A Damp Weekend in Somerset

Dear Readers, of all the many things that you might expect to see in a medieval market town in Somerset, an eight-foot tall metal giraffe is probably one of the most unlikely. But we are staying in The Shrubbery Hotel in Ilminster and, peering out over the car park is a very fine example of the same. We are here for the final clearing out of our Aunt Hilary’s house, and so it’s a sad occasion (and a pretty dusty one too if the last visit was anything to go by). There has been a house on the site since the late 17th Century but the current building was erected in 1850, and very fine it is too. I love the honey-coloured sandstone of the hotel, and of the houses in the town itself. In the photo below you can see how the bits of the facade that have been cleaned up glow in comparison to the more heavily-soiled parts – The Shrubbery is on an extremely busy road, so I imagine the pollution levels are high.

The entrance to the hotel

Now, I do wonder if we’ve made the right choice of hotel because apparently there has been ‘paranormal activity’, with phones ringing in empty rooms, sightings of a Cavalier in the dining room (not a Cavalier King Charles spaniel which is quite a different thing), and several people being ‘touched in the kitchen and the cellar’. Well, anyone who touches me in the cellar is going to get a clip round the ear’ole as my Dad used to say, and I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a Cavalier, so I am agog. Somerset Paranormal Investigators UK used ‘scientific equipment and some old methods’ to see what was going, and reported disembodied voices coming from their walkie-talkies. You can read the whole story here, and I shall report back if I see anything more unusual than an eight-foot metal giraffe.

The tree outside also has more mistletoe than I have ever seen on a single tree.

Just look at it! The light was really bad but I definitely saw a large thrush chasing a woodpigeon out of one of the balls of mistletoe – probably a fieldfare, but I shall see what I can see in the morning when the weather is supposed to be better.

Ilminster really is a most attractive town – there’s more of that lovely stone and a fantastic wisteria….

The Minster church (technically St Marys) dates back to the 15th Century but has been extensively refurbished and renovated during Victorian times. It’s still a most splendid building.

But as usual it’s the quirky things that I like. The town cackles with jackdaws, these two drinking from a handy gutter.

Someone is selling ‘Tattoo Stones’ from a house on the main road.

I was impressed with these extraordinary planters, again on the main road.

And this splendid scare crow clearly wasn’t upsetting any of the corvids.

So, tonight we dine at the hotel, whilst keeping our eyes peeled for ghostly goings on, and tomorrow it’s off to the village of Broadway for another day of sorting through the remains of a lifetime. At a certain point you have to get past being sad, and just focus on the task in hand, and that’s what we’ll do. Let’s see how we get on.

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