Monday 10 August 2015

Mountstewart, Summer 2015

Hello dear readers and a Happy Monday to you :)

We are back from our holidays; the unpacking is almost done and I'be made a good start on the dreaded post-holiday laundry. Today I thought I'd share some photos from one of our days out - a visit to Mount Stewart, a National Trust property in Co. Down, N. Ireland.

Almost every time we go over to Norn Irn we spend a day at Mount Stewart. It's very local to where we stay when we're there, and we can easily spend the afternoon exploring the grounds and gardens.

It was looking a bit dark and damp when we arrived, but the drizzle soon abated and the sun almost came out :)

Just at the entrance there is a Lookout Hut, inside which is lots of information about the wildlife of the area, and the deck has a gorgeous view over the beautiful Strangford Lough. Strangford Lough is in fact part of the Irish Sea, and therefore is tidal - the tide is out in the picture below.

And on the side of the Lookout Hut there is a fabulous mosaic mural depicting the lough with geese flying overhead.

The house's recent history dates back to 1744 when it was bought by the Stewart family, later to become holders of the title Marquess of Londonderry. 

The house has undergone an extensive refurbishment, and I'd love to have a look inside, but the Little Peeps aren't that keen, so we stuck to the gardens.

And the gardens are beautiful, we only managed the "back garden" which consists of a large lake surrounded by pathways and gardens.

There are more manicured "front" gardens, but the lake and its surrounding is much more fun for tree-climbing, and exploring in general.

The gardens are FULL of hydrangeas, I could easily have filled an entire post with photos of hydrangeas alone. Such beautiful colours, mine never look this good at home!

The insects were busy doing their insect-business ....

.... and there was colour everywhere ....

Upon arrival we had picked up some of the National Trust's "50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4" books ....

.... and we saw that one of the things was to make a grass trumpet. I don't remember ever doing this myself as a youngster, but had a vague idea of how to do it, so I picked some nice fat blades of grass and gave it a go - it worked! So I showed the Little People how to do it - and they picked it up straight away. Happy sigh. My parenting was a success that day!!!

It was really funny. There we all were, screeching away on our grass trumpets, giggling like anything, and every family that came along clearly saw this as either a challenge or an invitation to join in, soon there were little grass trumpet orchestras screeching away all over the place!

Other "50 things ..." things included roly-polying down a hill .... now that's one I definitely did when I was the same age as as Little Tomboy ....

.... and everywhere we walked gave us a new view of the lake .... so pretty :)

In a small clearing is a rather bizarre statue of a white stag. There's no mention of why it's here. I suspect it's been donated by a local artist, but I could be totally wrong. Whatever, it is beautiful, if a bit surreal!

Halfway round the lake you stumble upon an intriguing little staircase leading to "Tir n'an Og" ...

Tir n'an Og is Gaelic for "Land of Youth", and was the name for the Underworld (or nicer sounding Otherworld as it was called) in Irish mythology. At Mount Stewart the Tir n'an Og staircase leads to the private Stewart family cemetery, and as it's private obviously I have no photos, but in the pathways and stairways surrounding it there is a riot of colour, the flowers really come into their own here ....

We loved the way the red fallen leaves looked so vibrant in the cobbles below ....

There was lots of nature-gathering - I love these photos of booty from our trips ...

After a full circuit of the lake we made our way back to the cafe for ice-creams outside. I love the super-size flower pots ....

... and I had a little peak in the plant "shop". The window in the fence is actually a mirror. I LOVE this, I totally thought it was a window until my own reflection surprised me!

The plant area had some fabulously quirky olde-worlde bits and pieces dotted about ....

By this time it was time to head home, but not before a quick nosy in the second-hand bookshop. And of course I couldn't leave empty-handed. You've probably heard me say it before - what I love most about second-hand book shops is the randomness of the books. This time I bought, for the princely sum of £1.00, this book by Betty MacDonald.

Onions in the Stew, memoirs of Betty's time living on an island near Seattle, will be on my next month's reading list :)

Right, the washing machine is finished, I'm off to reload it for the millionth time today!
Bye for now


  1. What a great day full of adventure and beautiful places and flowers! I adored your story of the grass trumpets and now want to go outside and teach my grandsons how to do it. My DIL said she can't do it! I loved doing that! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. This looks like such a fun place for a family outing, Jill. I love to visit places where there are things to learn and observe but the kids can still get lots of exercise and fresh air. That mosaic is really beautiful and I love the variety of flowers in the gardens. I hope your return to home is smooth and easy and that the laundry is done in a jiffy. :)

  3. What a great place to visit, the gardens look idyllic simply beautiful. The grass trumpets brought back many happy childhood memories, I can also remember doing it with my own girls. Good luck with the laundry that's the worst thing about going away.

  4. Thanks for recommending a book that sounds very interesting. I put it into my library queue.
    Thank you for visiting my blog. I was looking for an email to comment back but this will have to work. I love those hydrangeas above. Mine are all burnt and sad with the drought we are having in Oregon.

    Grass trumpets is one of those things that makes your kids think you are cool.

  5. Mount Stewart is great - you've reminded me of my birthday day out there in June. It's a pity you didn't get to see inside the house for they've made a great job of it.

  6. It looks like a brilliant place to visit & it sounds like you all had a wonderful time there. Sadly my youngest is a little too old to do fun things like this as he reliably informs me! xx

  7. Love it Jill! Looks like such a beautiful and fun place to visit! I love learning such wonderful things and makes me want to get out in the world and explore more! And OH MY WORD THOSE HYDRANGEAS! I think I could have looked at photos of those for days. So pretty!! And I always used to blow on blades of grass when I was young too and make a trumpet! So fun to remember. ;)
    Thanks for sharing. xoxo

  8. What a great place to explore! So much to see and the children looked like they had great fun.
    Caz xx

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I enjoyed reading about your holiday, and I think you are going to like that book by Betty MacDonald. She's quite funny!

  10. It looks like a lovely place to visit. I Like the '50 Things' idea - grass trumpets are such fun and very loud. Love the flower photos too. Hydrangeas are gorgeous this time of year. Your treasure haul is very pretty :)
    Cathy x

  11. Ireland is such a wonderful place for holidays! I need to go back one day and I will keep this location in mind - it looks great! Thanks for taking us through your pics!

    Take care
    Crochet Between Worlds

  12. What gorgeous photos. Those hydrangeas are so beautiful. It looks like a great time was had by all!
    Marianne x

  13. Great photos of a lovely family day out! The dragonfly and bumble bee photo's are fab. Looks like everyone had lots of fresh air and fun., x

  14. I can't do a grass trumpet, but I can hoot like an owl.
    I love the mirror on the fence. I had great plans for mirrorising a corner of my garden but time, money and the weather played a false one on me there!

  15. Thanks for sharing your beautiful post, Jill! I really enjoyed every part of it. I loved seeing the hydrangeas...I think I have had a hydrangea photo in each of my last three posts because I am so smitten with them :) Your photos are wonderful and the story of your adventure interesting, too. [I think you showed great restraint in your purchasing!] The mosaic and natural mosaic of red leaves and rocks are lovely and what fun to see a man in kilt rescue the canoe. I may have played a grass trumpet long ago, but have not tried it recently. I'm glad your efforts resulted in a merry
    chorus :) xx

  16. Check out the value of the book on Amazon! You got a bargain!! I'm enjoying your photos and your blog.

  17. Check out the value of the book on Amazon! You got a bargain!! I'm enjoying your photos and your blog.


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