February 2005 – Portishead, Curry Rivel, Kingston Episcopi, Montacute
The weekend was excellent, relaxing and interesting too. I picked Lynne up from the station after work and we set off for her parents’ place in Portishead (down near Bristol). Despite horrible traffic bulletins, and the fact that it’s always busy on a Friday night heading that way, we had a very smooth run through, sticking to the back roads and got there by 7.30, just too late to join Tony in the pub, but in good time for dinner (Tony’s a great cook – you wouldn’t want to miss a meal).
Saturday dawned horribly foggy down there on the Bristol Channel, but we headed out for the day, and as soon as we got a couple of miles away the weather cleared, and remained beautifully warm and sunny all day. Tony volunteered to drive and I was more than happy to let him; it meant I was navigator, so I steered us across the Somerset levels, avoiding Glastonbury (which is the best thing to do with the place on a Saturday), but getting some lovely glimpses of the Tor in the distance.
We had lunch at Brown and Forrest, splendid stuff as not only do they have a nifty line in smoked salmon, smoked eel (my favourite) and various smoked meats, but they also do the most wonderful puddings (syrup bread and butter pudding with pouring cream and clotted cream – you only have to look at it to pile on the pounds).
After a very satisfying lunch, and a little light food shopping we headed out towards Yeovil, narrowly avoiding the Cider Brandy Distillery, and its splendidly eccentric proprietor Julian Temperley (I didn’t want to go there because it’s still four days to payday, and the 10-year old cider brandy is £30.00 a bottle, and very close to irresistible).
Our goal was Montacute House, a beautiful Elizabethan building just outside Yeovil. It belongs to the National Trust, and I’d been meaning to rejoin – I used to belong till about 10 years ago. Strangely, when I was out of the country it wasn’t that easy to visit any of their properties so I let the membership lapse. The house is beautiful, as are the gardens, and my only disappointment was that photography was not allowed inside the house.
I did take a lot of pictures of the outside, but would have loved to get one of the inside of the long gallery, all 172 feet of it. Apparently it’s the longest remaining such room in the UK, the others having been converted to separate rooms, or demolished long since. Anyway, we had a leisurely stroll around, then drive back in time for another example of Tony’s splendid cooking (his grandfather was a chef on P&O’s liners way back, so I guess it’s genetic).
Sunday we did very little apart from lunch, and once you’ve worked your way through Sunday lunch at Meg and Tony’s you don’t want to do very much. I fell asleep in the sun in the garden for an hour or so. Then we loaded up the carver chairs Meg wanted rid of – part of Lynne’s inheritance she reckoned – and came home.