Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Bluebell Woods

Last Wednesday when I was working at Ashdown we had a grand total of six visitors who braved the rainy weather to come and visit! Yesterday, with temperatures in the seventies and glorious blue skies, we had a lot more people on the guided tour. All agreed that the highlight of the experience was the fabulous views from the roof of the house.

This is the time of year when the woods are bursting into leaf and there are carpets of bluebells under the trees. The deer come out to graze on the avenue in the early morning mist then settle to doze under the trees as the day becomes hotter. A pair of sparrowhawks are nesting in a tree close to the house and the Balleroy ponies at the nearby stud have had two adorable foals!

Ashdown House is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with guided tours at 2.15, 3.15 and 4.15pm. The woods are open every day except Friday. Come and visit us - we look forward to welcoming you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Snow in April!

Ashdown House opened for the season on 2nd April and on Saturday 5th I had the pleasure of showing about 30 visitors around the house. Whilst the first tour was looking at the views from the roof the herd of fallow deer came out from beneath the trees to graze on the North Avenue. There was one white hart in the herd. In Arthurian legend the white hart is a mystical beast pursued by the knights of the round table. It was also the heraldic symbol of King Richard II of England. I have only ever seen one white hart before, in the New Forest. This one was a young deer and scampered around with the rest of the herd before they settled to graze on the avenue in full view of the delighted visitors.

This morning we awoke to a blanket of snow and headed to Ashdown woods for our morning walk. The trees looked absolutely beautiful with snow on all the bare boughs whilst the primroses and early bluebells were hidden. As we walked along the Avenue we saw a barn owl coasting along the rides hunting. It followed us, dipping between the snow laden trees and adding another element to the magical atmosphere of the place. This was the heaviest snowfall of the "winter" at Ashdown this year and looked absolutely enchanting.