Another scorcher yesterday – I have spent everyday this week and last with so much suncream plastered onto my skin in an attempt not to burn.
We decided to ditch the gardening and go and visit someone elses! We went up the road to my favourite gardens on the Stair Estates at Castle Kennedy. DH’s granddad used to be the head gardener here for the late Lord Stair from the late 20’s to early 60’s and DH lived here for a while with his mum, dad, granny and granddad in the head gardeners house.
The old castle is a ruin but quite atmospheric and stands in the most beautifully kept gardens between the White and Black Lochs. We visit often when in Scotland and have seen many changes over the years but overall it is much the same now as it was years ago. It is such a favourite place that my elder daughter held her wedding reception here in 2016.
We put up a marquee beside the old castle (which was built before the 14th century) and of course the equally old tea room.
It looked really pretty at night with the rows of candles in jam jars and fairy lights placed along the open window ledges and in the bushes.
It was a really magical place to be even though that marquee took some decorating – looking back I am not sure how we managed to do it all.
The quaint tea room in particular holds fond memories for us. We have photos of it through the many years we have visited. It is no more than a rickety old pavilion style hut similar to the ones found on a cricket pitch. At one time painted dark green but more recently was given a fresh coat of National Trust cream.
The floor inside tended to slope a bit more with each passing year and if you looked closely the legs on the tables had been expertly adjusted to keep the top level mainly by fitting different sized wooden blocks to the underside of the legs or even sawing bits off. I always enjoyed my afternoon teas there on a slant.
So this dear little ‘tea hut’ had to be part of the wedding – we thought of it as an old friend and so was guest of honour. We decorated the outside with bunting and our guests had afternoon tea served on the picnic tables outside.
We heard from various staff that the new Lord Stair keeps threatening to pull it down and build a Visitor Centre – if he does I will cry. I am always nervous on our first visit of the year and wonder if it has had the chop so what a surprise we had today when we found it has had a makeover during the winter months and very subtly done too. They have managed to keep all of its old charm whilst giving it a new lease of life and a disability ramp. And more importantly a reprieve. Notice too it has now got a smart new litter bin!
Inside the floor has been levelled and the old Lino replaced with new wooden flooring. The side entrance has been blocked up and the painted benches round the walls removed – but all in all I approve even if I miss the wobbliness.
Castle Kennedy is famous for its rhododendrons, the round Water Lily pond (which covers an area of 2 acres), the Monkey Puzzle Avenue and the beautiful walled garden.
The Stairs now live in the ‘new’ castle built in the mid 19th century at the lower end of the gardens you can walk as far as their own private lawns surrounding the castle and get a good view of this magnificent stately home complete with fairytale turrets. With its modern Victorian plumbing it must have been quite something in its day.
For all the grandeur of the place one of my favourite ‘hidden from view’ places is this abandoned old potting shed – it is round the back of what was the old greenhouse just inside the rusty iron gate marked private. I must have a photo from 2009 which looks exactly the same – maybe just a bit more on the lean now!
The walled garden is spectacular in summer and it is here that we go to do some sketching – I tend to draw and paint the flowers – DH will often attempt the castle – but then an architect cannot go wrong with a building to draw.
We had the initial drinks reception in the walled garden – a place where we have many pictures of the girls in earlier years with the same backdrop!
This is a glimpse of me from a previous year sat sketching on my little stool like the garden gnome!
mmm…a bit rusty…certainly need more practice but I enjoyed myself and it was pleasant to be immersed in something for a while that is non too strenuous.
And for one time only I will leave you with a picture of me (with my brother and sister at my daughter’s wedding) – I’m on the right in my posh frock and bonnet!
Back soon x