This week was a little more relaxed than last week, and in case you're wondering I released my crochet from its rack yesterday and it has held some of its stretched shape, but not all, so I may pin it out again and leave it for longer when I get a chance. On the crochet front I've been powering on with some smaller yellow granny squares which I plan to use as a border on what is rapidly becoming known as my Spring blanket, but more of that another time.
The main part of this post - and my week - was geared towards a few days away, and getting ready for some time off. We left London early on a misty and wet Thursday morning, and with the weather came lots of traffic and delays. It seems that my Sat Nav has a special traffic finding option, which is on by default. But we got to Bridgwater in Somerset safely, even if it did take us longer than we thought and clocking up more miles than expected too.
Our first stop - apart from a Maccy Dees along the way for breakfast - was the Walled Gardens of Cannington, which is on the site of a medieval priory and is part of the Bridgwater and Taunton College. I knew it was a relatively compact space but I was keen to explore the botanical glasshouse, as well as the Tea Room!
I wasn't quite expecting to see the exquisite hellebore above, or the vividness of the flower below just inside the botanical glass house. There's plenty to see in the gardens even though they're small, and I've many photos to share.
There's cacti galore too, and many made me smile - like the hairiest cactus I think I've ever seen (below) and I'm sure there'll be a post on cacti coming soon. There was aquaponics and a tropical glasshouse too, where the temperature went up by a few degrees, and spaces where the students were growing plants too, and a first for a garden visit for me, but more on that another day too.
There were also more traditional gardens, a blue garden and holds the National Plant Collection of Deschampsia, a type of tufted grass and Santolina, related to chamomile tribe of plants. And with a pasty and sausage roll between us and a slice of cake in the tea rooms, I think you'll know it was a winner.
With the first of the gardens on my list visited and a resounding success, we headed off to find our hotel on the other side of Bridgwater. I'd booked the Bower Inn and had a surprise on check in, as our luxury room was a mini-apartment with a kitchenette and a sitting room, as well as a luxurious bedroom. And it was above a pub.
Usually our choice of accommodation is self catering but that's not viable for one night, so our next best choice is staying in a pub with a restaurant, and that's what the Bower Inn had, and did well. We had a fabulous dinner there, a good night's sleep and a lighter breakfast than a Full English as we were both still full from our meal the night before.
For me that was partly tactical as I was hoping for - and got - a slice of cake at the garden we planned to visit that day. We'd stopped off at Hestercombe a few years before, but after a journey fraught with traffic we only made it as far as the Stable Cafe (can you spot a theme here?) I was determined we'd go back one day and see the gardens, and this was the visit where it happened.
Hestercombe Gardens, just outside Taunton, is a lovely garden and we had a good walk around it planning our route to cover as much as possible. We'd gone armed with sensible boots and for this garden we needed them given recent weather. Our visit coincided with a lovely Spring day though and it was nice to enjoy some sunshine (and a chocolate and peanut butter brownie in the cafe)
We weren't the only ones enjoying the sun and the reflections were stunning as were many of the gardens.
On our walk around the lakes we spotted woodland plants which will work well in our own garden and plenty of lichen covered branches too. I'm only snapped a few lichen-y photos, but could have snapped many more...
After we'd explored the paths around the lake and the many and varied structures and summer houses along the way, we headed off into the more formal areas of the garden. I was especially excited to get into the Orangery, as quite often in gardens I've found myself peering in through the windows rather than being on the inside.
Now though, I'd quite like one of my own...
The photos above are just a snapshot of our visit to both gardens, both of which are really are worth a look if you're close by. Over the next few weeks I'll share more, but first I need to sort and edit my photos, and there are quite a few.
But our trip wasn't done yet, and we were back in the car heading towards Devon. We were staying with family in a small village near Exeter, but decided to check the progress made at Castle Drogo since our last visit a year or so ago. The National Trust have a large project underway to make the building watertight, and in simplistic terms is taking the castle apart stone by stone and putting it back together again.
It will be fantastic when its done and it's also been good to follow its progress, even with our sporadic visits. I'm hoping to write a post this week which shows the progress since our last visit. Speaking to the volunteers at the property the work is due to finish this year, so I'm hoping we'll get to visit again when it's close to completion too.
After a quick scout around the building we were just about to leave when the weather changed dramatically, with the onslaught of a hail storm. We loitered in the entrance hall aiming to time our exit well, we didn't quite manage that but we did pretty well and made it halfway through the garden before there was a bit more.
Even though we were up on the moor we couldn't believe the change in weather, only that morning we were walking around the gardens without our coats. It seems though that this wouldn't be the last of the weather for the weekend.
Saturday morning over breakfast the weather warnings were starting to look more serious and so with those in mind, and the knowledge that the village roads wouldn't be gritted and not fancying our chances on the hills out of the village we cut short our stay and headed back to London Saturday afternoon, a day earlier than planned.
It meant I didn't make it to RHS Rosemoor, but I'm sure there'll be another time, if I'm lucky maybe later in the year, or maybe another year, I'm not sure yet.
While it was a shame to cut short our visit, it was the right decision as seeing the weather in Devon on the news last night, we could have had a longer stay than we'd planned if not. Even on Saturday we drove through snow flurries as we left Devon and Somerset and then again on the M25. There was snow here too, and although it's continued to fall it's no longer settling on the roads, which is good news as far as I'm concerned.
I'm hoping that by this morning, the snow here will be pretty much gone. I'm done with the wintery weather - the crocuses in the gardens at Castle Drogo (above) seem to be coping much better than me, I'm not anywhere as cheery about the drop in temperatures.
Can we please have Spring now?!