Monday, June 30, 2014

Alliteration

 
That's a not so secret vice of writers, and rightfully scorned - but sometimes it's hard to resist. Like today, driving on a gift of a brilliantly sunny morning on a circuit around the Forest of Bowland (a forest does not always mean lots of trees, you may be surprised to learn), which included, besides the sunshine, shaggy sheep, cycles, sports cars, stone walls, streams, shadows and a service. ("Ooh look! There must be an event on at that church, with all those cars outside," we said, and then remembered it was Sunday).

It was a weather-related decision, to retrace our path, having had grey skies previously, and it was a good one. The fancy photographers can keep their moody photos: I like sun to bring out the colours, and today the green of the new bracken was vibrant, and the clouds were bright white in a blue sky. Simple things, but it made all the difference.
Hay-making is almost over, but the one last field being turned made a refreshing change, odour-wise, from the slurry that's also being busily spread this time of year. That was in Quiet Lane, from Slaidburn to Higher Bentham, over the fells past farms and foxgloves, where there were also riders of both horses and motorbikes - the latter, like the convertibles, all powered by middle-aged men recreating a dream from their youth (and thoroughly enjoying it, judging by the bluff Yorkshireman with white beard and leathers I chatted to at a cattle stop).

At Devil's Bridge, at Kirkby Lonsdale, the scene was so English it was almost ridiculous: flat-capped men with small dogs on leads watched cricket on the green, people picnicked by the river, where small boys dipped shrimp nets, bigger boys dared each other to jump from the rocks into the undoubtedly chilly river, and on the 13th century stone bridge above it, people bought mugs of tea from a caravan, and licked icecream cones.

It was a lovely way to finish my tour of northern England and southern Scotland. There's just one day to go now before the long trip home, back to winter, and self-cooked meals, and turning all these sights and experiences into saleable stories. Super!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A castle, some coffee and a cream tea

Castles are a hazard of travel in the UK. It's not so much the arrow slits and murder holes that are a danger to unwary visitors these days, more the sense of duty that compels the conscientious traveller (ie me) to trail round one after another, up and down uneven stone steps, in and out of gloomy dungeons and ornate halls, reading the story boards and trying to steer a path through this island's complicated history. It can be a bit of a mission, frankly, and after a while they all tend to merge.
But Lancaster Castle is different. It was a Class C prison until very recently, and it's still a court, so there are great stories to hear about escapes and cases (Birmingham Six, for example) and grand rooms to visit, to sit in the judge's chair or in the dock. We saw a holdfast and branding iron with M for malefactor, children's handcuffs, pikes and manacles. We stood in pitch darkness in a cell where remand prisoners spent months waiting for the judge to come to the town. And there was a NZ connection: Edward Gibbon Wakefield, founder of Christchurch, spent 2 years inside here. Fascinating stuff, helped by a great guide.
Then there was coffee to buy at Atkinson's nearby, the beans weighed out on old-fashioned scales with brass weights. And a Museum of Childhood to visit with the creepiest dolls this side of Stephen King.
Finally, Morecambe, with its tat and tacky, in both senses, lettered rock, dodgems and bingo, wide sand and distant sea, sedate strollers and sweating trial bikers; and the Art Deco Midland Hotel with a tinkling piano, views across the bay, and a tiered cake stand of dainty sandwiches, Victoria sponge and perfect scones, with jam, clotted cream and Earl Grey tea.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Expanding on - and at - the Parkers Arms

Eleven! Count them: eleven courses at lunch today, at the outwardly unexceptional but actually quite remarkable Parkers Arms inn at Newton in Bowland, Lancashire. They were all still fizzing with excitement there after the high praise of their review in last weekend's Observer, and understandably so. Such things can make or break a restaurant, and they are already reaping benefits.

Other diners were enjoying the triple-cooked chips (sigh), the salt marsh lamb and cockle pie, the steak and ale; but we had the special treat of a tasting menu of most of the day's dishes, all of them from local producers and all home-made. Super-smooth rich mushroom parfait, delicately-flavored potted ham, smoked trout caught just a half-mile away, black pudding sausage rolls, flaky and delicious - just some of what was brought to our table, beautifully presented and expertly cooked. Then pudding: a chocolate indulgence made from 70% Valrhona, a strawberry cup, gooseberry icecream - and then the famous Wet Nellie. Want to know what it is? You'll have to go there and discover it for yourself. Two hints to encourage you: it's not wet, and it tastes of Christmas.
And now we're in Lancaster, at another award-winning B&B, the Ashton, with chickens scratching in the strangely immaculate borders, books everywhere and home-made cake under a glass dome. What a shame we couldn't possibly eat another thing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Up the wooden hill to Lancashire

This is my bed for the night, thanks to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. It's in my room at the Inn at Whitewell, in the Forest of Bowland, which featured in their movie 'The Trip'. We were so taken by the scenery, the places they stayed and the food they ate, that we wanted to follow in their footsteps. So here we are, in this AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), full of delicious food, sitting in a very congenial room shamelessly eavesdropping on the unintentionally hilarious conversation at the next table, and looking forward to tucking ourselves up into our big four-poster bed and listening to the burbling of the little river running past outside the window.

There was lots of big scenery today, a contrast with yesterday's narrow lanes and looming hills in the Lake District. Now it's moors and open sky and sturdy stone towns like Clitheroe, with a history so long that their museum has locally-found rhino horns and hippo teeth from 120,000 years ago when the climate was warmer.

No mega-species any more: it's just sheep and cattle, rabbits and pheasants, lapwings and blackbirds. I'm looking forward to hearing most of those after I've climbed (literally - the mattress is waist-high) into bed tonight. Although it won't actually be night, since the sun won't set until 9.48pm and it'll be light for ages after that...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The downside of being a Kiwi abroad

TravelSkite's unremittingly positive coverage of this trip takes a short break today. Day 21 or thereabouts has brought a flagging of enthusiasm partly because of fatigue, partly the dull grey weather, partly a day spent in the car - but mainly our arrival in the Lake District.

Yes, I know, Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, Ruskin, all that. Lakes, looming hills, drystone walls, little stone villages and towns, sheep... All just lovely, even under a leaden sky. And that's the problem, of course: everyone wants to come here and see all this natural and man-made beauty for themselves. So they do. In their many, many thousands.

Even today, a grey June Wednesday, the roads, the towns and even the hills, were teeming -TEEMING - with people. It was a mission finding spaces in car parks, walking around market squares, passing other vehicles in claustrophobically narrow lanes hemmed in by stone walls and luxuriant borders of nettles and cow parsley, or taking photos without eager Baby Boomers in them (Coniston Water, above, a rare triumph in this respect). I'm not used to this sort of thing - we don't do teeming in New Zealand - and it spoiled my enjoyment. Possibly because I myself am spoiled. And counting myself fortunate to be so.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Devil? No, delight.

I've been focusing on the detail today. One nice thing about travel is that it makes you look with fresh eyes at your home surroundings when you get back, and also you look upwards a lot more, which mostly you don't, day to day. This morning was all about looking up, to study architecture and design, and though Glasgow can claim many stars, it's Charles Rennie Mackintosh who takes top billing.

First I went to the reconstruction of his and wife Margaret Macdonald's home at the Hunterian Art Gallery, which is just delightful: light and delicate and super-elegant. Also totally impractical - white carpets, very low and straight (and supremely uncomfortable) chairs, and limited storage. But beautiful!

Then I did a Glasgow Style walking tour from the sadly recently-scorched School of Art (designed by RM) conducted by two architecture students, looking at some of the city's many glorious buildings. Unlike everyone else scuttling round the streets, we were looking up, at scrolls and balustrades and caryatids, noting themes and picking out the repetitions. It was illuminating.

The Riverside Museum is also full of marvellous and superbly well-presented detail - of which, more another time. Finally, at Cail Bruich, there was great finesse with tiny detail on the 5-course tasting menu which climaxed in the dessert. We had a long wait for it, thanks to a collapse in the kitchen, and received a special compensatory pre-dessert (tch) - but finally it came: individual rhubarb crumble soufflés in little copper pots. Masterpieces of airy, scented froth! (Which were far too tempting to hang around photographing, so you'll have to make do with another sort of froth, on the crab starter.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Glasgow, eh. Possibly aye.

On the face of it, there aren't many similarities between Glasgow and Vancouver. Ancient/modern, clean/dirty, healthy/not... I'd go on, but I don't want to offend my Glaswegian hosts. There's no denying, though, that this city is scruffy and sooty, and that rather a lot of its occupants make things harder for themselves by their lifestyle choices.

But Glasgow does have another side: it has great museums, galleries and architecture; heaps of green spaces; terrific restaurants; wonderful stories; and enthusiasm. They're feeling especially eager at the moment because the Commonwealth Games are being held here next month. The city's all ready (how rare is that?) and the people are looking forward to the party. Because they do know how to party, we all know that.

And Vancouver? Well, here on this long, sunny, warm midsummer's evening, the people are all on the streets, in the parks and playgrounds with their kids and their dogs, playing and walking and talking, out of their flats and enjoying the fresh air. Just as they do in Vancouver. (Though this sweet little Scottie, Bunty, was inside, keeping a devoted eye on her master, the batman at Finnieston seafood restaurant in Argyle Street. Sea trout with samphire highly recommended.)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Crannogs, Ossian and a Pinzgauer

This is Ossian, a young barn owl with attitude, who wanted to know where her evening mouse was. She wasn't impressed at having to fly back and forth between her perch and Colin's wrist just for a few morsels of day-old chick, and she wasn't shy about voicing her discontent. In flight, though, she was silent - and always, she was beautiful. I love barn owls.

Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy feeding the red deer at Highland Safaris, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, with their wet black noses and velvety antlers. We're in the Highlands now, just, with bare blunt hills and rocky, peat-stained rivers. The heather's not in flower, but the broom is, the yellow bright on, finally, a dull day.
We went to the Crannog Centre on Loch Tay, a reconstruction of an Iron Age log house on stilts in the lake - and remarkably cosy it was. As usual, it was well presented, and our guide put all his breath, literally, into demonstrating fire-lighting as well as other ancient skills. It's a wonder, what you can do with a primitive bow.

And then we did the safari, in a unique ex-military 6-wheeled vehicle called a Pinzgauer - ideal for bouncing over the hills along rough tracks and through streams, past black-faced sheep with tails still attached, and shaggy-maned Highland ponies. We stopped at a bothy on top, for a cup of tea, a piece of shortbread and a wee dram of whisky, made just down in the valley by Dewars. We were meant to have a tour and a tasting there, but we couldn't fit it in. Sigh.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hits and misses

The Telegraph reports that in the 20 years since I lived in the UK, the number of road signs has doubled to over 4 million. What a shame, then, that there's never one where you really need it. We did a lot of frustrating and time-wasting driving in circles today, beckoned initially by signposts that, once they'd got us off the main routes, then abandoned us, like Hansel and Gretel minus even the breadcrumbs. Even kindly Fran on the GPS was stumped. So no points for signage - but lots and lots for construction.

The Kelpies at Falkirk, for example, are towering sculptures by Andy Scott that are so striking that their presence is unaffected by the rush of traffic on the M9 right alongside, the nearby power pylons and sports ground spotlights, and even a crush of people and dogs.

I first saw them in 2007 as 10-metre models beside the Falkirk Wheel, and we went there today too, to watch two narrow boats being lifted up into the air from one canal to another, as another went in the opposite direction. It's a very clever piece of engineering that inspires admiration as well as some vague arguments about mass v. volume, and references to Archimedes.
Then there was Rosslyn Chapel, a stumpy little building exhaustingly decorated with carvings just everywhere, and exhaustively restored over a number of years, partly funded by all the visitors flocking to view the location for the climax of Dan Brown's dreadful book (which is on sale inside the flash new visitor centre). The chapel was packed - not the best conditions for studying all its minutiae.

There was almost no one at Wade's Bridge, apart from a couple on a tandem and some kids - astonishingly - swimming in the Tay, for all the world as though it's high summer. Well, it is the longest day today, and sunny - but very far from being tropical. Anyway, the bridge is elegant, sturdy, tastefully ornamented and a fine example of the general's work - built in 1733 and still in service.

Service: that's what all these engineers, architects, stonemasons, artists and so on have provided in spades here in the Scottish Borders. Shame the sign-makers aren't similarly dedicated.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Conscientious tourists need not apply

The Scottish Borders are no place for the anal, I find. There is just so much to see and absorb here. Thousands of years of lively history, including 300 particularly tumultuous years will do that, and pootling round a circuit today that included Melrose, Jedburgh, Hawick, Kelso and Coldstream presented me with far too much information.

The trouble is, it's all so well done. Call into any little (free!) museum in a former abbey, jail, castle or courthouse - and we saw them all today - and you'll find story boards, tableaux and artifacts telling you all about penal reform, Mary Queen of Scots' turbulent life or Walter Scott's legal life.

For someone still too close to school projects, it feels like slacking not to read and look at everything - but, even on a super-long Scottish summer's day, that would mean missing out on the next little town's story... It's hard sometimes, being a tourist.
Because as well as the set pieces, there are always surprises along the way, like the mysterious and magnificent chateau seen across the river and the fields, still unidentified, or the marvellous Leaderfoot railway bridge over the Tweed, suddenly just there, by the road, another fine example of Scottish engineering. No biggie.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lost and found

It was a day of losing things - a pair of glasses, the car, our way, and an event. But mostly we found them all again, after some frustration, and in the end it was only the traditional Ride Out at pretty little Melrose with its ruined abbey where the heart of Robert the Bruce (of spider fame) lies, that we didn't see because we'd been told the wrong day.

We were glad to schedule our own event instead - the Royal Highland Show, a 5-day affair now the biggest in the UK since the sad demise of the Royal Show. It was great, and a real education. I thought, as a New Zealander and long-time visitor to agricultural shows, that I knew a thing or two about sheep - but I had never heard of orange sheep. And here they have two types! And so many other breeds that they filled four big sheds. Astonishing.
Then there were the cattle! Immense bulls, frothing at the mouth but generally docile - though there was no stopping the ones who had a mind of their own. There were hairy coos too - Highland cattle - their long coats waving in the breeze from fans whirring away to keep them cool.

Horses, shiny and bouncy, dogs on leads, and people - school parties, weathered farming couples eyeing up the huge and mysterious machines (if you have to ask what it does, you don't need it), old men in kilts and young men in checked shirts. Tents of tweed clothing, saddles, dog beds, jokey toilet seats, craft competitions (snoods, jointed bears, carved walking sticks), and food and drink: haggis burgers, hot pork rolls, whisky, cheeses, lollies...

Excellent day out. Especially since we did, eventually, find the car at the end of it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fishy

It was yet another glorious day, the sun bathing the rolling green countryside of Fife's curiously named East Nuek. It's a rural area of fields of wheat, barley and oats, the cereal scattered with bright poppies, and neat little stone-built towns each clustered around a sturdy kirk.

We were on a Tasting Scotland tour with Brenda, who knows everything about local producers and their products. So we ate huge, fat raspberries, tasted cheeses made from the milk of cows right next door, and licked ice cream in the street in St Andrews, just one street over from the cafe with its banner "Where Kate met Wills (for coffee)".

Best of all, though, were the little fishing villages, like St Monans where we had a fabulous lunch in the sunshine, of nuts, salmon, lobster, crab and langoustine. It was all smoked over whisky-barrel oak shavings just below where we sat with wonderful views over a blue North Sea, rows of colourful cottages, and the little harbour with its sea wall and piles of lobster pots.

Then came Craill - the same but even prettier. It was a great day out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunburnt in Scotland

Beginning the day with breakfast served under a silver dome, the oj in a decanter, lit candles on the table and all the furniture antique is hard to beat. I do recommend No.2 Cambridge St in Edinburgh - it's really rather special.

But the day's other big treat was beyond even Erlend's powers: a clear blue sky over Auld Reekie that lasted all day. I even had to seek shade to stand in while I listened to Margaret's stories on my Mercat tour of the Royal Mile - Giles and the deer and the arrow, David Hume the chef, and, best of all, the interchangeable equestrian statue of Oliver Cromwell/Charles II that peed nonstop for three days.

Then I trotted back down the road again, past the elegantly splendid Holyrood Palace (with its bloodstain) and the somewhat less elegant new Parliament building where panting dogs splashed in the pond, to climb up to Arthur's Seat, the top of a volcanic stump with a 360 degree view. I was a bit frustrated not to find a plane table at first (someone was sitting on it) but a man with a dog shrugged, waving his arm. "Wha's the bother? City, sea, lowlands, highlands." And I guess that did cover it.
Back down in the city - so much walking today - there were lots of pleasingly free museums, Greyfriars Bobby, the JK Rowling coffee shop (rather hot and stuffy) and one nearby with a blackboard outside: "JK Rowling never wrote here".

And then a different B&B: 94DR, super-friendly and comfortable, with a view towards Arthur's Seat, still with people walking around it in the last golden light of a glorious day in which I can't have been the only one to get unexpectedly sunburnt.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Comeuppance on its way

British gloom about the weather - It'll never last, We'll pay for this - though funny, is of course well-founded. I lived here plenty long enough to know that. So to wake this morning to a blue sky and warm sunshine, that persisted all day till the eventual coming of darkness (presumably - it was still quite light at 11pm) I knew was a gift.

So did everyone else, like the dog-walkers along the town wall at Berwick-upon-Tweed with its real-life Lowry scenes, three bridges and marvellously neat and productive allotments.

Then there were the children on the beach at North Berwick, across the border in Scotland, digging in the sand and paddling in the sea pond. It was glorious at Tantallon Castle, a high ruin of pink sandstone on a cliff overlooking Bass Rock, white with thousands of nesting gannets.

And then, here in Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens were dazzling with pale skin laid out on the fine, striped lawns. The Castle glowed in the sun, up on its rock, the kilted bagpipe buskers sweated outside the National Gallery and the icecream vans were doing great trade.

It's a rare thing, to have had such a beautiful day, in this beautiful place. I want to make it clear that I appreciated every moment of it. Because I know we're going to pay for it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Holy Island

Why would you be so desperate to leave Lindisfarne that you'd want to race the tide anyway? It's so pretty, and quiet, and so rewarding to poke around, as I have all day since crossing the causeway from Beal.

There's little St Mary's with its dramatic carving of St Cuthbert's bier, and next door the pink sandstone priory, wrecked by the Vikings way back around 873. Red valerian and orange poppies bloom along the walls, swallows darting, blackbirds singing, sheep baaing.

Beyond the little harbour where old upturned boats have been repurposed as sheds, the castle stands on its isolated outcrop, surrounded by lush grazing scattered with smug sheep and fat lambs. They can't get into the Gertrude Jekyll-designed walled garden with its cerise penstemons and blue irises, silver lamb's ear and pink granny's bonnets; and it seems they're not inclined to eat the rampant bidi bid - here called pirri pirri - that somehow got to the island from New Zealand. Oops.
The village is full of stone and rendered cottages with cliché roses over the doors and pots of pansies and marigolds under the windows. There are at least four pubs - The Ship's apple and blackberry crumble with custard is recommended - and just two shops, plus a little school that springs into action when the tide means the children can't get across to the mainland.

There's an honesty box on a table under a tree with a display of home-made 'Tit boxes, £5' - for the birds to nest in, you understand. It's still light past 10pm, there's no traffic noise, and I just saw a barn owl fly silently overhead as I wandered along a deserted lane. I wouldn't much mind if the causeway was permanently submerged.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lovesome things

Gardens. It was mostly about gardens today - and, truly, there is no more glorious a thing than an English garden in June. But first off, we were inside, at the Saturday market n Tynemouth, held under the iron and glass roof of the railway station. Brilliant. Vintage clothes and handbags, books, cupcakes, militaria, crafts, junk... Exactly the sort of place to snap up something to gloat over later on 'Antiques Roadshow'.

Then we took Northumberland's Coastal Route through pretty fishing villages with piles of smelly lobster pots, kids fishing with hand lines, red and blue boats bobbing at their moorings, and ducks with large broods of babies frantically paddling after them across the harbour.
There were also lots of castles picturesquely perched on strategic hills and cliffs - centuries of problems with invaders up here, mostly from Scotland. Alnwick was glorious: big, well-preserved, full of treasures in the fabulous state rooms - where as well as priceless furnishings there were also bean bags and a football table, since the Percy family is still in residence, after 700 years.

Outside in the grounds there were wedding parties in kilts and fascinators, and a bunch of little kids with striped scarves having a broomstick race, supervised by a stern man in a grey cloak. (The castle featured in the Harry Potter movies.)

But mostly it was the gardens that dominated today: huge and impressive, like Alnwick with its Grand Cascade, immaculate walled garden and fun fountains - like a child-friendly Versailles without the 'pelouse interdite' signs - a celebration of the art of espalier. And Howick Hall, blowsier and more natural, a beautiful blaze of colour, the herbaceous borders busy with bees, surrounded by an arboretum of the world's trees.

But it's not just the grand places - rows of fishing cottages, farmhouses, terraced houses in little towns - they all have lush, bright gardens full of colour, neat but natural. God wot.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The world's best chips

We have eaten wonderfully well every day so far in England - better, no question, than we did in Paris - but the high point has to be the chips (fries) at the outwardly unprepossessing Bridge Tavern here in Newcastle right under the Tyne Bridge. Don't mock: to get such a delicately crispy outside with heavenly light fluffiness inside is the work of a master. They're triple-cooked - boiled, cooled, fried, cooled, fried and served, hot and delicious. The tragedy was, I hadn't ordered any, and had to steal a scant half-dozen from my host's plate. So I'm feeling unfulfilled, chip-wise, and would return to Newcastle for that reason alone.

But there are lots of others: the Georgian grandeur of curving Grey Street, the splendidly opulent Theatre Royal, the blackened stump of the Castle Keep with its appalling oubliettes. It's not all old stuff: the graceful tilting arch of the Millennium Bridge is a marvel, and the Metrocentre shopping mall is vast and varied. Shamefully, we didn't make it inside any of the art galleries they're so proud of, but I did enjoy Seven Stories, a celebration of British children's literature - wonderful treasures in there. Lots of old friends, plus some surprises - Little Red Riding Hood is AKA Donkeyskin, did you know?
The World Cup has just begun and there are flags and bunting everywhere, so it was appropriate to take a tour of St James's Park, the city's very central stadium, even if my interest - abusing the term somewhat - is in next year's Rugby World Cup when the All Blacks play a game here.

It was surprisingly interesting and impressive, even though I recognised only one name - Bobby Robson - and I enjoyed exploring the stadium from top to bottom. There were all sorts of fascinating facts, but best of all was to see the away team's dressing room - small, bare, brightly lit, showers running either boiling or freezing; and then the home team's - spacious, tastefully decorated, comfortable, luxuriously fitted out. Such shameless gamesmanship! Let's hope the All Blacks win the dressing room toss in 2015.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Glottal, and other stops

There are no Ts in Newcastle. Middle Ts, that is: compu'a, bu'a, be'a. And it's not Newcastle, actually, it's nooCassw. So far I've only spoken to tourism people and taxi drivers, who make allowances for non-Geordie speakers, but it's still fun to be surrounded by such a distinctive accent.

And the city is very appealing, too: full of grand and elegant streets and buildings, a bit like Bath in places, but with unique surprises like an untouched Victorian pub, a coaching inn with a turning bay and two-storey stables, a cathedral honouring war-dead cyclists and veterinarians, and even a 1960s Council building that has architectural merit.
It's small, which means it's easy to get around, and also that, like Avis, it tries harder. My Green Guide, Gwen, gave me a 2-hour tour that was full of superlatives - most bridges in a quarter mile, smallest cathedral, oldest M&S, most difficult building to design (Norman Foster's shiny Sage Gateshead), and many more. I did feel that it was a little desperate claiming that the cathedral is 'the second least visited in the country' but I sympathise with the city pride.

It's well-founded: the place has lots to appreciate and enjoy, from the Quayside Seaside with its summer-special sandy beach and deck chairs, to the double-decker bridge with its great story about Queen Victoria's knickers, to all its pubs and Michelin restaurants.

I highly recommend the Broad Chare pub and restaurant: good, friendly service, lively vibe and excellent food (potted shrimps, yum) and beers. And Jesmond Dene House is a lovely place to stay: leafy, historic, comfortable, also with great food. Come here!

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