This extract from my diary features more outings in England's green and pleasant land.
I spend a weekend in Winchester and visit Uppark House and Gardens, Emsworth and enjoy a walk around Winchester. It is great to have the freedom to go where I want once again and not being obliged to wear a face covering. However, we are being warned cases of COVID-19 are on the increase again and a new spike could be coming as new variants of the coronavirus have been detected.
Friday 10 June 2022
I am woken very early this morning by the bin men arriving and reversing down our drive. This does not bother me as I am just grateful they are emptying a bins after a lean period towards the end of lockdown when I was chasing them down the street and begging them to empty our overflowing bins. It is a lovely morning and I am looking forward to joining some friends for coffee at Compton Acres. I also take the opportunity to visit the Japanese Garden – my favourite of the five gardens. I love the mix of statuary, colourful plants and water features.
This afternoon I set off for Winchester and a weekend with a friend who lives there. I am looking forward to catching up, not to mention a few bottles of Prosecco and some excellent food as she is a great cook. Winchester is a beautiful city but this weekend we are planning to explore further.
Saturday 11 June 2022
A lovely sunny day and ideal for a visit to Uppark House and Gardens in South Harting near Chichester in West Sussex. It is a lovely old house built in the seventeenth century but suffered a fire in 1989. It has now been totally restored and looks the same as it did before the fire as most of the contents were saved. Before exploring the house and grounds we have a coffee and scones with jam and cream in the Game Café. We sit outside on the lawn enjoying a vibrant vista of rolling West Sussex countryside around us.
Using the facilities is a good start to our exploration of the house as they are situated in the tunnel that connected the kitchens to the house. This was done to minimise the risk of fire by separating the cooking of food from the house itself. One of these tunnels is now inhabited by a colony of bats.
Inside the house knowledgeable and friendly room guides tell us about the furnishings and uses of each room. There are also information boards around the interior. Only ground floor is open to the public as the first floor is a private residence. Each room looks as though it is lived in which makes this tour even more interesting. Although pine cones on the seats of chairs and sofas did deter us from any temptation to sit down.
We go down in the basement to visit the kitchens and to admire the two dolls' houses on display. Acquired by the family many years ago both houses have been restored to their former glory.
Outside once more we decide to follow the Meadow Walk which took us around a large meadow field of grass and delicate wild flowers. The views of the back of Uppark House across a green sea speckled with brilliant colours are spectacular. On the other side of the path is the rest of this huge estate which was retained by the family when the house and gardens were donated to the National Trust in 1954. After completing the circular walk we relax in the gardens for a while before planning are next move. An ice-cream by the sea is the conclusion we come to.
After parking the car in seaside town of Emsworth we start walking towards the sea front. We stop at the first ice cream sign we see and are tempted inside JJs & Johnnys Tap Room by Johnny himself. A waiter shows us to a table in the back garden. We each order an ice cream and a Prosecco in this bizarre bar. Next we stroll around the harbour and along the sea front of Emsworth, a very pretty little town. The perfect end to a super day.
Sunday 12 June 2022
This morning we walk to the Pump House in Winchester. The Pump House was built in 1878 and restored as a workplace in 2002. It is private co-working and wellbeing space for creative thinkers and those who work from home in Winchester. But there are days when the garden café is open to non-members which is generally at the weekend. We sit in the garden where hot drinks and tempting home-made cakes are served from a food van. I succumb to a scrumptious, crispy almond croissant.
We walk through Winchester on our way back to my friend’s house. After strolling along the bank of the Itchen Navigation Canal we walk through the town centre. The main street is lined with the stalls of the Sunday market and patrons of small cafés spill out onto the street. It is a happy and relaxed atmosphere which we drink in as we walk. But the news this evening is not good. The experts are anticipating another outbreak of COVID-19 as cases are increasing since restrictions were lifted hospitals, surgeries and pharmacies. It does cast a cloud over a lovely weekend – will this delicious freedom that has been redeemed be snatched away again? New variants of the coronavirus have been detected but we were warned this would happen.
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.