A couple of weekends ago we decided to drive out to a vineyard with a garden attached. I didn't get round to putting up pictures of it, but since the weather's so soggy we haven't been to see anywhere else so here they are.
We had planned a picnic, so Bear looked at the map and found a likely looking spot next to a lake and off we went. Unfortunately when we got there the lake was not accessible from the footpath, which itself was clearly the place the villagers take their dogs to be exercised; and even if we had found somwhere to sit, the opposite side shore was the location of a very large pig farm. Hummm. Not promising. We headed back towards the car and decided to stop in the churchyard for lunch as the girls were hungry and time was marching on. Once we had sat down under a big tree and got over the initial strangeness of being surrounded by gravestones (!) we did have a fun time though I couldn't help wondering how odd I would find it if we came across someone picnicking in our churchyard. This one was a bit more secluded that ours though ...
We drove on, not quite knowing what to expect. Initial impressions weren't great - there was a big shop and a proper cafe/bistro which wasn't quite what we expected but then we went into the garden and it was absolutely charming.
The vineyard office had its own thriving cottage garden, and there were lots of chickens for the girls to look at. Millie was very excited to find the nesting box on the side of a henhouse that had eggs laid in it, and she very carefully lifted the lid to show me and solemnly told me I mustn't touch the eggs.
We met a fine peacock and admired the house and the lakes and the tadpoles and the gorgeous roses everywhere. The main reason Elsie wanted to go was that there was a maze, and she and Millie had a great time leading us around in it. It's beech, and the hedges are tall enough to be above my head (I think maybe Bear could see over the top - at least, he was very good at not getting lost) and in the middle there was a little house on a platform to climb into and admire the view.
But the best bit was a brilliant rope swing at the very end of the garden. It made me feel sick but two small girls and one tall man thought it was the bees knees.
We went back to the cafe and the girls had some wonderful home made ice cream, which they refused to let me snaffle. Rupert and I shared something that claimed to be a madeira cake but it was overcooked on the outside and soggy in the middle and not what I would recognise as a madeira cake, for which I always turn to Nigella (who else?):
But cake notwithstanding (I didn't eat it so that should tell you something!) we did have a lovely afternoon.