As far as possible, I try not to work on bank holidays. It's a little difficult at this particular time of year, because we have a four day weekend at the beginning of April, and another three day weekend just gone, which in spring is not helpful business wise. For the weekend just gone by, we had booked ourselves into The Battleaxes, a luxury b and b near the River Severn estuary.
As we have National Trust membership, we had decided to visit two estates nearby, one on Saturday, and another on the day of our return. We set off late in the afternoon on Friday, and not least because of the holiday traffic, arrived five hours later (a normal journey of half the time). The manager showed us our room, and we then enjoyed a couple of cold ones in the bar downstairs before retiring for the night.
Saturday, and we awoke to a fabulously sunny day. After a rather large breakfast, we headed to our first house, Tyntesfield, only a ten minute drive away. It's my experience that NT car park 'ushers' are in some way snobs when it comes to seeing a Ford Transit van enter the car park, and on nearly every occasion head over as soon as we have parked up to ensure that we don't take up too much space. It's a laugh really, given that even with the trailer on, I can get ours in, out and through most places that a lot of car drivers cannot. As van drivers, we are used to handling some pretty tricky situations. So it was that I chose the middle space of three, with ample room for a car either side, and as though by fate we spied a hi-vis heading our way, for the gentleman to then ask us to park in either of the other spaces 'as tightly into the edge as we can please', as though we were turning up in a lorry!
Finally parked to his satisfaction, and we headed towards the house, along the winding wild walk for about twenty minutes.
The National Trust are rather special in the way they take on and look after so many of their properties, and in most places encourage investigation all over, and for all ages. There were signs dotted about, suggesting 'going barefoot on the grass', 'exploring inside a tree', or in this case 'rolling down a hill', a pastime of my own youth, but one that would leave me feeling pretty ill nowadays unfortunately.
The house and gardens are very special indeed, and we took loads of photos, but I will just use a few as a 'taster'. The box hedging had yet to be clipped, which to me made it look quite stunning with the sunlight shining on it, and producing a two tone effect.
The house is really quite gothic, and full of treasures. There is also a kitchen garden, orangery, rose garden to name just a bit. A chapel had been added a long time ago, part of which is visible in the right of the photo below. Following the design of Sainte Chappelle in Paris, it gave me a pleasant surprise on entering.
I recognised the style and technique immediately, Salviati mosaic work, and in this case a reredos of five triptychs....marvellous!
I wish there was some way that I could afford to once again work as a gardener on such an estate, but at least we have the good fortune to be able to visit.
We had dinner in the restaurant that evening. The day seemed to go really quickly, but then, as one gets older, time has a habit of doing that. We had an early night, as there was our second place to visit on Sunday, and then the journey home. Clevedon Court is only open between the hours of 2pm-5pm, and so we had some time to kill, and a need for tea, and so we decided to have a walk along the seafront at Clevedon town. All very victorian in style, with ornate drinking fountains, three storey terraced houses, and even a salt water lido, it was quite the step back in time. We found the pier, and headed along it to the oriental style tea room on the end, where a cup of de-caf quenched Amanda. For me it was Earl Grey. We sat there for quite some time, watching the fishermen, and looking out over the Severn estuary.
The starter motor on the van had been randomly sticking. Not a major problem, and can be temporarily fixed by, believe it or not, by hitting the offending part with a hammer, but for now I made certain that we were always parked on a hill in readiness for a bump start. We arrived at Clevedon Court, and being the first there, I parked in a very advantageous position, at the top of the sloping car park, and facing the exit road. If the starter motor stuck, then I just had to roll forward.....sorted.
Amanda spied a hi-vis heading our way.....again! 'You are going to tell me to move, aren't you?' says me. He did, and informed me that large vehicles and caravans must park in an area that is, lets just say, out of the way. Large vehicle?? I let him know that if our vehicle is buried too deeply in the estate, then he and his fellow elderly friends would have to push me out, and so he grudgingly got me to still park 'out of sight', but in a position that enabled me to roll the van across the grass and down a gentle slope.
Although smaller than a lot of other estates, Clevedon Court is nonetheless really lovely. We walked around the terraced gardens for a while, before heading inside.
I rather liked the small and unassuming fountain, with a tired and aged trickle, very peaceful. I would have liked to lay there for a while, but apparently tics are being a problem in the grass at the moment, so we kept our legs moving.
I thought she was beautiful.
And would you believe it? They even had a glass collection, of which these were just a part.
Only three hours, but it was enough. Our minds were stilled and calm. We got back to the van to find that it had virtually been boxed in by other cars, with just enough room to make a sort of uphill s-bend out. NT parking attendant strikes again! Just as well the van started without needing a push, after a couple of goes anyway. The journey home only took two and a half hours, a record for us.
The bank holiday Monday had to be a work day. I had been asked if I could jet wash algae from the paths of one property, as it was getting a little slippery when it rained. There was also some mowing to do (below). A week ago the grass had been scarified, and so I needed to just 'tip' the grass out before feeding it later in the week. The third place had two tons of shingle that had been dropped in the driveway, ready to cover some areas, and so this too was dealt with.
Not a bad day really, and with an early finish to boot.
Have a good week.....what's left of it anyway.