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Faced on Saturday, 19th June, with another long day’s drive, from West Yorkshire to home in Somerset, I planned to stop off at a National Trust property for a bite of lunch. I remembered to book (Covid-required) entry in advance.

Digital aids told me I would need about three hours to get to Hanbury Hall, in Worcestershire, so I added half an hour for luck, and booked for 1 pm, which was precisely the time I drew in to the car park. (The clock below appears to belie this, but it has just an hour hand.) I reckoned I could spend about 90 minutes there before I wanted to be away for the final leg home. I called at the front door of the beautiful Queen Anne house just to ask where the Stables Café was, since the fact that would be open had determined my choice of stopping place.

Having partaken of a delicious vegetarian pasty, I prioritised a stroll in the grounds over a house visit. Here is a map of the property, though I did not have it available at the time. I reckon that nevertheless I covered most of the grounds, though it would have been nice just to sit down and savour the views for a little longer.

The formality of the gardens, recreated from original drawings in the 1990s by the National Trust, was very soothing.

I didn’t get to visit the Orangery. Indeed, I’m not sure it was open.

A moorhen leaves her chicks on the pond and crosses the bank

I had 20 minutes in hand, so went into the house. They were obliged, because of Covid restrictions, to monitor the numbers entering very carefully, and I was fortunate.

Only the ground floor was open to the public, presumably because they could not manage a one-way system on the first floor. I whizzed round, taking photos rather desultorily.

Various members of the Vernon family built, at the beginning of the 18th century, and over the centuries adapted and converted, and finally transferred the property to the National Trust in 1962. (Talking of ghosts, Emma Vernon is said to haunt the grounds between the house and the church.)

But the whiteness on the left-hand painting is reflection, not a ghost…

This is a Monteith punch bowl.

Usually formal dining tables are furnished with eating paraphernalia…

I arrived home, where Tilly was awaiting me, at 5 pm, Bella to be collected from the cattery the following morning. I had been away for 13 days, 12 nights.

I saw this poster at Hanbury Hall.

I feel that with this trip I began to collect the fruits of enforced patience over the previous 15 months, and certainly appreciate my ability to have done so. The weather was cold to indifferent, and I missed a heatwave that had occurred in the south. (Some would envy my having done so, but I would have enjoyed it.) I had 13 wonderful days of seeing friends, wildlife, countryside – spectacular at times – and manmade constructions ranging from a 12th century abbey, through a 16th century castle, to a 21st century bridge. Eaten excellent food, met new people, and driven some huge distances. I didn’t make a note as I went along, but retrospective calculation makes it about 1400 miles (2250 km) in total.

What an adventure, and I’ve been reliving it through doing these blog posts, which have taken longer than usual because of Wimbledon.

What am I going to do tomorrow?

PS Yesterday evening I watched on Channel 4, ‘A Lake District Farm Shop’, the first of four programmes about the enterprise behind the Tebay Service Station on the M6 where I stopped on Day 2 of my trip. It focussed on several of the local providers and described the ethos of the founders, and showed much of the beautiful Lake District scenery. All four episodes are available on All 4.