Along with what appeared to be half of Warwickshire (it was very busy) we went to Charlecote Park just outside of Stratford upon Avon today. Having finally visited it I'm quite surprised it's taken us so long. Mum and I used to visit lots of country houses, we even had National Trust membership (very handy when you're studying history of art) and I thought we'd probably managed to go everywhere within the general area. She would probably have liked Charlecote even more than some of the more obscure RSC productions I made her go to (I got us tickets as a mothers day present - how nice of me to to arrange something I would enjoy so much...). Anyway better late than never.
Charlecote is predictably lovely - a mellow tudor building (with later additions) in the middle of a deer park. It has some lovely rooms full of nice things, a charming cafe in the old orangery, Victorian kitchens which are pure Downton Abbey, and an impressive collection of carriages. It is, in short, everything you could expect from a National Trust property. What felt like half of Warwickshire was right to take advantage of a day that could just still be described as summer, despite turning trees, to visit and enjoy the outside bits so much.
Much as I love a bit of tudor architecture though, and I really do, the farm shop and garden centre turned out to be the best bit. I didn't spend very long looking at plants, D doesn't entirely approve (to be fair it's his garden I've colonised) but the farm shop was a different matter. Not huge but a brilliant selection of stuff. Lots of varieties of English apples, damsons - always good to find for sale, and just generally lots of things that were exciting.
I couldn't resist a splendidly colourful bunch if dahlias, an almost as colourful bunch of carrots, golden and candy beetroots, and a sensible quantity of quinces. The quinces could possibly have been riper but it's never a sure thing that I'll find any for sale so I couldn't pass them up. I doubt the dahlias will last long either but the colours were just so glorious that resistance would have been mean spirited. The beetroots and carrots are the prize though. These are the kind of beauties I see in pictures, in books, in recipes, but never anywhere I can buy. Not until now anyway. I've not been very inspired to cook recently but finding these has really perked me up. Since getting home I've been searching through recipes for something good - they're going to be a treat.