Tuesday 16 June part 2

Today is the opening of the coarse fishing season, and so we went to one of Rod’s favourite places, Ashburnham Place. You can read about the background to this amazing place on their website, but I will give a thumbnail sketch.

https://www.ashburnham.org.uk/

It was a stately home, set in extensive grounds designed by Capability Brown, and is now a Christian Foundation running courses and retreats. It has accommodation, a campsite, and a cafe, which is normally open to the public and extremely popular. Everything currently closed, except to anglers, who have access to 3 stunning lakes.

I am very fortunate to be allowed access, as angler spouse, photographer, admiring audience and general factotum. However, I am at liberty to ramble around the beautiful grounds and lakes, and I managed 4 miles and saw only a little of the estate.

The gardens are being maintained, and at present look lovely, with the last of the rhododendrons, and a mass of roses.

On my ramble I bumped into the estate manager, who said they hope to re-open the campsite and the cafe on 4 July. They usually have a lot of volunteers from overseas working there, but many of their employees have been made redundant.

This is the view across one of the lakes, towards the church, also closed. There is a wonderful walled kitchen garden and normally produce is for sale: nothing doing. There are sheep and chickens, it is an ideal place for a retreat. It was almost spooky to have no-one there. I have now visited quite often, and I usually reward myself with tea and a scone in the cafe, and sometimes we have been entertained by course attendees walking round the grounds singing gospel songs.

Spot the angler. The weather was lovely, and when I was not rambling or picnicking, I lay on the grass reading. The whole atmosphere is extremely relaxing: it would be so heartbreaking if it went bankrupt, which might appear to be the fate of these sort of places.

But now for some action……………………..

A wonderful tench, 3 lbs 3 ozs. They are good-looking fish, I have to say, and becoming a little unusual. I should say of course that this one was immediately returned to the water.

So all in all, a grand day out, as they say. And finally……………………a challenge for you botanists out there. There are some magnificent trees on the estate, and just behind where we were sitting, was this one, in bloom. What is it?

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