Saturday, February 09, 2008

Larkrise to Candleford - 9 February 2008

Tusmore House
CottisfordThe BBC is famed for its fabulous period costume dramas and a current production, Larkrise to Candleford, is no exception. The series is based on a book by Flora Thompson (1876-1947) who was inspired by the experiences and times of her childhood. Flora was born in Juniper Hill and went to church in Cottisford so they were, respectively, the last and first towns on our walk this morning.

Tusmore estate buildingsBetween these two small and humble hamlets we passed through Tusmore Park and past Tusmore House, a superb Palladian mansion that looked like it had been built yesterday. It is actually only about 5 years old and gives a fabulous insight into what the grand houses of England would have looked like when they were first built.

First snowdrops of the yearWe are used to weathered and crumbling masonry; lichens and mosses and so forth giving the old country houses a patina of age and where repairs can look so obvious as they are crisp and new and clean.

Shotover ParkTusmore House is basically one colour, ashlar stone, and a gleaming beacon on the landscape. Being so new it does not blend in with the landscape and yet is, curiously, absolutely English.

Shotover Park follyAfter the walk we called in at Shotover Park near Wheatley. Although this too is privately owned, the follies in the grounds are visible from public footpaths so we made our own circular walk through the estate to see what there was to see.

Pendon Museum modelThen, from the grand to the miniature, we stopped at Pendon Museum where many, many hours have been spent by amazing modellers, painstakingly recreating the nearby Vale of the White Horse in a 1:76 scale model. (Making a person 1” high.) Some may see it as an overgrown train-set but the train is almost incidental to the landscape. Pendon Museum modelThe detail in the model houses, barns, pubs and privies is simply stunning. Even the interiors, that are hard to see, are modelled in exquisite detail. Trees, gardens, flowerbeds, hedgerows and fields of barley, wheat and hay are all realistically reproduced.

The Indie Travel Podcast might give me Lonely Planet books for writing this!

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