Sunday, 2 November 2008

On Hols..

Hello Everyone!  I hope you've all had a good end to the week.  We've made it safely back to London after a great few days in the West Country.  I have quite a few posts  up my sleeve but the pedantic person within must do them in chronological order...

So, on Wednesday we set off earlyish for Somerset but the luxury of more than just a "Friday - Sunday" stay meant we could amble along and take a different route, namely via Hampshire's lovely Alresford and Stockbridge.  A suggestion by Hen to divert this way is never going to be turned down by the rest of the HenHouse because Alresford is indeed home to...

...the Watercress Line, the Mid Hants Steam Railway.  Handily enough, given my other half and the Munchkin are severe steam railway enthusiasts, I've grown to quite enjoy visiting these old railways, representing as they do, all that is fine about life gone by (and a strict contrast with the dreadful, soulless rail travel of today).  Yes, they fall into that beloved category of:  vintage.

The Watercress Line is a real tribute to its supporters, run almost entirely by volunteers (save for a few backroom staff).  Even if you are not engine or railway mad, there is much to appeal to the lover of vintage goodies.  Lovely old suitcases and trunks, enamelled signs, painted wooden bargeboards and canopies on the station buildings, working gas lanterns, station clocks, lamps...

Personally, I love to observe people who have a passion for something "just because"; because it makes them happy, because it makes others happy, the sort of passion that does no harm to other people, wholesome pleasures, where you speak to the people involved and their face lights up with their enthusiasm for their subject. You don't tend to see this passion on the faces of the people you meet in everyday life going about their "everyday" business, do you? But you do meet these people at the surviving steam railways.  I think people who can spend their days doing what really makes them happy are very lucky (I'm doing pretty well!) although I guess lots of people only manage this once they retire.  Certainly, when you visit a steam railway you tend to meet people who are really happy to be there and they're usually doing it for nothing.

Certainly, Mr and Master Munchkin HenHouse were doing what they love last Wednesday morning...

People doing what they love...  This brings me on neatly to our next stop-off.  After a very good lunch in Alresford, we made our way through the winding country lanes, admiring all the beautiful autumnal colours on the trees, the quaint villages with cute thatched cottages, to Stockbridge.  Many a wealthy fellow you shall find here!  There are some very nice individual shops along the picturesque high street against a  backdrop of rolling hills.  

One of my favourites is this shop, the Garden Inn.  It is a florist's shop but it also stocks yummy gifty things.  You know, the sorts of things you don't actually need but which look so lovely you just have to have them: tins with pretty vintage-style writing on them (I confess, I succumbed to one which said "Bird Food"); heart-shaped wreaths cleverly crafted from willow adorned with dried rose buds; cute-shaped stuffed door stoppers and draught excluders; bird boxes painted in sugary pastel hues; wire rabbits to grow box get the picture!

Now,whizzing forward to Thursday morning, I ambled to our village shop in my pjs and fleece(!) to collect our croissants and the Western Gazette only to find the new Country Homes and Interiors mag was out.  Oh joy!  Imagine my surprise when I open it to discover that the first home featured is a lovely little cottage in Hampshire and the owner of the cottage, who has relocated from London, also happens to own...a little Stockbridge...only the Garden Inn!

I imagine there is a lady who is indeed doing what she loves.  

Right outside, the River Test flows through the town and there are always some resident ducks ready to delight visitors (especially ones with a few slices of bread!)

If you get a chance to stop off at Stockbridge, I recommend it.  You would see this old garage which always amuses us...


But just in case you thought you  might fill up...


  1. What a lovely few days away you had! The little train staion looks so picture perfect. Do they use it for T.V and films? If not, they should! Wonderful photos Hen. Kathryn. XX

  2. Welcome back Hen, lovely photo's, is Stockbridge anywhere need Exeter?? Must go there! The train station is beautiful, looks like Heartbeat, and that shop - think I could spend some money there!! Back to normal for you this week
    :( x

  3. Hey Hen, your trip must have been very nice indeed. I love your fotos from this old railwaystation.

  4. Hello, glad you had a wonderful few days. Did you make it to the West Somerset Railway? If ever you make it to West Somerset let me know and perhaps we could meet....? Julie xxxxx

  5. Morning Hen.....i just love old railway stations!
    The Lyons tea sign is fab!

    Looking forward to the rest of your posts......will be a real treat...:>))
    Have a great day.....i'm having a quiet day at home with the little one...we have the new cake stand out with the tea set, she loves it, nice sunny but cold day here, i'm all snugged up in my cashmere jumper and scarf......cosy.

    Voluteers are great!xx

  6. Thank you for all the lovely english pictures. I'm always missing England and looking for pictures of it. Yours are lovely.
    I also like to see pictures of your boy. He's lovely.


  7. Good to have you back, I was thinking of you over the weekend.
    I also bought CH on Saturday (isn't this issue fab?), and the shop looks delightful.
    Looking forward to the rest of your posts

  8. Nice to have you back. I love that train station, it's so pretty and quaint.

  9. Hi there, im very new to the world of blogging but im loving your site. 20 years ago i lived near stockbridge a beautiful part of the country your pictures bought back happy memories.Can't wait for your next blog. July x.

  10. Oh that shop looks fab. And also rather dangerous for the bank balance! The pictures of the railway station are great. We regularly visit Swanage in Dorset and they have a lovely old steam railway there. I love just standing on the platform admiring all the old vintage items.

  11. Morning!

    The train station looks lovely, and I agree with loving peoples enthusiasm that hobbies and interest's bring!

    Look forward to your next posts,

  12. Stockbridge is a real fave of mine as we often stop there when we do our Winchester trip (another of my real faves too!!)
    Looks like you had a wonderful time

  13. Its very sweet......are they still updating it?
    I can't find the competion page and the sale/clearance is not updated either.....

    I'm in the kitchen cooking tea and reading blogs!
    Kids watching some TV(dreadful!)

    I'm looking forward to relaxing tonight!
    Will have my pooter glued to me.....reading blog updates1

  14. I haven't been to Stockbridge in years and I don't even live that far away from there. I remember buying a beautiful heart silver locket there as a girl at an antiques fair, I still have it in my jewelley box. I used to sit and feed the ducks in that spot too. xxx


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