Sunday, 13 June 2010

House Hunting in Somerset

A Glastonbury shop . . .

My OH and I set off for the West Country early on Saturday morning. We had two properties to view.

The first one, in Somerset, was a lovely old cottage with a homely feel. I liked it a lot but OH was very sniffy about room sizes again (yet he'd read the brochure so knew what they were). Gloomy prognostications about having to get rid of 2/3 of our books and 3/4 of our furniture were made . . . I bet if it had had Gothic windows and features he'd have been singing a different tune . . . There was a useful outbuilding which could be an annexe with a chunk of money spending on it and the necessary planning permission. The garden had the lawns mown but the established borders had obviously got too much for the elderly lady living there, bless her, and were overgrown, but the plantings . . . It was half an acre of heaven. A huge pear tree entwined with an old rope-stemmed clematis; rows of blackcurrants and redcurrants, rhubarb, raspberries. Elder bushes at the perimeters. Not just one but two greenhouses (one huge and delapidated). Plenty of room for chickens and a polytunnel and a small orchard . . . She had some wonderful roses just coming into bloom including a rambler I'd wanted years ago called Rosa Veilchenblau . . . magenta-purple blooms fading to lilac-grey. I am definitely going to have one in my next garden. My hands literally ached to start clearing the weeds from the borders. Even OH (not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination) knew it was a lovely garden and fell in love with it too . . . If only the rooms in the cottage were a wee bit bigger. It would be too big a chance to take to (try to) buy it with the hope that the powers that be would allow an extension where a falling-down lean-to store shed currently was . . . (a nearby town is a Conservation area and I don't know if this village comes under the same umbrella). The stumbling-block, as ever, is our offspring and how long they will still be at home.

Sadly, I drove away. OH and I tried to work out a solution, but it's had to go on the back burner. The 2nd property was up near Glastonbury, and a really lovely cottage, though it had a tiny garden (too small for me - I like a challenge!) You couldn't fault the presentation and decor, but the garden was all at the front of the house and had no privacy (something we are not used to) and a 4th bedroom was - literally - the size of a broom cupboard - too small to get a bed in unless it was upright! Yes, we had read the brochure, once again, but you always hope that something can be done elsewhere to remedy the shortcomings, but in this case there were other negatives.

By this time it was well into the afternoon and we were absolutely starving - could have eaten a scabby horse between two mattresses as my ex-husband used to say! We made our way to Glastonbury and found a lovely deli we'd been in before. They had a really good selection of cheeses - OH had a Dorset Red, which was smoked, and I chose Sharpham Rustic - a semi-hard cheese made in Totnes (where I have Devon roots). We bought rustic rolls to go with them and sat in the churchyard of St Joh's church, in the sunshine (a regular picnic spot for folks, it would seem).

Glastonbury was seemingly unchanged from when we last visited a few years back. Hippies still throng there. (Here in Wales, the ones who arrived in the late 1960s are now getting quite geriatric, with long grey locks tumbling over their shoulders, and some even in wheelchairs.)

We fitted in a visit to the Abbey, and I will make that the subject of my next blog posting.

St John's Church, Glastonbury:

The alibaster tomb of John Cammell, who died in 1487. He is seen holding a purse and he carried out legal work for the Abbot. However, the Somerset village of Queen Camel traces its name from 'cantmael', its name in the 10th C (this possibly derived from the Celtic words canto (district) and mael (bare hill).

In this picture the finely-carved pulpit is kept company by an hour glass - marking the length of the sermon. Not a minute more - not a moment less - an hour to expiate your sins . . .

The beautiful stained glass window at St John's. HERE is a link for the subjects pictured in the window and a page of information about the church and its interior.

A close up of the detailed carving on a beautiful chest in the centre of the church. I think that the carvings are particularly West Country in style.

The Glastonbury Tribunal building.


  1. I know Glastonbury and the area well from when my brother in law lived in Shepton Mallet - strange place - a few years ago.

    I think I know the cheese shop/deli you're talking about.....

    ha - the word verification was 'logmygab'

  2. Oh that's so weird, we were house hunting in Glastonbury last weekend...I had a honeycomb icre-cream in the Truckle of Cheese...Did you view that cottage at Lottisham green, it has a wonderful orchard garden?

  3. Alistair - you mean Shepton Mallet is a strange place?! OH fancies living near there because of all the antiques fairs we could go to! Stranger thing than the word verification - middle daughter was stood behind me reading that and her nickname is "fabgab"!

    Kath - I wonder if we passed, like ships in the night?! Off to try and find details of the cottage at Lottisham Green with its wonderful orchard garden . . . No, we viewed one at Pilton and one at the bottom of Somerset. Hmmm - can't find the cottage with the orchard garden . . .

  4. it's marketed by Roderick Thomas , Wells. Tel: 0843 313 0100
    Might be too small for you. Are you registered with Rightmove, Globrix,, and Zoopla.
    Good luck! we might end up neighbours :D

  5. Found it now - yes, sadly too small, but what a pretty garden and area generally.

  6. We found our recent house hunting to be a time of frustrated expecttions regarding realtors websites that gave details of properties. They are so anxious to make a property appear attractive that they are unrealistic about details---which wastes everyone's time. Errr.
    J. is going to be doing renovations on this house for awhile, but the acreage and the existing plantings make up for the lack of as many rooms as we hoped for.
    At the moment J. is having to formulate "plan B" to make plumbing for a shower fit around or behind a built in cupboard. It might be well if I go for a walk while he figures it out.

  7. Ah, MM, "plan B" is something we are very familiar with in this old house, where nothing is ever straightforward. What annoys me about the details are what they omit - in some cases not even mentioning a house is "attached" . . . though you can plainly see it is!

    We are still trying to work out how we could manage at the cottage with the lovely garden we viewed last weekend, esp. if T&J come to live with us for a while! We would manage, but big chunks of furniture would have to go in the "outbuilding" . . . Room for chickens, a polytunnel and heaven for the cats . . .

  8. I suspect that unless one is quite wealthy, house hunting comes down to compromises. Its all about the ones we feel we can live with and be content.
    J. is still working on the shower set-up. Two more trips to the hardware store today. Strangely, he isn't cursing.