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