Blooming lovely - a day out to Sissinghurst
Raoul had some more shared parental leave to take recently so he took over childcare for six weeks to enable me to get my business up and running again. We all felt very lucky that he was able to take such a generous amount of leave (he also took 6 weeks just after Nye was born) as it gave him the opportunity to look after Nye full time, something which very few daddies get to do, sadly. They were six very special weeks, with all three of us bumping along at home together, eating almost all our meals together and spending more time in our little home than I think we ever have before! Not that it was sunshine and roses all the time, but it was still lovely to have a few weeks together as a family. I wish that more dads got to take time off like that. Watching Raoul and Nye's bond grow deeper and stronger over that period made my heart swell! Plus Raoul realised very quickly just how all consuming and frankly exhausting it is looking after a tiny person all day which I think is very important!
Anyway, although I spent most days getting down to work, we did go on a couple of day trips when the weather was too glorious to miss. One of those trips was to beautiful Sissinghurst Castle and Garden, former home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson in Kent. If you haven't been, I would urge you to do so. The gardens are the main draw and they are truly very special - wild and rambling in places, neat and precise in others. There are shady corners to explore, sumptuous overhanging magnolias and camelias to take endless pictures of, and swathes of wood anemones, all lush and green and cool, lurking beneath the trees and against crumbly brick walls.
Part of the garden is in formal English style with cut lawns, pots bursting with heavy headed tulips and climbing quince and roses tumbling over weathered brick walls. The other part is rolling wild semi-meadow (that was the part I liked best), where seas of pale daffodils bobbed softly in the breeze under fruit trees about to burst into blossom and tiny delicate frittillaries nestled shyly in the grass.
The garden is tended so carefully and with such love to reflect as far as possible how it would have been back when Vita and Harold lived there. It is a pleasure to visit, with lots of thought given to how people will experience it. There are lots of little details that I loved - a display of what was currently in season in the garden that week and chairs and benches placed perfectly to enjoy little corners of the garden, or a chink of afternoon sunshine. The buildings on the estate blend in effortlessly, patterned with moving shadows and decorated with boxes of lively narcissi and primulas.
I particularly loved the cool white garden (above) where the planting style was rambling and free, with lots of lush ferns huddled against the walls, glowing green in the sunlight and overhanging branches of delicate white sweet smelling blossom swayed tenderly, bathing everything in cool shadow.
Nye has suddenly become fascinated by flowers, leaves and grass and absolutely loves being outside, so it was a joy to watch him explore and feel everything in his tiny chubby little hands, smiling with glee at every new thing. Buggies aren't allowed in the garden so we used our sling, but there are areas where he could crawl to his hearts delight and we could have a sit down! There is a designated area for picnics near the entrance to the gardens, as well as a shop selling an excellent range of plants, and a cafe. There is also a circular walk around the estate which takes you out beyond the house along tranquil bridleways and down to the lake, where you could also enjoy a quiet picnic on a warm day.