I got back home yesterday after a long weekend visiting my parents in deepest Devon - it was a bank-holiday weekend, and as I didn't want to have to face the bank-holiday traffic, I booke the Tuesday off work as well, giving myself a 4-day weekend. Yum.
Of course, as it was a bank holiday, it started to rain as I drove down to Devon on Friday evening, but it was good to see my parents!
We spent a delightfully lazy Saturday - I had the rare pleasure of being brought a cup of tea in bed, and the rest of the day included inspecting my parent's brand new (to them) caravan, which was collected from the dealer on Friday, so is really new) wandering around the garden, and assisting in a joint effort to cook, then eat, a rather nice meal (roast duck, followed by lemon meringue pie, in case anyone is interested) and lots of conversation.
Sunday was my mum's birthday, but as it was also Sunday, and the parents suddenly remembered that they had promised to ring that morning, so we rushed out to go ringing, then came back and had a more liesurely second breakfast-and-gift-unwrapping before heading over to Tiverton, to Knightshayes Court, which is owned by the National Trust.
It's a Victorian, gothic-inspired house built for wealthy lace-maker in 1869, and especially well known for its gardens. My Grannie used to work as a volunteer there for the National Trust, doing flower arrangements for the house, and many of her 'best' plants (cuttings or decendents of which remain in my parents' garden) were gifts from the gardener there.
It even has little fairy tale turrets on the stables (Yes, that picture is the stables...) and at the corners of the kitchen-garden.
They were a fox-hunting family, and around the terraced lawn is a topiary fox-and-hounds hedge. The house itself is the Victorian idea of a medieval Great Hall, complete with minstrel gallery, gargoyles, an vast stone fireplaces, but also has slightly less convincingly medieval features such as the Billiard Room, Smoking Room, and Library (perfect for passing murderers!)
It would be a nice place to live, if you happened to be a stinkin' rich Victorian industrialist. And it has a very nice garden. (asuming that you have a whole regiment of gareners to keep in order)
We were very restrained. We did all buy some second hand books, but we didn't buy any plants. That's restrained, isn't it?
It was a nice day.