Off The Plot – Into The Valley – Egerdon Valley, Dorset

The weekend that was – was in beautiful Dorset. Things were a bit complicated to start with as Toni only arrived from the Hebrides the day before and I had the “mother of all” stressy drives to pick her up from Heathrow. Don’t, I repeat, don’t journey between Cheam and Heathrow via Kingston and Richmond in rush hour. 18 miles of hell… 2 hours of grey hair production, teeth grinding and “John Terry” expletives, non racial of “fucking” course!

Food that evening was “Jimmy Spice” in Staines – Good service – Convenient food – mounded high! Sorry Jimmy but it was underwhelming! And it was our 26th wedding anniversary too. Never mind.

The next day we set off for Dorset, aware that half of it was either underwater or under mud! Thankfully we stopped off at M & S before to do a “little bit of shopping”. A bottle of Schug Sonoma Pinot and Blanc de Noir later we set off again. The traffic on the 303 was bad at the Henge but a delightful American Anthem CD saved the day and my melancholy.

The destination for the Friday evening was “River Cottage HQ”, an eclectic meal date with 82 unknown others in a marquee that was hastily erected when the barn that hosted such things before mysteriously burned down! We had expectations of course, we had been 4 years previously and had a good time. This was not to be repeated sadly. The venue seems a little bereft of authenticity nowadays with the crowd seemingly less than enthusiastic with the pause between starter and main as well as the poultry offering of the “after dinner chocs.” Perhaps that’s a bit hash, it could be that we’ve moved on and expect something better.

American Cray Fish Bisque (liberated from Hampshire rivers)

Oven Smoked Beef Cheeks (with shin sausage)

Gooseberry with Hazelnut Crumble and Elderflower Ice Cream

Fortunately we stayed in the mother of all bed and breakfasts – a gem of a place, called “The Three Horse Shoes Inn” in a quaint picturesque village called Powerstock, slightly north-east of Bridport.

The Three Horse Shoes Inn, Powerstock

The place itself is an old Victorian Pub with accommodation with a genuine feeling of tradition and slow, gentle country living. The church is fascinating, just next door and well worth a visit. It might sound slightly creepy but when I visit old churches I marvel at stain glass windows but the graveyard gets a “visitation” too. At Powerstock Church there are 3 graves that stand out. One is of a family commemorated along with their Son killed in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. Next to them is a previous parish Vicar, his Wife and their Daughter who died on “active” service with the Missionary Service in Kenya in 1979 and another, a plain stone with the individual, no rank or history just DFC and DSO.

Back at the pub and its menu, read the picture and think when the last time you saw a menu like it in a place that counts it’s village population in the very low hundreds. We had the beef and waited the appropriate 45 minutes for it to be prepared. We weren’t disappointed in the slightest.

The Menu at the “Shoes”

Bridport, the local market town deserves a visit, especially the antique centre behind Waitrose, and in particular the Red Brick Cafe, eclectic, left field and cherished locally. View the menu and enjoy the moment. The town itself reeks of tradition and personality, agricultural, artisanal and a strong disdain of wealth and the flaunting of it. There is poverty here but also a sense of being in touch with the essentials and simpleness of life. I like it very much indeed.

Toni”sipping” her cider – or is it mine?

Leaving Dorset is hard to do. Not that we ever intend to live there as our plans of far more flung. However, when we need to recharge and break from the old routine here is where we will be found.

Bridport – East to West

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