Friday, 16 October 2015

Spooky Stones & Restoration Magic. Just Another Day Out!

As these season turns and it gets nippier, we thought we would try some days out. When we bought April we hoped she would also double nicely as a day van. Slightly longer than a normal car but at 6.3 meters we can just squeeze into a car space with a slight over hang. We have managed a number of supermarket car parks, so thought we would make use of our National Trust cards again for a day in the country.

Avebury, was the destination in Wiltshire. Not the most well known stone circle but certainly the largest, even bigger than Stonehenge. We had made a visit many years ago but I could only vaguely remember a few stones in the field and a slight sense of disappointment! As we set off the sun came out, with the promise of a beautiful Autumn day, we were not disappointed.

Arriving at the National Trust car park we settled April in. There was quite a lot of room but we had arrived early, so we managed to find a good spot on the edge of a grassy area. The Avebury stones cover a vast area and there are guided walks but we decided to go and see what else was on offer first. On site in the village are two museums and the restored Avebury Manor, reconstructed for the BBC programme "The Manor Reborn" in 2011. 
A uniquely different National Trust property here, as they actually encourage you to open cupboards, sit on the furniture and explore the property. You can even lie on the beds!

A beautiful house built from mellow golden stone and home to at least 13 different families over the years. It's the kind of house you could actually live in, not vast but comfortable, initially built from 1557, it has been gently added to over the years.

We started in the gardens. Beautifully laid out in different styles. It would be easy to spend the day just wandering here.

It takes 4 weeks to cut the hedges! The flowers in the garden were spectacular and grown to provide cut flowers for the house. There was also an orchard, kitchen garden and greenhouse. All small but perfectly formed.

The manor itself has rooms done in different stages of the life of the house, from the 1920's back to Tudor times. Most of the stuff in the house is reproduction but done with great attention to detail by crafts people using the styles of the period. On our return I bought the book from the BBC series made when the restoration was done and it's a really good read. It would be great to make another visit.

We thought the Tudor room was beautifully done. The oak furniture was the real work of a craftsman. The pewter utensils were really heavy, I guess all that sword waving made for strong arms.

The rather grand dining room complete with hand painted Chinese wall paper. This was done out in an 18th Century style. The house was busy, but you could wander at will and poke about in corners and even try on the hats, very refreshing and not a bit stuffy! A great place to take children. 

We nipped back to April for lunch and then went on a romp around the stones. Amazing stuff, to think how the early people managed to build this with antler horns for picks and no means of moving the massive stones. The site was built around the same time as the Egyptian pyramids. The pictures from the air are the best way to appreciate the scale. The stones themselves are not as inspiring as Stonehenge, we did not pick up any mystical vibes, or bump into any house ghosts but their are supposed to be some, maybe we were not tuned in. The Autumn colours were just beginning to break through.

A magnificent beech tree in the grounds. Bet these roots have a few tales to tell.

The goats seemed pretty laid back and not intimidated by the history around them.

Overall we thought the site much more commercialised than the last time we came, but certainly well worth a day out and we will be back.