Cleeve Abbey & Dunster

I’m still without wifi on the iPad as the site internet is down. I’m at a different site from tomorrow evening so I’m hoping I can get connected then.

Today started off wet, then dried a little before, yes you’ve guessed it, got wet again.

The rain when it comes isn’t heavy, its more drizzle then anything. My first night under canvas was okay, my pitch has a slight slope, so when I got into my sleeping bag I slid down the tent!

Once I got comfortable I was fine, I woke up to a rain shower and the unmistakable sound (whinny?) of a horse.

When I spoke to the site staff yesterday, they mentioned that there was a vantage spot not too far from the camp. So before heading out of Minehead I went and had a look.

I’d not been driving for a minute when a wild horse ran across the road. I stopped at the car park for the vantage point and there on the moor where 5 wild horses or ponies; ponies are smaller right?

If I had wifi right now, you’d be seeing a few photos of the view and horses.

Cleeve Abbey was my first destination, I only went because filming for parts of the early 1990’s children’s TV programme ‘Maid Marian and her Merry Men’, were filmed there and I used to watch it. But I couldn’t work out which bits were filmed there, and I forgot to ask as I was distracted by the sales pitch of the National Trust (NT) volunteer. I went to two NT properties today and was given the same spiel about joining at both.

Anyway I have the TV series on DVD so I shall check on my return home.

Again there would be pictures; the buildings, dorms, meeting rooms etc. I spent about an hour wandering around the site, its well preserved considering some of it dates from the 1300s, what isn’t there is the church the Monks used, it was one of the first to be demolished by Henry VIII, and not for religious or political reasons but because it wasn’t bringing in any cash.

Next up was Dunster and the castle. No real reason for visiting, its just close to Minehead.

I didn’t know much about the place before going in, I’d assumed it was a ‘castle’ and had castle-y stuff inside. I was wrong.

Yes it is a castle, there has been a fortification on the hill for 1,000 years, but the present building is much more stately home in style and appearance.

There are extensive gardens on the slopes that would have once repelled invaders. As I went into the castle, an NT volunteer was making the last calls for a tour of the original kitchens, something that isn’t on the house tour. So I took my place and off we went.

At this point I’d not been into the castle proper yet, so when the guide started explaining the house, the staff and where we were, it all went a bit ‘Downton Abbey’. Something the guide alluded to, with the maids, cook, house keeper, butler etc. in this house/castle and probably others of its ilk, they have different coloured doors below stairs.

Green was for the top servants (Butler, Housekeeper, Cook & Governess, Ladys maid, etc)

Red for the rest, and these people were not allowed through the green doors at all!

The guide was a little scathing towards ‘Downton’ and its lack of realism where the kitchen was concerned. Something I learned today was that the Cook had her own staff and they didn’t mingle, where the kitchen started the door was kept shut, and no one but cook and her staff went into the kitchen.

It seems they were particular about hygiene, more than I thought.

From what I understood the house was occupied up until the mid 1970’s, and the lady of the house, Alys Luttrell, ruled over her domain. We were told one story as we went into the kitchen, a very victorian kitchen, 3 fireplaces, massive work surfaces etc, the story goes that in the 1950’s the sons of Alys decided whilst she was on holiday, that the old kitchen had had its day, so they converted a room above into a state of the art kitchen, on her return she was horrified, told her sons not to meddle with her castle and that it would never be used, and it wasn’t. Its on the tour and its like new, just 60 years old.

Its well worth a visit to the castle, theres lots to see and if you can get on a tour, I read that there is also one of the attic, then all the better.

Once I’d finished at the castle it was onto the village. When you visit the castle, you park (£2.50 all day) and can walk straight into the village from the castle.

The main drag is a short walk from the castle, and despite its size, appeared to be the main road through the village. Its that narrow, it has traffic lights to ease congestion.

This main street has lots of little shops and cafes, it was nice enough in the drizzle, I would imagine that its really nice ambling about in the glorious sunshine (which ever day that falls on this year).

I bought myself some chocolate, but resisted the urge to buy fudge, and there was one shop where that was all the sold, and in so many flavours!

I went back to Minehead and had a go on the Crazy Golf, it was a bit slippy and soggy but fun all the same, even on my own.

I’m still not too impressed with Minehead, if you’re at Butlins, like walking or are just here to get drunk, I’m sure it’s great but I’ve not really enjoyed the town itself.

Tomorrow I move on to Lynton & Lynmouth but before I do, I’m buying a garden chair from Argos, I forgot mine and when it stops raining it would be nice to sit outside. This evening I sat in the car to eat my tea!

Thats a bit wordy without pictures. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the iPad into the internet tomorrow evening, so I can upload some pics.

Camping tip: Shoes make excellent cup holders!

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