Hello all! My visits to blogland are few and far between at the moment as life has become quite hectic here at The House with The Blue Door. D and I have finished the third week of term at school, J has gone back to university for his second year and B is working hard in her new job. Slowly things are settling into a new routine, and I am trying to remember to breathe, drop my shoulders and be in the moment. It's easy to forget to be mindful when life gets busy. This month our weekends are very busy too (in a good way), and the last one was no exception. P drove J back to university, and less than an hour later our two sweet little nephews aged 8 and 6 arrived for a sleepover with us. It was a lively weekend!
We decided to take them out the next afternoon to a favourite National Trust location, Stourhead. We went here back in April on a soggy Good Friday, and have been many times over the years. On Sunday it was warm, but overcast, so we took our raincoats and headed out. We've only been round the house once. It was impressive, but it's the 17th century landscaped gardens we love the most.
The drive is always beautiful,with its sweeping avenue of trees.
The kitchen garden is my favourite part of the gardens, always beautifully tended.
Here's the pelargonium house - it smelled lovely.
Kiwi fruit was ripening outside.
And the flower beds were full of early autumn colour.
The old buildings were so appealing, clothed in climbing roses.
And this second-hand bookshop is always worth a visit.
Already the leaves are beginning to change colour.
There are some magnificent trees at Stourhead - I love to stand underneath and look up at them.
My favourites there are the sweet chestnuts, full of gnarled, twisted personality.
Sweet chestnut bark is wonderfully furrowed and looks as if it flows along the tree.
Their long flat leaves have serrated edges which the sunlight filters through.
The chestnuts are coming along nicely. We always have some roasted at Christmas and are delicious.
Signs of autumn are everywhere. Mushrooms (or toadstools?) are sprouting up in the grass.
And acorns are swelling nicely on the oak branches.
Leafless colchiums were popping up in little clumps, a gorgeous shade of lilac.
Through the trees the view across the gardens is stunning in its classical proportions.
Down at lake level we climbed down some mossy stone steps to the grotto, a man-made cave which looks out onto the water.
The god of the river looked on approvingly from his stone den.
Further along the path we came to my favourite of the buildings which surround the lake, the Gothic cottage. It looks like something from 'Harry Potter'!
Inside it's always decorated with foliage and in the winter a fire is lit.
The view through the windows is gorgeous.
Even the front door is set into a Gothic arch.
Further on a much grander building, the Pantheon.
Some of the trees are well into their autumn colours.
These purple berries shone in a short rain shower.
And these rhododendron roots caught my eye - rather sinister, aren't they?
Fabulous views are around every corner.
Our nephews enjoyed climbing and exploring the artfully-built 'ruin'.
These hydrangeas framed the lake perfectly.
And the Temple of Apollo stood imposingly on a hill above us.
Suddenly the sun came out and lit up the Palladian bridge. The grass glowed in the sunshine, and it seemed as if the world had been thrown into 'glorious technicolour'.
As we walked back up the hill to the cafe for cakes and ice creams, we passed these pretty cottages. I think they're NT holiday cottages and I'm always very fond of them. I like their little porches and mellow stonework.
It was a great afternoon out, and our two nephews were good company. We all slept like logs that night (especially me!). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can do some blog-visiting this weekend, as I've been missing finding out what you're all up to, and maybe even squeeze some creativity in. In the meantime I hope you have a lovely weekend.
See you soon x