Purple haze at Lacock Abbey

Took our cat Rio to the vet this morning for a scan and we had time to fill before we could go and collect him, so we popped in to Lacock Abbey to soak up the sunshine.

Food for the soul strolling through swathes of Spring bulbs.

The crocus are always particularly spectacular at Lacock Abbey.

The daffs aren’t bad either!

I even spotted a frog in the pond.

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The walled garden and glass house are also favourites…any time of year.

It wouldn’t be a day trip without coffee and cake (a very nice apple cake in the Lacock bakery)

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Thought this stall looked wonderful and was proud we resisted the temptation to buy anything!

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Then back home to appreciate our own Spring flowers…and to wait for the vet to call for us to collect Rio.






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Stourhead; five days in February

Our friends and family split in to two camps – one lot completely ‘got’ why we would want to stay somewhere that is only a 40 minute drive from home and the other lot…didn’t at all.

Our plan was to have a short drive so that no matter what weather February threw at us, we could easily get there. We wanted to go somewhere we could park the car and spend the week on foot and thoroughly explore somewhere you just can’t manage in a day trip, with plenty of time to unwind.


It was disappointing that the National Trust shop was closed throughout our visit, so we didn’t get to use our 20% off and treat ourselves to jams and biscuits and books and treats, but we coped…with the help of the lovely farm shop at the top of the hill. We had also planned to eat at the Spread Eagle Inn but were disappointed by the lack of choice – and badly burning and still serving a teacake didn’t fill us with confidence in their dinners. Again the farm shop came to the rescue and a big pot of organic veg and lentil stew, vegetable samosas and cheese and onion pasties saw us through!



This was our home for four nights and five days.

Once again, our holiday started with a rainy afternoon – always good to get the rain out of the way and settle in while the gardens are almost empty.

Tuesday morning I woke early, left Mark snoozing and headed off for my first out of hours walk around the gardens…so wonderful to be able to share the gardens with only the wildlife.

So lovely to see birds and wildlife.

As I walked the sun popped over the hills and painted everything with gold.

The gardens were dotted with snowdrops and early azaleas and even rhododendrons…the daffodils were showing flashes of yellow, almost ready to burst in to flower.

Back to the cottage for tea and toast with Mark before setting out again…




We were pleasantly distracted from our walk by the crested grebes fishing display…cheering them on as they ran from the greedy ducks after their catch.

Back to the Spread Eagle Inn for lunch – tasty fish and chips but annoying that although they were busy and we had to wait for a table, they did not want to open the restaurant and squeezed everyone in to the bar.

Was so pleased to have captured photos of the rich orange dogwood before they were pollarded and their fiery branches burned by the gardeners.

On my Wednesday early morning walk, after seeing numerous nut hatches, it was a treat to also spot treecreepers!

I am such a morning person.

Al week I tried to get a decent photo of the heron on the lake, without success…got better photos when herons visit our next-door neighbour’s pond!


After lunch at the National Trust cafe (very nice and grid value and excellent service) we went back to the gardens and then ‘off piste’ paste the sculpture trail, back past the waterfall, along the road, back in the gardens and then heading off towards Alfred’s Tower.


We even made a new friend…meet Rita!


Having longer than a day at Stouhead gave us the chance to notice the details like these ferns growing on tree branches.

Thursday was colder and overcast and we walked so far the previous day, I allowed myself a lie in. A lazy morning then lunch before an extraordinary behind the scenes tour of the areas of the house not usually open to the public. our volunteer guide, Christopher, was wonderful…highly recommend the tour!


Once round the lake before a cup of tea.


…and an evening walk.

Our final day was soooooo cold, with freezing mist but I wasn’t going to miss my last out of  hours morning walk.

I was so happy to finally see grebes ‘dancing’ in the middle of the lake! Need a better zoom lens…

Rather sorry to say goodbye, but will be back for plenty of day visits!




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Dyrham Park, deer park

Last day of our Christmas holidays and we decided to enjoy the sunshine at Dyrham Park. The World and his wife seemed to be there…along with his children…and we were a little concerned we might never make it out of the mud in the overflow carpark, but it was beautiful.

We debated which route to walk and in the end decided to follow the drive down to the house. This turned out to be a lucky decision as there were deer very close to the drive – and I had my zoom lens as well as the shiny new wide angle lens!

Stags were rutting on cue, as though timetabled for the tourists.

On to the house and formal gardens. The queues for the house and restaurant and shop were so long we stayed outside in the Winter sunshine.

We took the walk back up to the car pretty gently – a chance to admire the deer again.

You can see how close the deer were to the driveway…


…and yet not close enough for some! Not the way to show children how to treat wildlife with respect!

Looking back down the hill, other children were happily rolling down the muddy hill…they’ll be straight in the bath when they get home!

Ah well, back to work in the morning.






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Westonbirt Arboretum with a new ‘why dangle’ lens

Boxing Day and the sun shone – perfect opportunity to try out my unexpected Christmas present of a new and very swish 10mm-20mm lens…wide angle (or why dangle as we like to call it in my family).

Starting with the main arboretum at Westonbirt…


Love the light this time of year when the sun is so low.



Is it wrong to love the distortion in portraits with a wide angle lens?

On to the Silk Wood…


…with all the dogs and children. Such a big space it can take everyone and still remain peaceful.

Our long shadows in the chilly sun.


Never tire of the treetop walkway.

Home again and using the lens to capture an image of our crabapple tree, decorated with cranberries, popcorn and festive suet shapes for the birds to enjoy.







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One last goodbye to Dockside and the Torridge estuary.

Then home to Bath via Knightshayes, National Trust house and gardens.


There’s always one…!









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Final day at Dockside

Some sunrise watching…

…followed by breakfast at Instow and a walk on the beach.

Back to Dockside to spend our last afternoon/evening there.

Left a little something in the guest book…


…along with a mini free motion embroidery I took with me.






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RHS Rosemoor

I woke to a golden sunrise. Nowhere better to watch it from than Dockside.

The cottage’s riverside garden was glowing in the golden sunrise too.

After breakfast it was on to RHD Rosemoor, swathed in its Autumn finery.

We laughed so much on our week’s holiday!


Then back to Dockside for some birdwatching.







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