Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Waddeson Manor

Wow - driving into the property made me feel like I was entering the world of royal elite, slowly winding upward through beautifully manicured gardens toward a great big hunk of a mansion....thinking all along that a butler and housing service of 15 people would greet us at the entrance, take our bags and rush us into the great room for tea.

So, no one greeted us....but a fantastic view of the manor house surely did!

I was captivated by it's sheer size and ornate beauty!

I could see how the grounds would look quite remarkable in the spring, with all the gardens in bloom. However, this trip early in the year meant all the property was covered in lots of snow! Nonetheless, still quite a breathtaking bit of land (even better if the cute guy in the photo comes along with it!)

And, of course, you can just see how people would mistake us for the owners of this fine estate....

The architectural details really interested me. Check out the ornate water feature and groovy facade of the "house":

Monday, 2 February 2009

Wakehurst Place

Drove to Wakehurst Place on Sunday. We went into it knowing that it was associated with Kew and the Milennium Seed Bank, no really knowing much more of what to expect.
A pleasant surprise upon arrival with a roughly 2.5 mile roundtrip walk around an estate that is filled with an incredible array of plantlife representing all sorts of habitats from here and around the world.
In amongst the massive grounds is the most beautiful 15c massive home. Access on the inside was dissapointing, as much of the house was converted long ago to house various scientific research carried out by Kew, and even longer ago by several past owners. This is not the case for the exterior of the manor house. Stately and gorgeous as the sun tickled it's golden hued stonework. Simply stunning.
Although only February, there was so much to see by way of colours and new growth throughout the grounds. What amazed both of us was how the grounds wound upward and downward, revealing the hills and steep valleys of the estate. Although the car park was packed with visitors, it was rare to cross others along our way.
There were fantastic look out sites with places to seat and, in some cases, tables to eat, and we knew if it had been later in the year, we would most definitely have plonked down and ate a picnic then and there.
The Milennium Seed Bank is a modern development blending in very well with the surroundings. The entire programme is expertly and simply conveyed to visitors, with a multitude of interactive displays which engage and inform the viewers.
The design of the building leads visitors into the centre, and displays flank the outside walls of the central area, walls which are glass panelled walls allowing the visitors to observe the MSBank scientists in action through the entire process.
As we made our way through this building, it had started snowing and a blanket of snow greeted us on our way out.
The main entrance building housed a great cafe and shop, including a garden shop with Kew plants!
We had a fantastic time and cannot wait to come back in the late spring!