Social Shropshire!

It’s hard to believe there was a time when I didn’t know where the English county of Shropshire was….and I didn’t know anyone there! It all started to change in 2014 when I stayed overnight at an Airbnb in Minsterly ( near Shrewsbury) with a lady called Jo, and her husband Nigel. It was just a quick overnight stay to break the journey from the Lake district to Brighton. We got along famously! And I also realized that there was some stunning countryside to explore….next time, I said to Jo!

Next time turned out to be last year, in 2017! This time I stayed for 3 nights, and armed with my hosts’ suggestions I explored wonderful countryside, ( Long Mynd, Church Stretton) saw a very old bridge at Ironbridge and explored Brother Cadfael territory in Shrewsbury. And our friendship grew!

As I was leaving, I asked for a church to go to nearby. Jo suggested Pontesbury Baptist, and I went! I met a couple whose son was about to embark on a year of study at Adelaide University! Amazing! We swapped email addresses, I told them the name of my church, arranged to catch up with their son, Jacob, and thus started another friendship in Shropshire! With the Scott family! ( And especially Jacob)

Some time after this fortuitous meeting, I travelled around the Hebridean islands with 5 other passengers! 2 of these, Brian & Beryl, live in Shropshire! So that’s 3 lots of friends I needed to catch up with this year in Shropshire!! And I had a great time doing so!

I stayed 4 nights this time with Jo and Nigel and we enjoyed catching up on each other’s doings over a cuppa or 2! Jo also gave me a whistle stop tour of old mining areas near her home, including some spectacular views down narrow little lanes and old churches bristling with history. She also shared a lot of family history and that of the area.

On Sunday, I revisited Pontesbury Baptist church, but not as a stranger this time! It felt like going home! And I knew 13 members of the congregation! After a wonderful service, I went back to Asterly for lunch and an afternoon with the Scotts. As is usual with busy families, 4 of the family were driven to Shrewsbury to play in a brass band by their Dad, so a smaller group of Scotts and I sat down to a scrumptious lunch in the garden. We talked, drank tea, talked, the musicians arrived home, we ate chocolate from Adelaide and goodies from Egypt ( Dave had just returned from there) , talked, drank coffee, and then…….Jacob arrived home from Australia!!! His Dad had collected him from Bristol airport. So we talked a little more and then I left them to it! What a lovely day with a lovely family! ❤️

The next two days in Shropshire I spent with Brian & Beryl! Each day they picked me up in their car and we explored a wide variety of Shropshire’s delights!

We walked up and along the Stiperstones, going past the Devil’s chair and with amazing views of surrounding countryside.

After a refreshing cuppa, we then drove around in search of Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle! It was proving to be elusive but a local Walker put us on the right path and we found it !!! Along with more stunning views and some amazing native orchids!

By then , we were tired, hungry, thirsty ( our water all gone!) and 2 of us had streaming eyes and noses from Hayfever, so we found a lovely little pub and had an early dinner! 2 pint glasses of iced soda water helped my thirst and scratchy throat! So good! ( And the food was too! ) My kind tour guides delivered me home at about 6.30pm, whereupon I took myself straight to bed…..tired but happy!

Our touring on the second day took us from an 11th century Abbey ruins, to 1st and 2nd century Roman bath house and settlement ruins to a wonderful 18th century manor with surrounding parklands. So much history, and all within a few miles of each other.

Stop 1:The Haughmond Augustinian Abbey.

I wonder if the skilled craftsmen who built this huge edifice, and carved the statues ever thought that people would be admiring their work a thousand years later!

Stop 2: Wroxeter Roman City.

Ok, so we’ve now stepped back another thousand years…to see the remains of the 4th largest City in Roman Britain……….Viroconium it was then called! It was originally built as a legionary fortress but later became a thriving civilian city. Absolutely amazing…and the restoration and cataloguing of still-being -found ancient bits and pieces is expertly managed by English Heritage. As well as all the signage, audio tour, displays…all very well done.

Stop 3: Attingham Park: built in 1785.

After a refreshing cup of tea, and a slice of Bakewell tart, we spent quite a long time looking through the big house! As with many country houses the fortunes of the Family rose and fell over the years and most of the artworks and antiques were sold to pay debts! Then the National Trust took it on last century and have gradually bought back treasures and restored much of the home to its former glory. Whilst we visited, there was an interesting display about the home’s use as an adult education college after WW2, with photos and commentaries from past students. As you’ll see from the above photos, I found the huge kitchen, pantry and staff areas in the basement fascinating!

We then had a short walk outside to see the newly restored walled garden. During the last 10 years the staff and volunteers have worked hard to bring the huge walled garden back to life, with fruit, vegetables and flowers now filling 3/4 of it. I think this rabbit was looking for the walled garden too!

By then, we were pooped! So we found the car and drove to B & B ‘s home where we sat and recovered with a cooling drink and nibbles in their small, but very productive back garden.

After a delicious dinner prepared for us by Beryl, they then drove me home through the evening gloom!

So there you have it… My very sociable adventures in Shropshire!!

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