Was that summer?

June 3, 2012

Last weekend we went on a short visit to Shropshire and  were practically crisped to toast by the heat. By English standards it was HOT and the sun was merciless in Lawrence of Arabia fashion.  Touring houses and gardens we felt sticky, our makeup ran …well, not my husband’s, if he wears any it is very discreet …and our feet swelled. But we saw good things.

Stokesay Castle

This is a darling little castle, not far from Ludlow, built in the 1280s, never capable of withstanding anything like a siege, though the moat (dry now, and a pretty walk through knee-high wild flowers) might have discouraged burglars.  It is empty of furnishings and only swallows, swifts and housemartins make their  homes here now, shooting in and out through the large glass-less windows in a blur. You can sit in the little courtyard …with an anachronistic espresso and a piece of homemade cake from a tearoom not much bigger than a cupboard …and drift into a dream of mediaeval times …only the nice bits, no nose-slitting or plagues.

The gatehouse, built in the 1640s so comparatively late, is so pretty

If I found myself alone in the world I should like to live in this little  house as custodian of the castle.

Powys Castle is a vastly different cup of tea with a very different atmosphere, though also built as a declaration of status rather than belligerence.

It is enormous and quite hideous, built in  the 18th century in the gloomy  purplish-greyish stone of the area and pointed with a sickly pink mortar, reminding one of those clownishly over-painted old ladies one occasionally sees, who fill me with the most painful protective feelings. But the garden is marvellous, huge terraces planted with a generous hand and wonderful clipped box and yew

Now I’m back home and the rain, it raineth every day …all over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant …and more rain is forecast for the rest of the week.  Charles II  described the English summer as ‘three hot days and a thunderstorm’,  which is exactly what we’ve had.  Back to vests and woollies.