Thursday, 29 December 2016

Walking In A Winter Wonderland




It's the middle of winter, there's two inches of ice underfoot and it's zero degrees centigrade. I know, let's go and visit a garden.

For larger images click on the photo

Don't worry, I haven't taken leave of my senses. This is Biddulph Grange and no ordinary suburban garden. To be honest, who wouldn't be intrigued after reading Behind a gloomy Victorian shrubbery there's a gloomy Victorian mansion, but behind that lurks one of the most extraordinary gardens in Britain...it contains whole continents, including China and Ancient Egypt – not to mention Italian terraces and a Scottish glen


Biddulph Grange was home to James Bateman (1811 - 1897), the son of a rich industrialist. Bateman moved into the once modest rectory with his wife, Maria, in 1840 and used his wealth to enlarge the house and to purchase specimens bought back from the great Victorian plant-hunters. Assisted by his friend, Edward Cook, an artist, keen designer and son to the owner of one of the largest plant nurseries of the day, together they set about creating a garden worthy of his collection.



The house was rebuilt after the original burned down in 1896. From 1923 until 1991 it was used as a hospital, originally called the North Staffordshire Cripple's Hospital (not very PC), renamed The Biddulph Grange Orthopaedic Hospital in later years. Over time the gardens fell into disrepair and were taken over by the National Trust in 1988. The house remains privately owned.

For larger images click on the photo

Midwinter it might be but there's nothing bleak about Biddulph Grange. Even on a day like today,  blighted by freezing fog and biting cold, it's still bloody gorgeous.


Colour, texture and interest wherever you look.


 Hidden away down well-worn stone steps and secret tunnels lurk a world of secret gardens.

For larger images click on the photo

Travel to Italy to meander down neat avenues, admire the topiary and the marvelously ornate planters.



Visit China where gaudy pagodas and golden icons are reflected in the frozen lake,

For larger images click on the photo

Climb tiny steps cut into the rockery, ring the brass temple bells and watch the sunlight streaming through the trees.
For larger images click on the photo

Wonder at the weirdness of Britain's first stumpery - an almost lunar landscape created from felled oaks.


Explore an Egyptian pyramid, cut from privet and flanked by a pair of handsome sphinxes.

In summer, with its famed Dahlia walk, banks of Rhododendrons and Wellingtonias (whatever they might be) and, apparently, the oldest golden larch in Britain, Biddulph Grange must be beautiful but there's something hauntingly lovely about it in winter (and having the place almost to ourselves was pretty special.)

Get your coat, love, you've pulled.
Biddulph Grange Garden, Grange Road, Biddulph, Staffordshire ST8 7SD


I turned my PC off on Xmas Eve and, not owning a Smartphone, I've been off-line for almost a week. The only TV we've watched has been films we've downloaded & DVDs and our news has been via Radio 6Music. We've caught up with friends, tidied the garden and tackled some DIY. I've sewed like a demon & cleared the pond and Jon's mended the van & reupholstered the bed. Thank goodness we're going on holiday soon, we need a rest! 

See you soon.



Linking to Judith's Hat Attack & Natalia, Beate and Tina's Russian Winter Fairy Tale

99 comments:

  1. I saw a programme about this very garden recently. Great British gardens in Time, or something and it looked absolutely amazing. It looks stunning in winter, but imagine what it will look like in summer! Probably absolutely heaving I expect, but promise me you will go and report back.

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    1. There was a TV series but it's no longer available to watch online - boo! Great excuse to go back , although we'll have to time the visit well, apparently it gets crazy busy in the summer. xxx

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  2. Ooh, what a splendid garden. Thank you for posting those pictures. It is mind blowing that with such chilly conditions, there can be so much beauty in a garden.

    Thank you for reminding me that there is room in life to not be online. A lot of people, myself included, need a digital detox.

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. It inspired me to go and play in our garden for a bit this weekend and I was surprised that there were already signs of growth and patches of colour.
      It's far too easy to get sucked into the internet, loosing hours and getting nothing done. xxx

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  3. What a beautiful and intriguing garden! Although bitterly cold at least you had blue skies and sunshine and you were certainly wrapped up for the conditions...I adore that hat and I bet you had your thermals on! Do return in the summer and show us the Wellingtonias! xxx

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    1. I wasn't sure how it was going to look in Winter but I wasn't disappointed. I did have my (very unattractive) thermals on. I'll be glad to pack the ugly buggers away in a week's time! xxx

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  4. It's so long since I visited and appreciated a magnificent garden, you've reminded me how much I used to enjoy doing that!

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    1. It's a real joy to be surrounded by beauty and to be outside at this time of year (although it was blinking freezing!) xxx

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  5. I love visiting gardens in winter. You can so much better appreciate the structure of a garden without the abundance of foliage and flowers. This is a particularly lovely one. It's been getting colder here since yesterday, but without any sun whatsoever, just foggy greyness. Oh, and thanks for the ear worm, it will be with me for days! xxx

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    1. You're right, I got lots of inspiration for layouts and planting. In Summer I'm just dazzled by the pretty flowers. We were lucky with that bit of sun, it certainly lifts the spirits after days of greyness. xxx

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  6. Absolutely gorgeous! And the scenery is pretty cool, too :)
    xoxox

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  7. I miss the good old days when the rich would pour their money into their gardens, or art collections instead of dropping $20,000 on a handbag. Today's rich eccentrics are really letting us down!

    I understand it was cold, but as far as photos go, it was worth braving the temperatures-those are great pictures.

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    1. Spot on there. Goody. Hedges not handbags. I should Tweet Victoria Beckham and suggest it. xxx

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  8. What a fantastic garden, I can see why you braved the cold to go and visit! I love all that eclectic all-encompassing maximalism - no keeping it simple or sticking to a single theme for those mad Victorians, was there? And how glorious is the result. You're right as lovely as it is to see a beautiful garden in full bloom, there is something just as wonderful about sun through trees on a clear frosty winter's day. And you kept yourself gorgeous and toasty in your faux fur hat and coat - no wonder the mini Sphinx was enjoying that tickle!
    Too right - being offline for a bit is good for the soul. Love you! xxx

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    1. I'm loving the mad Victorians more and more, now I know why my mum was obsessed with them.
      Being off-line is good for the soul and the house - I've never done so much cleaning!
      Love you! xxx

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  9. You have so many lovely estates and old gardens in the UK to visit. Thanks for taking me there with you : )

    bisous
    suzanne

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    1. I'm ashamed that there's so many places locally that i haven't visited. I know Goa more than I do the UK! xxx

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  10. You look cozy and elegant in your fur coat and Russian style hat - love those purple/pink gloves.

    That is a spectacular garden. If it looks this wonderful in winter I wonder what it will look like in summer? I expect it will be very crowded though and there's nothing nicer than having somewhere virtually to yourself.

    You have been incredibly busy!

    xxx

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    1. I'd forgotten the gloves, I found them stuffed in a coat pocket. Dents, leather and 20p! Gotta love a car boot!
      I've heard that Biddulph is mental during the summer, we'll have to go back early on a monday morning or some time equally strange to avoid the hoardes. xxx

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  11. I'm really enjoying your days out and I love how there's not a mass of people around, makes the pics more atmospheric.
    You have been busy bees. I had a great day over in Tod today and was going to blog about it but the flipping photos won't load up on the pc again.
    Ah well another day maybe. The welder is in Leicester this week so lots of lolling around going on here xxx

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    1. Oh no, I think 2017 should be the year of the new PC!! I'm missing your blog. xxx

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  12. Well I guess if you have the money and the space why not cover every garden style option? Lovely!

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    1. I thought of you when I was there, you'd have had a field (or should that be garden) day! xxx

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  13. Yikes, it got a bit cold there! All our snow melted and we are back to warmer rainy temperatures. Soon you shall be basking in the sun! Beautiful gardens.

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    1. Counting the days until I can feel the sun on my back!! xxx

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  14. You look quite at home in the gardens, dressed well for the weather and the global travel.

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    1. I borrowed the coat and dress from the stockroom, they're both a couple of sizes too big but meant I could layer up and avoid hypothermia! xxx

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  15. Somewhere I've hankered after visiting for a long time. It looks wonderful and, as you say, visiting this time of year, you get it to yourself!! Bet it's stunning in the summer, but love it with the frost and sunshine. Beautiful. As are you, m'dear, looking very cosy in your winter wardrobe.
    Zxx

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    1. You'd love it, you'll have to visit in the Spring! xxx

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  16. Absolutely wonderful and amazing! I am surprised how often gardens don't have too many visitors around here, or maybe I scare everyone off. :)) You look like a Winter Princess! Happy New Year, Vix!

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    1. You and me both, Natalia. All the properties we've visited so far have been blissfully quiet, they must have heard we were coming! xxx

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  17. Fantastic garden! I especially love the pyramid and the sphinxes. And I think it's really quite beautiful in the winter! :)

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    1. The pyramid & sphinxes were my favourite, too! I wanted to pose with my Egyptian Revival jewellery but it was far too cold for that! xxx

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  18. Wellingtonias are the Giant Sequoia trees of my native California.
    What an absolutely gorgeous garden! I love the 'around the world theme.'
    Secret tunnels are the best!
    Bibi xox

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    1. After I Googled them I realised I'd walked past them and marveled at their size! They were in the America section of the garden.
      I love a secret tunnel, like an Indiana Jones film (according to Jon!) xxx

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  19. What a wonderful place to visit. You have done well staying away from it all. We also try to keep off the main stream, but we are over eating a little bit, hhahahahhah.
    Much loveeeeeeeeeeeee

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    1. I'm probably the only person who looses weight over Xmas! Such a freak! xxx

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  20. sooo beautiful! you know i love ancient gardens and especially the english ones! this one is very special with its international flair and hidden corners :-)
    the icy weather made for gorgeous photos! and you look lovely all bundled up!
    hugs! xxxxx

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    1. I loved travelling the world in one garden, such a crazy idea by those wonderfully eccentric Victorians! xxx

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  21. I think the frost adds to your photos, how great to have the place to yourselves again. Well worth the trip - and frostbite!
    Wellingtonias are giant trees, there were lots around where I used to live. x

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    1. As a complete gardening dimwit I thought Wellingtonias would be flowers - now I know! xxx

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  22. An enchanting and interesting garden and it looks so peaceful away from all the crowds. It sounds like you've had a relaxing and productive week! Wishing you a very happy new year xxx

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    1. Happy New Year to you, Sally! xxx

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  23. it looks like a fantastic garden to visit, whatever the season!, but I think that gardens look very evocative in the midwinter (even if I prefer no freezing temperaturas to go for a walk!!)
    You look really cozy and cute, such a nice coat and cool gloves!
    besos

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    1. It was a bit of a trial to take photos, we took it in turns as our hands were freezing out of gloves! xxx

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  24. I always love gardens in the winter, it's too easy to make something look beautiful when everything's in bloom. Plus there's something really lovely about bare frosty trees in winter even if it can be a little soggy. It sounds like you've had an idyllic Christmas week! I could do with unplugging from technology more myself, it's amazing what you can get done without the distraction. Wishing you and Jon and very happy new year!

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    1. Happy New Year, Freya!
      I agree, Summer makes everything pretty. A truly beautiful place still looks good in Winter. xxx

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  25. Enchanted by the fungi and mushrooms, I'd gladly spend a week exploring this place, struggling to sketch with gloved fingers! {This surreal landscape demands a competent watercolourist, which I am not. Here my excuse would be the temps prevent proper mixing.) A "stumpery" is a new folly for me!

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    1. I love fungi, Beth. Have you ever seen Beatrix Potter's sketches? xxx

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    2. Yes, I've seen her work and would gladly spend more than I could afford to have a tiny sample doodle from her notebook, framed and hung on my dining room wall!

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  26. secret gardens! fabulous and in a frosty setting even more so - like your hat. We just arrived home from Mexico to freezing fog and icy roads - lucky you jetting off to India any day now! Wishing you lots of wonderful things in 2017.

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    1. What a shock to the system that must have been! Counting the days until we fly off now.
      Happy 2017! xxx

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  27. Vix, be careful in India. Israel has released a warning that they think that Goa may well be targeted by extremists. They seem to think it will be New Year's Eve timed, but not 100% sure.

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    1. Thanks, Zoe. The Israelis have issued the same warning for a few years now. One year there were soldiers with machine guns posted on the more popular tourist beaches. xxx

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  28. I'm dying to get National Trust membership after all these wonderful places you've visited lately! Another stunning location, I like gardens just as much in Winter xx

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    1. You must, there's lots of gorgeous sounding NT properties in Wales. Such brilliant value. WE've only got to visit one more place and we've covered the membership already! xxx

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  29. What a Beautiful garden , I love the chinese garden ,You are getting value for money out of your membership but i guessed you would lol xxx

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    1. The colours in the Chinese Garden were a delight! At just over a quid a week each NT membership is brilliant value. xxx

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  30. You certainly looked warm and cosy in those frosty photos. What a fascinating place to visit - I love the look of the Chinese garden, so colourful and exotic xxx

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    1. I kept adding on the layers - I was terrified of being cold and having to leave early! xxx

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  31. Love that Russian fur hat and the pink gloves! What a gorgeous garden, really magical. I can quite see why you would visit in winter, it looks really beautiful in the frost. The Victorians were great at historical maximalism, we have a "secret" Victorian garden here that is fake mediaeval. Love it.

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    1. Oh, your secret garden sounds most intriguing! I'm no fan of the cold but it really was the perfect place to go and appreciate the winter. xxx

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  32. Hi hope you have a wonderful and profitable New Year. Santa send me pleurisy for Christmas. Doc wanted me to go into hospital, but I hadn't felt well enough to wax my legs, so I said No! No! No! Blessings

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    1. Oh dear, you poor sod. Santa needs a kick up the arse. Get well soon, Lesley. xxx

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  33. Ooh, I love a good old frosty Winter day, especially when you can wander around a Victorian horticultural masterpiece such as Biddulph Grange. Another place I've not visited but now on my list. Stunning outfit especially the hat and gloves! Happy New Year to you both xxx

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    1. Definitely one for the list, Claire! We loved it. Happy New Year! xxx

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  34. Another gorgeous garden, love the tunnels!! You look perfect in your Russian hat popping up in the photos, and you looked so snuggley and warm, I do hope you were.

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    1. I was toasty warm, thank goodness! Apparently Biddulph is really popular with children, I'm not surprised, I'd have loved exploring those tunnels! xxx

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  35. What a wonderful tour you've taken us on!!
    And your hat is especially gorgeous!
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Hi Jodie! Glad you enjoyed the tour. I've got a couple of those sheepskin hats, they're the warmest thing ever! xxx

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  36. You know a garden is truly magnificent if it is also beautiful in the winter. I love the variety of ethnic influences that were incorporated into it, and how wonderful it would be to be able to explore it without other people wandering around.

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    1. Other people are hell, at least they can be when there are too many of them. We were lucky to visit early and avoid the crowds. It made for a wonderfully atmospheric morning. xxx

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  37. I love the Chinese area! And how dreamy is that first photo!

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    1. China really was lovely, the bright paint and the tinkly bells made it really special! xxx

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  38. You look like a wonderfull winter fairytales. I am glad you linking up with modish matrons russian winter fairytale.
    This english garden is amazing.

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  39. How wonderful! I love that you saw this amazing place out-of-season, thereby getting a look at something that few ever see. Thanks for bringing us along with you! And you look gorgeous in your winter wear.

    We went for a walk in the big park nearby yesterday and had it almost to ourselves. Loved it.

    You and I might be the only ones left without smartphones. I don't even have a cell, and hardly miss it. I do use my iPad a lot around the house though, but the moment I leave home, I'm in the wilds of disconnection! It makes me feel slightly old-fashioned but very free, indeed.

    Happy New Year, my dear on-line friend. xo

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    1. Happy New Year to you!
      I keep my mobile phone in a drawer, I only switch it on and take it out if I'm going somewhere on my own. Like you, I love being disconnected and free to enjoy life without intrusions. We're a rare breed!
      Isn't it a joy to be outside in Winter? Although I'm looking forward to some heat and sunshine very soon. xxx

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  40. Thank you for sharing such exquisite gardens darling! And how wonderful you look!!

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    1. Hello Tamera and thank you! xxx

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  41. I'm loving all these historic gardens/homes post Vix! So lovely to learn more about the area you live in - this garden is incredible - I love the sphinx!

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    1. Seeing the sphinx on the National Trust wwebsite was one of the main reasons for going, I haven't been to Egypt (yet!) so it was the next best thing! xxx

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  42. the house is privately owned? Can you imagine living in a place like that! Wow.
    The gardens look amazing - I always think it's nice to visit places outside of the warmer months, it looks as if the ice and frost transformed the garden into a magical place!

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    1. I know! These days most of those grand properties have been carved up into posh apartments. I'd love to know who lives there. xxx

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  43. What an amazing place and fancy having it all to yourselves. Bet it almost felt like it was your garden for an hour or two. That frosty crisp weather looks really romantic and you are certainly dressed the part. Almost a week off-line sounds like heaven. Mind you, you haven't been taking it easy, have you?! Yes, you'll need that holiday in LESS THAN A WEEK'S time!!! Xxxx

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    1. When I'm in fancy gardens I always get all fired up with how I'm going to do something similar in ours. You can imagine Jon's answer when suggested he prunedone of the trees to form the Highgate pyramid, can't you? xxx

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  44. Those gardens are gorgeous! (Wonder if I can persuade Pete to let me have a chinoiserie shed when we redo ours...)

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    1. Aren't they wonderful? Go on, Pete! xxx

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  45. Your photos are breathtaking! I also loved reading about the history of this gorgeous winter wonderland. You brought it to life! Thank you so much for sharing your headwear with Hat Attack!

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  46. What an amazing place! You're certainly getting your use out of that membership - money well spent! xx

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    1. I know! We've almost got our money's worth in just 3 weeks! Great stuff! xxx

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  47. That photo of you and the sphinx! You look beautiful!

    Such a gorgeous garden! We went to Mottisfont earlier in the week and my gloveless hands taking pictures were starting to go red it was that cold. We went to another place yesterday, got back to the car and I mentioned that I hadn't seen the lily pond and Andy, proffering the map at me, explained it was behind the house, along with lots of other bits we hadn't seen and he never thought to mention it! It's just down the road though, so we'll pop back. Our membership is less than £10 away from being paid for! xxx

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    1. I'm looking forward to catching up with your NT visits. We've just had the new guidebook and I've got some trips planned already! I love that membership means we can go back to the same places throughout the year. xxx

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  48. I just adore the China area of the garden, lovely patterns and colours. Yes, having some offline time is good, isn't it? Hope you enjoy your holiday. Xxx

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    1. The China area was lovely, the colours were so cheery despite the temperatures. xxx

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  49. Thank you again for another tour. These gardens are stunning, and in winter, they are beautiful. Love the way your trusty photographer has captured the light in the Chinese gardens. I love that you get off/out of cyberspace too. I try to have one day a week completely internet free - and it's soooo good. The masses waiting for replies etc. can wait. xx

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    1. Yes, as much as I love reading blogs and chatting to pals on Facebook the internet is no replacement for real life. A break once a week sounds perfect. xxx

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Love from Vix
xxx