Saturday, 3 September 2011

Good ol’ Lancelot Brown

Aah, the Georgians – don’cha just love ‘em? What a rip-roaringly marvellous time in British history that must have been. Well, if you were fairly loaded that is. Yes, all those polite dances. All that wonderful brandy sipped after dinner, those cigars smoked. All that curtsying and bowing to one another, and the wigs! Sweet Lord, don’t get me started on the wigs!!

And of course, the morning after the night before may very well have been greeted with a gentle stroll in the mansion’s extensive gardens, savouring the cool, damp air, heavy with mist, hanging over the distant fields, shrouding the tall, stone garden ornaments. Antlered deer making off, startled as you approached, rabbits darting here and there, a lone fox watching you from afar.

And all you can see is green grass, tipped with dew, rolling in every direction.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if, 300 years later, you could step into the shoes of those aristocrats and click your heels from one huge hall to the next adjoining hall, admiring all the art as you went?

Well, you can.

And thanks to the National Trust, this is exactly how we spent M’s birthday. She wanted to see Petworth House, with her Mum in tow. I offered only the minimal of grumbling at this and, seeing as one of the reasons we purchased a new car was to be able to squeeze my monster-in-law into one of the nooks or crannies now available, I didn’t really feel I could object.

(I’m kidding!)

Did I mention our new car? No? Ok, another time …..

The National Trust have long since cottoned on to the fact that they need to attract more than just retired couples through their doors if they want to stay afloat. They always have very interesting worksheets or books for kids to fill in, treasure maps to follow, clues to collect etc, to keep their overactive minds entertained just enough to allow Dad’s underactive mind to just about tick over.

National Trust may be your thing, it may not, but if it is your thing, go to Petworth House at your earliest convenience. It has the Trust’s largest painting and sculpture collection, a 700 acre deer park and the most impressive kitchen I have ever seen. My fave pieces were the copper saucepans and the largest fat catcher/basting dish I have ever seen. Check out those ladles!!!

Capability Brown overhauled the gardens around 1750 and the fact that it is still a pleasure to sit and have a picnic in the grounds that he designed all that time ago, is testament to just how damn good the guy was.

Ris’pec Lancelot!! My wife enjoyed spending her birthday in your garden very much.

So did I.

So did our kids.

So did the erm …… my erm ….. mother-in-law.

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