I was about to start doing my ironing the other day so I had to decide which DVD to watch whilst doing it as I absolutely must have something to distract me from the task, yes the ironing does suffer and I often end up ironing in even more creases but it keeps me semi-sane! Anyway, I plumped for the Mapp and Lucia series by E.F. Benson which I’ve watched several times before but more than anything I just wanted to re-visit the lovely wee town of Rye in the only way that I can at the moment. Lots of Rye locations were used in the filming of the series and they’re all very recognisable. It occurred to me that I had never shown any of the photos of the garden before, not that they’re all that exciting, I hope it was better when the house was owned by E.F. Benson and before him by the American author Henry James, or the several other authors who seem to have lived there in the past. I can see why people love the place despite it being a bit of a tourist Mecca, it was a well known haunt of smugglers in the past, as well as French invaders and the whole place is very atmospheric – and it has a secondhand bookshop!
Although we’re members of the Scottish National Trust we haven’t been able to visit any of their properties this year as they’ve obviously all been closed due to Covid. Some of the bigger castles have opened up again, such as Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, but last week we decided as it was a beautiful day we’d visit nearby Falkland Palace, just to walk in the garden, the palace wasn’t open. You can just walk in and there’s a box for donations.
Falkland Palace was the hunting lodge of the Stuart kings and queens. Built in the 16th century by King James IV and his son James V and modelled in the French style it was also a favourite with Mary, Queen of Scots as it reminded her of the French chateaux of her childhood.
Much of the palace is a romantic ruin, but in the 19th century the third Marquess of Bute had it partly rebuilt.
We quite often just go for a wander around the gardens, there’s a pleasant orchard, although a lot of the trees have been fairly recently planted. In normal times you can have a nice wee sit down on a bench and admire the views, but I believe they’ve been removed due to Covid 19.
Anyway, here are some of the photos I took while we wandered around.
The gate below is obviously modern, it leads through to the orchard some of which you can just see in the background. The apple crop was not nearly as good as usual due to the weather.
Although Falkland has always been popular with tourists it has become even more so in recent years as the village and palace have been used as a location for Outlander. Click on the photos if you want to see them enlarged.
Back at Calke Abbey, you can see from the amount of clutter around that some of the rooms are very Victorian, I suspect that these were the ones that the family used most themselves. Why have one fire screen when you can have three?!
I love the nurseries in these old houses, more than anything a doll’s house and push along horse makes you realise that no matter how grand they were in their heyday they were still family homes. Mind you, it’s a very grand doll’s house.
But it’s a very long time since any children ever played in this nursery/schoolroom which obviously became a bit of a dumping ground for ‘stuff’. I think it was a good decision of the National Trust’s to leave things just as they found them for once. I like all the soot stained ghostly outlines of whatever hung on the walls.
I suspect that the children were bathed in a tin bath in front of the nursery fire and not in the shower in the photo below. Surely there must have been some sort of oilskin curtain around it to keep the water in. I think that the water must have been stored in the cistern above and when it was empty your shower was over. You would have to be fast, unless it was little more than a trickle.
At Calke Abbey in Derbyshire I was surprised by how crowded the place was, well, I suppose it was a Saturday and a lovely day, far too hot for the end of September but I suppose we can blame global warming for that.
On entering the hall Jack spoke to the guide who asked him to repeat himself – which he did, speaking in his very best clear English with far less accent than the ‘locals’. She still said she couldn’t make out his accent. So I said in strident tones – he’s from Glasgow – which is a slight exagerration as I’m the Glaswegian and he comes from 15 miles north of there, but as I expected, it did the trick and amazingly she had no problem after that. Maybe she was worried about getting a ‘Glasgow kiss’.
The rooms are so cluttered, just as they were left to the National Trust, that it’s sometimes difficult to see what the room was originally for. Below is probably a drawing room but it also has a lot of specimens of fossils and just things of interest to collectors of ‘stuff’.
I’d love to have the library/study though.
The Jacobean coat below is a real work of art, but the Chinese silk bed is amazing. I’ll show you that tomorrow.
If you’re interested in the history of Calke Abbey have a look here.
Last week we took advantage of a gorgeous blue sky day to visit Branklyn Garden in the ‘fair city’ of Perth – the original one of course, not the one in Australia which is what usually pops up if you google ‘Perth’.
I’m sure that this tree is a type of cherry but there was no sign of any blossom on it – it has fantastic glossy red bark though.
The gardens aren’t huge but they’re just perfect for having a relaxing stroll around and you can have a sit down or even visit the very pleasant tearoom.
This is a hillside garden which is owned by the National Trust. It’s just two acres and it was created in the 1920s using seed collected by plant hunters.
There’s a pond which is fed by a wee waterfall.
Lastly, you can just catch a glimpse of the house which was built by the original owners, but it isn’t open to the public. This is a lovely place to visit if you’re near Perth, and you can always buy plants there which have been propagated from plants in the garden.
Well, here we are in August already (how did that happen?) and I still haven’t blogged about places we visited back in May. On our way back from our visit to my brother and his family in the Netherlands via Harwich, we visited some old stamping grounds in Essex. We lived there for a couple of years in the late 1970s – early 80s.
Coggeshall is one of those old English villages with lots of half timbered cottages, but it was Paycocke’s that we particularly wanted to see. This house was saved from being demolished in the 1960s when it was apparently in a very bad state and it now belongs to the National Trust. The house is well worth a visit, has lots of wood panelling and I particularly liked that you can see the scorch marks on the wood lined walls where candles had burned too closely. Maybe the draughts blew the flames too close to the wall.
The garden has pretty cottagey plants, but I was interested in the plane tree growing in it. I’ve often read that plane trees were the only trees tough enough to withstand the pollution of London in the days of pea soup fogs and belching chimneys, but I don’t think I had ever actually knowingly seen a plane tree. I can see how they survived, as they have peeling bark so it would seem they can shed the soot and anything else that clings to them pollution wise. You can see more images of Coggeshall here.
We found ourselves in East Kilbride recently so decided to visit nearby Greenbank Gardens, we had never been in that part of the west of Scotland before.
There had obviously been a lot of rain there recently (where hasn’t there been?!) and it was pretty muddy underfoot in places so we decided that we would take a quick squint at the place and go back another day later in the season when there is more of interest actually flowering. It’s a National Trust for Scotland garden.
Sadly the house that the garden is actually attached to isn’t open to the public, but as you can see from the photo below it looks quite grand. It’s a Grade A listed Georgian building.
The gates in the photo below lead from the lawn to the more informal garden. It’s well worth a look if you find yourself in that area of the west of Scotland.
You can see more images of the gardens here.
We were on our way to visit a friend who lives near Dunbar in East Lothian, it was a gorgeous morning and the roads were amazingly empty, so as we had plenty of time we decided to stop off at Inveresk Lodge Garden, a National Trust place on the way.
The house isn’t open to the public, in fact when we went in we stumbled upon the people who live in the lodge sitting in the garden having their morning coffee. It must be wonderful to live somewhere like that and not to have to worry about doing the garden.
Can you believe we had the whole place to ourselves, I don’t think many people visit it, especially midweek in September, so that’s obviously the best time to go.
Health and Safety have probably insisted that they put in these metal railings to stop people from falling, but it’s a shame as they do detract from the stone steps.
I took loads of photos so I’ll be doing another few posts on this garden, I’m sure. We’ll definitely be going back for another visit in the future – in another season. Apart from anything else I just learned from reading the Wiki link to the lodge that the portrait painter Archibald Skirving died at Inveresk Lodge, and he was some sort of distant far flung, probably off at a tangent relation of mine.