Monday, 28 March 2016

Easter Monday Day Out

Hello again - hope you had a good Easter! We had a lovely Easter Sunday. With our family here there were 11 of us for lunch, and even J came back from university for the day. Despite the awful weather outside we had a cosy get-together including an indoor egg hunt with my two little nephews and a spot of fairy-cake decorating. It was one of those special days that we'll remember, and now that the clocks have gone forward it gets dark after 7.00pm which is something to celebrate.
During the night there were high winds and lashing rain, but we awoke to sunshine and decided to make the most of it by heading out for the day. D was at work (yes, my youngest is now 16 and has a part-time job - where does the time go?) and B is recovering from a nasty cold, so P and I decided to use our National Trust membership and headed out to Dyrham Park near Bath. It was our first ever National Trust day trip with none of our offspring, a new experience for us.

It was hard to find a parking space when we arrived as it was very busy and full of families with small children going on the chocolate egg-trail. We'd been there several years ago and decided to walk down the hill, rather than catch the minibus, to the house looking out for deer on the way. There wasn't a single one to be seen, but the view was good.

As ever, once inside the house it was the little details that caught my eye.

I loved the fact that the second-hand bookshop is housed in the kitchen, and smiled at the novel use of the sink.

Outside the gardens are large-scale and formal, with water-gardens too.

What a lot of digging has been done in these huge beds ready for summer planting! I couldn't help but admire the lovely soil.

There were pockets of spring flowers here and there, and the colours were intense.

I stopped at this wonderful moss and lichen-coated tree. It's amazing that life-forms co-exist in this way.

I wandered around the next corner and, oh my goodness, I was in heaven! Hellebore heaven to be exact. They lined several flower beds and quite took my breath away. I love them a bit more as every spring passes. (Warning: a good few hellebore photos now follow!).

After all this hellebore-induced excitement (during which P inexplicably wandered off) we stepped through a door in a wall and found ourselves in the 'lost terraces'; a steep-sided wooded hill which has been restored to a series of terraces from an original engraving.

I sat and sunned myself on this beautiful carved bench and inhaled the wonderful smell of wild garlic. It won't be long before we go out foraging for it locally, I think. 

The woods were full of it.

And above us mistletoe was growing in the trees.

Tree stumps have been inventively carved into signposts. This is something which I'm seeing more of these days, and really like.

Bright, sparkling celandines dotted the ground, their waxy petals reflecting the sun.

I also saw my first violets of the year.

There are few sights more spring-like than a bank of primroses. 

They are special little flowers, pale and milky yellow with the softest green leaves.

By now we'd climbed higher then the rooftops of the house itself, which gave us a striking and unusual view of its architecture.

The restored dry stone walls were also beautiful and appealingly moss-covered.

It was a good uphill walk, and soon we'd come full-circle and headed back down to the house and tea-garden. The sun was warm enough to sit outside in, so we decided to have a cream tea with tea, blackcurrant jam and Cornish clotted cream. We shared the last fruit scone in the cafe. That way it didn't feel so naughty.

Throughout the courtyards and tea garden were many pots of deep blue hyacinths, and their perfume drifted on the warm air. You can almost smell them in these photos!

We headed home after this, and as we drove it poured with rain. We counted ourselves very lucky with today's weather and I'm looking forward to more of it.

We're back to work/school tomorrow, but just for four days and then it's the school holidays - hooray! 
Thank you for coming on our day trip - see you soon x

Saturday, 26 March 2016


'Loveliest of trees,the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.'
A. E. Housman

Well, these cherry trees are wearing pink and were in Queen Square in Bath yesterday, rather than a woodland ride, but the poem seemed to fit, nevertheless. They made me smile, and I just had to stop and take several photos.

Easter is almost upon us and we are enjoying a long weekend here. Our school holidays don't start until next weekend, so Easter is quite separate from them this year. Yesterday P and I had some last minute shopping to do as we have family coming for lunch on Easter Sunday, so we headed off to Bath as it was a lovely sunny spring day. By lunchtime I'd discarded my coat for the first time this year, and on the way home a yellow brimstone butterfly flew past the car, my first butterfly-spotting of the year. When we'd finished our shopping we went to our our current favourite place, Waterstones cafe, and treated ourselves to a book each and a coffee. I love the calm interior and pretty fresh flowers on each table.

We also stopped at a garden centre and I bought some seeds. Traditionally the Easter weekend is the first weekend of proper gardening that most people do in the year, but I've already been out pruning, weeding and tidying a few times. However seed-planting is more exciting than those jobs. I always grow sweet peas, nasturtiums and calendulas, but I also picked up some mixed sunflowers for cutting. We never seem to have much late-summer colour in the garden so I'm remedying it with these, and some dahlia plug plants which I've never grown before. Hopefully there will be lots of flowers for me to cut and bring indoors. I'm looking forward to these 'high scent' frilly sweet peas too.

I put out the Easter decorations this week - candles, chicks and pretty eggs now adorn the dining room.

I've bought some artificial blossom branches this year to hang the eggs from, and will use them every year. The sight of flowery branches drooping under the weight of decorated eggs is such a pretty one that it makes me very happy indeed. The little mat that the jug's standing on was embroidered with flowers by my mum as a present to us when we were first married.

And the crocheted wreath which I made two years ago has made an appearance. I like the pale, creamy yellows which remind me of primroses, and fresh pastel colours of spring.

Once again I took out the decorated eggs which I've collected over the years and store in an egg-box. It took me a couple of years to realise that this was the perfect container.

Here are the little 'spring garden' polystyrene eggs which I painted when my children were little.

And the many fluffy chicks have reappeared, some of them a little worse for wear over the years, but all still sweet and fluffy.

There are also lots of mini chocolate eggs, ready for an Easter egg hunt.

Happy Easter to you all! 

Hope you have a lovely one x

Edited to add:

I have just made a little Easter wreath for the front door, something I've often planned to do, and thought I'd show you it, since it's part of our celebrations. I used the hazel wreath base I made last Christmas and tucked into it little sprigs of rosemary flowers, hyacinths and tete-a-tete daffodils. They're not securely tied on and, given the high winds and driving rain that we have today, I may well keep it indoors tomorrow!

Happy Easter! x