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ENGLAND     DIARY 9   2016   

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 Diary 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10
 

                                WALES

From the central England, I now explore the eastern part of central England.

12/6 Anglesey Abbey Garden and Lode Mill open way too late, but the time is spend on stitching my sleeping-bag, make accountancy and a walk in the area. The sun and clouds are fighting, but it is not that cold.
Within the premises, a long serpentine path leads along two lines of beds with flowering plants, in back of them are different bushes.
Statues and other features are hidden all over the place, and the layout of the garden is defiantly different from anything else I have seen. Here are some of the usual ingredients, but also some real different, and they are gathered in a strange way.
The statues span from what look like classic Greek over to some quite modern. Some are actually not good at all! A pair of lions look a bit dogish while a griffin have the most goofy impression I ever seen on a statue. Some of the gates could have been made today by scrap metal. Many of the features are not really beautiful, but they sure are big.
In the fare corner of the real huge garden is the water mill. It was original a four stone mill, and one stone is still working, and the NT sell flour to local shops. The entire waterway system in the area was build by the Romans for transport. The mill works by the water runs under the wheel, not over as usual.
I keep finding new areas with their special characteristic. One is a rose garden, one will be a nice Dahlia garden. Several alleys leads out from the centre of the garden, and they seems endless. The formal garden is fare the smallest and less impressive.

The house opens, and it is stuffed with art and ancient objects. All too impressive for the low rooms they are in. Then I get the explanation: The estate was bought unseen by the son of an America oil billionaire in 1920. He renovated it, and all the oak-panels, drapes and art is bought second-hand. He might not have had much taste, but sure money enough.
Here are collections of criosphinxes with precious stones, a mosaic table, which is estimated to have taken five years to make, a bouquet flowers, carved in soapstone and numerous ancient paintings. Impossible to set a class to anything, it is all over the place. But I'm sure it have been a nice house to live in, and it have a lot of cosy rooms.

From this strange mix, I head north to the clean and stylish Oxburgh Hall and Garden. It is drizzling a bit, but I start with the gardens anyway. The walled kitchen garden, then the greenhouses with collections of Pelargoniums and other flowering plants. The walled garden with flowering plants and bushes and a impressive, although small formal garden.
The main house is a proper castle, placed in a mould. It was build in 1482 by a Catholic family, who survived the king's change of religion. Though, they did have a priest hole. In this ancient "safe room", the priest could hide, when the king or his men pop-bye. It is truly hidden, and hard to get in. But considering it would cost you your head, to be caught with a Catholic priest, one would go a long way to hide him.
The man who constructed the room made many others like it. He was tortured three times, but never gave in. He died the third time around.
The rooms are filled with huge paintings of kings and queens from the 15-16th century. The interior is Victorian Gothic, and here are no errors. Oak panels, immense carvings on walls and furniture, embroideries by Mary, Queen of Scots, wall draping, real nice art and household. A winding staircase lead to the roof at one of the towers. The only thing missing - is the sun.

It is getting late, and I won't have much time at the next sight, when I finally get there. And to judge from the picture I have seen, it will take quite some time to see. But I can drive up nearby, and enjoy the drive, making stops if something interesting should emerge. I have no camp-sites in this fare north-east, but I just have to find internet. A larger town have numerous cafes, pubs and alike, but after trying most, I end at a gambling shop. Here, I find sites north, east and south of Norwich. The next site is north of, and I try that one. The GPS does not recognise the village name, and the first part of the zip-code it work with, list four "The St." - none in the village I want. The one near Norwich only have the village name - which the GPS don't. Then it will be eastern camp-site.
I manages to find the tiny village and even the lawn. "Tents only" might work, but here are no showers. I can't see any point in paying for parking on a lawn alone. 80 kilometres wasted. At least, I did see the landscape, which looked just like the Danish.
Then I have to try the northern site, 75 kilometres north-west of here. At least, it is close to the first sight of the morning.
I simply try the four options the GPS come up with, one by one. Considering they have the first five digits common in the zip-code, they must be close. On the way, I find another site, but that is only for members in proper caravans.
After quite some fumbling around on The St. I finally find the site, and it look nice. They even accept that I sleep in the car. But I refuses to pay 25,50 pound for a shower!

It is getting late, and I head for the major village in the area; Aylsham. The first two pubs don't serve food, and I have decided to treat my self with a warm Sunday dinner. The posh Black Boys' Hotel Bar have internet and vegetarian courses. A real delicious goat-cheese/mushroom dinner cost only 12,50, but it seems like the entire town's internet have gone. Here have been some lightning, and in England, the telephone cables are still on top of poles. I ask around for camping, but the only one I get, is the expensive one.
The internet work a split second, and I get one page, then it is gone again. A combination of maps, GPS, intuition and pure luck bring me to Mill Farm. All the signs at the road have been removed, but way back on the estate, I find some campers, and the light and warm water work. Considering I'm all by my self, I guess they might have closed - just a tiny bit. I decide to wait until to morrow to pay - just so I don't get kicked out now. It is nice and quiet, except from the birds sinning. Rabbits and water-hens and a single pheasant are all around the car, but they are quite. Later on, after dark, the eerie sound of an own takes over. It is not the hooting kind, it is the one sounding like a TV lost the channels.

13/6 I find a nice lady, willing to receive ten pound for the camp-site. Despite here are campers all over a huge area, and everything is lilted up, I am alone. Might be people have gone back to work after the weekend?
I head right around the corner - not more than ten kilometres at the most, and find Blickling Estate and Garden. The village is not big, but that it the castle.
I book a guided tour in the huge house before it actually opens, but before, there is a bit of time for the gardens. They are, just like the house; huge. The usual mix of formal-, kitchen- and romantic gardens. But these are real neat kept, and they have many rare plants.
A big loop pass the formal part, along one of the endless alleys and up to the temple and back again through the more rough part. The Rhododendrons are still partly flowering, but the beds are not really up to it yet.

A great guide with lots of humour lead a small group through the house. It was original build by Wilhelm Eroberen in 1066 - in pre-fabricated wood. That didn't last, and a new one in stone replaced it. It is still to be found underneath this giant red brick house, build for 400 years since. It is not showing the wide side to the visitor, but the ancient mould was not that way, and it remained. The fortune came from politics and marriages.
Here are many really nice objects, and a huge library, where the last book came in in 1750. One painting by Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768) seems a bid odd to me. I do re-framing every evening, and this is out of balance. It turns out is was part of a significantly larger painting- the other part is on Cuba. NT offered them 8.000.000 pound in 1988, but they knew it was way more worth. For half a painting!
The rest of the house is impressive. Here is a royal bedroom, although the king never slept here. The bed-robes is, however, form three kings and queens.
Back in the garden, the walled garden draws me in. The first corner is a bit of a mess, but at the same time; it look awesome! The rest, including the glasshouses have been restored within the last year, and is general a kitchen garden and flowers for the house.
Next to the formal garden are real long beds with abundance of flowering plants. Way out in the back, next to the fields, the orangery is for once filled with orange and lemon trees. I try to find new areas, and despite I succeed, the dark and light drizzle spoils it a bit.
Back in the house, I make another tour around in the 20 rooms, which are open. Dinning room, drawing room, kitchen, bedrooms, dressing rooms and even toilets. In the lady's bedroom, the theme is Chinese. Two tall ivory towers contain bells, and they will ring when a earthquake occurs. Useful, right?
The sealing are fantastic plaster works. Beside from the armour shields, hare are the five senses (not the last), and illustrations to a book which was famous at that time. The tapestry is a bit pale, but fantastic work. I guess both house and garden was kind of what the creator of Anglesey Abbey indented.
Another tour around the house, then I have to head on, if I want to achieve more today. It is a 110 kilometre drive to Orford village and castle, and the rain have picked up.

I have seen signs warning about the roads could be flooded, but I had not imagined it this bad. I'm so glad I got new tires just before I left home. The castle is under administration of English Heritage, and they want 7,60 pound. I'm use to get in for free by now, and it is a tiny castle! I do a walk around it in the rain, and head on for the camp-site, on the way to the next site.
I'm a bit anxious about this site: I got a complete address with road and even house number: Spooky! But here is actually a camp-site, and despite here are no one else, the owner turns up in his car a minute after me, and I'm welcome to sleep in my car. Another scary feeling is; it is only half pass three, and I know where I'm going to sleep: That is a first. But what will I do the rest of the day?
I head for the nearest bigger village; Melton, and find a pub. A pot of tea and something to eat. Then internet and the usual work. Now, I just have to figure what to do in the evening...
The sun returns, and why not go for a walk in the village? Well, mainly because it is closed and not that interesting anyway. I end up at the Red Lion, and study the NT's book on their precessions. It turns out, I have missed quite a few in the south-eastern corner, which I just must return to. Ought to be done in less than a week - I think.
I finish the Mid-east general slideshow - although I still have a bit to see here. Back at camp at nine, I sit and work on other things, till too late.

14/6 Ickworth House, Park and Garden opens just as I get there. The main buildings are huge, around 100 meters facade. It was build around 1800 by a Earl who lived Italia and its art. The building are classic Italian, created by an Italian, and the heating is ridiculous. The plan was that the earl and his family should live in the glorious rotunda, and the art he collected on his many tours around Europe should fill the wings and the two huge wing-buildings.
Unfortunately, he and his entire collection ran into Napoleon in Italy, and all was confiscated. He tried to get it back the next four years, but died before he even got back to see his house.
The coming generations of Earls and Marquises have filled the buildings to some extend. Most of the paintings are of the right masters, the collection of fans and silver, including the fish are outstanding, and so are the collection of books.
The NT's volunteers are real informative here - even more than they use to be. I get some long stories, just because I look at some of the numerous items. It is amassing how much they actually know of these families through time. Here, the same family have lived here until 1966. One room is special that way, it is made up by two walls - one being the outer round one. Their piano is special that way, it is the first one constructed to hammer the strings, not pulling them.
The servants' area is in the basement, and that is something special. It is wide, nice and light. While they dug down for the foundation, they only removed some of the soul. The rest were filed back on a second wall, making a kind of a mould around the building. That gave room for large windows in the basement. The common rooms, the private rooms and the entire kitchen is nice to be in, for once. I got the feeling of, it might have been a nice place to work for once.
When I talk to an elder gentleman, he confirms that thought. He traded furniture with the last marquis, and always looked forward to come here. If the lordships wanted to talk with the staff, they didn't call for them, they went own to them - unheard! The last marquis' farther loved to work in the garden, sweeping leaves, weeding the lawns and so on, along with his numerous gardeners.
The garden is mostly Italian inspired, but it does disappoint me to some extend. The flowering parts are fine, but small, the odd British stumpery is hard to say, if it is coming or going. The round wall surrounding it all seems endless, especially because you cant see it all at once - or half for that matter.
The Italianate garden look like a shrubbery that have been neglected for 20 years. The walled garden is way down at the big lake, pass the church. It is just been restored - to some extend. It is huge, and the main part is now a flowerbed with semi-wild flowers. The smaller sections are kitchen-gardens. Except from a few wild orchids, I see no interesting plants, and no real interesting creations or ideas in the garden.

It is a relative short drive to the little town of Lavenham. It became real rich on the wool in the 15the century, but when that marked collapsed, they just maintained the timber framed houses. I park close the the church, which almost seem cathedralish. Way too big for this little town. Like the Ickworth church and many of the old houses in this part of the country, the walls are covered in fist-sized flint stones.
Every corner you turn, more of this (slightly at best) angled framed houses dominates the road. Those who look slightly more modern have the old wood underneath the plaster. I try to capture them, but the cars parked along them kind of spoils the picture.
A few old and real tiny cars passes me, and I follow them back to a square. I have a long chat with a local lady, but then the rain catch up.
The first bottle of methanol is used up, and the White Sprit I found is "lamp oil" and give a lot of sod. I try some larger supermarkets, but although they kind of understand what I'm looking for, they don't know where to find it. I think around 95% of Danish households have it, and all supermarkets will surely have it. The pharmacy can't help, but a tiny petrol station have it. 
The next bigger village; Cavndish is almost as cosy, but I have had framed houses enough for one day, especially as it stats to rain.
Haven't mentioned it before, but the Brits are one week from the EC voting. I have seen 1000s of "Vote Out" signs and three to "Stay". One guy in Oxford had a banner and shouted "Stay, we are stronger together" once in a while. One was building a ten meter ship-model on his field in blue with stars, sinking fast. Guess he meant "Leave!"

I have a camp-side half way to the next sight, which I won't make today. It is quite a detour, but it is a campsite. The rain is massive sometimes, and the lakes on the roads huge and deep. Sometimes, it feels like driving in  a river with quite some stream. A few times, the water is splashed over the car. The Lupo take it nice, but many newer cars are pulled over, because of water in essential parts.
80 kilometres brings me to a little cosy place, with none home. I park so that they can see me, and eat my dinner. When they get home, I'm kicked out, as they only accept members. Radham nearby should have a less strict camp-site. They sure have, but no showers.
Nothing to do but drive on towards the next sight, 75 kilometres west, looking out for signs. I see one, but can't find the place. At eight, I reach Stowe's Gardens, but the entrance to the parking lot is closed, I find some big trees nearby, and call it a day. A few runners passes bye, and a group of cattle gather other side of the fence. At nine, I figure I'll save some work for the morning.

15/6 I sleep eleven hours, and start working after breakfast. I'm finish just as the opens, but the sun is not ready, however it will come. I enter the Stowe House, Park and Garden, and the park seems endless. Much of it is designed by the very famous Lancelot "Capability" Brown, and it is regarded one, if not THE one, first English landscape garden.
Here used to be a strict formal garden, but gradually, it was transformed and expanded through 300 years. Here have been a garden for many years, and the Eleven Acre Lake (4,5 hectare) was made by the Romans. The ground is clay - which is good, sand and limestone, both bad. The Romans used cupper to tighten the limestone under the lake.
Here have been dug a lot to create the "natural" valleys. One took 250 men some years to dig, but it was never filled with water after all. The statues from the formal garden have been hidden around, and you just bump into them, one by one.
Other larger items have been shifted too, like the statue of Queen Caroline, standing on a colon. Here are a rotunda, a temple to Venus, a temple of British Worthies, a Palladian bridge, a Gothic temple, Queen's temple, the Temple of Concord and Victory , Lord Cobham's Pillar, two Boycott pavilions, a Chinese house, Bell gates, the Western Lake Pavilion, the Hermitage, a Doric arch, Captain Cook's monument, a three meter fantail - or waterfall, a Temple of Friendship (which is falling a part), the Temple of Ancient Virtue and of cause a grotto - along with more buildings. Some are larger then some castles I have seen. 
The grotto is original a temple, which were partly buried with some of the soil from a excavation. Then another architect imported a lot of Italian volcanic rocks, and vola; a grotto.

I do a lot of walking, but have to join a guided tour to see a bit of the giant house inside. It is a working boarding school, but the rooms are still in their glory. A bit hard to get photos, as the "children" are not to be taken photos of, but just the sealing are fantastic. The artificial marble columns look so real, and the fake ones might have been more expensive, but the rock too heavy.
Just as I get out after one hour, and need a tea brake, another tour starts. It is about the work of Lancelot "Capability" Brown, and of cause I would like to join. We do a hour walk in another part of the park/garden, and get explanations to many of the features, and how they were made.
All kind of histories were hidden in this "natural" garden. The long, narrow lake is Styx, the grotto's opening the mouth of Hades and so on. Other themes are more political, because the owner was very much for liberty - for the over class that is. It is interesting, and amassing how much work have gone into every thing - and at what expenses.
The tour end at the Temple of Concorde and Victory, but the cafe only have cake and sweets. I do the long walk to the main house, and catch up on a few more features of the garden on the de-tour.
Then it turns out I have to proceed to the entrance to get proper food, several kilometres down a narrow drive. And I'm not finish with the garden yet. Well, tea and bagged Flapjack it is .While I sit there it start to drizzle a bit, and I hurry on to see the Gothic Temple, which someone apparently have rented to live in. The Palladian Bridge is also big, while the Chinese house is small. The views over the meadows with scattered trees and the lakes are fantastic - just like Capability Brown is famous for.
At three, I have hurried the garden/park through, and the rain pick-up. A jacked potatoes, tea and internet at the main restaurant, as I must realise I never get to Windsor today anyway. Further more, I would like a camp-site with showers and a laundry  by now. I have one south of London, but I keep an eye out through the heavy rain. It pays of outside Chalfont St. Giles.
I read up on Windsor, and I might see it one day, along with London. I'll just pop-bye on the way to KEW for now.

From the eastern England, I passes London and return to the south-east.

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