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.
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.
I wasn’t planning to visit The Newt in Somerset again this month, but the meet-up rules had been relaxed, and I was due to pass over my previous camera to my bridge partner, Daphne. It had been she who had told me about The Newt when it opened in 2019, but my one planned visit there in August had been thwarted by bad weather (which led to my London friend Mary and I going to the nearby Haynes International Motor Museum instead).
Daphne and I had not seen each other since 5th March, the last bridge club meeting before my Morocco trip. Greeting each other with a socially distanced hug, we exchanged carrier bags via the boot of my car, and started up the entrance path.
The Newt is now charging again, but Daphne and I were already members, so we were able to bypass the ticket building to get in.
Near the top of the path to the ‘Threshing Barn’, it was sad to see that a magnificent beech tree was being removed. It was diseased on the inside apparently.
There is still a theoretical one-way system, and we were channelled through the barn.
Along withe the charges have been restored the gift shop, and the ability to buy beverages and ice-cream.
We partook of neither, and indeed our intention was to avoid the most frequented parts of the gardens. We turned off left therefore to the Marl Pit and the Marl Pit Copse.
On a day that was to become very hot indeed, it was wonderfully fresh, with the sunlight trickling down through the trees. I hadn’t explored this area on my two previous visits.
We continued into the deer park with no real expectation of seeing any deer, but we did just get a glimpse.
We went on to the walkway to Museum of Gardening, itself closed of course. In any case I’m told you must allow at least two hours to do the museum justice. It has a refreshment area to keep you going.
From the museum, we walked to the end of the grounds of the Newt, though beyond is still part of the whole estate. I do not recall this dovecot (if that is what it is) beyond the boundary being there in January. It is built in the same style, stone and roofing as the rest of the new build at the Newt.
We ambled back. (Ambling is now allowed as ‘The Rules’ no longer require that you be outdoors only for essential shopping, and exercise.)
Returned from the Deer Park, we ventured a little into the more crowded ‘pretty’ areas, but did not plunge in.
Finally there was the ‘Woodland Walks and Mound ‘ area, which I had not seen on previous visits.
We climbed The Mound, of which I forgot to take a photo. It’s basically an upside-down pudding bowl with a gentle spiral path to get to the top.
It was time to go – once I had bought my Newt in Somerset cyder (sic) – leaving by the one way system exit, which meant passing the diseased beech on its other side. It had lost a few more branches, which were being removed one by one. No ‘Timber….!!!!’ was to follow i was told when I asked. It might have been worth staying to watch if so!
Daphne and I had had much digital and telephone contact in the twelve weeks since we had seen each other, but there is nothing like actually being with a friend and together doing something you both like. And now restrictions are to be relaxed further as from tomorrow, another bridge friend is immediately taking advantage of that and has invited three of us round to her garden, not of course for bridge – which would not be within guidelines, sensible, or practical – but for a good old chinwag, socially distanced of course. We will even each take our own beverages.