September 27, 2006

Waddesdon Manor NT

The American Women's Club (AWC) organised a coach trip to Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property still strongly influenced by the Rothschild family. We had about 90 minutes each for visiting the gardens, eating lunch, house tour, and winetasting / shopping.

There was so much to see in the home that I became saturated and overwhelmed - definitely need more than one visit to absorb. The winetasting was fascinating. I bought a variety of wines at great prices - and we have been enjoying each of the wines we tried so far.

September 25, 2006

Sissinghurst Gardens NT (Vita Sackville-West)

Sissinghurst was the home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson. Vita designed and built these these spectacular gardens. Again we took 100 pictures - of the oast houses, tower and gardens. Highly recommended!!

Bateman's NT (Rudyard Kipling)

I had passed by Bateman's NT (Rudyard Kipling's home 1902 to 1936) on a ramble but was not allowed to visit. We learned a lot about Rudyard Kipling and his family during this visit and Ardis could not resist buying a bag of flour ground in the old mill.

September 24, 2006

Arundel Castle

We probably took 100 pictures of Arundel Castle, the Cathedral , and the gardens. We enjoyed this castle even more than Warwick, but were surprised that Arundel Castle is open only during the tourist season and NEVER on Saturdays.

Amberley Working Museum

Amberley Working Museum is a mecca for families - everyone seemed to be having a great time. This boy was carefully driving his "locomotive" with what looked like to be his grandparents. In one of the exhibits, using "dial" phones caused a lot of giggling. There were many interesting exhibits - I took a picture of the "concrete" builiding and concrete "art". Plus, I could not resist having my picture taken next to some Shell antiques.

RSPB Pulborough

Hiking through the RSPB Pulborough Brooks was a great way to start our day. Here are a few pictures from the RSPB website - one of the property and one of the endangered water voles that are making a comeback as a result of RSPB efforts (also a concern of the Arundel WWT)

September 23, 2006

Nutbourne Winery near Storrington

We visited the Nutbourne Winery where the tasting room is in an abandoned windmill. I was intrigued by the grape varities - Bacchus, Huxelrebe, Reichensteiner, Schonburger, Muller Thurgau ( and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir).

Petworth House NT

Petworth House is another stately home managed by the National Trust. "The vast late 17th-century mansion is set in a beautiful park, landscaped by 'Capability' Brown and immortalised in Turner's paintings. The house contains the Trust's finest and largest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake ... "

Bignor Regis Roman Villa

Bignor Regis Roman Villa was discovered on a farm in 1811. The hypocaust under-floor heating system was interesting but we were most impressed with the mosaics. The quality of the mosaics evolved with the best being created probably by the 4th century AD.

Arundel WWT

Since I love the London WWT (Wetlands and Wildlife Trust), I had to see the Arundel WWT. We enjoyed walking on the trails, with many birds coming very close to us. I took a picture of one of the many birds pulling on a yellow plug, presumably to get some special treat. We took the "boat safari" to learn more about the local ecology.

September 22, 2006

Brighton Pavilion and Pier

After Wakehurst, we travelled to Brighton to visit the Brighton Pavilion. The interior furnishings were splendid but no pictures were allowed. We marvelled at how well the city of Brighton was able to maintain this palace built by King George IV (mad King George's son).

The Brighton Pier was OK but many of the businesses were closed (end of season) and the beach was pebbly - but some people were swimming!

We stayed at the St Mary's Gate Inn, visible from the within the walls of Arundel Castle gardens. Ardis was especially excited to find a Queen Victoria era mailbox around the corner from our hotel.

Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is the "sister" garden to Kew Botanical Gardens. We got a 2 hour tour (in the rain) of the house and gardens. Our guide told us "Kew is a garden but Wakehurst is an 'environment'!" The millenium seedbank was fascinating, plus we could peer into the labs and see people working (not a working environment I would enjoy).

September 09, 2006

Stonegate Circular Hike

The English weather has been glorious and I have so enjoyed hiking in the countryside. I joined the Kensington Chelsea Ramblers for the 10 mile Stonegate Circular, found in Time Out Country Walks Vol 2.

There were many "oast houses" which were formerly used to dry hops but are now often turned into homes. We also passed some harvested and unharvested hops fields. We ate an excellent lunch at the Lime Tree Tea Room in the cute village of Burwash. After lunch, we passed by Bateman's, the National Trust property which is the former home of Rudyard Kipling.