gardens

Six word Saturday

The ephemeral nature of my garden

It’s not a garden, but a simple patio to play and entertain in, and it gives me lots of joy. Many thanks to Amy for prompting me to share it, and to long suffering Debbie for letting Six Words flourish. And a happy weekend to you all!

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Six word Saturday

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Never promised you a rose garden

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Here in the north east of England we’ve had a few days of capricious Summer.  Knowing its fleeting nature I’ve been out enjoying it.  If there’s one thing that Britain does well, it’s gardens, so I thought I’d try to dispel yesterday’s gloom, if only for a little while.

Come with me to Sutton Park, a stately home in Sutton on the Forest, North Yorkshire.

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The Grade 1 listed Georgian house is the family home of Sir Reginald, 8th Baronet, and Lady Sheffield, and there are connections to both David Cameron’s wife, Samantha, and to the Duchess of Cambridge.  The history page on the website traces a link all the way back to the Templars.

Within the extensive grounds are an Ice House which you can actually walk inside, and a huge kitchen garden.

The house and gardens are only open in May, June, and a couple of weekends, so I just made it in time for a delicious scone in the tearooms.

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Ready to face the world again now.  Enjoy your weekend, whatever you have planned.  I’ll have more gardens and a castle for you in my Monday walk.  Don’t forget to pop in on Cate before then.

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Impressed by Versailles

Water babies at Versailles

Water babies at Versailles

As the sea of humanity surged past me up the platform, I had to wonder just how much I was going to enjoy the experience of Versailles .  The 7 million yearly visitors couldn’t all be wrong, but I’d had the impression that at least half of them had been on the train with me!

I had crisscrossed Paris to join the RER train to Versailles-Rive Gauche on line C5, at Javel Metro station.  Standing on the platform, with a twitch of anticipation, I could see the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance as I watched for the approach of my double decker train.  This was to have been a first- a ride upstairs on a train- but it was not to be!  When the train pulled in, it was already full to sufficiency, and I had to spend the journey leaning up against a swaying wall.  Just a little deflated, I had 30 minutes in which to wonder whether Versailles could possibly hold this volume of people.

Arriving at the palace gates, I felt hugely relieved that I ‘d had the foresight to book tickets for the gardens online.  The queues were immense, but following the signs to the right, I slipped peacefully past the ticket barrier and into the empty gardens.  No queue!  This might not be so bad, after all.  The day was rather overcast, but I had 20 minutes to explore before the fountains were turned on at 11.00am.

There wasn’t any question that this place was built to impress, and impress it did!  I felt a thrill of excitement as the fountains began to trickle.  In a few moments my cherubs were magically clothed in a veil of water.

Holding hands!

Holding hands!

A gentleman with a large ‘key’ made his way around the gardens, in an unhurried fashion, turning on the fountains in sequence.  The race was on to visit as many of the garden rooms as possible before the fountains stopped again at 12.00.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Laying down on the job!

Laying down on the job?

Note the hooves

Note the hooves

Taking aim!

Taking aim!

Fountain of Apollo's Chariot with the Grand Canal in the background

Fountain of Apollo’s Chariot with the Grand Canal in the background

You might have noticed the odd umbrella in the background.  A light drizzle had started to fall.  With just a few minutes till the fountains ceased playing, it was time to consider food and shelter.  As the skies suddenly opened, instant decision was required and ‘La Flotille’ was the nearest port in a storm.  With my back to the burners and the rain pouring off the awning, a Grand Marnier crepe and a pichet of Bordeaux helped to pass the time rather nicely.

Half an hour later, the sun made a welcome appearance.  A  couple of rowers were out on the Grand Canal, but a gentle stroll to the Grand Trianon seemed a better bet.  Dappled sunshine and puddles- such a nice combination!

There were still more garden rooms to visit and I had my favourites.  The Ballroom was landscaped by Le Notre in 1680 and is decorated with millstones and shells brought back from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea by the French Navy of that time.

The Mirror Fountain was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1702.  It currently performs to music at 10 minute intervals all day long- the only fountain to do so.

And the Mirror Fountain twirled all day long

Dancing to the music of Rameau and Lully

Climbing the steps back up to the Water Parterres, I could look down on the Orangerie in all its magnificence.  The clouds came and went but the beauty was endless.

The Orangerie, beautifully laid out

The Orangerie, beautifully laid out

And seen from above

Seen from above

And with moody skies

And with moody skies

850 hectares of parks and gardens means little to me, but I can tell you that it was huge, and absorbed all those people from my train with ease.  And many more!  The fountains play again from 15.30 to 17.00 and at 17.20 the grand finale of the Neptune Fountain.

On Saturday evenings throughout the Summer there is a Fountains Night Show.  What a spectacle that must be!  The Versailles website is a wealth of information and I could recommend a visit to anyone.  Because of the scale of the place a little disruption from renovation is inevitable and on my visit the Latona Parterre and Water Theatre Grove were unavailable.

The incomparable chateau

The incomparable chateau

Are you wondering about the Chateau?  I had made a conscious decision to limit my visit to the grounds.  I did not want to share the Hall of Mirrors and in August there would have been little choice.  Another day, maybe!

Versailles is chalk and cheese with my lovely Giverny, but there’s room for both in this world.  Don’t you think?

A Grand Day Out!

Looking out from the Cascade

Looking out from the Cascade

I suspect that whatever your criteria for grand might be, Chatsworth House could fulfil it.  I honeymooned in the Peak District almost 25 years ago, and the memory of its grandeur and the beauty of the surroundings remains with me. The house sits in extensive grounds, with a wooded hill rising up behind it.  I returned, with my daughter Lisa, on a day unbelievably lovely for December.

I noted from Wikipedia that during World War II the house was occupied by 300 schoolgirls, for six years.  The Duke felt that they might be easier on his home than the soldiers who would otherwise be billeted there.  I’m not so sure!  In any event, they grew vegetables in the Kitchen garden to contribute to the war effort, and skated on the Canal Pond when it froze over.

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Eventually you arrive at the top of the Cascade

Bewitched by the dancing fountains

To be bewitched by the dancing fountains

And the suitably disguised Pump house

And the suitably disguised Pump house

Onwards and upwards to the Grotto next, where you can sit in the bandstand, mistress of all you survey.  A lady visitor was obviously much pleased with her surroundings, and I tried, in my halting French, to exchange a few words.

And if you’re very good, you just might try

A cream tea!

A cream tea!

I don’t feel that I’ve really done the gardens justice.  Maybe it’s because I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the house.  The “Narnia” Christmas theme made it very special.  I’ll be writing more about the house and its occupants later this week.

In the meantime, I hope you feel you’ve had a grand day out? (yes, I quite like Wallace and Gromit too)  I’m linking this post to Cheri’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Join me there?