Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Plenty of R&R

I wasn't really sure how to write about our break away to Cornwall, and, talk about life on the work front upon our return. We have come home to everything being much lusher since the warmth and rain have arrived, and so work consists of simply mowing and trimming to get everything back on track, nothing of great interest there. Maybe just the holiday then.
Our stay in Cornwall allowed us to see just a few of the amazing gardens there, and our little van was set up in such a way that exploring some of the many coves and flower lined lanes meant that we didn't have to be anywhere at any specific time. To this end, I have decided to tell you all a tiny bit about our trip over two posts. the first being a general overview of just the main stuff, and the second telling a bit more about the gardens we visited.
The van was gutted of all of the 'works' stuff ', and double bed, shelving, stoves, heater and lighting fitted. As you can see, we didn't really slum it.
First on our list was a long awaited return to The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
It's hard to explain just how large and special this place is without the use of extensive photos, and I have chosen in most cases to use just two for each visit, that show slightly different aspects.
I will go into a little more detail about these gardens in my follow up post.
 The gardens at Heligan, as they are now, are the result of a large restoration scheme on a working garden estate, that for many years had fallen into disrepair, to the extent that virtually all couldn't be seen due to so much overgrowth. On finding a couple of paths and what was left of a greenhouse wall, the man who saved it realised that there was more to be found, and so the whole story started.

 Now almost fully restored, it is once again a garden that is not only for pleasure, but has a very productive side as well.
Although the picture of Caerhays Castle shows it to be a lovely and sunny day, this was taken as we passed by on our way home. The day we chose presented us with howling wind and driving rain, and given that behind me is a large and exposed bay, it wasn't a day for walking around their rather impressive gardens that contain some of the first Rhododendrons to be brought to this country from China. That will have to wait for another day. But we did take the tour around the inside of the castle itself, and were greatly entertained by the stories of family life there, although sadly no photography was allowed..
The following day, and it was warm and dry once again, and so we set off to Glendurgan Gardens.
Laid out on either side of a small valley that leads down to the tiny hamlet of Durgan, a gorgeous little place nestling in a small bay on the River Helford.

A long and gentle stroll was had, as we first went all the way down to Durgan, where we simply lazed in the sunshine before starting the long walk back up. The maze is made of Laurel, and really quite beautiful in it's own right. We didn't go in, but there were many in there for quite some time.
 This seat was near the top, in a shady area covered in ferns and bluebells, and was just so peaceful. I was trying very hard not to look creepy as I lined up for this shot!
Of the many coves we passed through, Hemmick Beach was by far the loveliest. A 3/4 mile drive down a lane so narrow that the wing mirrors were knocked in, some seagull poo scraped off the van side, and parts of the wheel trim snapped off, ended with smiles and sighs as we parked up at the beach. The lane was two-way, and we had got a bit tense in anticipation of meeting a motorist coming the other way, but we had arrived......................
.........and first things first, a nice cup of tea! (Yes, they are plants, from Heligan.)

Next to see was Lanhydrock Gardens and House. These reminded me so much of my times working on such precise and intricate lawns, flower beds and hedges.
The inside was quite something as well. The whole house can be explored, all fully furnished to the period, but what really caught my eye was near the end, in the long gallery. The Jacobean plaster ceiling with biblical scenes, really quite breathtaking. The pianist at the end was playing tunes from 'Les Miserables'.
But being gardeners, it was the outside that made us happiest. The herbaceous borders were just leafing up, and we spent over an hour in this particular part taking it in turns to try to identify each plant in turn, a pastime that we find helps us to remember the many names. Always best to do this before they flower, as it is too easy then!

All too quickly the holiday came to an end, and on our way home we stopped off at Buckland Abbey, once the home of Sir Francis Drake.

This too had extensive gardens and grounds, in fact we were told by one of the three gardeners that the estate totals 700 acres, wow! Of course, not all of that is intensively cared for, but what is, is done so to perfection. Nothing visually manicured or honed, but very clearly controlled, and beautiful.

We drove home by a different route this time, across Dartmoor, somewhere that most of my hiking life has been spent since the age of fourteen. This time we wanted a late lunch, and the Warren Inn, in the middle of the moor provided it. There has been a fire burning continuously since 1845 here, just thought I would mention it.
That's it for now folks. So much more I could tell, like the very holy church at St. Just in Roseland, St, Mawes and it's castle, the tall ship at Charlestown, antiquing in Lostwithiel or a very pleasant afternoon chilling out at Gorran Haven, but too much of a good thing spoils the broth, or something similar to that.

 Thanks for taking a look. Peace to all of you.

Part of a window at the 13th century St. Just in Roseland church.


  1. It looks as if you had a very good time. Formal gardens aren't my thing but I must admit to enjoying these.
    Good to see the Warren Inn. Now that is a wonderful sight.
    It looks as if you are getting some spam. Try disallowing anonymous comments.

  2. Hi Adrian,
    The gardens really were something special. Shame one has to return to work based phone calls and emails, they soon put the dampers on any relaxed feeling. I have changed my settings now so hopefully no more spam.

  3. What a great trip you had. I do enjoy these old formal gardens.

  4. Hi Doc,
    The old formal gardens do tend to put across a level of skill and commitment that just simply do not exist any more. We always find them inspirational, as opposed to the Eden Project, which we have never seen, and have no desire whatsoever to do so. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. First of all that is one cozy looking van. Did you hang lights?
    What a 'classic' castle. Very nice. Love all the gardens!
    You explore the best places too.
    Nice kitchen. :-) Complete with plants for the garden back home.
    The plaster ceiling is incredible. Wonder if I could do that in the living

  6. Love hearing the stories of your travels!! I am continuously amazed at the amount of cool stuff you are so near to!! Looking forward to the next episode!

  7. Hi Sherlock,
    The van was really nice to stay in. We even had a heater for when it got cold, and hot drinks and a snifter of whisky for the evening backgammon games. The lights were bought a while ago for when we had cocktail nights in the garden. They fitted around the inside easily and added a bit od funky coolness we think. As for the plaster ceiling, it was incredible. So, so old, and getting dirty now. They can't do anything other than use horse hair brushes and a special hoover to dust apparently, and if they were to paint it, the weight of the paint would bring it down!

  8. Hi Melanie,

    Nice to see you. We are always thankful for the amount of stuff that is only a short drive away. From London to Lands End, never more than three hours, and full of a never ending supply of treats. As for the next post, I am already panicky at the thought of trying to pack so much into a short post.