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!