"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Stroll, Part 2: The One on Sunday

The snow melted, the sun came out, and we departed the city for our primary reason for coming here. A big country house, now a hotel and formerly the possession of a ducal family...the one about which I'm writing.

In the late 17th century, it looked nothing like the above image. It was built and re-built and re-built, most recently in Victorian times.

It was a gift from this King...

...to this actress.

According to legend, after teasing her for lying abed late in the mornings, he offered to give her whatever amount of land she could ride round before breakfast. So she set out on horseback, reportedly dropping a handkerchief at intervals to mark her property line. And so she got her country place, at the time a hunting lodge.

Remnants of snow in the planter at the front door.

We went for lunch, and it was the traditional Sunday carvery being enjoyed by the traditional sort of folk who turn up in great numbers with family birthday parties--balloons and pressies included.

What I had for lunch.

The hotel bar.

Above the ground floor, the gallery.

Although I didn't clean my plate, I needed to walk off so large a meal. First, we explored the immediate vicinity, and discovered how very huge the place is! (The curtained windows are the dining room.)

Next we set out into the Park, which is vast (Nell Gwyn must have armed herself with numerous handkerchiefs!) and has many intersecting trails through a most beautiful wood.

We met other walkers. This is the first of the dogs (dozens of them!) we met along the way. And yes, I do miss my own, terribly.

White berries.

Here be horses.

Here, too!

I pause to admire a bank of wild holly. Historical Note: The last known sighting of my black leather, fleece-lined gloves.

A fine stand of trees.

When we passed beneath the Alexandra Lodge, where the Park Ranger lives, we turned back.

The afternoon sun lights the greenish tree trunks.

Calling the car company to send us a driver.

On the way back to the house/hotel, we pass these ivy-clad trees.

Alas, I left my gloves behind in the ladies' lavatory, or else in the car. I realised it after the driver dropped us at the Victoria Shopping Centre, so I was well-placed to replace them. We looked for a suitable pair at John Lewis, House of Fraser, and lastly, Marks & Spencer.

My companion thought I spent too much. But they were Per Una, stylish, with a lining, and warm...enough.

"Not for a New Hampshire winter," opined the one who paid for them.

We'll see about that.

Coming out of the shops we met the Salvation Army Band, which drew a crowd. It was lovely.

So ends Sunday's Sunday Stroll. Back to London tomorrow.

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