Wednesday 6 May 2015
Bowood House and Gardens
The heavens opened just as we arrived at Bowood House, but the coach dropped us right outside the restaurant where coffee and biscuits were awaiting us. By the time we set off for a guided tour of the terrace garden and walled garden a steady drizzle had set in, but our intrepid members were not deterred and we spent an enjoyable time looking at the various plots, the greenhouse and meeting the Head Gardener. Our knowledgeable guides then led most of the party to visit the cascade and grotto in the landscape garden before everyone returned to the restaurant to dry out and enjoy an excellent lunch.
After lunch everyone explored the orangery and the interesting exhibitions in the house, before the coach took us to the woodland valley gardens. Fortunately the rain stopped, so we were able to enjoy a pleasant stroll admiring the rhododendrons and azaleas which were in full flower above a carpet of bluebells.
Wednesday 20 May 2015
Lunch at Rushmore Golf Club
This was a self-drive event, and we were lucky enough to have a bright and dry day. The Golf Club is set in beautiful grounds and the kind weather meant that we were able to appreciate the surroundings. A total of 33 people attended the lunch, the food was excellent and everyone seemed to have enjoyed both venue and the meal.
Wednesday 10 June 2015
A group of loyal members braved what could have been the coldest June day to join the visit to Avebury. The wind blowing across the henge was not for the faint-hearted! However, we had an interesting day, with plenty to fill our time. National Trust staff welcomed us with coffee on arrival and divided us into two groups. We had a guided tour of the stones and then a visit to the Manor House. Lunch was served in the Study Centre, and although a little cramped, was very adequate.
Wednesday 24 June 2015
Avon Valley Railway & Clifton Suspension Bridge
The day dawned fine and remained so during our excursion. After negotiating the Glastonbury Festival traffic on the A37 we arrived at Dobbie’s Garden Centre for a coffee stop. The service was first-rate and we were soon on our way to Bitton, the home of the Avon Valley Railway. At 12.15 we set off on our steam railway experience behind an ex-Great Western tank engine in London Underground livery. The result looked splendid, but a pure invention for the class of locomotive!
Having lunched exceedingly well in the First Class Dining Saloons we proceeded to Clifton, where our guides explained the history of this iconic bridge and its designer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Tea at the Burrington Inn could not be faulted, and a replete group of Association members returned to the Blackmore Vale and Yeovil.
Wednesday 16 July 2015
Hestercombe Gardens and House
Hestercombe bills itself as “paradise restored” – a fair reflection of the remarkable efforts over the past 18 years of the independent trust which now owns it, and of its volunteers. Films shown at key locations covered aspects of Hestercombe’s history in detail.
Morning clouds gave way to a sunny afternoon, showing the gardens at their best. some members climbed to the upper parts of the landscape garden, stopping at all the follies and viewpoints, while others followed a shorter route. All could enjoy the spectacular ‘Grand Plat’ of Lutyens and Jeykll and the adjacent terraces and Orangery.
The main house is being progressively opened up, with portraits of the Warre and Bampfylde families, creators of the landscape gardens.
The Mill House displays some advanced technology installed by the Portman family in the late 19th and early 20th century – gas production, hydroelectricity and estate machinery.