Today we piled our walkie talkies, safety knives and thermos into Dennis the campervan and pootled on over to Batsford Arboretum. Batsford is beautiful in the autumn sunshine but today, with a low mist hanging over the woodland and the ground slightly damp underfoot, it was magical, and best of all, almost deserted.
Dating back to the late nineteenth century, the arboretum is heavily influenced by the Chinese and Japanese landscapes its creator travelled through as an attaché in the 1860s. Delicate watercourses trickle their way through the hillside and a large bamboo collection and beautiful sculptures are dotted about and set into the scenery. There’s even a hermit’s cave.
During the first world war, the Mitford sisters all lived at the big house at Batsford (it was owned by their father) and the early part of Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate is based on her time there.
No literary inspiration from us though, just a long, relaxed wander through the beautiful misty arboretum, with happy boys running on ahead with their walkie talkies and a reviving cup of coffee and a slab of cake at the end. I really had to pinch myself as we left to make sure I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing.
If all our winter days out are like this, who needs ‘perfect’ weather eh?