Shrewsbury Abbey

I managed to get away for a few hours this afternoon during Puppy’s nap. I decided to head out to Shrewsbury Abbey. First, I thought to grab something quick for lunch, but was lured by the signs for La Lanterna Italian restaurant that took me through twisty medieval streets to the back of St. Mary’s Church.

The restaurant was in the basement of this building, the old church vestry.

The interior was tiny and very cosy, with the theme decidedly Italy.

What had caught my eye was the set menu for £8.50. It came with a glass of wine, bread, a really lovely salad…

…a slice of very garlicky bruschetta, and a generous portion of creamy pasta with greens, tomatoes, olives, and bacon. Wow!

This gourmet meal was a bargain even by Balkan standards! I was really impressed. Service was stellar, too. It wasn’t till I got home that I checked out reviews for the restaurant and they all praise it highly. I really discovered a hidden gem.

Here’s the lobby of the basement entrance with the entrance to the restaurant. Love the stained glass.

I made my way down some stairs to the High Street and turned left to cross the river and get to the abbey.

First glimpse of Shrewsbury Abbey!


I couldn’t believe that I was there. Of course, I knew that almost nothing remains of the original medieval abbey.  From Wikipedia: “The Abbey was founded in 1083 as a Benedictine monastery by the Norman Earl of ShrewsburyRoger de Montgomery. It grew to be one of the most important and influential abbeys in England and an important centre of pilgrimage. Although much of the Abbey was destroyed in the 16th century, the nave survived as a parish church and today serves as the mother church for the Parish of Holy Cross.”

I walked around the exterior a bit to take in the Victorian parts.

Admission to the abbey is free, but they suggest a donation of “at least £2.” They had guides in many languages and I picked a French one. The translation was decent.

This is the only original stained glass. You can tell that stained glass is really old if it’s wavy and kind of buckling.

This is a very recent stained glass made by a woman named Jane Grey. It is of Saint Winefride, a Welsh woman tied to a number of legends.

I spent about 15 minutes in the abbey reading about its unusual history of partial demolition and reconstruction. It was a grand,  draughty old space. Its guardians are very friendly and welcoming; available for questions, but not intrusive. I’m really glad I had a chance to visit!

It was then time to head back across The English Bridge and head home as Puppy surely needed to be let out.

I passed the front of St. Mary’s Church since I wanted to pop into the Tesco Express near Barclay’s to get coffee.

It was raining steadily when I came out Tesco and, of course, I had forgotten my umbrella. But it wasn’t a hard drizzle so the walk home wasn’t too unpleasant.

Here’s a rough map of my day, although not of my route.

On a Shrewsbury Ramble

It was rather a sad day not to have work and to be waiting for deliveries since it was so sunny out! I managed to convinced Puppy to go for a decent walk around the block after the Amazon guy came, but she’s really not keen on the idea of walks yet so we didn’t get far.

I was expecting Tesco between two and three. In Hebden, they came right near the start of the delivery slot. Here, they came about two minutes before the end of it! The driver was really concerned that my pack of mixed veggies had been substituted for one that he didn’t think sounded similar. I assured him that I’d put “can sub any on offer without mushrooms” on my order form so what I ended up with was fine. I really like these Tesco stir fry “kits” for just £5 where you get noodles, sauce, veggies, and meat, which you can all mix and match in many different combinations. Last time, I did pork with egg noodles and a prune hoisin sauce. Tonight, it’ll be chicken with rice noodles and a lemongrass coconut sauce. These are really good value for me since I get three meals out of them.

The Tesco order sorted, I had a quick lunch of mediocre sushi that was on offer and then I exhausted Puppy so she could have a nap while I went out and enjoyed the blue sky and SUN.

I decided to go back downtown by way of the train station and see if I could do a loop back home. Spoiler: I was able to and it wound up being a two-mile walk. So the town is not as big as I thought it would be. I had less far to go in Hebden to get “downtown,” but there I had the huge hills to contend with while the terrain here is much more flat and a lot less slippery. It’ll be easier here to motivate myself to go out for a stroll.

The directions my host left me to get to their place had this building, Morris Lubricants, as a landmark. It’s rather impressive.

I can’t believe I didn’t notice the castle when I came out of the train station on Saturday or on my walk yesterday!

Overpass by the train station.

Shrewsbury train station. When I was there on Saturday, the emergency vehicles had “heddlu,” Welsh for police, on them, but today they were marked in English.

Passing this restaurant, I realised that I knew exactly where I was and got my first inkling that the town is very compact.

Looking back to the train station while standing in front of the restaurant. I like the tower on that building to the left.

I climbed a staircase next to this plaque, thinking I could get some information about the castle, but it ended up being a foot path on the outside of the castle walls.

Looking back down to the train station.

Should have brought my camera. My phone’s pictures suck in this kind of light. 🙁

Looking towards the castle entrance.

I ducked into a medieval alley to see what was what and turned a corner to find this interesting construction.

I turned back to the main street through downtown and from there followed yesterday’s route home.

It’s been a quiet day and a good one to get to know Puppy and her routine better. Not having work was rather lovely, especially since it looks like at least a small part of the large non-transcription project should be a go. I expect to hear back from the client about that in a few hours. Now, off to make some stir fry and try some of that very inexpensive Tesco bitter I bought. At £0.25 per can, my expectations are low. 🙂


As I suspected, puppy sitting is going to be quite the wonderful challenge! It will definitely get easier once we settle into a routine, just as happened with the dogs in Bulgaria. My charge is so cute, smart, and cuddly and I’m absolutely smitten. 🙂

I actually had quite a lovely first evening with my charge. I was told to expect that she has moments where she’s practically bouncing off the walls and moments where she’s quiet. I took a quiet time to heat up the lasagna my hosts left for me and enjoyed that immensely with a glass of white wine and some olives. I felt rather spoiled! By the time I’d cleaned the kitchen, the puppy was ready for some play, so I tossed her a ball for a while and let her chase it. She’s definitely got the concept down that she needs to give me back the ball for me to toss it again!

I got her to bed around 11PM and then promptly went to sleep myself as I was knackered.

It was not the puppy but a weird rattling that woke me up around four. Gah. I figured that since I was up I might as well take her out for a pee so that I could go back to sleep after. She wasn’t too keen on being rousted out of her warm bed, but she finally went out. I went back to bed and after almost two hours managed to doze off again (I could not find the source of the rattle, augh). I finally got up at nine.

The morning routine is going to be similar to Bulgaria, where I need to exhaust the puppy before being able to settle down with coffee, breakfast, and work.

When the most pressing of the day’s work was done, I headed out, around 11:30, to find the Barclay’s and get my first real taste of Shrewsbury.

I walked along the shores of the River Severn to downtown (about one mile away).

I passed this interesting sculpture.

The downtown core was a warren of tiny streets, some pedestrian only, lined with mostly Tudor-style buildings. It’ll be fun to come back and explore properly.

I enjoyed listening to an accordion player and danced with him for a bit before leaving him a few coins.

This particularly crooked house reminded me of Amsterdam.

I found the Barclay’s easily enough. I like being back in a country, like Spain, where I get free withdrawals because I don’t need to take out as much at one time to reduce the number of $5 foreign ATM withdrawal charges I rack up. It makes it easier to budget and, of course, it’s less risky.

This wasn’t a morning for dawdling since I had a large difficult file left to do, plus it was cold and spitting rain. I popped into a Greggs for a coffee to warm my hands for the long walk home. This was a much bigger one, where you could eat in and there was a stand for folks to add their own milk and sugar. I accepted a coffee card, although I don’t know if I’ll manage to buy 10 to get my free one by the time I get home. It could happen, though, if I end up spending a few days in London before heading back to Canada since Greggs has the best price I’ve seen so far for coffee and it’s really good!

I enjoyed going down this narrow alleyway.

I stopped in at this pub because my hosts told me they do an inexpensive “Sunday lunch.” It sounds like a good deal at £6.95 so I might do that one week. I didn’t realise that you need reservations, so it wasn’t an option for today.

This pretty church is near my house.

I came in and put together a Tesco order. My hosts did a great job directing me to the various supermarkets around here, but I found that I really liked doing the Tesco thing in Hebden for the convenience and how much money I saved versus going out and doing my shopping nearly daily. I had to pay a £3.50 delivery charge this time since my free trial has expired, but that’s worth it to me. It’ll come tomorrow afternoon as will another order that I’ll blog about tomorrow. So tomorrow will be a stay in day.

Then, I managed to get my work done. The puppy is way too interested in the foot pedal cord and my earbuds, so I have to keep them away from her. If I’m at the table with just my computer, she’s happy to lie at my feet and go to sleep, but when I’m transcribing, the cords are too tempting for her and she can’t leave them alone. I go through this with the new cats in my life, so I’m sure she’ll get used to it. Thankfully, there is a very strong possibly that a large non-transcription project is coming down the pipeline at the most perfect timing imaginable.

It’s been a really good first day of puppy sitting. My biggest worry was getting enough sleep (a huge issue in Bulgaria) and if the first night was any indication, that will be fine. I love playing and cuddling with her and watching her sleep after a particularly exhausting play session. Did I mention how cute she is and that I’m smitten? 🙂

Manchester to Shrewsbury

I had a pretty decent night in Manchester except that I woke up way too early and couldn’t get back to sleep. 🙁 My hosts had asked me to sneak out quietly this morning as they are late risers (I didn’t meet them since they came in after I’d gone to bed). I did so around 8:45, with my train being at 9:30. It was a very short walk to Piccadilly, where I was able to collect my previously purchased ticket from a machine. I really need to do a post about sorting out public transit in England because it is such a mess. But anyway, the ticket collection process has thus far always been quick and painless.

I then went to the Greggs just outside the station to try one of their “infamous” sausage rolls. One of those with a perfect Americano were just £2. The sausage roll was nice, but like Nando’s felt more than a bit over hyped.

I then found my platform, grateful that the departures boards had all destinations, not just the terminal points. But when I got on the platform, the sign above it had conflicting information that gave me the impression that the train on the platform was not mine and that mine would be late. I didn’t even have time to look for help when a kindly woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You all right, love?” I must have looked really confused! She confirmed that the train at the platform was mine. It was already super crowded and the aisle was very narrow, so I got a lot of dirty looks as I squeezed past everyone, laden down as I was like a packhorse because I had one more bag than I normally do since I had some leftover groceries from Hebden.

The trip was just over an hour and not particularly memorable. We were about ten minutes late coming into Shrewsbury. My hosts had provided me with detailed walking directions from the train station, so I got to the house without any issues. The husband had gone looking for me as they were appalled they hadn’t thought to come meet me and thought I was lost. Nope, very good walking directions meant I was happy for the walk after the train ride, especially since the terrain was almost flat!

I’m staying in another quintessential Victoria row house, only this one is quite a bit bigger (still not a large house, though), with access at street level. I am minding an absolutely adorable and affectionate whippet puppy. We’re already getting along fine, but I can tell I’m going to need to be vigilant with my things as I’ve already caught her chewing on my shoes! My hosts work from home so she’s not used to be left alone for long, plus she’s still toilet training. So I can’t be out for more than four or five hours, preferably in the mornings. I was invited to stay a few days past the sit if I want to go exploring further afield, like taking a jaunt into Wales. That’s likely what I’ll do as it would be shame to be so close to the border not go! All the signage on the train was bilingual English/Welsh, which was rather neat.

My hosts here were super thoughtful and left me pizzas, lasagna, wine, and beer, plus some other fresh things! Like when I got to Hebden, it was fantastic to be able to get lunch together easily. After that, I went to the shop around the corner to get some breakfasty stuff until I can get to a proper supermarket.

I think Shrewsbury is going to be a lot of fun to explore. There’s certainly more touristy stuff to do than in Hebden. I’ve got three weeks here, so even with work and puppy responsibilities, I should be able to get out and see a bit of it. My teenage self can’t believe she’s here, fan as she was of the Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael mysteries set here in Shrewsbury. It took a couple of decades, but I finally made it here! 😀

Well, I’d better get to work. I’m sure glad I didn’t stress out over the dry spell. 😀