects the importance of its huge church.
    American robins are bigger and different from ours. Expect the settlers called it "robin" because of its colouring... Doubt if many settlers were skilled ornithologists :)
    That may also be the case with the jay - does anyone know?

  31. It's on my list for next time I stay in the area. I hope that is during this incarnation!

  32. A lovely town and so many sights of interest. You caught it with your beautiful photos.
    Thank you for stopping at my blog and leaving a warm comment.

  33. What an interesting, lovely place. I think I would fall in love with the 17th century room, too.

  34. I love the wall that is painted!! So many old buildings and history!! You must laugh at America when we talk so buildings being old when they are just the turn of the century!!
    I'm from St. Augustine, Fla. so at least we can toot our horn about being the oldest perm settlement in the USA!!
    Lovely town!! One day I will come to England!

  35. I like the seemingly laid-back lifestyle of Winborne. Variety of fruits at green grocrer's looks tempting!
    It was good for a break you spent at Blue Pool idling and relaxing enough to join a lovely chubby robin or a dragonfly at the moment of laying eggs.
    Oh, you are such a public figure! I wish things will turn out as you wished at work!
    Your association with Sorcerer's Aoorentice is funny. I enjoyed the video clip.

  36. Another wonderful post; a very interesting post, Jenny. I wouldn't mind spending a day or three beside that lake!

    I love your photos...particularly of the buildings and towns...they are so vastly different to ours here in the Land of Oz.

  37. Jenny, it's seemed you had nice day walking and taking photos. I love this streets, houses and painted cloth is stunning!
    The robin that was looking at you is similar as one that was sitting on a log looking at me working in my greenhouse last week!

  38. I know Wimborne, and nearly went to live there when I thought about a teaching post there. Next time I'm over in UK I'll try and visit it again and look out for the pink lemonade!

  39. Wonderful photos Jenny, thoroughly enjoyed looking at each one, thank you!

    The building you asked about was in the Painted Desert, New Mexico.

  40. So enriching post Jenny, a nice place to visit and observe various things.You spent such a lovely day there, it seems really regenerating...What could I give for a pic nic on the lake,it sounds so idyllic!

  41. I read this on my lunch break today and I feel totally relaxed and refreshed. What a lovely post--and great comments, too. The town looks like it would be great fun to visit.

  42. Jenny, I love the UK. When I see photos like these and read experiences like the ones you posted, I immediately talk to my wife about our next trip abroad. I cannot wait!

  43. I like the idea of painted cloth walls as insulation. Never heard of that before. Perhaps an idea to adopt in these energy-conserving times? And interesting to hear how many firemen wouldn't have chip pans in their own home, having seen the possible consequences!

  44. Isn't Fentiman's great? I just love their products but haven't tried the Rose Lemonade yet.

    You know, I've been meaning to go to Dorset for the longest time but your beautiful post has just about convinced me now. I think I'd love Wimborne. I wonder if I can convince my father to go there on our annual British summer vacation.

  45. Hi, Jenny,
    I am visiting this post. It is interesting to see many different cultures.
    I hope you will enjoy Nara with us!


Blog Archive