I popped into The Newt in Somerset yesterday for a couple of hours. It was lunchtime when I arrived so I had a cup of their freshly made soup, despite the heat, and, since none of their elderflower drink was available (‘It’s all at Chelsea’),I partook of their own apple juice, a sure favourite. Then I explored.
When I take friends there for the first time, I tend to follow the same route, but this time I just wandered round somewhat haphazardly, which gave me angles for photos that I have not taken before. Here are those photos, without commentary, and in a slideshow this time. Just press the little arrows right and left to see next/previous image. (Sorry about the fourth from the end. I was using my phone, not my camera, and my finger seems to have slipped…)
Ten days or so ago, I took my friend Helen for her first visit to The Newt in Somerset. As ever, I took lots of photos, but I have posted on the subject many times before (search on ‘Newt’) so here are just a selected few taken on that occasion, followed by more on yesterday’s visit.
Helen particularly hoped to see deer. We did.
My most recent visit, yesterday, was very different, a dawn walk. This meant getting up at 5.00 a.m. When I left home, with just a small glass of orange juice inside me, my car told me it was 6.5 degrees C. When I got to the Newt, it said 4 degrees. On the way, I had been driving almost eastwards for most of the time, and had been enjoying pre-dawn skies, with their pink, pale blue, and mauve hues, frustrated that the roads did not permit me to stop and take photos. (Get a dash-cam for the purpose I have since been advised!). By the time I got to the car park, the sun was just over the horizon.
I made my way to the Cyder Bar, and saw a few people there. The coffee-making machinery was covered, but there was a man behind the bar and about four other people assembled. I called out as I approached, with not much hope, ‘Are you selling coffee?’ Arthur, who turned out to be our leader, replied, ‘Not selling it’. But he was preparing cafetieres of said beverage for all his clients, of whom there would be eight, including me. Two were guests at the hotel, Hadspen House.
While we took our coffee I was delighted to see a thrush on the lawn nearby. Difficult to see at this angle, but I think it’s a song thrush
Arthur Cole*, Head of Programmes, turned out to be a man who knew everything about everything, all things vegetation, gardening, geology, history, everything. And incredibly enthusiastic about all those everythings. You couldn’t ask for a better guide. He took us first to the marl pits area. I wish I could remember even a tenth of what he told us during the couple of hours we were with him.
*(I confess to just having found this hour-long programme, but I shall be watching it soonest.)
I had never noticed these fossils before. They had been on the sea-bed, in tropical seas near the equator, a couple of hundred years previously.
The Newt holds the National Collection of Apples by County.
Privet flowers are one of the most dangerous to those suffering from hay fever. The smaller the flower, the worse the effect apparently.
‘Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?’ ‘With silver bells, and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row.’ And where is one of our major cockle-producing areas? In Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, calling to mind the disaster of 2004.
In the kitchen garden, tulips replace temporarily the brassicas grown until very recently in these beds, while they await their new edible crop.
The battery in my camera gave out, and I only thought to get my phone out – I rarely use it for photos – a while later. We were led to a parkland area not usually accessible to day visitors. We stood on the grass helipad, erstwhile rounders pitch for staff as they developed the land in the second decade of this century.
Here are the young orchards, destined to provide The Newt with its cider, sorry cyder, and apple juice in years to come, but not yet ready. Arthur told us the rows had been carefully lined up to provide aesthetically pleasing vistas from a distance, which I had certainly noticed when walking to and from the Roman Villa.
It was 10 o’clock when I left, and it was already getting busy, on this the penultimate day of the Easter holidays.
Another very familiar view, of the way back to the car park, but so unfamiliar with the sun full on it from behind me.
The Newt in Somerset is ever being added to. We were informed that there is another exciting development to open in the coming months, which will increase in attractiveness over the years. I can’t wait!
It was time to go to The Newt again, this time not focussing on the Roman Villa (3’37” video), as I had on my four previous visits, last year. On Sunday morning I walked mainly in the deer park and woodland. I took over 100 photos. Here are too many of them, especially of deer and moss.
I went upwards, away from the central hub, courtyard and parabola.
As I went along the sinuous raised walkway, known as The Viper, I hoped to see some deer. At first I saw nothing, and then a white patch became clearer. Zooming in with my camera, I realised that there were brown and pale fallow deer there.
There were no leaves on the trees yet, other than those of ivy clinging to their trunks, but there was green moss everywhere. When the sun was out (‘sunny spells’ had been forecast for the morning) it was almost dazzling.
Back in the autumn the red deer had been herded into a large field, off limits to the public, presumably because it was the rutting season. Today they had not been there as I passed it, and I wondered where they were. As I walked through the wood, I saw these few, also out of reach of the public, and wondered where the rest of the herd was.
I had gone off the footpath to get a little nearer to these deer, (though the pictures are heavily zoomed) and as I made my way back to it, I saw that there were many more ahead of me.
Lunchtime was approaching. I could have bought a small something at the Cyder Barn.
I could have bought a hot waffle with apple caramel sauce.
I had other plans. With a few minutes to spare, I made for the cottage garden.
Through the gap in the wall on the way, I saw that I could have had an ice cream. I was surprised the selling point was open. I was less surprised, given the temperature, that there was no trade.
My reservation time approached and I approach the Garden Café via the Parabola, and its hundreds of apple trees awaiting spring.
This was the view from my table as I enjoyed my meal.
The first time I went to the Roman villa, ‘Villa Ventorum’, at The Newt in Somerset – I have now been four times, each with a different friend – I felt rather sorry for a bunch of volunteers, the Avalon Archaeology’s “Hands on Heritage” team. These, I knew from their blog, had been slogging away for years, every Wednesday, at a project under the auspices of the South West Heritage Trust, a not-for-profit whose work was formerly part of Somerset County Council’s responsibility, and which is now still mainly financed by Somerset and Devon councils.
At the Avalon Marshes Centre those volunteers are now creating one room of a Roman villa, on a limited budget. Although the aims of the project are very different from those of the villa at The Newt, I was concerned that they might be rather envious – to put it mildly – of the millions poured into the extremely rapid and professional job just 20 miles away.
On subsequent visits to the Roman villa at The Newt, I was delighted to learn that the SWHT had played a large part as consultants in the planning and execution of the Villa Ventorum. They also wrote almost the entire text of a beautiful book about the new villa, which covers the background history of Roman presence in Somerset (there were loads of villas), the decision to imagine a brand new villa, and enormous detail about the planning, sourcing, and construction of it. I can only hope that, given the millions that were poured, evidently, into The Newt’s project, the Trust benefited financially to a very substantial extent!
The Avalon Archaeology project has this month started offering guided tours to the public, and I joined a small group last week. It was a bitterly cold day, and I had not covered myself sufficiently, unfortunately, but the visit was still very enjoyable.
I was early, and studied the map of where I was. The area is principally known for its wildlife.
There were four items to see, and we were guided around them in chronological order, before being left to explore individually and take a longer look at various aspects. The following pictures consolidate the two ‘tours’.
The visit started with the early work by the volunteers of an Iron Age roundhouse. Natalie, of the SWHT, explained that the Hands on Heritage project is not designed to build exact replicas, but that what they carried out was experimental archaeology, that is, in this case, trying to find out by experimentation what building methods were and might have been used at the time. Although many roundhouses have been found, none has left traces much above ground level, so reproduction can only be conjectural. It was known that short stouter posts were first inserted, some weaving done, and then longer uprights added. Wattle and daub was applied, finished with a wash, and then a roof extending well out would largely protect the walls. But rot would set in from the ground, and the life of a roundhouse was only about ten years. The model for this one was those of the Glastonbury Lake Village, just a few miles away.
It was not known, because of the limited height of remains, whether roundhouses had windows, but boards of this size had been found near excavations, so these were included, in accordance with the experimental archaeological approach.
To illustrate a Roman villa, a typical dining room (triclinium) and anteroom were being built here.
Only those rooms and the bathhouse would be heated, by means of a hypocaust. This fire (the opening is about 12 inches/30 centimetres high) would heat air that would be spread underneath the rooms and through their walls.
The roof’s end tiles are purely decorative, and are based on found examples. The part of wall is left unfinished so that internal construction can be seen. It is not wattle and daub but not dissimilar. The two dark plates serve to prevent the smoke from the fire from being blown back into the house. The need for them was discovered in accordance with the experimental approach.
Laying the mosaics is slow painstaking work, and not without the occasional error – itself authentic.
Each section is shaped with a temporary ‘form’. Without such, chaos would result. The small oblong section had taken two or three people the whole of the previous day to complete.
A modern dish provides useful separation of the tesserae, made of local stone and (red) brick.
Among the wall decorations would be portraits of the mistress and master of the house.
The third building was Saxon long hall, home to the local lord perhaps, and also used as (my term) a sort of community centre.
There were seven panels altogether.
After the tour, Natalie got the fire going again. But before that there was one more thing to see.
This is full size waterline replica of a Viking trading ship from Denmark. It was built of oak by a specialist team of Viking boat builders from Roskilde. It was originally displayed in the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. See here for a photo of it being delivered.
Finally, we learnt some etymology. This is the stern of the boat. On its side – and always on its right-hand side – is the steering board. Thus ‘starboard’. And ‘port’ is because a ship was always moored at its left-hand side, in order not to damage its steering-board. (And come to think of it, so did MS Trollfjord on my recent trip up the coast of Norway.)
Time for another visit to The Newt in Somerset. I’d done the Cyder [sic] Tour there a month previous, and had come away with samples. I’d then taken the opportunity to walk down to have a quick look at the exterior of the new Roman Villa Experience (they’re all ‘experiences’ these days, aren’t they?) and back along a vast new area that the enterprise had opened up.
A few days ago, I met Mary off her – delayed – train at Castle Cary station. Arrived at The Newt, we started with the obligatory coffee, and did a bit of setting the world to rights – it’s a big job these days.
This merged seamlessly into lunch.
We were booked in to the Roman Villa for 3p.m., so set off an hour earlier to make our way there via the newly opened area. This involved setting off from the pergola and its many different members of the gourd family.
Going ‘the long way round’ it was about a mile to the Villa, but there was plenty to entertain us on the way, including The Grotto with its Wyvern. The difference between a dragon and a wyvern?
First of all, dragons have four legs, while wyverns have only two. Their front legs are fused to their wings, so they cannot move their wings as easily as dragons. Dragons are also a lot larger than wyverns, and they are believed to be the most powerful creatures in the world. Indeed, it’s very impressive: dragons are very hard to kill and, unless they are killed, they will live for thousands of years.
Still, wyverns, who are considered to be one of the breeds of dragons, can’t be called harmless in any way. Though smaller, easier to attack, and with fewer powers, wyverns can move around a lot faster than dragons, thus making them a big advantage. So, you can never underestimate a wyvern: due to the fact that it’s so swift, it might attack and kill even more efficiently and effectively than a dragon.
When I’d visited in July I had heeded the advice below. I really am too literal-minded – children were actually being encouraged to be disobedient, when they would have had a flaming surprise!
Sadly, by the time of this visit, the Wyvern had no head – some children had been too violent. Safety, electric wires and all that, had led the management to remove it entirely. (It is to be replaced.) But here’s a picture I had taken of it on my previous visit.
We moved on, and were amused by these parallel sheep, all moving towards our right.
Even on my first visit to The Newt, in January 2020, I had seen, in the inaccessible distance and from another angle, what looked like a dovecot. Now we were able not only to approach it but to go inside.
Through the, evidently unglazed, windows, were several views, including this one of the Roman Villa for which we were heading.
The Newt’s website said to allow 90 to 120 minutes for the tour of museum and villa. Reception said not to linger too long in the former, as the house alone would need at least an hour to be appreciated. We only had two hours before they would close – and we had ordered Roman food for the end.
We were issued with GPS-guided headphones. In the museum, one pressed a lit ring by an exhibit to learn more. In the house, commentary was stimulated by proximity to any given area. I love audioguides – but there is a huge disadvantage in that you have to rely on your memory a few days later … So there are many lacunas now …
The reconstructed Roman villa is by the site of a real one, burnt down in the 4th century, and first re-discovered in the 19th. Part of it is incorporated into the museum and part of it has been returned to the ground.
More historical information is here and here. The latest archaeological excavations took place after Koos Bekker, the South African billionaire owner of The Newt in Somerset, had acquired the property in 2013.
I was frustrated not to be able to tell which exhibits were originals and which reproductions. (But these surely were all the latter.) Only on examining some of my pictures have I realised – I think – that there were symbols by the captions which would have told me. (Next time – which is soon.)
More time would have allowed a more in depth perusal of the exhibits, (and outside the holidays would have perhaps avoided some rather noisy children, but they were having enormous fun). We moved on to the villa, through vineyard and orchard.
We were welcomed to the ‘Villa Ventorum’ by Diana, in Roman dress. She explained that this room is the furthest most visitors would have been allowed, a place where business transactions would have taken place. From then on our visit was led by the audioguides.
They told us the route to take. There were no stewards, no barriers, no ‘do not touch’s (though our headphone commentary made that polite request) and no – conspicuous anyway – CCTV. And I should mention that the visit is entirely free once entry to The Newt is paid, either by annual membership, or as a guest of a member.
No detail has been missed in the development. The Villa has only been open to the public for a couple of months. My assumption would be therefore that this scorched effect has been added artificially.
We met this cheery fellow in the peaceful rear garden.
A child’s bedroom, and a child’s collection
Parents’ bedroom, and parents’ jewellery
The ‘bibliotheca’ was always in a mess, we were told through our headphones.
Next, to the linked music and entertaining rooms
Round to the front of the villa again, and down to the lower courtyard to be served our Roman street food.
This young man told us that the stall was totally authentic, apart from the stainless steel serving pots. We each had what could be described in modern terms as a vegetarian wrap – containing broad beans, asparagus, coriander and a few other lovely things – delicious. I had cider with mine and Mary a sort of cold mulled red wine, the name of which I couldn’t retain.
We walked back the direct way to the hub of The Newt, still about a kilometre, wondering whether we would see any of the deer.
We certainly did, and they seemed, untypically, to be herded to an area which was inaccessible to the public (possibly because the rutting season is coming up?).
I had never seen so many of them together.
This beech tree fell during Storm Eunice on 18th February this year. As the panel beside it says, it is being left there to become a home for fungi, beetles, and bugs, and, in due course, to become compost. Such shallow roots for such a tall tree!
We had some time before Mary’s train back to London, and, since all refreshment facilities had by now closed, we sat for a short while on a conveniently placed bench, with Newt Lake and the young apple orchards ahead of us, and Hadspen House, the Long Walk and the kitchen garden at 2 o’clock.
In due course we made our way back to the car park.
Just yesterday, when a friend called to offer me some plums from her garden, I was telling her about the Villa. We have arranged to go together in about a month’s time, when I will hope to fill in some of those lacunas, and indeed to observe more.
Footnote: Never – £500, £600, £700 and rising per night! – will I be in a position to take photographs of those parts of The Newt reserved to guests in its hotels, Hadspen House and The Farmyard. But here is a short article by those involved in the interior design, which will show a little of how the Other Half lives!
Just a brief post of record really. My latest visit was last Tuesday with my bridge partner, Daphne, and her visiting 95-year-old aunt, Vera. But we didn’t see much of The Newt, because, despite the fact that we met up in the car park at 2.30, we sat talking in the café in the Story of Gardening until we were kicked out as the café was closing, and then we were kicked out of the gardens before we had completed our wander around, again because they were closing.
I say ‘kicked out’. We were in fact treated with the utmost courtesy by the staff. The car park is some way from the entrance, and we were met on time by pre-arrangement by a buggy, and were driven to the Threshing Barn, where we were lent a wheelchair.
Daphne and Vera had not managed to have a post-prandial coffee, and I’m always game for refreshments, so we made for the café at the far end of the deer park, on the grounds it was likely to be less crowded. (In the event there were not many people anywhere.)
I did do my share of pushing, honest. Indeed, the beginning part of the walk there was up a very steep hill, and even with two of us I had to ask for a short stop.
We were pleased to find that the deer park lived up to its name, and saw the group of fallow deer.
The main entrance to the café had a notice on it directing us to this side door.
We did not notice the time pass, as we consumed the delicious coffee and cake that Vera treated us to, and put the world to rights. In (over)due course we made our way back to the main area, this time with the brakes on down the steep hill, and started to walk around the most accessible bits of the garden, once Daphne had bought a few bits in the farm shop. The Newt is clearly between seasons, but with lots of signs of glorious things to come shortly.
We didn’t get to go in the greenhouse, since a nice young man explained to us that it was past closing time…
But there was still a buggy to get us all back to the car park.
A couple of weeks ago, I took another friend to visit The Newt in Somerset. Peter was down from Manchester to lead a singing workshop, which I was organising for the South West Early Music Forum the following day. Three times postponed because of you-know-what, initially from April 2020, but that’s a whole other story.
Apples are always the principal theme at The Newt, but especially so at this time of year, as the display in the Threshing Barn illustrated.
They featured in the window of the farm shop as well. Their apple juice is delicious.
(Given that I have already posted so many pictures taken at The Newt in Somerset, I have limited the number posted here.)
We learned that the Japanese Garden would be opening a week later.
Next we walked up the Mound, where we saw a few Shaggy Inkcaps.
Still plenty of colour, though we’re well into the autumn.
Peter noticed the curious ‘steps’ in the chimney stack.
Into the Scented Garden.
The mischievous frogs were disappointed that there were no small children around to squirt water at, though clearly some adults have been by, setting off the sensors.
Access to the (very) luxury hotel, Hadspen House, is prevented by the gate out of sight below this image. Actually they’ve just opened another luxury hotel, called The Farmyard, adjacent.
We were impressed by the great variety of cucurbits growing in their tunnel. Over the year, I have seen these grow from tiny unidentifiable plants, into large flowering ones, and now fruiting ones.
I wonder if the tunnel will be used for the same purpose next year, or for something different.
After an excellent meal in the Garden Café, we walked though the Deer Park.
Walking back through the woodland, we did get a fleeting glimpse of a couple of fallow deer. This is the best I could do, photo-wise.
Back to the entrance/exit via the old Marl Pits.
Another happy visit to The Newt in Somerset. We had to leave – we had things to do relating to the following day, written up here for those interested.
The Newt in Somerset, to be precise. I hadn’t seen my cousin Mary, who lives in Croydon, for several years, so her love of gardens and gardening, along with the fact that I had a garment to hand over that I had knitted for her, gave the perfect pretext for us to get together last Friday, 20th August, in one of my favourite local places.
South West Trains brought her in perfectly on time to Templecombe Station, which is about 15 minutes’ drive from The Newt (also served by GWR to Castle Cary, just five minutes’ away). We started with the obligatory coffee, bought from the Cyder Bar, and studied the plan of the grounds.
By then, we had just 30 minutes or so before our lunch reservation at the Garden Café, and Mary opted to visit The Parabola, which features hundreds of varieties of apples, and I suggested that the kitchen garden would nicely fill the rest of the time.
Not only apples are grown in The Parabola, so named for its shape.
To get to the kitchen garden, you go past the huge wildflower area,
and through a tunnel, which I’ve seen develop from not there, to there but plantless, to supporting small nameless plants,
to producing many different varieties of gourds.
It was time to make our way to The Story of Gardening. No time to wait for this deer to lift its head.
We could have just walked down the slope to the entrance, but instead went the slightly longer way round on the slightly vibrating walkway,
from which we saw these deer.
I think this selection of photographs does not too much replicate the visit I made with my friend Mary four weeks previously!
Mary was very envious of the Victorians for their greenhouses.
Four weeks ago, I assumed that these smell horns would not (because of Covid) be working. This time they certainly were.
On the long Tool Wall, I was attracted to these many balls of string, all apparently made by the same company.
It was time to move back to real plants, mainly flowers, once we had visited the cactus house.
The Cottage Garden
The Victorian Fragrance Garden
Mary pointed out toxic Monk’s Hood to me.
Part of the White Garden, near to the Red and Blue Gardens
The beginning of The Cascade
Hadspen House, now a luxury hotel
The view from the same spot 180 degrees round. The far pool retains its historic name of the Bathing Pool, though I think paddling would be all it enables, now anyway.
The Fowl House, within the Lower Egg
Back through The Parabola,
where Mary got the joke before I did.
After a visit to the farm shop, where we bought freshly ground coffee, and bottles of the pink cyder of which we had been given small samples at lunch, we made our way to the Cyder Bar, where we enjoyed glasses of The Newt’s delicious chilled fresh lemonade.
A final look round the tropical greenhouse, and it was time to take Mary to my place, from where her brother (a third first cousin – I only have five! – met within 11 days!) picked her up from her to spend the night of his and his partner’s house.
The celebrated garden writer and designer, Penelope Hobhouse, (b. 1929), at one time married into the family and having had a great influence on the restoration of Hadspen House’s gardens in the 1960s, wrote a book called ‘The Story of Gardening‘. Was it in tribute to her, in ignorance, or for some other reason that the museum in the grounds of what is now called The Newt in Somerset bears the same name?
Last Friday, my friend Mary and I, as part of our visit to The Newt (see previous post), spent the best part of an hour looking round this museum. Its external setting is well described here. Inside it consists, on the left-hand side, of a long, very wide corridor, with a wall of tools and including central island exhibits, and on the right-hand side a series of nine rooms, with a further, much narrower corridor, fully glazed, beyond them on the right, so that you have access to the rooms from both sides.
When you arrive you are given an audioguide, for one ear only. It works on the same principle as a satnav/GPS system, except that it’s a Building Positioning System. It knows where you are and offers you various options to learn more, relevant to that very point, referenced by the little numbered trowel indicators that are discreetly everywhere. If you listened to all of them you’d be there for hours, and I fully intend to do just that (well, perhaps not all of them) before too long.
Here are some of the pictures I took, in order. You start in the entrance hall, and we missed the commentary on the short initial film because we hadn’t quite twigged at the very outset, despite being told by reception, how the audioguide worked.
The (his)story started with classical times,
and moved through the time and geography.
This island was about scent. In normal times you would put your nose up to the cone, and squeeze the puffer. I didn’t try it, and my assumption in any case was that it would not be in operation in present circumstances.
This island, the theme of which was ‘colour’ was a real curiosity. This is roughly how the human eye saw it, all the time.
But as I was taking my eye away from the viewfinder of my camera, which showed the picture I had just taken, I noticed that the image captured was this:
So I took another…
Only on my fourth essay did my camera faithfully reflect what my eye saw, and shown first here. I expect there’s some scientific explanation about white light being made up of the spectrum of colours, but I’m intrigued.
The last area in the museum concerned modern gardens and gardening, and featured what is going on in Singapore a lot.
It was time to return to the entrance, taking the long, wide corridor, passing its islands on the left this time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.