Last week was half term and we spent the week in a beautiful location at Lake Garda, in northern Italy. The sun was shining and every morning when I looked out across the lake I would imagine what it would be like to wake up to that stunning view everyday. I couldn’t help comparing it to dreary old England.
You see, last year we had a mini heat wave for about two weeks in May and that was pretty much it for our summer. It was supposedly the fault of the Gulf Stream being lower than it usually is, causing a weather front. But really all that meant to most of us was a rubbish summer with a heck of a lot of rain.
It feels as though we have had autumnal and wintry weather for a whole year now and I was beginning to feel really down about it. I don’t normally suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder but I think that maybe I have had a touch of it recently. I’m sure we all have because months and months of rain and cold weather is enough to make anyone depressed. So it was amazing to go away on holiday last week and finally feel the warmth of the sun seeping through to my bones. I swear I feel 100% better for experiencing that little bit of sunshine.
It’s even made me realise that it isn’t actually that depressingly awful where I live after all. The sun has conituned to shine since we came home and everywhere looks better when the sun is shining right? It’s not just that though, my improved state of mind after our holiday made me realise that on my own doorstep is the most beautiful, stunning location you can imagine. It’s called Knole House, which is an English country house that is surrounded by a 1000 acre deer park. Our little town borders this park, so all we have to do to get there is walk up to the centre of town and through one of the many access gates. Strangely, as huge an area as it is, you can’t see it from the road, so if you were just driving through the town you wouldn’t even realise it was there. For those of us who live here though, it is our very own hidden gem.
Parts of Knole House are inhabited by the Sackvilles, but it is also a National Trust attraction, so it is open to visitors too. It is said to be a calendar house, with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards. The house and grounds have been used for film sets such as the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane ‘Pop video’ in 1967 and more recently ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ (2008), ‘Pirates of the Caribbean On Stronger Tides’ (2011) and ‘Sherlock Holmes 2’ (2011).
In 1987 ‘the great storm’ devastated Knole Park and it lost many of it’s oldest trees. But it has recovered well and although the fallen down trunks that remain are a reminder of what happened all those years ago, they now make for great climbing places for the children who visit.
For me Knole Park is a great place to go for a long walk (or run if you’re feeling ambitious) and at weekends to take the kids for a picnic and admire the deer who roam freely around and are used to being in close proximity to people (although they can be a little too friendly for my liking!).
Sometimes the routine of daily life can get you down and it is easy to forget what beauty surrounds you. It took a trip to another beautiful country for me to wake up from my winter hibernation and appreciate this. I’m hoping, now, that the summer has finally arrived in England so that we can make the most of this wonderful outdoor space that we are lucky to have so close by.