Tapeley Park

Today we spent the afternoon at Tapeley Park. Tapeley is a beautiful house in a beautiful location and is also a wedding venue (www.tapeley-park.com)
The reason we went was because of our caterer's Lee and Kris. They were booked to cater for a couple who were due to be married today at Tapeley. However a week and a half ago the Groom was diagnosed with bowel cancer and early this week he died. He was 36 (my age) and had three children.
At a complete loss as to how to respond to this horrendous situation, all the suppliers for the wedding decided to still turn up and try to raise as much money as they could so proceeds could go half to the family and half to a bowel cancer charity.
We went to support this event.
Lee and Kris' team did a wonderful barbeque and a cream tea on their vintage crockery sets and sold home made fudge which i am tucking into right now!
The thing we most loved was the garden. Wow, it was amazing.
We wandered off for an explore..
and found a great woodland play area which as you can see, the kids loved.
Tucked away in a corner of the garden we came across the most amazing thing. Weirdly, this might actually be my highlight. Someone had spent a long time making the words 'Happy Birthday' out of willow and sticking them in the ground with petals and flowers all around it. Can you make out the words in the picture above?
It was so pretty and so thoughtful. In this day and age when everyone is so busy, one rarely gets time to send an 'e card'. However, this little sign said so much of love and care for a person. Here is a close-up version of the word 'birth'. I am disappointed the pictures do not do it justice.
Hector Christie who owns the estate (The Christie family own Glyndebourne Opera House too which is very close to where i grew up) is a passionate gardener, and specialises in perma-culture gardening. This is a garden design based on plant relationships found in natural ecologies. So, things are planted next to eachother to help to promote their growth and protect them from harm. Its like organised chaos.
These plum-like things were growing in abundance but we have no idea what they were!
We have chickens too but we have never seen a chicken as fat as this one and with such a long mane!
We spotted a teeny tiny strawberry growing and again compared ours which have been non-existent this year (well, they were eaten by insects before we got to them grrrrr)
The kids loved playing in this tunnel of trees.
There is a cafe there which looked really sweet.
Wandering further into the back garden, and now on my own, i came across this little round brick building.
I found out from the notice on the door that it was used in times gone by for storing ice! This is the story on the door.
I followed a sign to the kitchen garden..
and came across a complete opposite to the perma-culture garden, whereby everything was planted in neat, ordered rows. You could sense the history and the generations of families this garden has fed over the centuries.
I found this dilapidated building which was closed off to protect the public but it had all kinds of stones and shells making up its interior. It was so intricate in its design, i must find out more about it.
This made me laugh. We watched a television series called 'Country House Rescue' with interest recently. It concerns owners of big, old houses who need advice as to how to bring in enough of an income in order to keep them maintained. The expert lady who advises the owners often kicks up a storm as her advice always means big change. Anyway, one of the houses featured was Tapeley. At the end of the programme, Hector takes Ruth to see a new addition to the Tapely family and we watched in hysterics as he introduces her to a new pig who he has named...Ruth! You've got to love Hector for that.
I will leave you with this final image of a notice I found stuck in the ladies toilets....Ruth, you owe me one!