Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sun and Roses

We spent last Saturday at Mottisfont, a National Trust property near Romsey in Hampshire. We last visited it between Christmas and New Year (and I wrote a little about it here) and while it was still beautiful in the middle of winter, I did very much want to return in the summer for two reasons; to see the roses, and to visit the Beatrix Potter exhibition. Neither disappointed. 

The weather was perfect, somewhere in the mid-twenties/high seventies, so hot enough to feel like summer but not so hot that we were all wilting. We took a picnic and spent the day with my parents and my sister and her family.  I think all National Trust properties are lovely but there is something about Mottisfont that I like very much; it's small enough to see easily but big enough to spend a day exploring should you want to, rolling grounds lead down to a river, the walled garden is stunning (I do love a walled garden), and there are excellent trails and features for children to enjoy. Almost everything in the house can be touched and handled, and you never see a sign saying "keep off the grass" (unlike Hever Castle...). 

In conjunction with the art exhibition in the house, there was a charming Beatrix Potter trail that lead all around the grounds. You collect a map and pencil at the entrance and work your way around the twenty of so hidden doors, finding various things at each one; a clue to a puzzle you complete at the end, a challenge, a lovely display, Mr McGregor's Garden, a game - at each one something to do or find or enjoy. 

I don't think we finished the whole trail but it is a enchanting way to connect the exhibition indoors - which was very good but photography not allowed - with the landscape outside. 

And then the roses. You could smell them before you could see them and they were just beautiful. I know nothing about rose varieties but I know that I like the way they smell.

There was a little ice cream stand at the entrance to the walled gardens and they were selling, among other things, rose flavoured ice cream. It tastes like Turkish Delight, floral and sweet and utterly delicious. Rose ice cream in the rose garden, that might be a highlight of the whole holiday.

Do any of you know the children's book The High Street by Alice Melvin? It's a favourite of mine and Bella's (she still asks me to read it to her sometimes) and it's about a girl called Sally and her shopping list, and all the interesting people and things she sees on her local high street. The final item on Sally's list is yellow roses, but the florist doesn't have any, and she's sad until she walks into the park on her way home and sees an enormous yellow climbing rose, just covering the entire walls of the park. She can still enjoy them even though she can't take one home. It's the loveliest book, I can't recommend it enough. Anyway, this spectacular pink climbing rose reminded Bella and I of that straight away.

It was pretty hot inside the walled gardens, sheltered as they are from the breeze, and absolutely humming with bees and butterflies.

The scent of lavender here was everywhere. Many of the bushes had already bloomed and their flowers were brown and dry, but still full of that intoxicating smell. 

We walked down to the river in search of some shade and cooler temperatures. 

We were looking for the wonderful Wild Play Area, where children can paddle, pump and play with water. We did this in December with our wellies on, but it was even more fun in the summer, even if we did forget a towel to dry off wet feet. 

As I write this it's cool and grey, and my feet were so cold in my flip flops that I had to dig out my slippers. It doesn't feel very summery and I'm glad of my cup of tea. It's distinctly chilly in the mornings and evenings at the moment and, what with the blackberries appearing in the hedgerows, I'm reminded that we are now in late summer, and about to turn the page into autumn. We are soon to have our holiday (I've checked and the weather in the Loire is currently around 30°C, ie. total bliss) and of course I don't want to wish away the summer, but I won't pretend I'm not looking forward to the changing of the seasons. Even with the inevitable return to school and work, I love the way summer slips away and autumn emerges.

Thank you for your very kind comments on our kitchen-dining room. I'm really glad you all like it. I have appreciated your comments and interest so much throughout the whole building process - it really was like you were all cheering us on - and it was nice to be able to share the finished room with you. 


  1. About to turn into Autumn? Autumn isn't here until the twenty something of September and we are not even at the middle of August. I would say we are about half way through, so plenty left to come.

  2. Wonderful photos of a wonderful place - I can almost smell the roses! Signs that say "keep off the grass" just make me want to run all over it. The stream looks a great place to cool down.

    1. The weather has felt distinctly autumnal regardless of what the calendar says!

  3. It does look like a beautiful place to visit. I've always wanted a walled garden, sigh, maybe some day.

  4. What wonderfully sunny pictures. It is extremely grey here at present so am hoping next weeks supposed heatwave will arrive. Saying that I'm looking forward to Autumn arriving x

  5. We just got back from Provins near Paris,a medieval town famous for it's roses. Had rose ice cream there from a stand and Rose syrup with sparkling water in a lovely creperie whilst my daughter had Rose syrup and lemonade. All gorgeous. You can buy the syrup everywhere and the jam.There is a lovely rose garden to explore too. Thought I'd be rosed out as more a lavender girl but thought it was all lovely.

  6. Thanks for sharing some of what you saw and did, Gillian. I can almost smell the lovely roses and lavender through the computer screen! Portland is known as the Rose City and it has a pretty rose garden where I tasted delicate Rose Tea for the first time. I can imagine the ice cream you ate was delicious. Thanks also for the book recommendation. Some of the trees in our area are already changing to Fall colors, but after a few days of cool misty weather we are now in for some properly hot end of summer days. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  7. Wow, it's absolutely gorgeous. I love walled gardens as well, and that rose is phenomenal. The NT are very good at what they do aren't they. And their places really appeal to children very well these days too. Sounds like a blissful day. CJ xx

  8. What a delightful day. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photos.

  9. What a wonderful place! I love walled gardens, too, and am now imagining the scent of lavender and roses in the warm air... bliss!! I think I'll need to put on my rose perfume today, Serge Luten's "Sa Majesté La Rose" :-)
    And rose ice cream? Must be lovely! I always make sure I drink some Fentiman's rose lemonade when I'm in the UK (available in Germany, too, but awfully expensive).

    Like you, I don't want summer to go away, but can't deny I like the feel of autumn being just round the corner, and the cosiness the chilly mornings and nights bring to our homes.

  10. What a lovely place to visit and you very lucky having something like that not far away. Your weather sounds more like ours at the moment. Have a great holiday and take care.

  11. We've waited so long for summer and I too fear that once back from my holiday we will be hurtling towards autumn.
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures, Mottisfont looks a glorious place to visit.

  12. That sounds like a wonderful day! I've never been to Mottisfont but I will definitely visit if I'm ever nearby!

  13. What beautiful pics, my little Lillie loves that book, the High Street too and we have the cardboard shop too which she loves to play with.

  14. Mottisfont looks just my kind of place. We had Turkish Delight ice cream at Alnwick Garden and it was absolutely yummy - I'd love to find some again. I don't know about autumn but spider season has definitely started early here - an absolutely enormous one ran across the floor last night! I amazed myself by calmly trapping it and releasing it outside rather than my usual shrieking and bashing! X

  15. Mfont is just down the road from me and we go there often. It is a special place and I'm so glad you found it the same. Distinctly autumnal here in the mornings and evenings ;-) x

  16. This is just the kind of place where I like to spend time on a nice day. I grew up very close to the Hudson River in New York, where many of the major early 20th century captains of industry had summer estates on the banks of the river. I used to love visiting the Vanderbilt estate, which had a gorgeous rose garden with lots of little grotto-like structures and a big reflecting pool. I've never had rose ice cream but I've had rose water in several things so I can imagine the flavors. I think you should try making that one at home! To me, the best thing about rose water is the pretty labeling on the bottles. I stop to look at it every time I'm in an imported foods shop.


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