A couple of weekends ago the husband and I had a weekend in Shrewsbury. No particular reason other than we wanted to go away somewhere and Shropshire was far enough away to make the trip worthwhile and close enough that we wouldn't spend all weekend driving. I'd never actually visited Shrewsbury or even Shropshire before but the county seems very familiar to me from the novels of Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael is actually the reason I decided to study medieval history at university). Of course this meant we had to visit the abbey of St Peter and St Paul (now a church). There's very little of the original Norman buildings left thanks to Henry VIII and Thomas Telford respectively but the church that stands there now (a lovely red sandstone building) is still beautiful.
We felt that Shrewsbury could probably cash in a little more on its most famous fictional inhabitant but the abbey did at least have complete set of Cadfael novels for sale plus this very lovely modern window celebrating the Benedictine history of the church and the Ellis Peters' novels.
After visiting the abbey I did try to pick up a yarn shaped souvenir from the very jolly looking Solo Alpaca but unfortunately the owner was out at the post office when we first walked by and still out at the post office after we'd finished our coffee - queues, eh. I was really sorry not to be able to pop in as from what I could see through the window it looked like a very nice yarn shop.
In the afternoon we drove out to Attingham Park, a National Trust property, a few miles east of Shrewsbury.
We arrived at around half past two, just after the deer feeding time and just in time to see the deer reasonably close before they wandered back to the less accessible areas of the deer park.
They have a herd of around 200 fallow deer and as a result of seeing them I now have the difference between fallow (pale, broad antlers, and spotty) and roe (darker brown, white bums, and pointy antlers) firmly stuck in my head and can now be much more authoritative when pointing out deer to the husband on our bus ride into work.
The interior of the house was as fabulous as the outside. My favourite rooms were the drawing room and the birdcage room - both in the feminine wing of the house. I could quite happily settle down for afternoon tea and knitting in either of them.
As it was we had our tea outside the stable block before heading off to see the walled garden and orchard which had a flock of very free range chickens.
On Sunday we visited Carding Mill Valley, a beautiful area which is also looked after by the National Trust. We hadn't really packed our walking shoes and I definitely wasn't shod for serious walking but we made our way up the valley for half an hour before heading back for more tea in the cafe. It was a really idyllic landscape, very reminiscent of Cumbria (fells and little rivers), and at one point all we could hear was the gurgling of the stream and the bubbling song of the skylarks.
I'm really happy to have found such a lovely place for walking so much closer to home.