Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Visit to the Landscape Gardens at Stowe

I found details of the short walk round one of the lakes in the gardens on the National Trust website and decided that after our successful wanders around gardens the previous week, Tony was surely up to this gentle stroll.

There was total chaos in our kitchen. Well, to be honest, it was more in the other rooms downstairs where the contents of the kitchen cupboards were scattered wherever a home could be found. Added to that the various moveable bits of furniture that were camping here, there and everywhere, plus no water supply in the kitchen… well, no kitchen really. And then, Leigh, the kitchen fitter, preferred to work on his own with no interruptions. It wasn't a difficult decision to make. Today was Stowe day. Next decision was whether to stop for coffee en route or wait until we got there. Well, it isn't very far, about half an hour, so we decided to wait. The restaurant is in a newly renovated part of the grounds, right by the car park. But it was a little cold, perhaps the air conditioning was a bit too violent. However, there was a lovely, protected courtyard bathed in sunshine. What better way to start a morning stroll. This photo was taken while we were sitting in the courtyard. It shows part of the New Barn, recently renovated. IMG 2704 It was at this point that I realised I had forgotten my camera and so all of today's photos were taken on my iPhone. I'm delighted with them. I took far too many and finding a selection to include here isn't going to be easy. I hope you will like them.

Not wanting to tire Tony out to much, we started our walk by taking the 'little train' to the start of the park. The little train was, in fact, two covered trailers pulled by a large tractor. It was, most definitely, a bumpy ride! Joining us in our 'carriage' was a group of enthusiastic photographers. I hid my iPhone!

All tours must start at the entrance, shouldn't they? Here is the boundary wall: IMG 2708 And so our stroll began. Slowly. I don't do slowly, well, not snail-pace slowly, so this was an exercise in self control. Sometimes I felt like a puppy, rushing backwards and forwards, waiting for the 'master' to catch up!!! As you will see, the day was perfect for taking the most gorgeous photos. (Well, I think they are gorgeous…)

Looking down to the lake, from the entrance: IMG 2713 Another view of the house: IMG 2712 More lake - how am I ever going to chose which photos so that it isn't house, lake, house lake! IMG 2713 Here is a path, just for a change. Oh, and a temple. According to the literature, temples are a feature of the gardens. There are more to come! IMG 2715 The path led to a funny little arch. I think it may have been a pseudo bridge. Anyway, it was pretty. IMG 2723 As I was pointing my phone ready to take a picture of something, there was the most amazing noise of birds on the wing. Amazingly, I had the presence of mind to point the phone upwards and click: IMG 2724 They landed on the lake and eventually roosted on one of the islands. (Hmmmm, do you call it roosted when they are on the ground?) IMG 2726 More of that lovely little arch with its sneaky views of the water. IMG 2729 IMG 2731 And then an intriguing tunnel of trees, IMG 2732 that led us to a small bench where Tony could soak up the sun and have a little rest. IMG 2734
Then it was on our way again, along another woodland path: IMG 2736 There were sneaky views of water: IMG 2739 And sudden vistas of temples: (I don't know if it was the angle or me, but I just couldn't get a photo of it looking straight!)
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Are we far enough into this walk to remark on what is missing? I love flowers and colour. The park, a typical Capability Brown park, is a landscape garden. It is based on trees and large open spaces and architectural features such as temples and statues. It does not include flowers!!! But I found one, a lovely hollyhock: IMG 2744 Okay, back to the landscape part. I love this one, the way the light is showing through the trees, the dappled shade. IMG 2747 And then back to temples. Here is a closeup of the one I showed you earlier: IMG 2751 Really, I should have taken a note of the name of that statue. Perhaps I'll get better at blogging as I go along. IMG 2752 Are you still with me?

From this: IMG 2754 To this: IMG 2755 To this: IMG 2757 As I said in another post, the theme of the photo club this month is stairs so I took a few here - this is the best I got: IMG 2762 But then I climbed those stairs and took this: IMG 2763 And this: IMG 2764
Quite a garden, don't you think?
A wing of the house: IMG 2769

Unfortunately we went in the morning and the house itself didn't open until two o'clock by which time we had gone back to the restaurant for lunch and our walk was over. Next time.

Another path, another column, another statue: IMG 2772 And a temple: IMG 2773 Eventually, we arrived at the grotto. IMG 2779

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IMG 2782 And out the other side: IMG 2783 Shady there, isn't it. But then it opened out to this: IMG 2784 On we strolled, camera phones at the ready, through woodland scenes IMG 2787 to sudden features IMG 2789 A place to sit and contemplate IMG 2797 And find views of an old friend - can you see him, there in the distance: IMG 2801 Or a new one, hidden away on an island. This one was dedicated to Captain Cook. IMG 2802 A pretty little bridge: IMG 2804 Oh, is that the same column… again??? This is definitely a circular walk. IMG 2806 Now, I have just made a discovery. We have been walking along named paths. Such as the Path of Vice (leading to that first temple with the statue in the middle. I can now tell you that that statue was dedicated to the Goddess Venus). The path we have most recently been on is the Path of Virtue. It has led us to the Temple of British Worthies. Here you have it: from the left: IMG 2810 and from the right: IMG 2812 And another temple: IMG 2813 By the way, have you noticed that this walk is taking in a lot more than just the lake? We ended up covering most of the park.

I loved this little bridge. IMG 2816 It looked so pretty I so wanted to cross to the other side. Unfortunately, it was not to be: IMG 2817 Next time!

A quite different view of the park. More bucolic, there could be sheep there. IMG 2819 But not today.

Another temple - and just look at that sky: IMG 2824 Ah, no, it wasn't a temple. It was a bridge! And on the other side of the bridge, tripods at the ready, lesson in progress, were the photographers. I thought we hadn't seen anything of them! Here they were, photographing a bridge. I hid my phone. Only the most surreptitious of photo-taking by me until I am well clear of them. Intimidated? Definitely!

Here is the bridge: IMG 2829

And I just have to include this one. I love it, am so proud of having taken it. IMG 2830
And this one: IMG 2831 There are others but those two may be my favourites.

And now to my 'Through the Garden Gate' moment: IMG 2832 It led to this: IMG 2836 The Chinese House. Isn't it lovely? IMG 2839

Here are some closeups: IMG 2841

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IMG 2844

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And a final view of the house: IMG 2849

Before heading back along the path… and Through the Garden Gate. IMG 2854 Are you still with me? It's long, I know, but nearly there.

Just to show that all is not perfect in these gardens: IMG 2855 Sad but impressive also in that this was the only building of the many that we saw that was not in good condition. There is no money at present to restore it but work has been done to at least stop it from falling down.

A long, last look back over the park and some of the buildings: IMG 2856

A perfectly placed bench: IMG 2857 And one last temple, the Pebble Temple (I think that is what it was called!) IMG 2858 It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed slowly wandering round, this way and that, enjoying the park, the water, the house and the various temples. And we finished the visit with lunch, sitting in that pretty little courtyard enjoying the September sunshine. I hope the photography club members were as delighted with their photos as I was with mine.