Monday, July 20, 2020

Dunster Castle

Wouldn't it be nice to visit England again with me?  I realize I have not finished posting about our Golden Anniversary trip!  So come along with me and we'll take a look at more of lovely England.  It certainly will be a cooler day than the one we are experiencing here today!  Our temperatures will hit over 100 degrees.  So sit back and enjoy a ride through the countryside of Somerset.

I never tire seeing the lovely landscape of Great Britain!  We decided to take a drive along the A39 that hugs the coastline between England and the Bristol Bay!  

We learned that Somerset got its interesting name because folks used to flock here in the summer to enjoy the bay.  Hence-Summer Set stuck as the name.  In the distance you can almost see Wales!  Waving to you Deb!

As we were enjoying the lovely scenery, we spotted a National Trust sign for Dunster Castle.  I must admit we did not know about this property, but decided to have a look.  As I mentioned before we are members of the Royal Oak Foundation that is an arm of the National Trust so we have admission to all of their properties.

We learned that there has been a castle here for over 1000 years then as a Victorian country house.  

The 13th century gateway is the oldest part of the castle.  

The building was remodeled by Anthony Salvin between 1868 and 1872 for the Luttrell family that lived here for 600 years!  Come inside with us and we'll take a look around.

The first thing I notice is the beautiful woodwork.  Lovely carvings.  I love the blue and white china placed in the mantel.

The furnishings are quite elaborate and feature the Victorian decor and collections of the family.

Plastered ceilings throughout the castle are exquisite! 

The table is set for dinner.  Won't you please take a seat?

Hopefully a pre-dinner tipple will be served to the lady of the manor as well!

I always enjoy seeing the kitchens of these old manor homes.  This style is quite modern.  The Luttrell family gave the castle and its environs to the National Trust in 1976.  

Outside of the kitchen area we continue to view more beautiful carving.

Dunster Castle sits high on a steep hill called a Tor that gives beautiful views of the Bristol Bay area.

The bedrooms are furnished with lovely poster beds.

This quilt was made around 1830 and adorns one of the beds.  It was made by one of the Luttrell women.

Dunster Castle's library is quite cozy.  Maybe we can have a seat and check out a volume or two. 

Step outside with us as we view the vast property and its beauty.

It's quite surprising to see the palm trees here!

What a happy surprise to come upon Dunster Castle.

As we left we decided to continue along the coast and enjoy the beautiful views that awaited us.

Oh England, how I miss your beauty.

Though the ride was a little scary at times, it was so magnificent!  

Thank you for coming along with us as we continue to remember.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Blackberry Roll Revisited

Each morning Grayden and I get up early and walk the Heritage Trail that winds around the river and the old Canal.  Getting a early start before it gets too warm insures that we will be able to get our exercise in for the day.  It's so lovely to see the progression of flowering wildflowers and the animals that inhabit this unique area.  As we walk we have observed many blackberry flowers and hoped to see the fruit ripen.  The past weeks have delighted me as the red fruit has turned a lovely black signaling the blackberries are ready to eat.  Every morning Grayden picks three or four of them and I enjoy a yummy remembrance of being a child and picking blackberries with my family growing up.  Here is a post from a few years ago.

Blackberry Roll

Do you love or dislike blackberries?  Grayden is not a fan of these sweet juicy berries because of the seed that seems to catch one by surprise.  Even with the seed, I love these little jewels from nature.  In late July and August and into September, blackberries grow wild alongside the rural roads of VA.  Many folks are now concerned that we shouldn't consume these berries for fear of toxins and other exhaust fumes that comes from the vehicles that travel the roads.  There are many berry farms where you can go and pick cultivated blackberries.

I was reminded of blackberry season when I visited Deb's blog Country Days and Cottage Ways where she was showing her blackberries.  Deb lives in Wales and has a delightful blog and I'm sure she would welcome your visit.

 Every summer that I can remember always included a trip to a road on the way to my Daddy's work that was full of blackberries.  Mama would have us put on old long sleeve shirts and long pants to go pick blackberries even though it was hot.  As most of you know, blackberries grow among brambles and brush that is usually home to ticks and mosquitoes and the dreaded poison ivy and poison oak.  I remember coming home with pails of juicy blackberries.  Of course we always ate a bunch while picking and our clothes were stained with purple juice.  We knew that when we returned home Mama would make a Blackberry Roll!  Mama said she remembered her Mama and her Mama's mother making this dessert.  My great grandmother and Nanny lived in rural Clifton Forge before moving to Richmond where her children could work in the tobacco factories.  My Nanny said there were blackberries everywhere and they made jams and jellies and of course Blackberry Roll.  During really rough times, blackberries that were put up were about the only food they had to eat.

Thinking about the humble blackberry and Deb's reference made me want to make a Blackberry Roll.  My Nanny and my Mama hardly ever used a recipe.  So I don't have their recipe exactly.  They cooked and baked by feel.  A blackberry roll is basically a rich biscuit rolled with juicy blackberries in the center.  Here is my Blackberry Roll made with grocery store blackberries.

Blackberry Roll

  1. about a quarter cup of sugar or more if blackberries are tart
  2. 2-3 cups of blackberries
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  6. 1/4 cup of cold butter  (I'm sure my Mama used shortening and my Nanny and great-grandmother used lard
  7. around 2/3 cup of whole milk or more if needed to make soft dough
  8. 2 or 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  9. 1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  
Mix together your blackberries and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mix together, flour, salt and baking powder.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until soft pea sized butter is showing.  Add as much milk you need to form a soft dough. Don't over mix as your dough will become tough.

I like to use a muslin cloth and sleeve that goes over my rolling pin to roll out dough for biscuits or pie crust.  You can find these in any good baking department.  I've had these pieces over 30 years and I keep them in the fridge to make sure they are cold.  You can wash them in your washer when needed.

Roll your dough in an rough 12 by 15 or so rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the rolled dough.  Then place your berry mixture on the rectangle.

Roll in jelly roll fashion, from the long side and seal the edges of the dough.  With seam side down, place your roll onto a baking dish.

Work quickly as the juice will want to escape.  Make slits on the top of the roll and sprinkle the whole roll with sugar.

I baked mine for 25 minutes until it was lightly browned on top.  You can top with whipped cream or ice cream, but my Mama never did.

It was a lot of fun remembering this very special dessert from my childhood.  Of course, I don't think my Blackberry Roll was as good as my Mama and my Nanny's was, but it sure was nice remembering these times from my past.  Have you ever been blackberry picking or made a Blackberry Roll?