The morning after seeing Durham friends for drinks in London on Wednesday evening, Helen, Jade and I went on a road trip to Somerset.
It was such a beautifully sunny day, which made the drive from Jade’s house in Surrey to mine in Somerset a lot more pleasurable. We arrived at my house around midday and made the most of the lovely weather by having a leisurely lunch in the garden. Feeling refreshed, we drove to Longleat to wander around the house and gardens.
I hadn’t been to Longleat since I was a child, despite having moved to the West Country, and even then we only visited the safari park and not the house and gardens. A stunning example of Elizabethan architecture set in 900 acres of parkland, I didn’t realise just how impressive Longleat house is until seeing it close-up. Although on a smaller scale than you’d expect, the formal gardens are equally as breathtaking. Saying that, the Orangery, set amongst a fragrant rose garden, is bigger than the average family home!
After walking through the walled gardens we found ourselves in the petting zoo area. The contrast between the formal English country gardens and the theme park section is quite surreal but I wasn’t complaining as we got to see the incredibly cute meerkats. They’re much smaller than I thought they were and very fast moving, hence I only managed to capture the back of one! They also had other animals including otters, porcupines, an ant-eater and a cat-bear which we’d never seen or even heard of before.
After too much furry cuteness we sought out some ice creams and sat on the lawns outside the house in the sunshine. On the way back home we stopped off at Heaven’s Gate, an amazing view-point overlooking the Longleat estate with a stone circle, which is a great place to sit and reflect – or stand in and pose for photos! Once back at mine we caught up on the Bake Off before heading to the village pub. After sharing a bottle of white wine in the pub garden and soaking up the last of the evening sunshine, we went inside for some well-deserved comfort food.
I’d definitely recommend visiting Longleat House and Gardens, especially on a sunny day as the gardens are truly beautiful and surprisingly peaceful, despite being so close to the busy animal theme park. The House itself is really interesting to look around and learn about the estate’s past as well as it’s present.
It was such a lovely mini-break and really nice to catch up with some good friends. One of the advantages of living in such wonderful, tranquil countryside is being able to share it with friends and help them escape the London bubble, if just for a day or two.