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While we were visiting Abbey Home Farm, we also dropped in for a look at nearby Bibury, a gorgeous small village in the Cotswolds, which claims to be home to the most photographed view in Britain.  And here it is:


This is Arlington Row, first built in 1380, but converted into weavers cottages in the 17th century, and now owned by the National Trust.

Modern Bibury attracts tour buses and is unfortunately dominated by a trout farm (picturesque as that trout farm may be in this setting!), which is a visitor ‘attraction’.  However, we did manage a lovely wander round the village, a couple of purchases in the gift shop and a good veggie lunch in garden of the Catherine Wheel pub.  All that gorgeous Cotswold stone, a babbling brook and a couple of black swans, all make Bibury well worth the visit.

the bridge in the centre of Bibury

the bridge in the centre of Bibury

The end of Arlington Row

The end of Arlington Row

We did another of the National Trust’s Great British Walks a few days ago and discovered some new territory with an industrial past, but which today is peaceful and relaxing.  The circular walk which includes Pyrford Lock and Papercourt is 7 miles long and takes in a couple of small villages as well as the river, a canal and a two nice pubs!

The River Wey is a tributary of the Thames, joining it at Weybridge.  Its industrial past took the form of mills, 22 of them, used for a variety of businesses including grinding grain and making paper and gunpowder.  On this walk you pass Ockham Mill, now a lovely looking house, which had us seriously considering a move!

The Anchor pub at Pyrford Lock is a great place to stop for lunch, with views over the canal and lock, and a good selection of vegetarian dishes.  Nearly all of their desserts are labelled as suitable for vegetarians too.  The pub was pretty full, so think about getting there early!

The Ham House from Kingston walk features in the National Trusts collection of great walks

The Great British Walk is the initiative of the National Trust to get people out and about this autumn.  Using their click-able map, you can choose a download from 1,285 walking trails.  The walks on the National Trust website are in pdf format and have a clear, easy to follow layout.  The ‘Ham House from Kingston Walk’ for example is 8 miles long and takes in a lovely, wooded stretch of the River Thames, 17th Century Ham House and the open space of Richmond Park.  This is one of my favourite parts of London and proved to be a great day out.  The print outs also include information about the sights along the way.  Of course the walks tell you about facilities available at National Trust properties (in this case Ham House), but this walk takes you very close to Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park with a cafe and accompanying facilities available without an entry ticket!  Still these walks all look like a great opportunity to get out in the autumn sunshine (hopefully!) and take in heritage at the same time.

National Trust Great British Walk

Oh, and if you join the National Trust at the moment, there’s a deal for 3 months for free!

Roaring log fire at the Cat Inn

When you spot that a cosy pub in a beautiful part of the world will be hosting a vegetarian night, what can you do but book a table and plan to spend the day in the area?

The Cat Inn is in the sleepy Sussex Village of West Hoathly and welcomes locals, diners and walkers alike with a roaring log fire and an excellent menu.  When we called in for a break during a walk, we were  delighted to see they were hosting an evening with a special vegetarian menu and providing us with an excuse for a visit!

Our starters were a delicious and richly flavourful borscht (a Ukrainian beetroot soup) served with sour cream and feta and watermelon salad, which turns out to be a gorgeous combination!  For mains we had a rich and satisfying wild mushroom tart, with rocket salad and a great mixed platter of felafel, tabbouleh and fatoush (a Levantine bread salad) with a butter bean hummous.  we loved both, but we noticed that the other item on the menu, a curry served with naan and popadum seemed to be the most popular amongst the other diners!

Our desserts were both gluten free – a chocolate torte served with blood orange sorbet and an almond cake with pistachio ice cream.  I would say the almond cake won the awards as it was wonderfully moist, but the rich chocolate of the torte demands a special mention.

It was a very successful evening and the menu showed imagination and a willingness to experiment, while clearly paying respect to a clientele who may be suspicious of a whole meal out being vegetarian!  I would however like to encourage the Cat Inn and other restaurants and pubs to put their thinking caps on and come up with other veggie menus – it certainly didn’t seem to keep people away from the Cat Inn anyway!

As well as this lovely pub, the area is full of fantastic views, historic houses and open spaces galore.  We visited the National Trust house, Standen, a late victorian home designed Arts and Crafts movement member, architect Philip Webb.  Both house and garden were calming and inspiring, with views across the Sussex countryside.  We also walked in Ashdown Forest, which, aside from being the largest free public space in the south east of England, is famous as home to Winnie-the-Pooh!

Standen - the house seen from the croquet lawn.

The Standen drawing room

Evening falls over Ashdown Forest

British Food Fortnight runs until 3rd October

We are currently in the middle of British Food Fortnight, which goes on until 3rd October.  The idea of the festival is to celebrate eating local, seasonal food, whilst encouraging shops and restaurants to think about where they produce comes from.  There are going to be special events at Harrods, John Lewis, St Pancras train station and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The National Trust is joining in the extravaganza, with events all over the country.  There’s a Food and Craft Festival in Beningbrough Hall, N. Yorkshire (25-26th September), a Peppers Day in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire (25th Sept) and an Apple Festival in Erddig, Wrexham (2-3rd Oct), among others.

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