No, before you think we’ve gone up in the world, I am not referring to the famous racecourse; large hats were not required and the only horses we saw this afternoon were either immortalised in statues or fountains.
Ascott House is a small-ish National Trust Property near where we live. As members of the National Trust, entrance is free. I haven’t been for a few years and thought that if nothing else Ellen would get a walk in the fresh air.
Going into a National Trust property – especially when it’s quiet – is like attending an Olympic Games in manners. First of all there are signs everywhere demanding compliance ‘Do not step on the grass’ and ‘Do not touch’. There is an air of hushed reverence in each room and you feel like you have to linger and look at everything in great detail else you’re not showing the proper respect. Above all the – almost invariably elderly – stewards love to pounce on you as you walk through the door with a greeting and then proceed to answer questions you haven’t asked in a bid to prove the necessity of their existence and it can be hard to get away. Not if you have Autism though!
‘Have you been to Ascott before?’ The first guide begins as Ellen walks around the highly polished dining table trailing her finger along the edge. ‘I’m afraid you can’t touch anything’ she says pointedly but before she can launch into her standard introduction Ellen walks past her into the next room. ‘This is the whistle-stop tour’ I explain over my shoulder and walk after Ellen. And so it is. ‘Welcome to the Library’ and ‘This is the Chinese Room’ are all left in our wake as we plough through the entire house in under 10 minutes. ‘That really was the whistle stop tour’ the first guide remarks as we double back to leave the way we came in. ‘Yes, is there a prize?’ I ask.
The gardens were spectacular – with many features to see. Ellen’s favourite was the lily pond but she also enjoyed looking at the various Victorian fountains – in particular the Bravura Venus fountain, which not only had horses with fish tails but Venus was standing on a large turtle! The cottage garden borders were also filled with purple flowers (Ellen’s favourite colour) and there were many enormous and strange looking trees. In true RDI style I limited myself to comments only as we walked round – or rather as I was pulled round by Ellen who was rather keen to get back to the car and didn’t really want to pause to examine the flowers or the trees in too much detail.
In fact, I think Ellen’s favourite part of the trip was stopping at the village shop on the way home to buy sweets and a drink – in this she is displaying typical teenager traits. Luckily she insisted that I buy something for myself as well, so I had my first ice-cream of the year 🙂
I took a few shots of Ellen around the gardens and at the time I was really pleased with this one; an arty shot of Ellen admiring the fish-tailed horses. Only when I came to post it did I realise it looks like the stream of water is coming from Venus – oh well I’d better stick to the day job then.