Summer, glorious summer!
I can go into raptures about summer.
Hints of summer stir in me when I sense its approach in the tell-tale quality of light on a crisp, bright February day.
The child in me delights when the cherry blossoms bloom in abandon.
It reminds me of spring in South Africa. Orchard upon orchard of peach treas in bloom and the promise of luscious, juicy, mouth-watering yellow cling peaches; ready for picking and eating straight off the tree. Sheer nectar! Nothing tastes so good!
Yes, I can wax lyrical about summer.
Now add in a visit from an old school friend from South Africa and a visit to Highclere Castle, better known as Downton Abbey. Memorable! How does it get better than that?
So here we go… highlights of the summer of 2016:
Great Fosters in Egham, Surrey: Built as a royal hunting lodge in 1550, it is now a lavish hotel with magnificent gardens 6.8 miles from Windsor Castle.
Stratford Upon Avon: Medieval market town and 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. A wonderful place to hang out with an old friend from school.
Highclere Castle: A surprise birthday gift weekend which included:
- the 16th annual Battle Proms picnic concert, featuring a Spitfire fly by and a stunning fireworks display
- a tour of the house, better known as Downton Abbey, the castle grounds and *Egyptian Exhibition.
- Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Coach House that afternoon
* The Castle was the seat, 100 years ago, of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who famously discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, in 1922 with his archaeological colleague, Howard Carter.
Osterley Park: Another ‘school friends’ day out at this National Trust property with history dating back to the 1570s. It was redeveloped in the Neo-classical style by architect Robert Adam, commissioned in 1761.
Legoland: A resort full of entertainment for children of all ages. Young ones and grumpy oldies. The mini buildings, people, vehicles and fairy tale characters, all built from lego blocks, are a work of art.
Bury St Edmunds: A proms concert and party in the park with the Bury St Edmunds Concert Band. A hardy bunch who did not let a little shower ( bucketing down ) stop them from doing what they do best.
Ickworth house: By Squeezyboy (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Osterley Park House: By The original uploader was Sannse at English Wikipedia, [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
Ceiling at Osterley: By Maxwell Hamilton [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Bury St Edmunds Concert Band: From their Facebook Page
The rest: Yours truly partnered with a Samsung S5 mini phone