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Friday, July 22, 2016

Trip to Seizencote

Having spent the past two days indoors avoiding the roasting heat it was great to get in the car and go out for the day. We had planned to go out on Tuesday after Carol had been to Ashfield Medical Centre and had a blood test and a medication review with the doctor. She wanted a repeat prescription and was told by the receptionist that a doctor would ring to speak to her before writing her the required prescription. Actually, this doesn't happen. You don't now usually get a written prescription unless it's more urgent and you need your meds immediately. If that's the case you can take the paper prescription into Cox and Robinson, the chemists, who have a branch a few units along from the surgery in Beanhill and it might take them ten or fifteen minutes to make up the order if you wait. But other than that your prescription can be done electronically if you ring your pre-arranged pharmacy to order over the telephone (as I do. My pharmacy is at Sainsbury's.) and the order is usually made up within a week. Less paperwork or that's what they hope. Having said that I have an additional medication, Lyrinel.  I try to have all my medications ordered at the same time, which makes common sense, but because the Lyrinel doesn't seem to coincide with the rest of my order, I have to order it separately. The petty administration at Ashfield won't allow this, which is becoming annoying. It would surely make their life easier and save time and paperwork. So, as my stock of Lyrinel runs out, I will ring Sainsbury's pharmacy and order, but it means having to make another journey into town for this. No wonder the N.H.S. is in crisis with this sort of petty behaviour from the pen-pushers who run the organisation.

We drove away from Milton Keynes, having set the new SatNav to direct us to Seizencote, a house and garden we haven't visited before and as members of the H.H.A. (Historic Houses Association) allowing us free entry. It took some while to decide where to visit because not everywhere in their handbook is open all week or at least the days we want to visit. There were a number of places we selected but then found they were open on that specific day and then because it has been so hot over the past few days we decided we didn't fancy going out. It's quite nice being able to merely programme the SatNav (a Garmin model which I bought on Amazon.) and just following the nice lady's voice as she directs you along the road. Certainly a good deal less stressful than trying to follow a printed map in a road atlas.

We know the road out towards Buckingham fairly well. We use this road regularly, usually, when we're going to a National Trust property such as Stowe Landscape Garden, which is just outside Buckingham or going towards Bicester, which we visit regularly (as you would know if you read this blog on a regular basis.) The SatNav, interestingly, took us through the centre of Buckingham. Which was strange, as this town has a by-pass? This is the route the bus takes when we have used it when deciding to visit Oxford and leave the car at home.

We were making initially to Moreton-In-Marsh, which is the nearest town to Seizencote. The house and garden weren't due to open until 2 p.m., so it was no good arriving too early. We decided to park in the centre of Moreton and spend some time looking in the shops near the market square. Not an easy matter of finding a space, as the place was already busy with cars. It seems a very busy centre with traffic rumbling through the middle. I know this route well as I drove through it years ago on a very regular basis when I worked at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. My parents used to visit me on occasions and we often went to such places as Moreton-In-Marsh and Bourton-On-The-Water to visit the attractions such as the model village there or go to a very nice pub. My mother had lots of friends in and around the area who we visited also.


Moreton-In-Marsh main street

There are plenty of really nice shops to browse, some selling toys, gifts, cards and similar. Just the sort of shops you'd expect to find in what I imagine being a tourist-trap. I'm sure it is, because it's slap-bang in the middle of traditional Cotswold territory, and sure enough we saw a coach turn up and disgorge a load of elderly folk who looked the sort of people who would make straight for the nearest tea shop and enjoy cream tea, scones, jam, and cream. We found a Tesco Express ( a pity in a way, they seem to be everywhere, even in a classic Cotswold town centre.) and purchased sandwiches and crisps and found a bench to sit on in a shady place under a tree on a grassy area and munched our sandwiches.

It was then time to move off towards our destination, although we had plenty of time to kill. I had to reset the SatNav for Sezincote and we arrived in the carpark at around 1 p.m., giving us a little under an hour before the house and garden opened. Carol suggested we drive to Broadway Tower to kill the hour before Sezincote opened. We were there in minutes. We have visited it before, a rather imposing folly, built for no real practical purpose, and standing on a hill which means you can see it for miles around. We visited it a few years ago when we'd visited a National Trust property near the village of Broadway, Snowshill Manor. It seems they have developed the site where it stands with a sort of shopping outlet as well as upgrading the parking facilities as well as the paths towards the tower as well as a decent toilet block in what was a shepherd's hut. A really practical use for a traditional item.


Broadway Tower

We drove back to Sezincote and found by the time we returned that it was opened. The carpark had filled up considerably in the time we'd been away.

This property turned out to be really interesting. Very different to any of the other properties we've visited, run and protected by either the National Trust, H.H.A. or English Heritage. The gardens are quite amazing. Lots of little rivers and streams as well as canals and pools. The place has an oriental feel to it and the house itself has an onion dome on its roof. The whole place is reminiscent of the Brighton Pavilion and it's no surprise to learn that the Prince Regent is supposed to have visited Sezincote and it inspired him to have the Pavilion at Brighton designed in a similar style.


Garden at Sezincote

Having meandered about the gardens for approximately an hour and a half we decided we needed a cup of tea or at least some sort of refreshment and so wandered into the Orangery which has been converted into a tea-room and ordered a pot of tea and some very tasty chocolate cake. We had meant to tour the interior of the house and the next guided tour was due at 3 p.m. But once we got inside and the rest of the party were gathered in the entrance hall we found it to be exceptionally hot and so decided to decline and left. We did a bit more wandering in the garden and then returned to the carpark and drove home. It's actually quite a walk from the house and garden to the car park. Most properties have some sort of transport which allows visitors to be taken on a vehicle of some sort, such as at Stowe which has a sort of train arrangement, but no such transport at Sezincote and it's quite a hill walking to the carpark.

The weather has been exceptionally hot and sunny, as I have already mentioned. The scenery through Oxfordshire is quite stunning. The villages throughout and through which we drove are of that beautiful golden-coloured stone and in some respects, they might be considered stereotypical of what you'd think of as 'English,' with many of them thatched. In the countryside, the fields of corn are ready  for harvesting and we saw a few combine harvesters hard at work, usually followed by a cloud of dust as they work. Also, the tractors and trailers which assist in taking the grain from the combines and delivering their loads of wheat, oats or barley to whichever place for storage and in some cases driving slowly and as a result causing long traffic queues which no doubt cause some drivers some frustration.

We arrived back in Milton Keynes at around 4.55.




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