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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Walking Our Dogs and Visit to Ascott

It has been a pleasant week on the weather-front for the past week or so. As a result we took the two dogs for a walk towards Woughton-On-The-Green along the Redway. Well, I say 'walk' because once we have got them on their leads and we walk out of the house and round onto the Redway we let them off, more like a mad, frantic run or dash. Alfie wasn't as bad as he can be to get kitted out in this harness and lead, but as soon as there's any mention of walk, leads or anything connected with us going out with them, he becomes very excited and barks loudly and can get very boisterous. Poppy, on the other hand, gets excited but doesn't make any sort of noise but wags her tail. We get to the bridge over the Grand Union Canal and they trot over and we walk around the green once in the village, a haven or quiet and peace and it seems incredible that we are only a mile or two from the centre of busy, bustling Milton Keynes. We see no cars and walk around the green and through the orchard and back towards the canal, going along the tow-path and back to the Redway and home. Alfie runs back and forth as we walk along, running ahead, sniffing every blade of grass, tree, etc etc. He must run around three, or four or more, times the distance we walk. He's not very good on the lead, more intererested in being off the lead, hareing around, but Poppy is content to just potter long in her own sweet way.

 Early this morning we were deciding on visiting a National Trust property but couldn't decide which one. Wimple Hall and Home Farm,  Anglesey Abbey, Waddesdon Manor, Claydon and Stowe Landscape Garden are all with a reasonable distance from Milton Keynes, and all visited by us at some time over the last few years. But there is one place that we haven't yet visited and within only a 20-minute drive and that is Ascott. It's on the road between Leighton Buzzard and Aylesbury and which we've passed on various journeys towards Aylesbury and High Wycombe but which we've not visited basically because it's not opened mid-week and then only for about five hours, so it's quite difficult to visit because of these opening hours. So we decide on going yesterday and seemed ideal as it is so close and would make a good outing to make the most of the sunny weather. We leave around 3.45 so we have left it quite late to make our visit, but once we get to Ascott and get parked, it is indeed a short journey, made considerably shorter due to the new, or newish stretch of by-pass between Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzrard. The new car is a dream as it is quite sporty and once you put your foot down on the accelerator you can just coast along any decent piece of open road.

We are really surprised by the number of people in the carpark at Ascott and the number of cars. No doubt the fine weather has brought people out. Also, we never thought this place was going to be so large. There is quite a walk along a really wooded stretch of drive towards the main house and the gardens and see that had we come a week or so earlier we would have seen a mass of daffodils in the wooded area, but unfortunately they are gone over and looking decidedly dead, which is a real shame because they would have been quite spectacular.

We began our visit by exploring the gardens. We weren't expecting it to be quite so large, nor to have such a variety of schemes of design. A great deal of clipped hedges, topiary in particular. One quite amazing feature spelled out words and in the centre a kind of globe, the significance of which wasn't quite clear, but I will have to do some research on-line to discover more. We walked around for a while and then went into the house. Only around five rooms were open to the public, but each is full of antique furniture and pottery as well as paintings on the walls, some by well known artists such as George Stubbs and J.M.W. Turner as well as bronze sculptures, many of horses and one which I was sure was by Rodin. We didn't have time to see all of this amazing property and there are areas of the garden which we couldn't possibly get to see in the couple of hours we were there and we decided as we drove out of the carpark to return home that we must come back for another visit. As it's only a 15-20 minute drive it's not going to take long to get there and as National Trust members we don't have to pay to get in.
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