My journey home from Southend this week was slowed by the addition of a few millimetres of cold white stuff. It is one of the characteristics of being British that any change in weather renders our transport infrastructure powerless to cope. For me that meant that I needed to break a journey that I might otherwise have persevered with, to regenerate with the help of fresh air and caffeine.
Eschewing the accessibility of roadside services I veered a couple of miles into Lincolnshire to a National Trust property called Belton House, an archetypal English country house built towards the end of the 17th Century. The coffee might have been less sophisticated, but the bucolic charms of Belton were more than ample compensation.
Constructed for a family of lawyers it was acquired by the Trust thirty years ago, and features an impressive interior with wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons and plasterwork by Edward Goudge, all of which I forsook in favour of a stroll around the grounds. It wasn’t a bad choice, giving me access to the orangery, mirror pond, formal gardens and deer park, all lit with low winter sunshine and offset with a thin layer of snow.
I may return on a warmer day to enter the house, but on a chill January day the exterior was perfect. It may not be a coincidence that the Trust’s website photographs were also taken in Winter.
The caffeine, fresh air and a shot of beauty did the trick so I continued on into the sunset.