An autumn distraction

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It was Stressful Wednesday, and I had been obsessing with the rolling news half the night (less than four hours’ sleep) and all day until lunchtime. It was gorgeous outside, and I hadn’t done my little there-and-back walk from my house for a very long time. I wondered if it was possible to distract myself for an hour or so.

It was. I can honestly say that I did not give the US presidential election a single thought all the time I was out.

Down to the end of my road,

through a small passageway to my left, up the lane to the main road where the prep school is situated, and back again. Views and details.

There were children, parents and a dog in the playground, to the left of this view.
Dog rose hips in among the ?privet.
Hogweed aka cow parsnip

I spent a few minutes trying to capture hedge reflections in the puddles at the side of the road. This is the only vaguely successful image.

So I raised my eyes to the lane ahead, and thought that they’d soon be flailing the hedges.

In theory there is a right of way up to Glastonbury Tor from this stile, but I’ve never seen anyone take it.
I’m always intrigued by this old tree. Has someone just put an old crate in its hollow trunk for stability, or has it some more interesting purpose? Sadly two other, much younger, trees have succumbed to the recent winds. And there is an apple trapped in the wire netting round the nearest tree!
Mixed feelings about convolvulus/bindweed, but here it’s pretty
Jackdaw in crabapple
Hooray. When last I passed by here, this right of way was completely overgrown and impassable. To be taken another time.
To my untutored eye none of the ash trees on this walk has yet been affected by ash die-back, but it’s a very serious threat in Somerset. The Somerset Wildlife Trust has asked people not even to visit four of its reserves in the east of the county, and at its online AGM this morning the CEO said that she thought that 90% of its woodland would be affected within 10 years.
Field maple supporting bryony fruit
Yup, ‘they’ have started trimming the hedges.
Still, it does mean that views like this are revealed.
An unprepossessing gate, softened by teasel.
Magpie in ash tree
I zoomed in to look at the top of the Tor. Quite a lot of people (and there were more on its sides).
Will the ponies be in the field?

No.

I tried to catch a long-tailed tit on these twigs, but it flew off. But I thought I would include the picture as a sort of abstract – and found that, top left, I had indeed captured the long tail and a wing.
Good to see cars in the staff car park of the school,
and even better to hear the cries of small children playing, not, as they were in the spring and early summer, absent during this lockdown.
Will the Open Event happen?
Victorian postbox in the wall of the school at the junction with the main road. I wondered what a Priority postbox was, and found once I was home that it’s related to Covid testing – more info here.

Time to turn round.

The signs are presumably channelling parents as part of Covid-safe measures.

From now on, I was facing the low autumn sun.

Glastonbury Tor not zoomed. There are little human dots up there.
The sun highlights a flooded field – I am surprised there are not more, given the rainfall we have had recently – and some telephone wires.

I was intrigued by this very new fencing on either side of this track, which on first glance appeared to be creating two paths. A closer look made me realise that in fact it was protecting new hedging. I waited for the sheep to be ushered into the right-hand field, and for the ‘shepherd’ to come back to his van, to my left. From him I learned that in fact this was his project. Living in town, he owned nine acres, and was putting native hedging around the three fields, for the benefit of wildlife. 600 metres so far. Brilliant!

I stood and listened to these sheep tearing at the grass – quite soporific.
According to my Candide app, this is Hedge woundwort.
Common dogwood
It’s only 3pm, but shadows are long at this time of year.
For some reason, a toffee apple came to my mind as I looked at this tree.
I’m back at the bottom of my road again.
And the hornbeam in my own garden’s not bad!

I started this post early on Saturday afternoon. I broke off about three pictures ago to watch CNN, and caught the moment the result was announced. Stressful Wednesday was worth it!

Frankham Farm, NGS

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This must surely have been my last National Gardens Scheme visit of the season. It took me south, just over the Somerset/Dorset border to a village called Ryme Intrinseca, and this working farm. “Ryme Intrinseca is generally regarded as one of the most interesting of all village names in the County of Dorset, and was so regarded by John Betjeman in his poem, ‘Dorset'” (source and further explanation here.) It was a chilly and overcast day, but I was well wrapped up, including gloves, and I really enjoyed my autumn stroll.

I drove past the farmhouse,

and into its yard to park. At the front of the house I took a plasticised map, with a few words on the back:

As can be seen, the late Mrs Earle loved oaks – Quercus

Having taken a quick photo of the formal garden, to which I would return, my route was via the vegetable garden to the long thin wooded area, back through the vegetables and round the garden, then into the orchard at the north-east of the plot. I crossed behind the farm buildings to the stables, then into the wild garden and wooded area, finishing in the paddock.

I have only recently discovered this variety of kale, since lockdown having it (and other fruit and veg) delivered regularly by a local organic farm.
The ancient Bramley mentioned in the notes
An interesting use of ?ancient roof tiles.
Ivy-leaved cyclamen
Each significant tree had its own label
Looking up at autumn
I have been delighted to find that the app I am obliged to have on my phone to act as a season ticket to The Newt in Somerset (search other posts) helps me to identify plants I don’t know – this an Oak-leaved hydrangea.
Many opportunities to sit down in Mrs Earle’s garden
There is no doubt an interesting history to this gentleman, but there was no-one around to ask at the end of my visit.

A tiny plaque on top of this sculpture, inscribed “JME 1936-2007”, says it all.

Cork oak bark

Moving back into the vegetables on the way back to the formal garden there are other delights:

A sculpture by Nature, fungus welded by her into the rotting wood
The combination of green, yellow and mauve is unbeatable.
Peach, yellow and green’s not bad.
And yellow and green tumbling down a weathered wall is wonderful.

Eventually, one is back in the lawned area in front of the house.

Wherever you were, if you looked beyond the map, there were fields. I was taken by this stand of trees in the near distance.
In the flower borders, this fuchsia flourished
This bee just didn’t want to co-operate in having its photo taken on the scabious. But I have learnt a new word recently, describing the blurring in the background of close-up photos. It’s called ‘bokeh’.
My app identifies this as echinacea.
Obviously I’m in the orchard now. Did ever you see such a red apple? I suspect Sleeping Beauty’s stepmother!

There were not just apple trees in the orchard.

It is this plant which led me to first try the app, called Candide (and is free). It identifies this as Harlequin Glorybower, Clerodendrum trichotomum
To get to the other side of the drive, I cut though the yard behind the farm buildings. I stood beside this wheel. The tyre reaches to the top of my head – and I’m tall.
Stable buildings
From the wild wood.
Every good forest has a ring around a fireplace. The earth was so well trodden in this area that I wondered whether a forest school is held here on a regular basis in normal times.
And charcoal burning?

Now into what is called the Paddock.

The app couldn’t handle this one.

Emerging out on to the drive once more, I was pleased to see what is presumably the 250-year-old oak.

Someone with clearly a good knowledge of horticulture visited under the NGS scheme on a sunny day in March 2019 (that other era). Her blog is here.

The Newt in Somerset – October

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It’s nice to do something special on a birthday, and it had been a while since I had been to The Newt in Somerset. Even booking eight days in advance, it had only been possible to get a table for lunch in the Garden Cafe for 2 o’clock, so I decided to get me and my camera to the gardens an hour earlier.

The car park was alarmingly full when I arrived. But it was a Saturday, with lovely bright sun, even if it was accompanied by a chill wind. (I put gloves on for the first time this autumn, but then I do feel the cold.) The familiar boardwalk up to the entrance had a distinct autumnal feel to it.

Once through the Threshing (= entrance) Barn, with the Cyder Bar to my right, I was again alarmed by the number of people, but I soon realised they were queuing (sort-of) to pick up their picnics. The Newt does not allow people to consume their own picnics there. It was interesting to see washed apples emerging from underground on a conveyor belt. I look forward to the day when it is possible to observe the full workings of ‘cyder’ production there.

The farm shop and coffee bar areas also looked quite busy.

But past there, as I walked into and around the Woodland area, there were few people.

The roof of Hadspen House, in the hands of the Hobhouse family from 1785 to 2013, and now a luxury hotel
Large ducks, hunkered down against the wind, and almost too bright in the sun for the camera.

Back from the Woodland, I took a new (for me) way into the cottage garden…

… of and from which I took the following and many more pictures.

Into the Victorian Fragrance Garden (not much going on here at this time) and the Cascade, the bottom of which attracts children young and old, even though they know they will have water squirted on their ankles, in this chilly weather, randomly by frogs of various sizes.

I didn’t join them, for more than one reason.

Instead I went down another way to the kitchen garden.

The parkland remains sadly inaccessible for now.

Now into the Parabola, an interesting, probably unique, designed orchard, and its literally hundreds of apple species. In the main, only crab-apples now remain on the trees.

Two o’clock approached, and I had a rendez-vous to meet with two friends who were joining me for a delicious lunch, served in impeccably Covid-sure conditions, in the Garden Café. All photography was forgotten from then on!

The Walled Gardens of Cannington NGS

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Yes, there was another garden to be visited in September, last Sunday, but I didn’t think I had sufficient material for a blog post. So I didn’t even look at my pictures until a couple of days ago, and changed my mind.

Cannington Court was first known as Cannington Priory. For that was how it started life, in about 1138, home to a community of Benedictine nuns. Henry VIII put paid to that though, in 1536. He and subsequent monarchs subsequently granted tenancy of what became known as Cannington Court to various followers. In 1807, it reverted to its original purpose for about 30 years, when a body of French Benedictine nuns moved in, expelled from France following the French Revolution.

Since the mid-nineteenth century the Court has always been used for educational purposes, and for the last 100 years, in various guises, for agricultural and horticultural learning. Most recently it has been part of the Cannington campus of, and owned by, Taunton and Bridgwater College, who in 2015 leased the Court buildings to EDF. That company is using them as a training hub (Hinkley Point is very near), and has invested millions of pounds in their project, from which the Walled Gardens have much benefited. These had been approved in 2009 as a tourist attraction, and are maintained by students of Bridgwater College, part of their studies.

As I entered, I was little disappointed, and felt cheated of even the very modest sum I had been charged by the National Gardens Scheme. The walled garden was not large and was dominated by a plant sales area. There was no map this time, so I only gradually discovered just how big, how many, and how varied the Walled Gardens, plural, were.

I think this is one of the nicest garden gates and arches I have ever seen! Pity about the padlock.
While there was no map, there were many information boards to be studied.

There were masses of flowers!

Strictly no entry to the greenhouse

Geologically/building stone-wise, Somerset is mainly known for its blue lias limestone, coveted for new house-building. It is in fact is a rather dullish grey. But there are many examples of buildings in a rather rich red sandstone. (I should know whether its Old Red or New Red, but I don’t. I’ll look it up one of these days.)

This was a very small walled garden, known as The Bishop’s Garden
This shade garden has inspired me for a very shady part of my own – I need some ferns!

I looked for ferns in the plant sales area – none.

Why did I think I hadn’t enough material for a blog post? Was it that there had been a few shabby areas – autumn, possible neglect by absent students? Was it the two passing ladies who had moaned at me, exaggerating the neglect? Was it that I’d not been able to take a picture of a wicker dragon because there was someone taking his time doing so and blocking my way? That I felt pressed for time as they were closing shortly? That I’d not used the tea room because of my own uncertainty about doing so and in any case said shortage of time? Whatever the reason for my disgruntlement, it was reinforced as on leaving I saw these notices for the students (I’d had to give Track and Trace details as I entered the garden, because it had meant going through a tiny gift shop.)

I don’t know why, but in any case I was wrong, as this collection of photos has reminded me, and I must go back there again. As a tourist attraction it is open for most of the year under the auspices of the College, who had just made it over to the NGS and its supported charities for this day.

Coleford House, NGS

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On Saturday, I realised that I had not been further than my garden for a whole week. The weather was forecast to be lovely on Sunday, so I looked for an NGS garden which would be open, with not too far to drive. (I feel so guilty environmentally if I have to drive more than an hour each way.) I found Coleford House, about 35 minutes away, in the eastern Mendip Hills. As it happened I was singing (in my garden, socially distanced), with three friends on Monday, two of whom knew or had known the previous owners. These had moved out in 1999.

I parked my car at 11.00 in the designated field down the road, and walked a couple of hundred yards to the house.

Met and greeted at the door of the Studio,

I was handed this map, prepared by an artist friend, not credited, of the family. (Some of her work was on sale.) I have added the swimming pool and the tennis court, not marked officially.

This is part of Coleford House.

Round in the herb garden:

Past the cottage into the walled garden,

where there were refreshments to be had in the orangery, though I didn’t partake. I had just had coffee in the car, and also I’m still being very wary about unnecessary people proximity, particularly going indoors.

I did let my camera zoom in approvingly for me on the green roof.

I was intrigued by the bat house. I tried to duck in under the roof, but soon withdrew. It was boarded in at lower than my height. On the roof outside I could see a couple of entrances for flying creatures.

The orchard

Over the other side of the orchard bridge was the kiln, but there were too many people there (more than in this picture), for me to think of joining them.

However, it soon thinned out, and it is very difficult to resist going over a bridge.

A delightfully curious kiln

was accompanied by a more conventional one.

Talking of convention, whoever heard of a crocodile defending a tennis court?

For the avoidance of doubt, the tail is on the left, a (sculpted) tennis ball keeping the creature’s mouth closed.
Very neat wildflower panels

A sneak look at the swimming pool,

and a walk along what is called the river with no name on the plan, but which my OS map clearly labels, if I’m reading it correctly, the Mells Stream.

The pretty garden bridge was not for crossing,

not even for closer examination of the weir.

The lily pond
Looking over towards the house, with part of Coleford village in the background. (Not to be confused with the town of Coleford in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.)

I did wonder whether I was missing out on something at the cottage, perhaps some info from an owner of the House. But then when I saw one out of and one in the door on the right, I realised what it was being used for.

Magnificent walnut and tulip trees dwarfing the house.

Wandering on, I looked back along the river, and made my way back to the entrance, looking down at my feet by the copper beech.

Out on to the road and back to my car, by way of a road bridge.

I’m wondering whether there will be another garden visit this year?

Babbs Farm, NGS

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Sunday was chilly but very bright, and thankfully with no rain, a change over the previous few days’ conditions. I had booked a late morning National Gardens Scheme visit to Babbs Farm, near Highbridge, described thus in the blurb: ¾ acre plantsman’s garden on Somerset Levels, gradually created out of fields surrounding old farmhouse over last 30 yrs and still being developed. Trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials planted with an eye for form and shape in big flowing borders. Various ponds (formal and informal), box garden, patio area and conservatory.

I was delayed on my half-hour drive over the Somerset Moors, also known as the Levels.

But not for long. When I arrived at Babbs Farm, (no sign of any farming going on), I learnt that it was only in the last few days that it had been resolved as to whether the garden would open. The owners provided a plan, drawn up in 2019, when refreshments and other facilities were available, not possible this year of Covid.

The entrance could not be where it normally is on open days, because recent storms had determined otherwise.

Basically, I walked anti-clockwise round the garden, starting at the Field of trees and ending up at the Ditch bed, opposite which there was a specialist stall for the sale of Salvias, which had figured prominently in the planting. I had no idea there were so many different and rare varieties, and I only wished I had some space in my own garden for some of them. (I took no photos of the stall as there was a family milling around, trying to decide what to buy.)

Field of trees
Jack’s Pond
Round pond
There’s a font in the shade
Round pond from a different angle
Round lawn
Lion pond, at the edge of the Patio
A Salvia I imagine
At the back, the privet hedge
and through to the Box garden
A tempting gate at the end of the Wall bed
A seat too tempting…
… with a delightful aspect

And I’m back near the Field of trees. But I must turn right and return to the car park, in Pam’s field, bequeathed to the owners.

What a very pleasant visit, and I was nothing like as cold as I had anticipated. Will there be another NGS visit this year, I wonder, as a rather dreary winter beckons.

The Newt in Somerset – August

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No, this is not a newt, nor a toad, but a small frog. It’s what greeted my bridge partner, Daphne, and me as we walked up the boardwalk to the entry of The Newt in Somerset a week back. We stood still until it had leapt off the side of the boardwalk, to spare it from the clomping feet of the people behind us.

Daphne and I, having met up in the car park, were planning to be very brave. We were going to take advantage of the August ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, (subsidised of course by the taxpayer, not the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and have a meal in the Garden Café of The Newt, this my fourth visit this year to the gardens. The bravery was that for both of us it was to be the first time that either of us had been nearer than two metres to anyone for more than a fleeting few seconds since lockdown (with the exception of her husband in Daphne’s case.) For me that last time had been breakfast in the Premier Inn at Gatwick Airport on my way back from Morocco, on 15th March.

It was very, very hot, and we had asked to sit outside in recognition of our nervousness. Sadly the area in the shade of the building was not being used as it was part of the café’s one-way exit system. So we got very hot indeed, as there was no shade. (I have suggested they provide table umbrellas in my review of an otherwise really excellent experience.)

They went out of their way to meet Daphne’s dietary needs, and we both very much enjoyed our meals, the ingredients of which were largely grown not far from where we sat. I particularly enjoyed the beetroot and dill butter which formed part of my starter, though it’s invidious to pick anything out.

Daphne, suffering from sciatica, was not in a position to go round the gardens afterwards, but she lives only a few minutes away so can visit any time she likes. We arranged to meet up in her own garden a little later, with another bridge friend.

Here is the view, left to right (a panoramic photo didn’t do it justice,) from the terrace on which we ate.

This edge to a step caught my eye as I left the café.

I walked round the Parabola with its countless varieties of apples.

And left the Parabola though this gateway.

Two visits ago this was a mass of tulips. Last visit it was bare soil.
I love grasses, whether informally placed or formally.

I now went into parts of the garden I had not previously explored.

Hadspen House, the luxury hotel, at the end.
I was too hot to wait for the visitor to leave the view, but am happy to include the lawn mower, who merges into the landscape much better.

Now I walked though the red, white and blue gardens. Or should I say blue, white and red, in a nod to the national flag of Patrice Taravella, the French designer of these gardens? What was his intention? Whichever, I don’t seem to have a representative set of pictures!

I wanted to visit the cottage garden before I left, and to do so had to skirt round this area clockwise, in order to avoid not only getting too close to the children, but also displeasing the stone frogs, large and small, who squirt water at the unsuspecting passer-by. I thought I had succeeded, but a tiny one got my left ankle. In that temperature, that was most welcome.

A look back at part of the Parabola and the Garden Café.

Past the Threshing Barn on the way out,

whose big window was too tempting. Explanation: there is a matching high window the other end, doors at either side, and waving strip lighting in the roof. All the rest is reflection.

Next visit perhaps in September…

Fyne Court

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Having finished my lunch on the stile at Hawkridge Reservoir, I made my way south for some ten minutes to a National Trust property in Somerset that I had not previously visited, Fyne Court. I was planning just to explore the grounds of the 65-acre estate, as I knew that the house had long ago – 1894 in fact – burned down. For generations, the property had belonged to the Crosse family, including one Andrew Crosse, who had been one of the key people to experiment with electricity early in the 19th century. The property was left to the National Trust in 1967.

Once away from the remaining outbuildings, I chose the longest – 40-minutes – of the three short waymarked walks. Pond-dipping was available on one of the other two,

as was what I imagined had been the old kitchen garden.

Two-metre social distancing indicators!
I seem several times recently to have been inside a wood looking out on a field.
Meadow brown
I always like a nice valley.
I was given permission to to take the photo of these two, and to include it in a blog post, even when I said the caption was likely to be ‘Big kids enjoying a tree’.

It was for me to enjoy the next tree, just 50 metres on. The heavens opened when I was between the two, with more of the 3% chance of rain which had been forecast for the day.

I stayed perfectly dry and used the wait to study details.

The rain did not last long,

and when I emerged I found I was not far from my starting point, the outbuildings.

Having looked at the panels, of which this is one, about previous occupants of the property,

I improvised a face mask from an old shirt I had in my backpack (just in case I was cold – quite the opposite!) and went into the tea-room, which had just reopened that afternoon it seemed, and treated myself to a Magnum.

I didn’t fancy sitting around to eat it, but took it back to my car. Just as well – the heavens opened again just as I got there!

I was pleased to find that no roadworks held me up on my way home.

Hawkridge Reservoir

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Fancying a short late morning walk in the Quantock Hills, I googled and found this, thanks to Quantockonline.com

Ideal. Nice length, water, and a picnic spot with a viewpoint. Splendid. Hawkridge Reservoir was built about sixty years ago to provide water to Bridgwater. Technical details here.

50 minutes away from my home according to the satnav. I arrived after 75 minutes – yes, more roadworks. It’s August.

I had some difficulty identifying the car park. I saw a broad entry to what was evidently a car park, but it had no panel saying it was for the public, so I drove on. I found nothing after a couple of hundred metres, so turned back and parked in the one I had seen, where there was just one other car, and this view.

The panel confirmed that this was indeed Hawkridge Reservoir

The instructions said to go to the road and turn west, past a cottage on my left. So what did I do? I confused my east with my west. (My excuse was that, on both Ordnance Survey map and the plan, the car park is shown south of the road when in fact it was north – but I should have been more alert!) That cost me ten minutes. Having corrected my direction I found no cottage to my left, and made my way back to the car park. Faffing about for a while more

increased my loss of time to at least 30 minutes, until I realised that, according to the plan, my starting point should not have been at level of the the reservoir’s dam, but more than halfway along its length. ‘They’ had evidently changed the location of the car park since the plan had been drawn, and my OS map was also pretty old.

No public access to the top of the dam.

Hooray, I now knew where I was, at Point 4 on the plan, not Point 1.

These are either scaup or tufted ducks. They are just minuscule dots on the previous picture, and some fishermen in a boat are not much larger.

The weather forecast having predicted only a 3% chance of rain, I had not taken any rain protection. So it was as well that as I reached the bottom of the slope and this splendid sweet chestnut tree,

and found myself at this stile (check – yes!), when the rain came I was entering this wood.

It was lovely hearing the rain but feeling not a drop of it.

By the time I reached this gate and bridge it had stopped.

Through some private land, now labelled Ebsley Cottage.

Emerging into ‘wilder’ territory once more, I was delighted to see this Scarlet Pimpernel. It is not rare but I had not seen any for a while.

At Point 6 I got a bit cross with the walk description. Quite clearly according to the plan one was to turn left, south-westish. There was a field to the right, but its boundary was on the left, with a wire fence between field and a coniferous wood. But the words said, ‘follow field boundary on the right.’ What was one to do? I turned left and had the boundary on my left. I was TO the right of the fence. The alternative would have been to turn north, up a slope and have another field boundary on my right. And I’d have got lost again.

I now also had the reservoir to my left. Only fishermen (fisherpeople?) have access to the water’s edge, and beyond, on to the water. This is their clubhouse.

I had to turn away to my right for a bit (Point 8), and, as I turned sharp left a minute or so later, was delighted to be able to rest my elbows on a stile to take photos of this yaffle, aka green woodpecker, at a great distance, as it looked for insects in the grass. I took many photos, and couldn’t decide on the best, so here are two.

Someone’s hideaway?

As I encountered these, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Zoe who is always very cautious around cattle. With her words in my ears, I moved well south of them.

A lovely view ahead, spoiled by an ugly deforestation scar.

I turn round – they’re keeping an eye on me.

Above the scar is a flock of sheep.

A look back at the reservoir.

By the hedge there was a couple eating a picnic. Had I been nearer to them I would, with an explanation, have asked permission to take their photo, but an exchange of what the cliché calls ‘a cheery wave’ sufficed as greeting.

Down to the minor road, and to where I was to leave the circumnavigation of the reservoir to go up to the lime kiln, the viewpoint, and the picnic spot, for my late lunch.

Oh! Footpath closed.

And this explains why, and the reason for the ugly scar. The Great Spruce Bark Beetle.

I felt better about the scar now. And was not at a personal level as disappointed as I might have been. I was ready for my lunch, a Great Climb would have been ahead of me, (I have not mentioned hitherto that it was very hot) and I did not have my walking pole with me to help me down the later descent.

I walked on, thinking I should now see the space where the original car park would have been. Instead – yes – I found THE car park, a glorified lay-by, which had I continued another 300 metres I would have found. It had a nice view of the reservoir,

with some swans and a grey heron,

an information board,

and some people, in and out of cars. I walked on,

found the cottage, and the stile at Point 1, and sat on it to eat my picnic, with a lovely view,

and a better view of the swans.

The grey heron had moved to join its cousin, a little egret.

Difficult to get decent pictures at that distance, but there were also great crested grebes,

mallard ducks (?)

and the chance to get a better picture of the egret.

Back at my personal starting point in due course, I thought this quarry, way in the distance and over to my right, must be Callow Rock Quarry, near Cheddar, the entrance to which I have passed many times on the road, but never seen.

This panorama from ‘my’ car park takes in Wales, Brean Down and much of the Mendip Hills, including the above quarry.

It was time to move on to my other visit of the day.

Great Chalfield Manor

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Having visited The Courts Garden in the morning, and as I was too cold to sit still for long outside, Daphne and I sat in our respective cars to eat our lunches in solitary splendour.

Quite a nice view.

Great Chalfield Manor is a 15th century house, much used in filming period drama, (including the BBC’s ‘Wolf Hall’) with an arts and crafts garden. At present, because of the virus, the house is not open, but the garden alone is worth the trip.

The National Trust had, as usual, done a very good job in setting out a one-way system, and we did our best to respect it. We took the long walk and added bits of the shorter one.

As soon as I turned the corner, I recalled my previous visit, which, my photographic records tell me, was almost exactly three years ago.

The ‘tents’ – here and elsewhere in the grounds – made by those four trees were characteristic.

The epitome of velvet?
How wonderful it would be to step out of your back door with your morning coffee, and sit on such a patio!
I loved the way the downpipe had been tailored to the arch over the door!
And looking up…
A backwards glance at the end of a day which had, while not becoming sunny, at least warmed up. And hey, it had been pouring with rain the day before. Pity those who had booked for then.