Tag: national trust property

Autumn in Canons Ashby

While Summer is by far my favourite season, Autumn is dear to me too.  As mentioned, I love the rich changes of the colours of the leaves.  It’s nature weaving out its magic in its finest, isn’t it?  What’s not to love about Autumn?  Yes, it’s definitely colder, but it’s also an excuse to wear lovely chunky knits, and warm over-sized coats!

We went over to Beds to see family during the half-term break.  It was also T’s grandfather’s 90th birthday.  We’re pleased to see him really well and strong in mind.  He has a youthfulness which I hope will always stay with him.

While over there, we also had the chance to visit Canons Ashby, a National Trust house in a small village with the same name as the property.  Built in the 16th century, it’s been home to the Dryden family for over 400 years.

Highlights from the visit – finding medieval doodles on the wall.

According to one of the guides there, in the 80s, when this particular bedroom was stripped off its rotting panels, they found lovely etchings that dates to medieval times.  If you peer at the photo above closely, you’ll see a child-like doodle of a girl obviously made by a child.  The next ones (as seen on photos below) were obviously done by someone older.

All on this wall:

T enjoyed poking about in the small rooms in the house.

While Canons Ashby doesn’t have a large garden like the other National Trust properties, it was still a joy to walk on, or in T’s case, skip about.

The vibrant autumn colours were in full boom in Canons Ashby.

We also visited the13th century Abbey nearby.

Like all National Trust properties, the place is steeped in history.  Our link to the past, or if you’re an 8-year-old little girl like T, a place to skip and jump about.

So far, I haven’t visited any National Trust or English Heritage property and was disappointed in the end…. Have you?  Do share.

The Flowers of Castle Drogo

I must have flowers, always and always.  – Claude Monet

And it’s no wonder that the famous the French artist went on and created paintings of them one after the other.  I’m no artist.  I knew that as an early child when mum hired a local artist to teach my brother and I how to paint. He did well.  I did not. I cannot paint flowers but I can certainly photograph them.

But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I have a friend who can name every single flower there is.  She tried to teach me once, but I’m afraid my memory retention is bad and it’s only going to get worse (hopefully not!), so I’m afraid I won’t be able to name any of the flowers above apart from the roses.  After all, who can’t?

These beautiful flowers can be found in Castle Drogo in Devon. They were taken in the summer so I’m not sure if they’ll be as colourful and beautiful as they were in those photos, but still worth a visit.  The castle is still surrounded by scaffolding but the gardens are definitely worth visiting especially if you love flowers.  If you find yourself in the area, do drop by and visit the flowers of Castle Drogo.  They have wonderful grounds too, perfect for autumn walks.

What about you?

Are you good at identifying flowers?

St. Michael’s Mount – Revisited

The first time I visited St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion was sometime in 2008.  When we got there, the tide was just out so it was possible for us to walk to the island.

By the time we reached the top of the castle, the tide rolled in, but you could still see the stone path that connects the island into the mainland.

Fast forward to the first week of September 2013 when we came with our American friend J, the tide was already in, so instead of walking, we had to ride a boat to get to the island, which in itself is also a nice experience.  Little T loved it.

For those who aren’t familiar with St. Michael’s Mount, it is a small tidal island in Cornwall.  A lovely romantic castle dating back centuries ago, stands on the top overlooking the island.  It’s really like a scene straight out of a movie or a Barbara Cartland novel.

Legend has it that St. Michael the archangel, appeared to local fishermen on the mount sometime in the fifth century, hence the name.  It is also believed to be the site of a monastery in the 8th to early 11th century. The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century, although an earthquake destroyed some buildings in 1275, which was rebuilt sometime in the 14th century.  Parts of that ancient bit, is still standing today.

Here’s my T posing in front of the romantic castle.

In 1659, the mount was sold to Colonel John St. Aubyn.  At the present day, while the National Trust owns it now, the same St. Aubyn family remains tenants of the famous mount.  In fact, some rooms are closed off to visitors and there are many portraits of the family hanging on the castle walls and also some personal photographs.

If you read a lot, the name St. Aubyn may sound familiar to you, that’s because English novelist Edward St. Aubyn author and Man Booker Prize winner comes from the same family.  (I love the way he writes.)

For the record, there were no Edward St. Aubyn novels were found in the library.

Can you imagine dining in a room like this where there is so much history around you?

Intricate plaster frieze detail depicting hunting scenes from long ago.

Lovely Stained glass window with Dutch, French and Flemish origins.

And this is where the gentlemen retired after dinner – the Smoking Room.

Top of the castle.

Lovely 14th century chapel, this may be the oldest bit of the castle.

And you can see the boats below, ready to take the tourists back to the main-island.

The gardens were off-limits to the visitors when we visited the second time around, which was a pity because it is also a must-see when visiting the island.  You’ll be surprised to see subtropical plants flourishing in the garden, must be the lovely Cornish air.

And of course, when writing about St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, one must not forget to mention the one in France which is bigger, older and some say grander than the Cornish one.  I have yet to visit the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.  For now though, I’m just really pleased that I’ve visited this one – twice!  And would gladly visit again.

For more information on St. Michael’s Mount click here.

Easter Weekend

We had a good start with our Easter weekend, which started with Friday brunch with some friends at the newly opened Boscastle Farm shop.  It used to be just a farm shop that sold award-winning and organic food and local produce.  I’m not exactly sure when the restaurant opened, but it was our first time to eat there.  And they serve a lovely Cornish breakfast (Sorry I’m bad at taking pictures of food I’m about to eat. Once it’s laid out before me, all I can think of is – Food!  Eat it!  Not, food – quick where’s my camera?) and other light lunches.

So if you find yourself in Boscastle, North Cornwall, make sure you drop by because aside from the delicious food, they have beautiful sea views.   Come and visit especially if you have young children in tow, they have a playground and tables and chairs outside, perfect for summer.  They also have a children’s corner that will keep the little ones occupied while you enjoy your meal and the views.

It was a lovely morning indeed, chatting with friends, after eating a huge breakfast and drinking cups of coffee.  We had a great time, especially the kids, the only downside is that T caught a really bad cold.  And things went downhill from there: We had a nasty sleepless night with T throwing up phlegm and tossing and turning in her sleep, which made us throw our planned-Saturday-day-out the window.  We were planning to take T out for an Easter Egg hunt at a National Trust property in Devon.  The good thing about being members of the National Trust, you can just visit any of their beautiful properties without having to pay the entrance fees which can be very expensive.  So instead of having fun outdoors, my little one is noisily coughing with a snotty nose beside me – watching Finding Nemo.

So far that’s what’s happening in our Easter weekend.  We did paint some Easter eggs this morning though and if she’s better tomorrow, we might just take her out to a National Trust property that’s nearer our place.  Of course, there’s the usual Easter Lunch and when you have a little one, you have to bake a cake for every single occasion and it has to have lots of icing with sprinkles on it.

Anyway …