On longer journeys we've taken to stopping at a National Trust property instead of the more usual service station. It means we plan ahead and have a couple of properties up our sleeve - in case of traffic or the need to take a different route at short notice, but it's definitely worth it.
On our way to Devon recently we stopped at Tintinhull Garden, near Yeovil in Somerset. And if you were in any doubt as to why we choose not to stop in a service station wherever possible, this was our first view of the property.
A courtyard café or a service station - you decide!
We decided on our usual format - a tour around the garden ending in the café.
There's six different gardens here at Tintinhull and while there's two rooms open in the house (the rest is a holiday cottage) because it was such a nice day and because we'd been cooped up in a Renault Clio for a good few hours we skipped the house and headed through the gate into the Cedar Court garden.
This was the first space that Captain and Mrs Phyllis Reiss developed. It had been a rough muddy paddock and the transformation was amazing. They bought Tintinhull in 1933 and created a well thought out and harmonious small garden. When I say small I mean about 1.5 acres
We moved into the Eagle Court garden which leads out from the drawing room it's quite formal and definitely leads your eye (and you) through to Phyllis's garden and the Middle garden.
Just look at the size of these hydrangeas - they're like cauliflowers! But prettier. And not so cauliflower-y!
Having finally got me to step away from the hydrangeas we moved towards the Fountain Garden.
Even the prettiest gardens have problems - that's always reassuring
And then onto the Kitchen Garden - which during Mrs Reiss' lifetime no visitors were allowed into as she believed that vegetables were for eating not looking at. Well she definitely won't approve of my lettuce envy then...
To the side of the Kitchen Garden there were some glorious poppies, crocosmias and goats in the adjoining orchard.
After comparing veg and drooling over the lettuces we moved on to the Pool Garden, which surprisingly used to be a tennis court and is dedicated to the memory of their nephew who was a fighter pilot in the second world war.
And the borders here were full of colour. It was definitely a place to sit and while away some time. We sat for a while, but there was a scone in the café with our name on so it wasn't for too long. We also needed to scoop ourselves back into the Clio to continue our journey.
Actually that's the downside of stopping at places like this en-route, it's tough to tear yourself away again. No one said that ever about a service station, I'm sure.
I am rather partial to a Red Hot Poker. And with that we took this Allium seed-headed path back to the courtyard café (and that scone)
But before we continued the rest of our journey I couldn't help but stop and admire this lemony dahlia.
And to have a peek in here. Do you know what it is?
Of course, it's the letter box! Seriously.