Monday, 25 June 2012
Today I decided that I would go to Stourhead. I got up early to make the most of the day as the weatherman promised me that it would be sunny, sadly I was disappointed... it was overcast. Gutted as I had been planning to go to Stourhead since I moved to Somerset I went about my day... off to the post office, a bit of food shopping and then the sun slowly peeked out of its cloud. So I grabbed my camera, my phone, a bottle of water and I was off!
Driving down the A361 with 'Bring me sunshine' blasting on my car radio I happily arrived at Stourhead within 20 minutes (thanks to the help of my dear Sat Nav). I last went to Stourhead when I was a child, probably about 9 or 10 and therefore my only memory of it came from years of watching that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr Darcy proposes to Lizzie (the first time). So I was very excited, sadly that sun was not coming out to play but I was there and determined to make the most of it!
First I went to the gardens as I had to make the most of that little sunshine and I absolutely loved it. When you enter you have to show that you are either a National Trust member or pay, the problem with being single is that the piteous looks you get from the attendants when you say 'one please' (no matter how chipper you are when you say it). Sadly I couldn't walk round the whole of the lake as path repairs were happening but I did manage to have a good walk, followed by some scary looking geese for some of it! I swear they were following me.
After getting slightly lost and wondering into an area I was not allowed in (I always do that, and have no idea how or why), I made my way through a cave, up a steep hill to The Temple of Apollo (where Mr Darcy proposed to Lizzie) and was, I have to admit sad to say that there was no Mr Darcy waiting for me at the top. Never mind, the views were good enough. And of course I stood where Mr Darcy proposed, what Pride and Prejudice Fan wouldn't?
After visiting the gardens, I popped into the church. I always like to visit the church in a village, I guess I should start keeping a list. The church was lovely (even if it was a bit small), you could easily see the Victorian influence with the stain glass windows and the floor tiles. In one corner of the church there was a large branch where people can write their prayer requests on it, I would never normally take pictures of this as I believe it to be rather private but there was one which broke my heart.
A quick lunch (sausage roll and a slice of cake) and of course a cup of tea and I was ready to go again. This time I headed to the kitchen garden (something I love) and the house. After another pitying look when I entered the house, started looking around it (avoiding anyone who looked like they would talk to me about the paintings or the fascinating fabric). One of my highlights would probably be the library, with a beautiful stain glass window. Apparently the house is still lived in and one of the 'drawing rooms' you can see the evidence of this, a drinks cabinet fully stocked, a flatscreen tv with DVDs next to it, but generally this house is still as it was. There are also a lot of paintings to look at, all of far off lands, or naked people and generally displayed in the double height gallery. The pictures which rest on the walls where the grand windows are, are difficult to see due to their dark colours and the bright light behind them. However, this problem has been tackled, all of these pictures are on hinges. So when the lord of the manor wanted to show off his large pictures, he could maneuver them out so that the light could shine on them and the pictures could once again come alive.
My favourite bit of the house? Probably the study, not because it was filled with the works of the great English writers but because I found funny that the Lady of the Manor had Delia's Cheats cookbook placed carelessly on her bookshelf. Even Lady's need to cheat sometimes.
After walking round the house, my feet were becoming tired. So, I thought I would take a short cut, of course not being bothered to read my map might explain why once again I was lost. But thankfully getting lost meant that I came across a beautiful view point and so I got more pictures (even though the weather was now, once again overcast).
So after a long (ish) walk back to my car, my feet tingling, the weather muggy and trying to use my GCSE German to eaves drop on the German tourists in front of me, I decided to go home. I think from now on this will be were I go to think, as it is beautiful and very peaceful. If I had written The King's England, Enchanted Land this would be in it.