Monday, 14 September 2015

Canons Ashby

Canons Ashby is an Elizabethan manor house, owned these days by the National Trust, and it is set in 18th. Century style gardens.

The estate was built by the Dryden family using the remains of the medieval priory which was dissolved by Henry VIII.  The Priory Church (established in mid 13th. century) is all that remains of the earlier priory buildings.

The house and gardens have survived largely unaltered since 1710 and are still very like how they were during the time of Sir Henry Dryden, a Victorian antiquary, who was passionate about the past. 

Although small compared to many National Trust sites you can visit the House, which features grand rooms, tapestries and Jacobean plasterwork, contrasting with the domestic detail of the servants' quarters.  There is also the opportunity to wander around the beautiful gardens and the historic parkland. You can also visit the impressive priory church, where you can see the story of the canons of Canons Ashby.  They do taster sessions in the morning and full access to the house in the afternoon, and you can even stay the night.

The gardens at Canons Ashby are not large but are an example of early 18th century garden design.  The layout and structure of the garden have changed little since.  The formal gardens comprise terraces, paths, topiary and various types of flower beds inspired by a style popular inVictorian times.  These include the Sundial terrace with a focal point of the sundial dating from 1710 and the mulberry lawn with its 100 year old mulberry tree. The garden drops away to the field below separated by a sunken wall that prevents cattle getting into the garden without interrupting the view over open countryside.

There is also a functioning croquet lawn and don’t miss the the metal target in the corner that was used for musket practice.

Below the formal gardens there are also fruit and vegetable terraces leading down to the Lion gates. Some produce grown in these gardens can be purchased from time to time in season, they have an honesty box on a bench.  There is also a small stone hut, which, amongst other things, is used for drying herbs, so worth a visit to catch the smell.

herbs drying in the shed - the small was wonderful

When we visited there were some lovely old vintage cars on a tour of the country side and they were parked up, so made the visit more interesting.  There are also some lovely chickens just wandering around the grounds.  They keep a blog here of daily pictures taken Websta Canons Ashby

Places to Eat, Drink & Shop: 
There is a tea rooms at the  site which has a reasonable snack menu for lunch. There is also a standard National Trust shop but not that large. There are plenty of places to have a picnic in the parkland surrounding the house and you will probably meet the freerange chickens.    

chickens awandering

and a few more
Visiting vintage cars

and this chap just landed at my feet, so had to take his picture
Directions: Canons Ashby is about 40 miles from Ampthill and on a good day it should take just over 50 minutes to drive there. Leave Ampthill and drive along the A507 to Junction 13 of M1 - joining the motorway heading north. Leave the M1 at Junction 15A and drive in the direction of Banbury/Oxford along the A43 and you will soon see the Brown signs for Canons Ashby. A good tip is to head for Towcester and take a different route home along the A5 (Watling Street). Towcester is a historic and bustling market town worth a short stop for a wander around and perhaps for something to eat and drink. Your drive between Canons Ashby and Towcester will take you through a number of typical picturesque Northamptonshire villages. 

Parking: There is a decent sized free car park within easy walking distance of the House and Reception Centre (200 mtrs). The walkway from the car park is flat and they run transport for people with mobility issues. And they have an overflow car park on the grass near the church.

National trust website:

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Clophill scarecrow festival

Clophill is a village just down the road from Ampthill, it is a pretty village with a long road through and some interesting narrow lanes that go up quite a steep incline, every other year it has a open gardens and it also has a scarecrow festival (not sure if this is every other year too).

We popped along for a look at them today and here are some of my personal favourites, there were loads of them and so good, great fun, and got everyone out walking.

This first one I notice that the house is even partially painted, so much detail, with the two relaxing nearby.

There were teas and cakes and sausage baps in the church.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Quail Eggs

We have been lucky enough to have a few quail eggs each week, for the last few weeks, and I know I puzzled over what you could do with them, so have had a search around to see how long they take to cook and a few ideas how to serve them.

So one blog post I found suggested cooking them for 4 minutes for hard boiled and around 2.5 minutes for soft boiled.  This was to add them to already boiling water.

There seems to a range a recipes out there, where there seems to be a lot of work with a tiny egg, adding them to a raised pie, making them into scotch eggs, but I think it best to keep the simple, this recipe on the BBC site looks simple and delicious for a lovely light lunch.

Have you bought any yet - how did you cook yours, would love to hear.

And then of course like all good things there is a lot of information out there why they are so good for you :)

Benefits of quail eggs

It starts by saying: Quail eggs are packed with vitamins and minerals. Even with their small size, their nutritional value is three to four times greater than chicken eggs. Quail eggs contain 13 percent proteins compared to 11 percent in chicken eggs. Quail eggs also contain 140 percent of vitamin B1 compared to 50 percent in chicken eggs. In addition, quail eggs provide five times as much iron and potassium. Unlike chicken eggs, quail eggs have not been know to cause allergies or diathesis. Actually they help fight allergy symptoms due to the ovomucoid protein they contain.

And another interesting fact the plural of quail is quail.....

Friday, 5 June 2015

....and some of the rest of the market

I thought I would add some pics of some of the other stalls, it was a lovely day on Thursday in Ampthill and so took the camera along, funny how there always seems to be something in the way of a great picture :)

So as well as our stall there is household goods, jewellery and decor, cheese, bread, fruit & veg, fish, plants, pet foods, Keech hospice charity stall, garden ornaments tec.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

New stalls

Ampthill Town Council provides stalls to those that need one and they have recently changed to posh blue gazebo ones - they look very smart and match in with lots of the others that are already on the market.

They are a little bit dark inside compared to what we are used to, so think we may need to get a white cloth to brighten it up - what do you think?

We are in Ampthill every Thursday morning

we do have windows in some of the panels

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

More crafts

As promised here are a few of the other products that we have been selling on the stall, some of them have that "vintagey" feel with some lovely floral fabrics.

If you see something you like come along to Ampthill Country Market Stall - we are there every Thursday morning until 12 noon.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Iron Trunk Aquaduct - Grand Union Canal

We parked in a small car park in Old Wolverton, and walked along the tow path, it has quite a few seats along the way for us and was ideal as my husband was recovering from an illness.  The Aqueduct is about 15 mins maybe less from the car park.  I think it should be a fairly easy to continue to walk into Cosgrove, maybe an hour and half round trip? but we decided to turn around and then drive onto the The Barley Mow at Cosgrove.  There is a little tunnel to get under the canal once you are there so that you can get to the pub if you have walked, we popped down after our lunch and walked a little way along from that end.

There are canal boats moored along the canal and the weather was perfect so a very pleasant few hours out and not far from Ampthill, about 35 mins drive.

This aqueduct is amazing, quite scary looking over it, and a narrow path but well worth the visit.  The path from Old Wolverton goes through to Cosgrove.

Here are a selection of paths that people have written about in the area:i footpath links and more information here canal and river trust

In Old Wolverton there is a great place to have a rummage Grandads collection and there is also a pub just nearby that seemed very popular and busy in the garden.  Here are a few pictures:

The view from the aqueduct

boats along the canal

looking along the canal

Information boards - I hope that you can read them

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Bags and other bits

We have just started selling a range of crafts that have been sewn from beautiful fabrics, so I thought I would put them on here so that you can see some of the lovely ideas our ladies have.  Some of the bags have pockets and we even have some that are suitable for tablets.  Each item is handmade and therefore potentially one off, so if you see something that appeals you need to buy it :)

We do do other items, such as carrier bag holders, aprons, peg bags, tissue pouches and decorative hearts - some with lavender.  I will share some pictures of these items in another post.  

Friday, 22 May 2015

Stowe Gardens

Your visit starts at the New Inn visitor centre outside the gardens. This is a mixture of modern and restored 18th-century buildings where visitors in the past were welcomed to Stowe. The New Inn has the Parlour Rooms, which give an indication of what life was like in a Georgian coaching inn. The inn was on the original Ratley Ridgeway which was once a public road from Towcester to Bicester. The road’s closure caused the demise of the Inn in the 19th century.

The modern buildings comprise the small visitor centre, the Nevillery Cafe and the National Trust shop. Stop by the light and airy cafĂ© for a snack and the shop for products inspired by the gardens, We had a pleasant light lunch.  Note that the main toilets are in the Visitor Centre (there is only one toilet facility in the actual gardens).

A short walk (c.500m) or a ride in a buggy from Visitor Centre through the parkland along Bell Gate Drive brings you to the entrance to the gardens. This is the original walkway that tourists 300 years ago would have used to enter the gardens. Along the route you will catch views of the main house, and  views over the parkland. A lot of work appears to be happening to upgrade Bell Gate Drive. The National Trust are also putting up boxes for bats and owls to nest in and are planting a variety of wildflowers. Once you reach the gate at the end of Bellgate Drive you will see a small bell to the left of the gate – this would have been rung by Georgian visitors to request access to the gardens.

view from the road

Stowe House - now a school

The Gardens
The scale and beauty of Stowe have attracted visitors for over 300 years. Beautiful views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples create a timeless landscape, reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden corners and secret trails, the gardens were originally intended to represent an earthly paradise, and they still cast their spell today. The sheer size and space is perfect for those who love the outdoors and enjoy walking.
Once you have entered the gardens, turn left and walk about 50m along Peggs Terrace so that you are half way between the Western and Eastern Lake Pavilions. From this spot you can see what many visitors consider to be the best view in all of the gardens – Stowe House across the lake framed by trees and landscaping.

The Palladian Bridge - classical bridge built in mid eighteenth century and wide enough to take carriages doing a circuit of the gardens

The Palladian Bridge

There are a variety of trails to help explore the gardens (make sure you pick up a free map from the visitor centre, when you arrive). There are 250 acres and 40 temples to discover.  And there is a lot of new work going on.

Some of the highlights include:-
The Cascade – set between two lakes with great views.

The Palladian Bridge - classical bridge built in mid eighteenth century and wide enough to take carriages doing a circuit of the gardens

Don't forget the less illustrious Wooden Bridge

Rotunda and Sleeping Wood – the garden in the wood was modelled on a similar garden at Versailles.

Lamport 'secret' Garden – in the process of being restored, this 19th-century rock and water garden contrasts quite significantly to the landscaping of the rest of the gardens. Don't miss the waterfall.

The list above barely scratches the surface of the things to see on a visit to Stowe Gardens – there are too many temples and classical style buildings to mention. Such is the layout of the gardens a visit can take anything from an hour to half a day or more

One thing to note is that Stowe House is now a school so although it is possible to visit the state rooms, they are not always open so check in advance of your visit.

the wooden bridge

The gardens at Stowe were created by Lord Cobham an 18th. century aristocrat and politican, whose family was reputed to be richer than the King. The gardens were designed as a statement of this wealth and soon became one of the country's first tourist attractions. Stowe was a pioneer in moving away from well-ordered flower gardens to a more natural landscape full of views, temples and lakes.

The formal gardens were swept away by 'Capability' Brown in the 1740s, the gardens retained the picturesque ideas of the temple and the monument. These buildings were framed by long vistas down which to view them. But with the softened edges of the lakes, the opening of the views and the building of even more elaborate temples, Stowe became celebrated as the most beautiful landscape gardens in Europe and its influence was felt as far away as Russia. Tourists were welcomed into the gardens as early as the 1730s and the first guidebook, written by a local book-seller, came out in 1744. Further development work was carried out in the 1770's and Stowe was definitely the place to be for the rich and powerful – during the 18th. and 19th. centuries royalty from across Europe were frequent visitors to Stowe.

How to get there: Leave Ampthill on A507 heading towards J13 of M1 and just before J13 join the A421 heading in the direction of Buckingham. Stay on A421 until you arrive at Buckingham and then simply follow the brown signs to Stowe (MK18 5EG). It is 26 miles and should take about 40 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

If you approach the Stowe estate from Buckingham you will drive up the Grand Avenue. The look of the avenue changes throughout the year – but whatever time of year you visit it’s really an impressive sight and certainly shows off just how wealthy the family were to be able to have such a long and grand drive. At the top of the drive is the majestic Corinthian Arch, which frames a superb view of Stowe House

Arrival: Follow the signs and you will find the large car park, which is about 150m from the entrance.