Saturday, 6 June 2015

Dull would he be of soul…


One of the most wonderful aspects of living in ‘The Three Tysoes’ is the amount of history – even if you excised my own sweet Will from the landscape – we are immersed in and surrounded by: and this is epitomized, I believe, by the National Trust, whose local range of properties provides me with ongoing inspiration; whose large swathes of gardens and parkland help keep me mobile; and whose diverse eateries keep me suitably sustained.


Over the last couple of weeks or so, my health has been good enough (and the weather kind enough) for me to do a mini-tour of some of my favourites – including our neighbour, Upton House and Gardens (top photograph), with its remarkable, evolving vistas; my habitual wonder-as-I-wander spot, Charlecote Park (at the bottom); the beauteous Baddesley Clinton (above – perfect for just sitting, reading, and thinking); Hidcote (the greatest garden I know – with such wonderful rooms and blooms, below – which is why I return so frequently); and Packwood House (next photograph): where it is easy to escape from the throng gathering for the Sermon on the Mount, and immerse yourself in the typical, Warwickshire landscape of rolling meadows, overflowing, at this time of year, with cow parsley, buttercups, and almost-hidden delights of tiny pale blues and purples ensconced deep within the myriad grasses.


It would be easy to take such places for granted, to treat them as the sole purview of the tourists who form the seemingly endless snaking backbone of our economy – but, as I have said several times over the last month, we are “so very fortunate” to have such settings to saunter through at our own leisure; at our own convenience; and so near at hand (and foot).


There are not many moments quite as thrilling as that when you realize you are the only soul in a garden such as Hidcote on a rainy day, or in Charlecote’s deer park in the snow: imagining that, however fleetingly, this is yours, and only yours; that this is your domain; your backyard (and not just in it…). Living in close proximity, we have that luxury: that we can indulge ourselves when others may find such places too remote or unseasonable; seeing each place anew again and again – and not just for their innate, crafted beauty; or their extensive historical context; but for the rich, relevant relaxation and deserved, diversionary depth they can bring to our restive lives.


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