I am currently constructing a website, and needing a visual for the header I started going through our digitised collection of photographs. Some of those I took last year were a strong reminder not just of me being a gadabout, but of what an enjoyable year 2009 was. I've heard the opinion expressed that the weather in the UK last summer was naff, but it seems that every time I went out for the day, the sun shone effortlessly!
In January, I kicked off with a visit to Polesden Lacey. This is my local National Trust House and rarely does a month go by without me trotting up there, if only for a cup of tea and a cake in the cafe. The Regency house was extensively remodelled at the beginning of the 20th Century by the Edwardian hostess, Lady Greville.
In February it snowed heavily, in Epsom to a depth of 18 inches, which is exceptional for Surrey. This is the photo we took at dawn the next morning. As you can see, it was still snowing.
Most of the NT houses open at the beginning of April, so on 1 April, The Vyne in Hampshire was the target. This house was well known to Jane Austen who socialised with the Chute family. There she played cards and danced. At the time her father was Rector of Steventon, just a few miles away.
The bluebells were out in late April and as there is a bluebell wood at Hatchlands in Surrey, that is where I went. I was probably a week too early, but it was still a beautiful display.
A week later, I set off on a touring holiday around the north of Britain, visiting the Elizabethan Bess of Hardwick's Hardwick Hall, also NT. Equally impressive, although on a much smaller scale, is Washington Old Hall, a modest Jacobean house, south of Newcastle. It is pictured below. Here the ancestors of George Washington once lived.
A visit to the North has to include Hadrian's Wall. Vindolanda is the Roman fort where the written tablets dating to the first century AD were found beneath the layers of later building. And it wasn't just the tablets which were preserved. This makes Vindolanda Museum as absolute gem to visit. Housesteads Fort occupies a more romantic location right on the Wall, as you can see below. What you cannot see is the fact that while we were there it was blowing a hoolie!
Our tour of Britain took me up the east side of the country so we also took in Durham and its Cathedral, Holy Island. Lindisfarne and Dustanbrugh Castle, then it was over the border into Scotland to see the Wemyss collection of pottery in Kirkcaldy Museum.