If you've ever read Roald Dahl's autobiography you might remember that his father had some rather wonderful and unusual ideas. Forget playing the baby Mozart or whatever else it is that's supposed to make your precious bain super-smart, Mr Dahl senior believed that by exposing his wife to beautiful sights and sounds late on in her pregnancies, her children would all be born with an inherent sense of natural beauty.
In this spirit, and to celebrate today being the first day of my actual maternity leave (I've been on holiday until now), the bump and I went to visit the second on my list of 'National Trust Properties I would move into in a heartbeat' (the first is in Devon, it's a bit too far to go).
Upton, on the other hand, is about half an hour away, and, well, I don't even have to show you a picture of the wonderfully huge cream and green kitchen with two Agas to make my case.
The back garden has this lovely great lawn, perfect for tennis, or badminton, or a really long game of roly-poly, and you might think that was it:
But there are surprises in store all around in the form of a wonderful terraced garden, full of late summer flowers:
That's the lawn at the top of the wall!
And these next few are for Mum (and to prove that I was neither still in bed, nor having a baby when you called earlier)
I love agapanthas (and so do the bees) but despite their apparent reputation as virtually unkillable, I have the dubious honour of having been the owner of several ex-agapanthas. Ah well, by sheer neglect I manage to grow a mean pink Clematis - you win some, loose some.
It's been so damp and dreek here until this last week that I think in my brain I'm still waiting for summer to happen; the last properly hot day I remember was Knit Nation, and that was more to do with the humidity than the sunshine, given that it kept raining. The garden seemed similarly confused, on the one hand we had pure summer daisies peeking through the balustrades:
But then the vegetable garden was in full on autumn mode, with runner beans getting ready to bean
and the cutest little inverse ladybird
To say nothing of the berries
and the apples in the orchard.
I spent a little time walking around with the camera (and trying to stalk a pair of cabbage white butterflies), and then adjourned to a comfy bench under a tree with yarn and needles.
The house is 'paused' as a 1930s house party, and as the gardeners are working hard to keep up, restoring the swimming pool, and even the original planting colour schemes, it seemed only appropriate to be listening to Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love on the Ipod.
And as the coachloads of grockles started pouring through the gates towards the house after a late lunch, and I trundled homeward in the opposite direction it struck me that Mr Dahl may have had a point.
I've just got one question for you - which way up should this picture be?