Life in Pictures: Stourhead

Life in Pictures is a photographic journal of things we’ve been doing lately.

Each year, we buy membership of the National Trust. It’s a passport to many beautiful and historic places, wonderful open spaces to explore, and, of course, NT tea rooms!

We recently visited Stourhead in Wiltshire with some dear friends. It was a wonderful day out. The house was beautifully decorated for Christmas, with trees in different styles in every room. As it was a Saturday, there was a tasting table of ginger wine, Christmas cake, and spiced biscuits to try. The children were kept busy searching for the mice hidden in each room. The grounds are quite spectacular and we managed a fair walk in the very cold and windy weather, though we didn’t make it all the way round the lake. Stourhead has a NT cafe but there is also a pub inside the grounds where we had both morning snack (mince pies and clotted cream and heavenly hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows!) and lunch.

We loved Stourhead and hope to visit again in warmer weather.


National Trust and IKEA days out

Nick and I hired a car this weekend and went out on fun visits to lots of different places. The weekend didn’t work out exactly as we expected, mainly because the hotel we had booked near Gloucester had lost our reservation so we couldn’t stay there, but we had a great time anyway.

We started off at Lodge Park near Burford, a 17th-century hunting lodge which the National Trust has restored. It is set in lovely countryside and is very peaceful. There is a small but interesting exhibition about the history of the lodge – firstly a hunting lodge, later cottages, later a home for the last owner and his wife before the family tree died out.

We then visited Chastleton House near Stow-on-the-Wold. Apparently this is where the rules of croquet were first codified. There were two nice-looking croquet lawns but sadly no balls or mallets so we couldn’t have a game. The house itself holds a collection of interesting objects from the 17th century through to the 20th, including a terrifying 1940s bakelite bed-warming contraption, like a hot water bottle but powered through one’s unearthed bedside lamp socket. Yikes. I really liked Chastleton. The grounds were small but lovely, and included some delicious scented roses and a wonderful kitchen-cottage garden.

Sunday we indulged in the rather more 21st-century pursuit of shopping. Firstly we visited Bicester Village, which seems to me to be almost a shrine to shopping. Next it was on to IKEA in Milton Keynes, where we purchased a lot of stuff including a new lamp for me and new desk legs for Nick to make himself a standing desk. We assembled it together when we got home (via Stowe Landscape Gardens where we had a cream tea in the car with home-made jam and scones and the most amazing clotted cream ever, bought in Gloucestershire the day before). I think both of us were pleased with the day’s results!