Saturday, 6 October 2012


August seems such a long time ago now and the weather here is becoming autumnal with a vengeance.
Carrying on from my Ironbridge post, once home from Ironbridge, we all stayed at our house and planned what places we would like to visit, using our house as a base, during the rest of the fortnight’s holiday.   There are a number of interesting places around here which are close enough to make them an easy afternoon trip.
Our first trip we decided upon was to Lacock one of the more frequently filmed places in the south west.  It has been used for many BBC period dramas, including Cranfield, Pride and Prejudice and even three of the Harry Potter movies used locations here.  Slughorn’s cottage is on the outskirts of the town, the pub, the Sign of the Angel is part of the backdrop in certain scenes and various interiors and the cloisters in Lacock Abbey were used for Hogwarts school.   Several other movies and TV series have used the place because it is still very olde worlde. 
Thes street was used in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Lacock with cars
Two of our party were intent on going fishing, so after lunch, The Son-in-Law (TSL) and The Granddaughter (TG) went down to the nearby river Avon and spent some time catching the occasional fish, The Better Half (TBH), myself and The Daughter (TD) wandered around the town and then visited the Abbey.  
Another view of Lacock
Although the houses are ancient varying in date from Tudor to Edwardian, the town is not quite as olde worlde as one is led to expect, since the streets are full of parked cars but with a bit of imagination you can see what it would look like without them and so see why filmmakers would want to use it for period dramas. 
In a side street, we cama cross this odd looking car.  Looks as if it should belong to Boris Johnson judging by the number plate
Lacock Abbey was founded as a monastery around 800 years ago but was dissolved by Henry the eighth and sold to a private owner around 1539.  Later it became the home of the Talbot family.  It was donated to the National Trust by the Talbot family in 1944 and contains the Fox-Talbot museum.   Fox Talbot was one of the early pioneers of photography in this country and the earliest known surviving photographic negative is held in the museum.  For people like me who are gadget freaks, the museum has a really fine collection of cameras and early scientific devices that Fox Talbot used in his wide ranging research.  I would much rather view a fine old camera or 200 year old static generator than a set of genuine Queen Anne chairs and a library full of books no one is allowed to touch.

Entrance to the Abbey grounds
 The building has the usual kind of Stately Home interiors, filled with various kinds of antique furniture and with paintings of the family members around the interior.  As you pass through, you see each room decorated in the various styles that the family had put in over the years.
Outside view of the building
On re-joining the fisher folk, we were told with great pride that TG had managed to catch her first fish all by herself.  Not being a fan of the sport I may have been less enthusiastic about this news than her parents.
Much of this stone angel was buiried in brickwork until recently

One of a set of recovered gargoyles

A nice warm patch for an afternoon snooze
Anyway, we had all had a good day out each in our own way and the weather had been kind, staying sunny and warm. We had, for the first time this summer, been able to eat al fresco at the local café, actually avoiding the hot sun since it was strong enough to need to seek shade.

Warm enough to eat al fresco in the local cafe grounds


The following day we met up with TD’s aunt M who still lives in Gloucestershire where TBH’s family grew up and so our next trip out was to The WWT.  Not World War Three, but The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge (follow the link to see a live webcam).  Slimbridge WWT was  founded by the well known conservationist and TV presenter Peter Scott and is quite close to where TBH and TD lived when TD was a child. 

Slimbridge headquarters and viewing tower

I'm only a bird in a guilded cage





Tame enough to feed by hand
The birds here are not all captive as in a zoo, but many arrive seasonally to nest and breed according to their species all throughout the year.  The area is maintained as a natural habitat for many kinds of waterfowl and the conditions are carefully maintained to encourage as many different species as possible.  For bird watchers it is a haven with sightings of rare birds happening often enough to attract enthusiasts from all over.
For ordinary folk, there are walkways and foot paths which wind through the various compounds where non-native birds are kept.
In one part of the grounds we encountered some White Faced Whistling ducks.  One of those names that is so obvious you wonder why everything is not named so simply, although if you want to get technical its scientific name is  Dendrocygna viduata.  These birds make the most piercing whistle instead of the more common quack one usually associates with ducks.   There were plenty of other kinds of ducks that went quack, but later we encountered some Brown Faced Whistling Ducks too. A relative of the white faced ones and just to make a change, there is a black bellied variety, which we did not encounter, possibly because we were looking at their faces and not their bellies. 

Whistling fit to bust
I recorded some of the sounds they made but have not included them, you can find whistling ducks on You Tube if you are really interested.
One of the attractions there is a colony of otters which are fed twice daily by their keepers and the public are invited to watch.  They are not native British otters but a larger variety of North American river otters which had been rescued when their habitat was destroyed and brought to Slimbridge for preservation purposes.
They know what time it is and are ready for their food

I bet you can't guess what she has just seen. Correct, a bucket of fish arriving
Around the main area of the Trust are paths that lead off to distant viewing hides where the true bird spotters can glimpse rare species, if they are prepared to slog through some less well paved areas.  Because one of our party requires a wheelchair if we are walking for long periods, we stuck to the paved paths and there is a lot of the site you can explore this way.

Once more, the day was hot enough to seek shade and after spending the afternoon wandering around this part of the Trust, we went for a meal.  Nearby is the Tudor Arms, which has a restaurant that is highly recommended and so we ate there.  It has some really interesting sweet courses on the menu, which soon after our main courses somehow materialised on our table.    

Just one of the sweets on offer
The Tudor Arms is close to the canal and the water was so still the nearby buildings produced some great reflections.
Boats on the canal

Time to go home.       
 The River Severn in the distance with the hills of Wales behind.


  1. Two places I love. What a great couple of days out.

  2. That reflection photo is absolutely outstanding. Sounds like England's weather is now making up for the rain and wind you were having a week or so ago.

  3. Two places I've never been to but really should have. Stunning photographs. Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

  4. Oh my, that's what I miss so much about England - those beautiful, picturesque - even quaint - little villages - and especially how the sweets have such a way of materializing on the cafe table :}

    Some fantastic photos, snafu! I especially love the one of the duck with the shadow of the fencing on him, and of course the reflection photo is an award winner! A great trip - thanks!