It's funny but sometimes those days when one has little or nothing planned turn out to be really enjoyable. Such a day was today.
First of all, after weeks of drought we had a couple of hours of good, steady rain on Friday. Nothing like enough for our thirsty gardens, but a start. It set me off thinking about how useful a water butt would be on my patio. So this morning, early, I rang my gardener and on his way to do a nearby garden he called in with his tape measure. There is just room for a 100litre butt between my bedroom window and the down pipe.
So off Tess and I tootled to the garden shop and bought a smart, black plastic butt with a lid and a tap. There are fittings to connect it to the downpipe too but my gardener will do that - my practical skills in that department stop at hoeing up a weed.
Then my son rang to say that he and his wife were going (as they often do) to the National Trust property, Acorn Bank, in Cumbria. Did I want to go with them? So I took Tess for her second walk of the day, made sure that her water bowl was filled and off the three of us went.
I knew nothing about the place and when I asked my son who had lived in the house he said 'the Acorn-Banks's presumably' so it was obvious that he knew nothing either. I am sure he only goes for the magnificent drive there through the most spectacular scenery (from the road through the top Dales there is a clear view of The Howgills and of Nine Standards Rigg), and the N T Tea room which does serve rather good cake.
My daughter in law is quite handicapped and only walks with crutches or travels in her wheelchair. I am not exactly nimble any longer. But we did enjoy the walled garden - although past its best because of lack of water there was a faded splendour to it all, The herb garden smelled divine, the orchards were brimming with fruit, especially apples, oh and did I mention the good cake in the tea shop?
Reading the N T Book I see that the house belonged to the war poet Dorothy Una Ratcliffe.
She left it to the National Trust some time in the fifties, and - as with all their properties - it has been kept up to perfection.
Here are three photographs of the garden. They don't do it justice really but it gives you some idea.
The first two pictures are of the walled garden and the third of inside the greenhouses. Newts and water lilies abound in the pond.