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It is nearly two years since my London friend, Mary, and I tried to visit The Newt in Somerset together, but in August 2019 the weather was so awful that we diverted to the Haynes International Motor Museum nearby instead. And, as I vaguely recall, that itself had been a second attempt. Then of course along came you-know-what.

Last Friday was the first time I had seen Mary since February 2018, when, given the time of year, our estate visit had been to see the daffodils of Stourhead, (National Trust). So at last we made it to the Newt last Friday.

The timing of Mary’s train was such that we had only time to check in and brush up before the very early lunch I had had to book, all later times having been taken. As we stood on the terrace of the Garden Café,

we noticed a helicopter parked in the field.

(Clip from previous photo)

My guess is that this belonged to a guest at the very up-market hotel that is now Hadspen House, former seat of the Hobhouse family. Or possibly the billionaire South African recent purchaser of the estate, who has turned it into the present attraction, was visiting.

Lunch was delicious. The cuisine is superb. This is just our starters – Mary has yet to pour the cucumber soup into her bowl.

It was a long time before we emerged and started to explore how The New expressed itself in July. As ever, I took an enormous number of photos, of which this is a small selection.

The Cottage Garden
The marigolds were blinding in real life.
Hadspen House, now a luxury hotel, in the background

We had a reservation for the recently opened ‘Story of Gardening’ for 2.40, so started making our way towards the deer park where it is situated. This involved going past this wildflower bank (and picnic area), which is very new. I had not seen it in flower before.

One of the entrances to The Parabola, home to hundreds of apple trees.

We were nearing the deer park, when I heard my name called from behind me. It was Daphne, my bridge partner, and her husband, Andy. I was thrilled to be able to introduce my friends to each other, and to stop for a short chat.

We did not take the high walkway through the trees to get to the museum entrance, but a short cut down the mound

Here is the other end of The Viper, as I now know the walkway is known, for its sinuous shape.

One side of the museum is glazed, the other set into the steep bank, so windowless.

The Story of Gardening needs a whole post to itself, so that will follow. Mary and I spent the best part of an hour there, and then made our way back to the entrance area.

En route we saw two roe deer. There are two herds of deer in the grounds, and it is a treat to see any of them. These two individuals were quite unperturbed to have visitors walking close by.

To think they grow and lose those antlers afresh each year!

A little sit down in a woodland area …

… was followed by a long sit-down over glasses of iced coffee as we continued putting the world to rights, (though perhaps a more accurate description might be marvelling at the stupidity of those whose task it is to do so). We heard a noisy noise. I leapt up to see:

The helicopter we had seen earlier had been joined by a second, but was leaving alone.

We had another 30 minutes or so before throwing out time. Mary wandered off at one point to take some more photographs, while I ventured into the greenhouse, which was also a coffee bar the first time I had visited, and then sat watching human and avian life go by.

What a lovely day!