Autumn in the garden at Kylemore was quite exciting this year. Usually it's jobs like pruning back, moving the geraniums closer to the house and generally clearing the old summer growth to let the ground breathe and cleanse in the cold.
It started with my discovery of a a rather nice Deadly Nightshade which had been hiding under a tree peony until its berries gave it away. Everything about this says "poison" and it is very poisonous indeed. So into the bin it went.
Then I found some delightful little psilocybin mushrooms growing out of an apple tree stump. Sweet little pointy mushroom, just perfect for a fairy to wear as a hat. I left them be. They're powerfully hallucinogenic, but not poisonous. And who am I to deny the fairies some rain cover, or something to dance around?
But my biggest surprise was a plant I had noticed in late summer, and assumed it was another invader from the the now-defunct compost heap, possibly a courgette plant, or maybe a pumpkin. When I finally got around to weeding the bed in October, my "courgette" had morphed into something much stranger
That really doesn't look like anything you might grill with a little garlic and lemon zest. And I really, really wouldn't if I were you. A consultation with the internet and it was identified as Datura Stramonium, otherwise known as Jimson Weed, Thorn Apple, Devil's Trumpet, and rather appropriately, Hell's Bells. Hallucinogenic and very toxic, even touching the leaves or seed pods can poison a person. Too dangerous for composting, I dithered and left it where it was. In a typical Glastonbury synchronicity episode we had two young occultist women to stay the following week ... and without any mention or prompting said that they had been looking everywhere for a Datura plant... You can guess the rest. Suitably packed and covered, our Datura went home with carefully vetted, responsible, adoptive parents to its forever family. Awwwww.
There is so much to do and see in Somerset. When our guests are staying for longer than a couple of days, I like to suggest that they explore further afield. Glastonbury is very much a Somerset town, and shares in the distinct character of this part of South-West England. We have been blessed with golden October sun. So Sally and I were delighted to spend a Sunday afternoon at Tyntesfield, a Victorian Gothic house with extensive and beautiful grounds. They even grow their own niche vegetables.
(Veggies at Tyntesfield, which any hobbit would envy!)
Our workshop space at Kylemore House is a comfortable ground-floor room with space for up to 12 people. Its French windows give onto our garden - particularly stunning when our roses are in full bloom. I will be blogging more about workshops and events in a week or two. For now I'll share a detail from our unusual fireplace - a white bouquet from Eloise's Bennet's wonderful Reiki workshop, that remained vibrant and fragrant for days after.
Here in Glastonbury, we have a number of regular events, from spiritual trainings, festivals of celebration to various 'happenings'. Our unique little Somerset town plays host to pilgrims and party people throughout the year. But one of the most popular is the Fairy Fayre & Ball, organised by www.faeryevents.com.
This Autumn's Fairy Fayre takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October and I invite anyone who hasn't experienced Glastonbury filled with fae folk to come and partake! With Samhain approaching, what better time to approach the OtherWorld? And with fairies in our mind, we at Kylemore House wanted to share a picture of one of the many little spirits in our garden (see above). We still have accommodation for the weekend of the Fairy Fayre so if you are staying that weekend, why not come and experience our magical garden too?
Would you like to spend two nights free at a special Bed & Breakfast in the centre of Glastonbury? We are offering two prizes: the winner gets two nights "on the house" here at Kylemore, and the runner up gets one night. These can be any nights, weekday or weekend, subject to availability.
All you have to do to be entered in the draw is follow these steps:
1. Like our Facebook page if you haven't already done so, it's www.facebook.com/kylemorehousebnb
2. Share the Pinned Post on our page announcing the Prize Draw.
3. Don't forget - if you saw the announcement on somebody else's Facebook wall, or on Twitter and Instagram, and you want to be entered in the draw, you will need to go onto our Facebook Page as in Step 1 above, and share the Pinned Post as in Step 2, or else we cannot include you.
4. Please share word about the Prize Draw through all your social media accounts so that as many people have a chance to enter as possible!
The campaign will run until 15 October, when we will put all your names in a hat and a local Glastonbury resident will randomly pick the winner and runner up. We will then announce the lucky winners on our Facebook Page.
Thank you for reading this, good luck...and get sharing!
Like many towns in England Glastonbury marked the millennium. Not with a large clock or a statue, but with a walking trail which highlights the history of the town through its architecture. It’s lovely to see the increasing number of people walking in Glastonbury along the old pilgrim routes, some using the millennium map, some on guided tours.
The town is on a fairly gentle slope, so is suitable for all levels of fitness and ability, and with a map you can take your time, set your own pace and pause when and where you like.
There are brass plaques at various places along the route, some in the pavement, and some set in walls. It takes about one hour at a leisurely pace to complete the walk, which begins and ends at the Town Hall.
I was very pleased to see that Kylemore is mentioned on the plaque opposite our house as “the pretty 18th century Georgian house” – well, we can only agree!
The eight page guide can be downloaded from the Glastonbury Antiquarian Society’s website here, where it has been enlarged and alternate routes provided by local historian and antiquarian Mr. Neil Bonham.
One correction – the Tourist Information Office has moved from the Tribunal building to St. Dunstan’s House, which is next to the Abbey car park. It’s well worth a visit.
I am very happy to announce that we are now offering courses, retreats and spiritual workshops here at Kylemore House. Many of our visitors have commented on the healing ambience of the house and its garden, and we look forward to offering a fascinating and diverse range of workshops and other experiences.
My own teaching will be taking place almost exclusively here at Kylemore. We have our own page on Facebook, entitled Glastonbury Hermetics, where you can see our current events. The next two diary dates are
Because we aim to provide a rich programme of retreats, experiences and trainings, we will also be hosting events by many other workers in the spiritual field. Our first invited workshop was Eloise Bennett's Angelic Reiki I & II. We were delighted to welcome Eloise and all the students considered the two-day workshop a great success. We have already booked Eloise for more weekend workshops including
Journeys into the Heart© The Inner Path on 8-9 September
If you are interested in our courses, or would like to discuss using our space for workshops, you can contact me directly.
In our first two months' business, we have been blessed with some fascinating guests. Pilgrims and healers; those on a quest of the body, mind or spirit; visitors from Australia, China, Japan, Bali, South Africa, America, Canada, Italy and Turkey.
This morning we were fortunate to have a teacher of English and Drama, a massage therapist and an expert on manuscripts of the Islamic world! It made for a pretty lively and fascinating conversation, and certainly gave the brains of everyone around the table a good workout! While fruit and tasty granola was served, people described their background and journeys. Over toast, rolls and eggs we got into pretty deep territory: the difference between words on a page and a real-life performances of theatre and music; the amazing memory of bards and ancient poetry recitors; the relationship between theory and practice; and how this relates to religion!
It may have been the good and strong coffee we serve here at Kylemore House, but the ideas were certainly flowing and I learned a lot from our guests, as I have several times since we opened.
Other mornings may have a more quiet, meditative mood as croissants or even a surprise birthday cake created by Sally are enjoyed in peace and the day's events are planned.
Glastonbury is endlessly surprising. Pilgrims come here with their own wisdom and expertise, and alchemy can happen amid yoghurt and strawberries at 9am just as much as in a conference or seminar.
We do enjoy magical meetings here at Kylemore House. In fact they are part of our mission statement. So stay tuned for more announcements about workshops, salons and meetings!
Reasons to visit Glastonbury #100
Just outside Glastonbury is one of the finest bird reserves in the West of England. Ham Wall Nature Reserve, is a wetland teeming with birds and other wildlife. The old peat diggings were allowed to fill with water and today are home to some very rare birds. I’ve often heard, but never seen, the shy bittern, now happily nesting and breeding. The male’s booming sounds like a low bass guitar note being twanged through a big speaker; once heard, never forgotten. The swooping marsh harrier, one of the largest of the harrier family sweeps majestically from high stands of trees. Tiny kingfishers flit along the shadier banks, and if you’re very lucky, you might see an otter.
Other easy to spot residents are the many herons, swans, ducks, and the very beautiful Large Egret, now a common sight. Ravens have been seen in the big trees at the Sharpham end, and several cuckoos have been spotted recently.
But one of the main attractions at Ham Wall is an ordinary bird: the starling. Not very exciting on its own, but in thousands, swooping aerobatically through the evening sky as if following a choreographed dance sequence, they are one of the most entrancing sights.
Even if birds are not your passion, the landscape is starkly beautiful – huge sky with golden reeds to the horizon, and an amazing view of Glastonbury Tor across the levels. Lovely for walking, enjoying the open air, and cloud-watching.
Nearby Shapwick Heath, Westhay Moor and the Avalon Marshes Centre form the remainder of the group of nature reserves preserving our beautiful wild Somerset places.
No, it’s not me in an LBD with a diamond necklace. More likely a flour-smudged apron with a tea towel on my shoulder.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, even though I don’t eat it. Why? Well, it’s the meal we serve our guests so for us it’s an opportunity to interact with people, give them food and drink, and hopefully send them on their way feeling satisfied and looked after.
We agonised for months over what to serve our guests…we had long discussions about Full Englishes vs. raw smoothies, working from what we regarded as two extreme positions to a compromise centre ground.
We eventually decided on a mixture of cereals, always with fresh fruit, toast using artisan bread, and something freshly baked from scratch by myself: scones, healthy muffins and so on.
This has worked very well so far, we have been complimented on the taste and appearance of our breakfasts.
My banana and walnut loaf has been a great success, so I’m going to share the recipe here. It’s a classic recipe which I’ve tweaked slightly, it’s easy to make and just as good at afternoon tea as at breakfast – assuming it lasts that long.
Banana and Walnut Breakfast Loaf
125g (4oz) butter
180g (6oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
4 medium bananas – ideally nice and ripe.
250g (8oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g (4oz) walnuts roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C.
Butter a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin and line with baking parchment.
Mash the bananas with a fork.
Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and light and then whisk in the mashed bananas.
Add the egg, milk, and a pinch of salt and mix well. Sieve the flour and baking powder and beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes to one hour. Check it’s done by piercing with a knife or a skewer, it should come out clean. Cool in the tin, and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Slice and serve with fresh butter.
From the Stony River to the Sky