|the garden front of the Esterhazy Kastély, Csákvár, Fejér Megye, Hungary|
Now this is on the very best authority. Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, the British born actress who, as Julie Andrews, achieved a considerable international reputation for her role in the film version of 'The Sound of Music' once remarked, "I don't do country.".
Yesterday we 'did' country. After an early start, when we were collected from home by friends Zoli and Viktor in their gleaming, and immaculate, motor car, we set off into some of Hungary's most picturesque, and remote, countryside rather in the manner of a latter day Dr. David Livingstone.
|entrance barrier and guard house to the Esterhazy Kastély, Csákvár|
Imagine the excitement early on in the day when we chanced upon the former Esterhazy Kastély, concealed from public scrutiny, the entrance barred by military style barriers, a Baroque mansion of 1781 right in the heart of the village of Csákvár. A friendly word with the security guard, and we were in.
|the entrance front of the former Esterhazy Kastély, Csákvár, Fejér Megye|
|interior views of the former Esterhazy Kastély now a State owned sanatorium|
Such magnificence! Confiscated by the State, this splendid palace, with its extensive English style parkland, is now run as a sanatorium for the treatment of pulmonary disease and has, as a consequence, seen somewhat better days. But much remains. Not least some fine, if incongruous, statuary, a massive stone grotto serving as a look-out, and some wonderful, largely intact, ironwork.
|grotto, parkland with statue and seated patient, and door to women's cloakroom|
Best of all, a private chapel, of the period, sadly locked, but currently in use as a store for books and patients' case files.
|exterior views of the chapel with seated patients in designated smoking area!|
But this is all by the by. For this perfect day, in which we 'took in' a ruined castle, the stylish lakeside town of Balatonfúred, with drinks in the Yacht Club, and a second palace, ended with the most thrilling of news. For upon opening our email messages late last night, we discovered to our great surprise and joy that we had won a giveaway, a prize of [and could anything be more appropriate?] a most attractive and immensely practical Field Bag and Field Notebook, ideal for 'doing' the country.
For anyone who loves 'Home', 'History' and 'Nature', then Country Weekend is the blog to follow. Jen's posts are always a delight to read, whether she is describing a summer's walk, a vintage find, a recently read novel, life in her lovely store, or giving us a glimpse of an art work, a step into the past, or simply reflecting on today and what tomorrow may bring. Whatever her subject, she writes with both feeling and a quiet authority, never failing to engage her audience.
As for the Field Bag, just as soon as it arrives, we shall be heading straight for the outdoors!