20130303_A wander of a walk at Baddesley Clinton
When : 3rd March 2013
Who : Me and My Family
Where : Baddesley Clinton National Trust House, Gardens and Tea Rooms (a few miles west of Warwick).
Well, this isn’t a country walk as such, but closely linked in a way, as I enjoy going to National Trust Houses and Gardens with my family and they tend to be out in the countryside and involve walking (well strolling) around their gardens and grounds … and … visiting their tea rooms. These visits also give the opportunity to take some photo’s, which if you’ve seen any of my other diaries you’ll know is another of my interests.
If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
Well, this year we’ve sort of got ourselves organised and taken out a year’s family membership of The NT …. Although seemingly quite a bit of money up front, this will give us free entry to properties around the country for the next year, and we only need to visit three or four places to be “in profit” … and we have the satisfaction of thinking we are helping preserve some of our national treasures including great tracts of open land …. which brings us full circle to my love of walking in the hills much of which is owned by The Trust.
Anyway, back to the our first visit of the year : Baddesley Clinton – The 15th Century Manor House is one of the few in the country with a real moat surrounding it on all sides, and is accessed via a double arched bridge across to a courtyard. I’ll not say too much about the house itself – Go discover it for yourself – but the priest holes are probably one of the most interesting things to learn about, and my lovely wife liked the stained glass crests and coats of arms. My son however liked searching for a number of mini ginger bread men “hidden” in the rooms. A lot of NT houses are big grand palatial piles of stone with huge grounds and formal gardens and possibly bigger egos as well; however, Baddesley is on a much smaller, more human scale, and as such we could even imagine living there – the size of rooms being perfectly liveable in.
The same could be said of the gardens/grounds, which can be walked around in a matter of minutes if you put your best foot forward; although they are large enough to accommodate a stream, sizable pond, the moated manor and various out-houses/stables/store buildings etc. Some of these buildings now house the shop, tea rooms and a used book store.
After the tour around the house and a quickish wander around the gardens (it was decidedly chilly) we headed for the tea-rooms, where the family had warm scones with real butter and raspberry jam and I had spicy carrot soup with a big slice of fresh crusty wholemeal bread (yummy!). Despite the cold outside, I fancied taking some pic’s, so I left the family inside and headed back outside. Once outside, I tried to get some half-acceptable shots, although the light really wasn’t brilliant (pretty grey really) and the chilly (cold!) breeze was blowing across the grounds numbing my fingers (I hadn’t taken gloves).
There weren’t many flowers out this early in the year, or even many plants in leaf yet, but the drifts of snowdrops in bloom were pretty, although a little dog-eared from the recent inclement weather, and they are always a nice link from late winter into early spring. There were also a few Dwarf Iris’ and a couple of primroses in flower too.
The few winter Jasmine flowers growing against the outside of a brick garden wall were not spectacular from a distance, and the plants themselves can be a tad straggly (almost messy), but up close the star-like flowers are quite charming; I particularly like the splash of red in the buds before the predominantly pale yellow flowers open up.
Close by in the gardens, I also liked some catkins hanging from the bare branches of some coppiced woody bushes, the oddly attractive structures gently swinging in the breeze. I’m fairly sure these are hazel nut bushes. Anyway, it took some time to get a pic with a semblance of sharpness due to the breeze waving them about too much to stay in focus long enough to get a decent image.
My hands were saying enough was enough of the cold, and as it happened, my family emerged from the warmth of the tea rooms to come find me, and we then walked up the path leading from the front of the house to the adjacent church. This is a stunning little path when the hoards of daffodils come out in flower, but we were just a bit too early, with the cheerful bulbs still some way off blooming …. all that is, except one clump which were just opening up, giving a welcome splash of bright yellow colour, a portent that spring should be just around the corner. A good proportion of the church graveyard was blanketed in snowdrops, the bowed heads seemingly in reverence to and intermingled amongst the weathered head stones.
And that was that, a very pleasant and very gentle way to spend an afternoon.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.