On Wednesday morning, after a wander around the garden, I did my Wii Fit workout, caught up with Blogland and found a note from Severn Trent in the postbox letting us know that the water was now safe to use as well as a 2021 Euros wallchart Gill had kindly sent me. Thanks, Gill! I'm all set for kick-off on Friday, now!
After breakfast, we got stuck into some outside tasks. I'd challenged myself to make a planter to sit on top of the gate post at the front of the house and had a rummage through the woodpile for something suitable.
After sawing, hammering and a couple of coats of Silver Birch wood treatment (to match the fence posts), I lined my planter with an empty compost sack rescued from the bin with a few holes cut for drainage and staple-gunned it into place.
I've planted it with a Black Velvet nasturtium grown from seed which, I hope, will tumble down the wall in a few weeks time and, of course, one of my beloved geraniums. I did joke to Jon that I should stencil our address on the front to stop it from being nicked but who am I kidding? I'd be flattered if anyone wanted it that badly.
Other than a break for noodles it was a day of pottering about, Jon did some work on Gilbert, shifted the festoon lights and dug up another couple of ash saplings growing in the borders whilst I trimmed back the Virginia Creeper in danger of engulfing the Wall of Mirrors, scattered horticultural grit over my herb bed and then sat in the sunshine doing some mending.
Remember these gargantuan bulbs Jon ordered from the Netherlands a couple of months ago? They're starting to sprout!
We rescued this Bear's Breeches from behind the shed last year where it has stubbornly lived for years, our efforts have paid off, it's about the flower.
The nasturtiums grown from last year's plant are going crazy as are the ferns we moved to beside the pond and the hostas I grew from bulbs. In my previous woodwork project, the plant theatre is still standing. Don't laugh. I'm a grammar school girl, my education was strictly academic. I can translate Virgil's Aeneid from the original Latin, distinguish between an Ionic, Doric and Corinthian column and recite Pythagoras's Theorum backwards but my practical skills are entirely self-taught.
After tea, we spent a rum-fuelled evening watching The Antiques Road Trip & The Great British Sewing Bee.
On Thursday morning I was watering my pot plants at 6am as it was already warm. After my Wii Fit workout and breakfast, I potted up the trees dug up from the borders whilst Jon made sandwiches for our National Trust adventure. The workers started filling the holes they'd dug to access the water mains so, once again, we weren't able to go out in Gilbert but no matter, we were excited about visiting a property we'd not been to before especially as it was in our favourite part of the UK, The glorious Cotswolds.
In 1604, Walter Jones, a wealthy wool merchant from Wales, bought the Chastelton Estate from Robert Catesby, one of the notorious men behind the Gunpowder Plot. The original house was demolished and the manor that stands today was built between 1607 and 1612.
Nestled in an unspoilt Oxfordshire valley, the slow creep of time has given this cherished family home an informal and timeless atmosphere. Today, amongst the tapestry and topiary, you will find peeling paintwork and rambling ivy as we bring to you a home carefully preserved as it was found, not as it once was.... (National Trust pamphlet)
Over the 400 years that the family owned Chastleton they became increasingly impoverished, successive generations inherited the house and were unable to afford renovations making the house a perfectly preserved time capsule. A rare and perfect Jacobean mansion. The volunteers told us that if Walter walked through the doors today he'd find the house virtually untouched.
The final family member to reside in the house was the artist Barbara Clutton-Brock who lived as a widow in Chastleton for 15 years along with her 24 cats. She died in 1991 and the estate was bought by the National Heritage Memorial Fund who handed it over to the National Trust. By now the house was in a fragile state and it took six years of work before the Trust were able to open the doors to visitors.
Fascinating fact. In 1866 the rules of croquet were codified at Chastleton by Walter Whitmore, one of Walter's ancestors.
The last time I wore this vintage Mexican dress was in Corfu in 2019. The ginormous straw hat (originally Accessorize) was £1 from the charity clearance shop.
|Jon had just told me that I looked like a demented wizard in this hat, I couldn't stop laughing|
We loved Chastleton House. I know we say this every time we visit a National Trust property but seriously, this is incredible. Go!
At 63 miles from our front door, a journey of just over 75 minutes, it was the furthest we'd driven in over 15 months.
Chastleton only opens to visitors during the afternoons so it was almost tea time by the time we got home. We sat outside and made a list of gardening jobs for the weekend (another fine one if the weather forecast is true) and placated the cats who'd been home alone for hours.
See you soon!