Monday, 12 October 2015

Shaftsbury - Top O' The (Golden) Hill

Saturday meant an early start for SD and I.

SD is known as much for his dislike of early mornings as he is for his low boredom threshold and this weekend the two were in conflict.

SD had grown tired of his beach buggy during the Summer mainly due to the fact that there was very little he could do to it.  The buggy had been built to very specific specifications and used as a drag racer.  This meant that without making some fairly major changes it isn't great for road use (crashy on the front and a tiny 3 gallon tank amongst other things).

I've got to say that apart from the fact that it was a very pretty buggy it didn't really do it for me either what with the very narrow racing seats that I slightly over spilled and the fact that SD removed the windscreen so we arrived everywhere with a light pebble dashing of bugs!

Anyway, he put it up for sale and a nice man from France expressed an interest.

Given that he was travelling such a distance to collect it SD arranged to meet him at Willoughby Hedge services in Wiltshire about an hours drive for us and part way from Portsmouth where the ferry docked for him at 9am. .

We left to pick up the buggy from the farm just after 7am which gave me no time  at all to shower or wash my hair let alone think about what to wear or put on any makeup!

'But what if he's some suave, sophisticated, gorgeous Frenchman' I wailed.

'I think he's probably slightly more interested in the buggy than you' SD pointed out ...

(Fortunately he was more the sort of short, slightly plump type of Frenchman although very charming and with a fist full of fifty pound notes ...).

The deed was done - the deal struck and by 10:30 after freezing the brass balls off the Frenchman by taking a blast up the duel carriageway on a cold October morning we were done and had the rest of the day to ourselves.

A quick glance at a map had us considering our options and we settled on a trip to Shaftsbury.

It was my first visit to Shaftsbury but I'm sure it wont be my last.

What a lovely place steeped in history!

The “Shaston” of Thomas Hardy’s novels, Shaftesbury is one of the oldest and highest towns in England and dominates what Hardy called the “engirdled and secluded” Blackmore Vale.

Our first stop was the Ridings Cafe and Artisan Bakery set slightly below the height of the pavement we stepped down into a low beamed, olive green room filled with the scent of baking bread and hot coffee.

My eyes were drawn to the tempting selection of cakes and pastries.

'Would you like some cake?' asked SD.

Would I?  WOULD I???

The only confusing thing about that question was the superfluous question mark - of COURSE I wanted cake!!!

I eventually settled on a piece of pear cake scattered with dark chocolate drops.


The proprietor was an extraordinary man and one that I'm not sure was entirely suited to running a business that meant he had to interact with the public.

He had a slightly surly attitude and I watched as he scrapped the burnt bits off a slice of beautiful oat crusted bread that he had 'toasted' for one customer before proceeding to burn a teacake for another.

Once my appetite was sated we went for a wander around the town calling in at various charity shops where I bought myself a pretty galvanised  jug for a couple of pounds:

We passed by the town hall where there was a craft fair in progress:

Inside was an Aladdin's cave of china, glass, furniture and knick knacks and I bought Miss Mac a lovely skeleton badge of a fish in brushed copper for her rucksack collection of badges as well as some postcards of famous (and some not so famous) works of art:

At the back of the town hall I glanced out of the window:

And there in all it's glory was Golden Hill.

Golden Hill is an incredibly steep picturesque cobbled street and the view looking from the top has been described as one of the most romantic in England.

The image of this view appears on the covers of many books about Dorset and rural England, as well as on countless chocolate boxes and calendars.

Gold Hill has also been used as a setting for film and television. It appears in the 1967 film version of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd. The street is also the setting for the 1973 "Boy on Bike" television advert for Hovis bread directed by Ridley Scott and voted Britain's favourite advertisement of all time.

Despite the early start/no makeup/hair could do with a brush/possibly still wearing my PJ's look I was sporting of COURSE I had to have my photo taken on the hill!

It has such a timeless genteel feel to it (but no, I didn't walk to the bottom and up again!).

Of course because I was with SD we found a small car show going on too!

Seriously, they seem to happen wherever we go, it's like he's drawn to them through some kind of capillary action or something.

While SD looked at the cars I looked at the view and what a STUNNING view it was:

This photo really doesn't do it justice.  It was a slightly hazy day but on a clear day you can see  right across the Blackmore Vale which is  part of the River Stour basin as far as Glastonbury Tor to the northwest.

Oh, and if you fancy a spot of lunch then why not try here - at least your dining companions won't be making too much noise ...

I absolutely loved Shaftsbury and had such a lovely day there.  If you're ever in the area then don't miss the chance to visit.


Polly said...

Smashing post Sarah and lovely photos, Shaftsbury is on my list of places to visit. What a great day you had, I love your way of writing. I remember the Hovis ad x

Sarah said...

Thank you Polly and seriously, DO go if you get the chance. I'm always conscious of how much I leave out of posts like this, there's loads to see there x

Brighton Pensioner said...

Gold Hill has long been on my 'want to visit' list but, sadly, seems doomed to stay there for quite some time yet - although you make it even more wanted!

K Ville said...

need to go. need that jug. need cake!

Sarah said...

I hope you do manage to get there BP, such a lovely town and Gold Hill is very special.

You DO K and I would happily give you my jug and share a slice of cake with you (KIDDING ... I NEVER share cake ;-)