A peek into the past with Landmark Trust open day in Spitalfields

The area of Spitalfields, London is full of architectural charm from the past. Hawksmoor's Christ Church sparkles overhead while at street level the buzzing market offers creative curiosities, surrounded by early brick terraces from the 1700s.

This weekend Landmark Trust gave me an opportunity to see inside one of them. As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations they had opened 25 of their 200 restored properties right across England, Scotland and Wales. Many had never been opened like this before or only rarely and had been carefully picked so that 95% of the British population would be within 50 miles of one of them.

Founded almost 50 years ago by philanthropist John Smith and his wife Christian, the Landmark Trust was set up to try and prevent the loss of smaller historic buildings that the National Trust and the Ministry of Works could not restore.

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

From the first the Landmark Trust had two goals: saving places and promoting public enjoyment of historic buildings. A descendant of the great 19th-century travel pioneer Thomas Cook, the founder John Smith conceived a simple but original model to enable ordinary people to experience living in extraordinary buildings for short periods of time, the holiday let.

Over time the number of amazing properties they have restored has continued to grow. From a Gothic Temple, a Pineapple Pavilion, a House of Correction and a Pigsty to 23 buildings with a fragile eco-system in the Bristol Channel the list is as diverse as it is long.

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

The property opened for those within reach of London was in Princelet Street, Spitalfields.

Originally home to the thrifty and hard working Huguenots, they were a Protestant religious denomination that had fled France to escape persecution in the eighteenth century. They brought with them skills in clock and jewellery making, silver smithing and silk weaving.

The weavers used hand-looms to weave raw silk imported from Italy and brought with them a newly invented technique to give thin silk taffeta its glossy lustre. The Huguenot weavers found inspiration for their designs from insects and flowers, and were fond of hanging window boxes outside their houses and training singing birds. 

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust

Princelet Street is available to book a stay in as are all of the other restored properties by Landmark Trust.

The Landmark is also still involved in new restoration projects and their latest appeal relates to a rare medieval building in the Brecon Beacons region of South Wales. 

Once part of the Llanthony Priory estate, Llwyn Celyn is thought to have been built in the late 15th century, at a time when Wales was recovering from the devastation left after Owen Glyn Dwr’s unsuccessful revolt against English rule.

Built as a grand 3-bay hall, it retains it's late medieval floorplan, with cross passage and service rooms, central hall and solar wing.

Although in the 17th-century, a first floor was inserted into the hall, together with a staircase and chimney flue the status of Llwyn Celyn gradually diminished over the centuries, with further modernisation grinding to a halt.

As a charity Landmark Trust requires donations to raise the funds required to restore properties like this. When successful they become amazing places to stay in or even visit for the day as was the case, this weekend. 

A Country idyll and an abundance of lilac in Falmer village and Withdean Park

Taking my dear ones to somewhere that I've been to and think is absolutely gorgeous is made even better when it turns out that they love it too.

Falmer village is just one of those places, it helps that the sun was shining and everywhere spring was working her magic.

The birds were tweeting (and so was I), greylag geese swam across the pond with their goslings and flowers scattered the ground in the graveyard.

The buildings were covered in the traditional flint of Sussex and one house had the date 1732 on the front of it. The village itself is mentioned in the Domesday book and was at times held by Thomas Cromwell (of Wolf Hall fame) and Anne of Cleves.

Apart from all of these really great reasons for taking a look, St Laurence church regularly hosts free concerts with a retiring collection and there's a fabulous Farm shop that I've just discovered too.

Please note, best to check dates and times of events at the church and for the shop or you might end up going there and nothing's open.  To keep informed about upcoming events Like Falmer Concerts Facebook Page and check out the Farm shop for local produce including apple juice, cheese, strawberries and sausages.

Falmer village

Falmer village


Dining and relaxing at The Pig in Brockenhurst

After relaxing at the Herb House spa we had booked to stay in the New Forest so we took ourselves off to The Pig at Brockenhurst where we had our rooms waiting for us.

Exterior, The Pig in Brockenhurst


An earthly blissful paradise of a day - Lime Wood House spa

Imagine lying on a bed of bubbles. In front of you the bubbles roll forward and off the edge of an infinity pool. The water is warm, the lighting is low, the walls are covered in dark slate and outside the trees are sprouting bright green in spring time.

Herb House spa
~ outdoor hot pool at the Herb House spa ~
Herb House spa
~ April sunshine ~

I'm in the New Forest at the Herb House spa in the grounds of Lime Wood Hotel and I'm with the sis and our mother on a girl's day treat. 


#FoodieFriday - Fine dining and afternoon tea in Rye

Not every meal is amazing, so I quietly don't mention the ones that are just ok. There is also, I have found out no guarantee that a cute looking tea room or a swanky fine dining restaurant will deliver on the essentials.

1) friendly and helpful service
2) tremendous taste
3) ethical, local and small business champion
4) superb presentation

With such a demanding list of requirements it's not surprising I don't go shouting about every meal I eat.

Perhaps the day we went to Rye we were lucky. Perhaps magically the universe realigned itself so I could have two great experiences on the same day, my birthday. Or perhaps Rye is just packed with great places to eat. I can't say for sure.

What I can tell you however is that I've found two great places to eat in Rye. Whether you're looking for a cream tea or a substantial munch, here are a couple of options that come highly recommended. 

Edith's House, Rye, Sussex
~ afternoon tea at Edith's House ~


Day trip to Rye and its smuggling past

Once surrounded by sea, the town of Rye clusters up a hill with buildings dating back to medieval times and has a rich history of smuggling and battles.

There's a pub still in operation that was once visited by Elizabeth I, called The Mermaid Inn (a notorious haunt for smugglers) and houses have whimsical names such as The House Opposite and The House With Two Front Doors.

The House With Two Front Doors, Rye
~ The House With Two Front Doors ~

Oak plank from 15th century prison door, Rye
~ Oak plank from 15th Century prison door, Rye ~
Everywhere there are interesting features to look at or signs to read. It's not surprising it has inspired writers from Rudyard Kipling, who wrote A Smuggler's Song about here to the recently filmed Mapp and Lucia. It was also the home of John Ryan, the creator of Captain Pugwash (cue theme tune in my head).


When the #theFullFix nearly didn't happen

A few weeks ago, still in comp mode, I saw a competition to win a meal on a Facebook page I'd just liked. I didn't think much more about it until I found out I'd won! Yay! This was great news as I love food and the chance to have food cooked by a Chef in my kitchen sounded amazing.

A date was set and to be honest at that stage all I was thinking about was cleaning, cleaning and tidying, a Chef was coming to cook in my kitchen.

The meal was delayed and quite frankly I was glad, there really was more cleaning to do. The date was changed again because my friend couldn't make the new date. Then my friend could no longer make it and I asked another friend and the event was planned for last Wednesday.

That was the day a train derailed at Brighton station causing chaos. The Full Fix team valiantly carried on, carrying the prepped food in ice cooled bags, in the heat, through delays and train changes, all the way to Gatwick. 

Trains were passing through crammed with people because of the derailment, arguments broke out, the Full Fix team, concerned about the spoiling food turned back.

My friend meanwhile had not called, which I thought was strange until I checked Twitter. There I found seven tweet messages from the golden blonde one. Her phone had died and she didn't have my number. She had made it to a pub in Kemptown and borrowed someone's phone to tweet me and wait. 

She had been waiting for two hours.

OMG, I tweeted, I'll be right there. 

Meanwhile, the Full Fix team had rearranged the event to the following evening, but somehow I wasn't sure this was going to happen. You know when sometimes it's just not meant to be.
But I thought, I'll see this through til it happens or we decide to give up on the idea.

Strangely enough, the next night it did happen and it truly was worth the wait and the cleaning.

The only hiccup turned out to be when my phone stopped taking photos and videos because I'd run out of space.

Here are the courses I managed to take pics of and videos with James talking me through the ingredients.

Scallops on Himalayan salt block by Restaurant Fix
Scallops on Himalayan salt block by Restaurant Fix

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