West Midlands 2 - Solihull and a moated manor house /Thankyou Antiques Roadshow

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November 5th 2016
Published: November 9th 2016
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It is Guy Fawkes Night - November 5th . Remember, remember! The fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason Why the Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot! Guy Fawkes and his companions Did the scheme contrive, To blow the King and Parliament All up alive. Threescore barrels, laid below, To prove old England's overthrow. and so the poem goes. It seems quite odd to read this and think of our current parliament which seems in disarray. The will of the people against the members of parliament and the judiciary. Brexit hasn't gone away and many feel the current government require a quick reminder of why they are in power and who they serve. Since we arrived home there has been a new prime minister, a new leader of the Labour party, the leader of UKIP has resigned and a battle for the leadership taken place and we are still dithering around at what point we should trigger Article 50 to leave the European Union. Will it be a hard Brexit or a soft one? I just wish they would get on with it . The pound is on a roller coaster ride but then it always is. It is no lower now against the euro or the dollar than it was some years ago. We have a new £5 note made of polymer and the clocks have gone back. The mornings feel darker and the evenings blacker. The Christmas advertisements are on the TV. The American Elections dominate our news as we watch Clinton and Trump throw insults at each other. I wonder if I were an American who I would vote for. Probably neither. Politics are a funny old game and feeling more like a Monty Python sketch by the minute.

The driver of the household has reached the mighty age of three score and ten. Being motified at the thought he sent off via the internet for his driving licence to be renewed . On line Friday - back in the post by the following Wednesday. He chose to not leave his C1 entitlement on -he does not drive over 7. 5 tonnes nor ever will - we saved by doing this the cost of a medical . He has his new licence for the next three years before the whole process starts again. Another problem raised its head over being 70 our travel insurance will rise for Glenn and also for me as I will reach the age of 65 which means another hike. Suzy is lazing doing nothing. We decided that jobs needed doing on her when we arrived home but after a whole month and a half she still waits for her new boots. Choice - buy them now and they will sit there for almost four months developing flat spots or leave them until the new year and change them before she goes for her MOT test . Leave them until 2017 then. Our dripping roof still has not been repaired. Habitation check forms have gone back and forth. Bills to prove we paid them have flown via the internet. Photographs have been taken and finally after a month we had the go ahead from Swift for the remedial work to be done. Still not the end of the story as the seals had to be ordered and they came by snail mail . The work is scheduled for the last week of this month. The rain continues to fall and drip in. The fridge has been on order. Finally it has arrived and the job is booked in for middle of this month. Suzy has had a small clean. The overcabs have been emptied and the pillows taken out and pillow cases washed. The boxes full of smalls and tea cloths and towels been taken out and the tablet boxes removed . Have I really got tablets for my high blood pressure going back to 2015. Oh yes I have, Reminder to myself - check the contents regularly and have a clear out. The old brioche bread has been removed . Its crusts as hard as they could ever be. Broken biscuits thrown away. Her umbilical cord is now connected as her leisure batteries needed a charge . The engine batteries through being unused as flat too. Oh to be on the road again.

The good news we have just about got our holiday dates for 2017 sorted. Barring disasters I have managed to get 33 days off next year in return for continuing to work Thursdays and Fridays. It was a fair trade off - last week of April and first three in May off in return for promising to continue my current work pattern until September next year. 33 days off in September and October in return for working the end of the week until Christmas next year. A fair return I think although the September holiday is slightly later than I would have liked as many campsites might be closed by then and we may struggle for things to do. I am grateful though as now we can start to put in place the holidays we want. Himself mentioned Greece last night. Could we do it in that short time scale . It will take five days to travel from home to Ancona and the same coming home leaving us with 23 days in Greece. A whirlwind tour perhaps but a thought though. Spring in Greece, Athens, the Acropolis all that Greek history. On this miserable November day in Britain it sounds good to me.

What to do in the meantime? We fell upon the show the Antiques Roadshow a few weeks ago. The host was the lovely moated manor house of Baddiley Clinton. Up to then I had never heard of it. We put it in the diary as a place to visit and forgot about it. Until today that is. We woke early and looked out of the windows. Had it snowed as the works of fiction had predicted overnight? We expected a white coating of 2" of the cold stuff . The gritters had even salted the roads. What did we see? Rain . Not even heavy rain just that light drizzle that epitomises an early November day. Grey as a bag and uninspiring. Still the rain was not going to stop us having a day out. We got in the car , set Sally Sat Nag and set off. The skies were leaden grey. The A38 miserable. Cars spewing up spray from their wheels. The hedgerows dirty with little colour. The trees mainly skeletal with the exception of a few Birch with their dirty brown leaves . The next frost will make them drop off. Leaf litter brown on the ground. The ferns dirty brown. November is a brown month.

The journey took us alongside the A38 towards Derby. A busy city. One that is good to avoid. To Branston home of Branston pickle that delight that cheers up salads, cheese sandwiches and toasties. Past Burton on Trent . Its breweries belching out the smell of hops and grains. To the green around the city of Birmingham. It is hard to believe at times we are close to the heart of one of the major cities of Britain. It is leafy and green. Avenues of beech and oak trees line the roads. Large houses stand on the roadside . The Belfry Golf Course with its prim and proper greens.

It took almost two hours to drive from home to Baddersley Clinton the home of the Ferrers family for 500 years. The family were constant to the Catholic faith and were often short of money but the estate passed from father to son for 12 generations before it was sadly sold in 1940. The house was built by the antiquarian Henry Ferrers who was a lawyer and diarist. Built in 1500 he was proud of his family. His home became his and his families sanctuary. It also housed many catholic priests who were hidden times many in the priest holes dotted around the home. By the end of the 1600's the house fell a little into decline and it was not until the 1860's when one Marmion Ferrers inherited the house. With his wife Rebecca and his friend Edward Dering and his wife Lady Georgina the house came back to life again. Neither Marmion, his wife Rebecca , his friends Edward and Georgina had children and the arrangement caused some interest to the locals who dubbed the family the Quartet. They spent time painting , writing and restoring the house . A lovely house that now belongs to the nation through the National Trust.

We drove up the long drive . Sheep to our right and fields to our left. The trees silhouetted against the grey sky. The car park was full. We had expected it to be busy due to the interest after the visit from the Antiques Roadshow and also because there are few houses open at this time of year. Many National Trust properties have closed for the winter on the 31st October or by the 5th November . Others are only open at weekends. We had not expected so many though. We parked , we walked to the house and handed our cards. We were issued with a leaflet about the house and given a time slot to visit. It is a small property and the numbers allowed in at any one time are limited. We could go in now or we could go and have a cup of tea. The cup of tea won. Over our Earl Grey and Breakfast Tea we discussed the shock result of Trump winning the American Elections. What would it mean for America? What would it mean for the rest of the world? Time will tell how this will pan out. Our TV's have been full of the news. Interviews with Republican voters and Democrats? Analysis of why and how it happened? I wonder if the world is just fed up of the norm and now fighting to change things. We discussed the option of having a European passport something the EU say they will offer if we ever leave the EU. The talk at most tables was about America. Made a change from Brexit I guess.

After our cuppa we headed off for a walk around the moated property. Full of ducks it was quite literally beautiful. We often see NT houses and most are similar but this is a lovely alternative . As we walked through the leaves on the ground we saw a gentle stone built property with Elizabethan chimneys and leaded lights. One side of the house was brick built which showed the evolution fo the house over time. As it approached 11.45 we headed into the first yard and saw a glimpse of the inner house. What a house . A pretty one with a courtyard full of winter flowering pansies. We opened the front door - the tradesmans entrance and were greeted by the guide who give us a mini history of the family and house. She pointed out the fact that we must look for the priest holes in some of the rooms. We walked into the great hall with its Elizabethan fireplaces and furniture. Old rich brown oak furniture oozing age and beauty. Fires burning to warmm up the rooms. The , parlour and library, 16th century carving and 19th century accessories the later inhabitants used. Upstairs Elizabethan four poster beds and carved panels. A chapel with table and priests hole beneath. This went down in a false gard robe where up to seven priests could hide at any one time. Down tiny staircases each room held a delight. All the windows were stained glass and full of names of the family. A family tree in glass. If there was one problem about the house it was the fact that it was so dark inside that photographing was virtually impossible. However we tried our best and got some reasonable ones.

After our visit we walked out and went for lunch. As always there was a good selection. Should we have a jacket potato with filling or hot tomato soup. Glenn chose Elizabethan Chicken. Chicken cooked with apricots and peppers accompanied by potatoes and carrots. I could not choose between Chinese pork with crusty bread or the rather nice looking mushroom stroganoff with rice . I could have eaten both but settled on the pork served in a pot like a stew . Eaten with a spoon it lived up to National Trust offerings. Washed down with capaccino and espressos it made the perfect end to what turned out to be a lovely day in the West Midlands.

But before it ended we walked the 5 minutes up the leafy lane to the medieval church of St Martin. Not owned nor administered by the NT we had not expected it open. We tried the tiny door and it creaked open leading us into a tiny church. Whitewashed walls with a hint that something was probably beneath them. A rough wooden hewn rood screen. Beautiful stained glass and a painted stone Elizabethan chest tomb. Reminders around that Armistice Day is just round the corner. Vases full of poppies ready for Sundays services. Outside a prim graveyard with some old tombs most unreadable sadly due to the wind and rain damage.

Home - and plans - work tomorrow but we can start thinking about our 2017 trip. We have ordered a new Dorling Kindersley book on Greece. We like pictures and these books are full of them. Someone called Osho said that "Knowledge is not information , it's transformation ". That sounds just right . We need to find out about Greece, we need to practice a little Greek and it will transform our lives as we plan our next holiday.

We are getting excited and its over 4 months away. Before you know it I will be starting to count down the weeks. From little acorns great oaks grow . We are planting seeds now and they will grow hopefully into a wow factor holiday. There is a Japanese proverb that says that even dust can become a mountain. We are in the dust stage. Just little things - a book here - the thoughts of staying overnight in Athens - trying to find out prices for fares from Ancona to Greece. These will grow and grow and our mountain will become our next big holiday in Suzy. I love it when a plan comes together .Keep with me and you should see the plan develop over the next few months.


13th November 2016

Sounds like a Good Plan!
It sounds like a good trip that you are planning to Greece! We have no plans for next year yet! We are still living in our Campervan as we have sold our house in Bristol and buying a bungalow in Newport that needs renovating! Not so much fun in the winter but we have plenty of breaks inbetween! I dont work anymore, as my partner is 8 years older than me, and retired - but I have another 4 years until I get my State Pension.as the Government have raised the Pension Age from 60years to 66years!! Enjoy your travels!
14th November 2016

Hi Sounds like you are in the middle of a lot of work. Glenn is five years older than me and retired a while ago. I decided to retire next year when I get to 65 if my boss did not give me a month off in April May. Sadly she gave me what I wanted and some more - I take it I must be worth keeping and she is keeping me happy. Luckily I got my state pension when I got to 61 years and 10 months. Our problem is a mother in law who is a 93 and gives us grief wanting to stay at home and be independent. She stops us disappearing for longer. I am counting the days down already.

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