Stoneywell – Leicestershires first National Trust property

It’s hard to believe a year has gone since I first stepped into the magical world of National Trust Stoneywell.

Stoneywell is the first domestic property within Leicestershire to be cared for by the National Trust, who also look after nearby Ulverscroft Nature Reserve (managed by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust) & Staunton Harold Church

Stoneywell was designed by Ernest Gimson in 1899 for his brother Sydney and built by Detmar Blow, initially as a Summer residence for the family and then in later years a full time family home. The cottage built into a rocky outcrop with beautiful garden has remained in the Gimson family until 2012 when it came into the care of the National Trust who I know will love it and care for it just as the Gimson’s did.

Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Doorway slate - April 8 2014 web Susan Guy - Stoneywell Garden Cottage April 8 2014 (4) webIt has been an absolute delight to see the garden and cottage change over the seasons of the past year before it opens to the public fully in February 2015, as volunteer photographer I have been privileged to capture alot of it on camera.
Stoneywell seasons collage web size

Working here is certainly not a chore although was a little challenging when visiting in the snow

Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Snow Cottage Feb 11 2014 (2) webWatching the Stables change from a stable outbuilding & tool store into an office, small visitor area with facilities and beautiful rustic tearoom has been brilliant.
Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Stables collage Aug 18 (2 (3 Sept 26 (1 Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Stables - April 8 2014 (2) web Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Stables Tearoom - Oct 3 2014 (1 w Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Stables Tearoom - Oct 3 2014 (11 w

The cottage is being presented as it was in the 1950’s as an Arts and Crafts home when Donald Gimson lived there with his wife Anne, son Roger and daughter Sally – the last Gimson owners. Seeing the cottage transform from a modern day home back into a 1950’s home has been quiet emotional, reminding me in many ways of my Grandparents’ home.

– Stoneywell pantry with a photo of my Grandparents’ pantry below it.

Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Pantry - 25 July 2014 (1 web Susan Guy - Grandmas Pantry wThere’s a multitude of handcrafted Arts and Craft furniture designed by Gimson and his good friends the Barnsley brothers on the various levels throughout the cottage. Volunteers help bring the cottage to life telling stories and anecdotes of the family

Stoneywell will be opening its doors fully to the public in February next year, but before it does the National Trust has invited people local to the area to come try out the visitor experience and have a sneak peak up until November 30th when it closes for Winter.
Susan Guy_Stoneywell_Dining Room_Sept 26 2014 (7 Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Living Room - Oct 30 2014 (1 w Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Cottage Garden - Oct 27 2014 (1 wSusan Guy - Stoneywell - Autumn collage Oct 27 (2 22 25 Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Cottage Garden - Oct 17 2014 (10 w

A visit to Stoneywell wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory tea & cake.

Susan Guy - Stoneywell - Stables Tearoom Cake - Oct 27 2014 (5 w
Due to the size of Stoneywell all visitors whether National Trust members or not must be booked in prior to their visit.
– Booking can either be done online via National Trust Stoneywell or by calling 01530 248048.

© National Trust/Susan Guy

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Autumn is arriving….slowly

Life was feeling busy & a break from the norm was required so a trip somewhere with my camera was needed,  having family membership to the National Trust is great as that somewhere is usually a National Trust property. Nature & the great outdoors is a perfect way to escape, plus Autumn is a wonderful season and one I really look forward to

Leaves are starting to change their hue from green, to yellow and red before dropping to the ground, there they lay waiting curled up anticipating the arrival of your footsteps to crunch through them and whisk you back to childhood memories.
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey -Autumn Leaves - Sept 30 2014 blogStags are starting to think about the rutting season, Squirrels are busy collecting Sweet Chestnuts, Acorns, Conkers and other nuts for their Winter stores, Robins are busy singing making me feel very Autumnal & the nights are drawing in. The change of season is definitely starting to appear all around.
Susan Guy - Calke - Deer 8305 8318SGP_8328 Susan Guy_Deer at Calke blog SGP_8298 Susan Guy_Deer at CalkeI hope you enjoy these photos, they were all shot on a gorgeous bright sunny day at National Trust Calke Abbey, a property I am very fond of and love to be a volunteer photographer at. This visit was going to be just a walk around the ponds, see the Deer and return home, however the weather was so fabulous that I spent all day wandering and venturing around the park and magnicicent gardens.
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Autumn Chestnut - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Autumn Chestnut Trees - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Autumn Chestnut - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Deer Park - Sept 30 2014 blogI came over all Alice in Wonderlandy at the discovery of a tunnel with pathway through Hawthorn bushes, I think the male Pheasant wandering past thought he was the white rabbit!?
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Pond - Walk - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Pheasant - Sept 30 2014 blogOne of my favourite trees on the estate is this Lime Tree, it has an amazing arched branch that comes from the parent tree which  has grown touched the ground and rooted, the arch will eventfully die back and a new separate tree is born…magical and amazing nature
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Lime Tree - Sept 30 2014 blog Even the Sheep were enjoying the warm sunshine on their thick woolly fleeces
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Sheep - Sept 30 2014 blogBerries, Nuts & Fungi – what signs of Autumn have you spotted?
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Sweet Chestnut - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Conkers - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Hawthorn- Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Fungi - Sept 30 2014 blog (1 Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Fungi - Sept 30 2014 blog (2Sunlight filters through the Chestnut Trees illuminating the leaves that have fallen, giving off a really tranquil feeling, I sat for quick sometime just breathing in the atmosphere and watching Squirrels collecting and storing nuts. They were far to busy to stop for a photograph which was a shame as some of the Sweet Chestnut shells seemed to be out of proportion for the Squirrels to easily carry, almost making them topple over.
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Autumn Chestnut - Sept 30 2014 blog (4In the walled garden a Comma Butterfly seems to enjoy soaking up the sun & drinking nectar from Rudbeckia flowers
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Rudbeckia Flower - Sept 30 2014 blogDown by the pond the Bullrushes on the waters edge looked rich, chocolaty, velvety and soft
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Pond - Bullrushes - Sept 30 2014 blogThe pond reflections were stunning, I’m very much looking forward to returning to get these shots when the leaves are not quite so green!
Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Pond - Sept 30 2014 blog Susan Guy - Calke Abbey - Pond - Reflection - Sept 30 2014 blog

Old John at Bradgate Park

Old John is a hilltop folly built in 1784 by the 5th Earl of Stamford, at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire.
Normally the tower is closed to the public, but a couple of days a year the park trust open it for a small fee (booking required) The tour I went on included a guided walk around the park with stop off at the ‘Deer Barn tea Rooms’ in addition to viewing the inside the tower.SGP_9865 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkSGP_9910 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park B&WAccording to legend  the landmark building was named after an estate worker, an aged man named John who in 1786  died in a tragic accident during the 21st birthday celebrations for the future 8th Earl of Stamford, George Harry Grey. A huge bonfire was lit in the park & in the centre was a large tree or pole, the pole burnt through at the bottom and suddenly fell amongst the guests striking the old man and killing him. In 1792  the archway was added, creating a handle like arch making the folly resemble a beer tankard, perhaps deliberately to show the old mans liking for ale. However maps around 1745 show the hill being called Old John, 40 years earlier than the accident.
SGP_9907 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9867 SGP_9904 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkLord Stamford used the folly to watch horses gallop around the racecourse at the base of the hill & to enjoy the magnificent views that can be seen all around from this hill top vantage point.
It was quite hazy on our visit so wasn’t as easy to see into the distance but I’m sure you will agree what a view over the Leicestershire countryside.
SGP_9891 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9882 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkSGP_9874 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9888 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkAs you might expect the interior is circular, there’s a small fireplace which must have made the tower extremely snug in cold months.
SGP_9899 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkMeasuring 10 metres from floor to the top of the castellations, 19 metre circumference and 6 metre diameter it’s a compact but beautiful tower and defiantly worth a visit the next time it’s open
SGP_9921 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkEven if the tower isn’t open the parkland has some magnificent old trees, lovely walks & the ruin of Bradgate House.
SGP_9924 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park B&W SGP_9925 SGP_9928 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9919 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9943 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9947 Susan Guy_Bradgate Park SGP_9951 Susan Guy_Bradgate ParkThese photos were shot on a previous visit, the beautiful brick Bradgate House a magnificent Tudor house built by Thomas Grey, 1st Marquis of Dorset in 1499 and finished by his son in 1520, River Lin that runs through the park and the Red and Fallow Deer that roam the parkland.
Susan Guy_Bradgate Park Autum Montage

Something scrummy at Belgrave Hall

I was lucky to win a competition held on Twitter by Leicester Museum to win free entry & a goody bag to the food fair held at Belgrave Hall in Leicester last weekend. For late September the morning was gorgeously sunny so made a slight detour via the local car book before the fair opened at 11am.
Held in the fabulous grounds of 18th century Belgrave Hall, built by Edmund Cradock between 1709-1713, who sadly soon after it’s completion. Between 1767-1844 the Vann family ran a hosiery business from the hall employing local framework knitters. In 1845 the hall was bought by John Ellis and in 1936 local authority purchased the hall and it was opened to the public as a museum.
SGP_0036 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food FairThe gardens are open to the public for special events, Autumn is just starting to appear and turning the leaves to gorgeous reds & oranges but first back to the food fair
Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair GardenA fantastic variety of stalls selling all manor of delicous foods were on offer, Chillies made into Chutneys and jams, Chilly plants & fresh Chillies that could be bought individually, fresh vegetables, apples, Artisan bread, Olives, Great British Bake Off favourite Baklava, cakes & fudges, & fruity chutney which could all be washed down with locally brewed Tunnel Brewery beer and a choice of Pulled Pork Rolls, Burgers & Sausages.
SGP_9966 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9967 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9956 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9964 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9969 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9970 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9977 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food FairWe couldn’t decide what to eat for lunch so shared a hand formed Picks farm Burger & The Smokehouse Pulled Pork Brioche roll with my daughter #BestOfBothWorlds! Brought some beer home to enjoy too SGP_9958 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_0034 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food FairThe borders in the garden are filled with fabulous bright yellow Daisy like flowers and shocking pink Asters.  A real riot of vibrant colour.
SGP_0010 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair Garden SGP_0012 Susan Guy_Belgrabe Hall Food Fair Garden SGP_0019 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair Garden SGP_0021 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair GardenNot only flowers but stunning wrought iron gates dotted around the garden leading to hidden alcoves and magical other worlds that you can loose yourself in.
Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair Garden GateLots of people attended and I hope they all  enjoyed it as much as we did.
SGP_0033 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9993 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9982 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food FairOh and here’s the amazing goody bag, well it’s actually goody boxes! A scummy selection of vegetables and salads plus a rustic basket with fabulous variety of Jams, Pickles, Olive Oil, Balsamic oil, nutty Florentine biscuit & cake.

SGP_0041 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair SGP_9984 Susan Guy_Belgrave Hall Food Fair

Fantastic day out and I look forward to the next food fair held in these stunning gardens