Tuesday, 27 July 2010

tick tock, tick tock....

sundial in Carnfunnock
 The days and weeks are starting to fly past in a bit of a blur - I can't believe that it's over a week since my last post.  Sometimes everything that is going to take up your time happens at once, so that things that have to be completed for work have the same deadline, or people that you want to see for different reasons are only available on the same day - last week was a little like that!

At least the weekend was very relaxing, and we were able to get away for a couple of days to Co. Down, where we visited Castle Ward near Strangford.

This was our first visit and  it was a day that we both really enjoyed.  The grounds are large and lovingly looked after and the house is both beautiful and extraordinary.  Unfortunately photographs aren't allowed inside the house, otherwise I would have had enough pictures for the next year, but hopefully these contrasting images of the outside will give some idea of the quirkiness involved in its conception and design.

The couple that built the house in the 1700's couldn't agree on the style.  The lady of the house (who brought a large fortune to the marriage) was very inspired by Strawberry Hill, the gothick mansion belonging to Horace Walpole and she wanted to build the house in this style.

Her husband was opposed to this idea and wanted to build it in the classical style.  So they compromised.  Here is the front facade, facing the entrance and the grounds, plain, classical and grand.

Here is the rear facade, facing out over Strangford Lough.

Gothic windows with a bit of moorish influence.  Inside the rooms are mostly classical except for milady's sitting room, which has a ceiling that is designed to replicate a moorish tent, and an incredibly busy wallpaper with matching soft furnishings. A striking room, but somehow not restful.  Apparently she had wanted to have all the rooms in this style - I can't say that I blame her husband for disagreeing!

The grounds are wonderful and although the Sunken Garden is not large, it's very beautiful and as we were the only people in it at the time, very tranquil.
sunken garden
The fountain has a statue of Neptune

Neptune reflecting 

and the garden is surrounded by a beautiful old wall, decorated with fabulous trees and plants.

detail from the sunken garden

There is a fourteen mile walk around the estate which you can complete (we didn't even try!)  and the lake has swans, 


and resting places where you can sit and contemplate the meaning of life...

My favourite place was Yew Tree Terrace.

Yew Tree Terrace
This is a stand of yew trees, forming a lane that takes you out of the sunlight for a little while, but never lets you lose sight of it.  Truly beautiful.

All in all a lovely day, and to finish it off perfectly, the evening sky was spectacular!


  1. What a lovely post, and good photos!
    It looks like the sort of place that I'd be more than happy to visit for a leisurely stroll round, especially if there are few people about!
    That bench seat looks rather inviting! Flighty xx

  2. Hi Flighty. Yes, thankfully, there are benches dotted about the place - we were sitting on one, just enjoying the view, when I took the photograph of the one on the opposite bank. It really is a lovely place, and although there were many more visitors in the afternoon, it never felt crowded.

  3. Looks like a lovely place. Especially love the yew tree arbor.

  4. Thanks Marcie. It is a beautiful estate and the house interior is fantastic. I loved the Yew Tree terrace and took quite a lot of shots from there.

  5. Lovely post,
    Great pics and that Yew Tree Terrace is beautiful