Tuesday, 8 May 2012

An English Country Garden

After all the rain, we sneaked off today to make the most of the better weather. We have been members of the National Trust for many years - probably about 30 or so. Today found us heading into the Cheshire countryside to Tatton Park. A benefit of membership is that you usually get free entry to the house and gardens although there are sometimes charges for other attractions. Tatton Park is  managed and financed by the Cheshire East Council and the only sting ion the tail was a £5.00 parking fee, but that was a small price to pay really. Fortunately, OH had some money in his wallet!
The National Trust book says not to follow satellite navigation instructions, but once off the motorway to follow the signs . Of course OH left the Sat Nav switched on (I think he likes her voice)  which took us her way and we entered through a different gate from  our last visit. This took us right through the rolling parkland before seeing the house straight ahead. There is ample parking and we managed to get one of the 'special' ones.

After sitting outside in the sun with a cuppa from the Stableyard Restaurant and a quick look around the gift shop, we headed to the gardens. They are so beautiful with everything very well kept. The trees looked as if they had been there forever. The kitchen garden led us to an open vista of gravel walkways around the lawns.  The rhododendron's were coming into flower. Huge splashes of pink and red broke the varied green foliage of all manner of shrubs and trees.The different varieties flower at different times. Hostas were growing well, unfurling their wide variegated leaves. Blossom was on the trees. It was too early for roses in the Rose Garden but there is such a variety of plants and trees that the gardens are good at any time of the year. Reaching a welcome seat we enjoyed the views over the Cheshire countryside and the plains beyond. A group of  horse-riders slowly walked their mounts after their good gallop; a couple of little deer pranced about in the parkland ahead; squirrels darted up a tree playing a game of hide and seek with each other, or was it a race as to which one could climb the fastest?
After  a light lunch in the restaurant where I found a bottle of Dandelion and Burdock -the real McCoy but sadly not in a stone bottle of our childhood days - we headed for the Mansion. The entrance hall is enormous  with rooms leading off from each other. I could just see ladies a and gentlemen in their fine clothes meeting and greeting each other. The ladies with their wide skirts and the gentlemen warming themselves in front of the fires which surely must have roared away in the huge fireplaces at each side of the hall. OH was intrigued by the unusual tin bath in one of the bathrooms and was intent on explaining all the joints etc! Ever an engineer!
These great old houses are well worth preserving as a testimony to the art and craftsmanship which went into them as well as a peek into life in days gone by.
We had to end the day with the obligatory ice cream of course! The Tuck Shop had melt-in-the mouth Thornton's Chocolate ones. A toffee middle for him and a creamy white chocolate for me.
The Housekeeper's Store has all manner of local conserves, meats such as Venison  and wines such as Cowslip and Quince. We left them on the shelf and made our way back to the car park for a leisurely drive home. The hot sun sent me to sleep so OH drove home in peace.

Rosalie xx

PS. On our last day out to Ludlow we came back across the Welsh countryside and saw ahead of us a very old car. I managed a snap with the phone camera. It was going a fair lick I can tell you!
It is great isn't it?