This is our holiday cottage: it's a part of a complex of building initially built in the 15th Century, called "West End Farm" - though there is apparently no evidence of it ever having been a farm!
|West End Farm, Pembridge|
"Ours" is the bit immediately to the left of the archway. Despite the old-fashioned appearance, the property is actually very comfortable (though it is also right next to a busy 'A' road). We had planned to have a very "Foodie" holiday, making best use of the local produce, but we have been a bit limited by the cooking facilities in the property, which are very basic. Nonetheless, we have enjoyed things like the famous Herefordshire beef, and the local sausages made with pork from outdoor-reared Gloucester Old Spot pigs, and cheese from a tiny artisan cheese-factory which we visited in Monkland (about 5 miles away).
|Cheeses maturing in the Monkland cheese-factory|
Pembridge is a very picturesque village in the heart of the "Black and White" area. Lots of the houses look like this:
|"Black and White" house in Pembridge|
I have to say that the sky was not that blue much of the time during our week away. The weather was very "changeable", and not like August should be!
During our stay in Pembridge we made lots of short outings to visit local attractions and places of interest, for instance the charming village of Eardisland, where the village shop is located in an old dove-cote:
|Village shop at Eardisland|
Being members of the National Trust (non-UK readers: this is a charity organisation that preserves heritage buildings and areas of natural beauty) we took the opportunity to visit one of their properties that was nearby - Berrington Hall. This imposing but rather stark edifice was built in the 18th Century using the local red sandstone rock, which has darkened as it has aged.
|Berrington Hall, main entrance|
This country mansion was originally built for a wealthy banker, Robert Harley (after whom Harley Street in London is named). Since Harley had no male heirs the property subsequently passed, through marriage, to the Rodney family (as in Admiral Lord Rodney, victor of the battle of The Saints in 1782). I was most interested in the gardens of this property rather than the house itself, and I will do a post about them some time soon.
|Kitchen garden at Berrington Hall|
On another day we visited the Water Gardens, just a couple of miles from Pembridge. As the name suggests, this delightfully informal garden is one in which water features very prominently - perhaps modelling itself to a small extent on Monet's garden at Giverny?
|Water Gardens, Lyonshall, near Pembridge|
|The "Monet" bridge|
Continuing our horticultural tour of Herefordshire, we also visited Hergest Croft, near Kington. This is not a stately home but nevertheless a very substantial house built in a wonderfully secluded spot, evidently ideal for gardening. Highspots for me were the greenhouse (at left in picture below) housing some fabulous Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, etc, and the amazingly huge walled kitchen garden. Again, a more detailed report will follow at some stage.
|Fuchsia at Hergest Croft|
Another venue I have long wanted to visit was Stokesay Castle. Actually it is more of a fortified manor house than a castle. The earliest part of it dates back to the 13th Century. Currently in the care of English Heritage, the property is in an amazingly good state of repair, considering its age. They made houses to last in those days, you know!
|Wood carving at Stokesay Castle|
This post has already developed into a longer one than I had planned, and it has strayed from my usual topics, so I'm going to stop now, but I plan to write more about (and show more photos of) some of the things we saw (and ate) and lovely gardens we visited, on a later occasion.
Back home today! :-)