It is still summer, English way of course! More clouds than sun with occasional rain. It did not stop us from making good of warm months though.
We did some tripping into a countryside and made use of our renewed National Trust membership. We went to Stowe for a Sunday walk. I saw it last time in winter and I got thrilled with its rolling landscapes in the summer with sheep grazing around. The gardens were lush – we actually found a few mushrooms (edible ones) – it always amazes me here in England, that the art of mushroom picking is long gone.
Last week we did a long planned trip to Wimpole Estate – once owned by daughter of Rudyard Kipling and then gifted to National Trust after her death. It consist of the main house, farmyard and parkland with walled gardens. It showcases how such an estate like this was set up and worked. Therefore, you are able to visit the lady and lord of the manor house and how the housekeepers and other staff were living and working. Moreover, you can see some of the animals that were kept on the estate: pigs, mighty Shire horses, cattle or sheep etc.
I was impressed the most by the walled gardens: the abundance of colours, textures and smells. Having a summer in the full swing, there is a plenty of fruits already and the volume of flowering plants was simply stunning. There was a whole array of purples, reds, blues, yellows and air filled with the buzz of bees. Again, I admired skills of gardeners who created espaliered fruits trees: that combination of sculpture and usefulness. With a backdrop of the old red bricked wall, it brings home why British gardens, especially those of Victorian and Edwardian era are so admired and inspiring.
Wimpole Estate is surrounded by beautiful parkland with a lake and folly ruins thrown in for good measure. Children enjoyed a lot the visit to a farmyard, especially they were keen to learn how to milk a cow and watching piglets feeding with a fascination.
On the rainy day, we drove to Tring to visit Natural History Museum – it is a branch of the famous London one. This museum was created by Walter Rotschild, whose family lived nearby. His primary interest were natural sciences and studying animals, so he kept on collecting new specimens from all over the world until he dedicated himself completely to this. Eventually the size of the collection required to hire a few dedicated scientist to help to catalogue it. It was the one of the largest collections of that kind in the world and it turned into a private museum by the end of 19th century. It was given to the public on his death in 1937 and became a part of London Natural History Museum.
Because it was a miserable rainy and windy day, the museum was packed up to the rafters with families and a few artists sketching away animals. The butterflies collection was astonishing along with beetles and odd ensemble of pet dogs. Tring museum has a vast assembly of birds, so all birdwatchers should visit for a valuable lesson.
Last, but not least on Sunday, we ended up in Kew Gardens. The place my visiting sister wanted to see, so we braved it on the weekend in the perfect weather. Despite the volume of people, the gardens were magical and enchanting: I know it is man arranged setting, but it looks like Nature’s work only. We discovered the Princess of Wales Conservatory with its carnivorous plants, orchid gardens and fruiting bananas trees. We did the Tree Top Walk and it turned out to be nerve wrecking experience for the Big Son. The walkway was bursting with the visitors and that caused the structure to tremble and sway like the ship on the open sea. Experience was funny and bizarre, youngsters enjoyed it, some adults did not.
There you go, we were gallivanting last week.