River cottages in Winchester…

Days: 453 (21 September 2015)

Total distance travelled: 120,372.5 kilometres (74,765.5 miles)

During the summer of 2013 we’d splurged on the food front, an expensive excursion (the dining experience would be expensive, not the train trip) out to the rural hamlet of Bray saw us indulge in an amazing degustation menu at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.

Fast forward to the Autumn of 2015, and the purse strings are pulled well and truly tighter, but we’re not ones to let that inhibit our food desires, so what to do?

For a long while now, we’ve been a fan of the River Cottage franchise, pioneered by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and more recently launched closer to home (there is now an Australian version) with Paul West.

The River Cottage farms were just a little too far afield for us this time, but it turns out there’s a River Cottage Canteen (one of their dining establishments) not so far from London in Winchester!

But Winchester wasn’t all about the food, despite that being the primary reason for our visit.

Another city to develop from a Roman settlement (we seem to be developing a bit of a theme in regards this), it is also home to a most famous cathedral and some other amusing history as well.

Another short train ride from London, although unlike our Saint Albans excursion the previous day, the skies were very dull, and we were there.

Winchester, a city of history (left) & A slightly damp day, our welcome (right)

Winchester, a city of history (left) & A slightly damp day, our welcome (right)

Our first stop was the Great Hall, essentially all that really remains of the once grand Winchester Castle.

It is also famous for being the home to King Arthurs Round Table!

For a long while, many people did indeed believe that the grand piece that hangs from the walls of the hall was it, however carbon dating has put to bed that dream, instead confirming that it is most likely a piece commissioned (or at least painted for), Henry the VIIIth.

Whatever the true story, it’s a pretty impressive piece!

The 'Great Hall' (left) & Sure a round table, but no Camelot here... (right)

The ‘Great Hall‘ (left) & Sure a round table, but no Camelot here… (right)

It is however the city’s cathedral that bears the burden of great fame, as one of the largest gothic cathedrals in all of Europe.

Apparently it’s nave is the longest, whilst it also possesses the greatest overall length, but it is for a couple of other pieces of history, one slightly quirky, that appealed to me more than its grandeur as a religious icon.

For those fans of English writing, the cathedral is in fact the final resting place for one of the nations most famous literary names, Jane Austen. This her tomb place since her death almost two hundred years ago…

But she and the cathedral was almost lost.

Nearly one hundred years later, the cathedral was floundering under its immense weight and due to waterlogged foundations.

Cue William Walker (not the American filibuster who once ruled Nicaragua).

William Walker the diver.

You think you have a shit job?

Try working under the cathedral, diving six hours a day, for six years, in cold, total darkness!

For his work in packing the foundations with concrete and stone (basically saving the joint from collapse), he was inducted into the Royal Victorian Order.

What that meant for William who’d had no social life for six years… who knows?

The grand Winchester Cathedral (left) & Final resting place of that literary icon, Jane Austen (right)

The grand Winchester Cathedral (left) & Final resting place of that literary icon, Jane Austen (right)

The wet and the cold meant only one thing.

We were well and truly ready to get indoors, shed our wet layers and enjoy some good food.

Welcome to the River Cottage Canteen!

Welcome to River Cottage Canteen!

Welcome to River Cottage Canteen!

Beautifully placed within an old mill...

Beautifully placed within an old mill…

With their mantra of fresh, seasonal and sustainable produce, we were curious to see what offerings would be available, and after a perusal of the menu, we all quickly spied a few items we’d happily tuck into.

Drinks were ordered, or mental shortlists were trimmed down, and before long we were tucking into some deliciously fresh and tasty fare.

Best of all, we were indoors, dry and happy, whilst out, the weather was cold, wet and almost wintry!

Pan fried hake from the South coast (left) & Polenta, forest mushrooms and goats cheese. All fresh and all delicious (right)

Pan fried hake from the South coast (left) & Polenta, forest mushrooms and goats cheese salad. All fresh and all delicious (right)

Seasonally sweet. Winter berry cheesecake (left) & A little tipple of their own stuff (right)

Seasonally sweet. Winter berry cheesecake (left) & A little tipple of their own brew (right)

Our lunch was delicious, and we couldn’t help ourselves but indulge in dessert.

It proved a brilliant way to cap off a pretty good excursion on a dull and dreary day…

 

Notes:

* Our train fare from London (Waterloo station) to Winchester cost £15.00 per person return.

* Entrance into the ‘Great Hall’ was FREE (donations gladly accepted).

* To enter Winchester Cathedral, there was a fairly hefty £7.50 price tag!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in England and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to River cottages in Winchester…

  1. I’m so adding this to my list. After all, King Arthur’s roundtable!

  2. It’s too bad that science had to come in a ruin a good story about Arthur’s Round Table. It is still an impressive display even though it’s not Camelot. Also thanks for the tip about River Cottage and their Canteen.

  3. Mar Pages says:

    When I saw the the cheesecake I actually said “yum” out loud. haha. What a cool little excursion, so much history in that place. Sorry for old William though.

  4. Abigail says:

    Food is definitely a huge part of my motivation to travel. It seems that your desire for good food was satisfied. They all look amazing and would travel there for the food alone. But I love a bit of history. It is so fun to learn about a city or place by simply walking around and stumbling upon the ruins and old buildings.

  5. Top 2 most important thing for us when we travel is food. It defines a lot if we loved the place we visited or not. Thanks for the recommendations!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s