Monday, 26 March 2012

Sleeping Beauties

Standen, West Sussex - property of the National Trust

We must confess to a somewhat love/hate relationship with the National Trust. Of course we respect and applaud this non government institution which has protected historic houses and gardens, places of natural beauty and sites of national importance since 1895 and, in so doing, maintained them in perpetuity for the Nation.

Standen, the drawing room, with much of the original furnishings

However, although there are some 300 properties from which to choose when planning a day out, we find ourselves shunning the Trust's carefully arranged, historically accurate houses and their painstakingly researched decorations, their pristine tea rooms, their tasteful gift shops, and even their well appointed lavatories, in favour of their rather more eccentric and less than perfectly presented alternatives.

Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire - the south, garden front

Beyond the reaches of the National Trust, the gardens at Rodmarton Manor are wonderfully wayward with no health and safety disclaimer in sight. On certain days the house is also thrown open and one may just catch a glimpse amongst the Arts and Crafts treasures of a hastily cleared dining table resplendent with tomato sauce bottle. Or Stanway, a glorious Jacobean pile, where on our last visit we were invited to mugs of Instant Coffee in the kitchen and where the bedrooms were signposted with a hand written notice sellotaped to the staircase wall. Meanwhile, outside, the unwary, paying visitor was propositioned by Lord and Lady Neidpath's then very young children who had 'set up shop' in the stable yard. Such fun!

Nádasdy-kastély, Hungary - the entrance front

In Hungary, there are some 2000 castles, palaces and mansions following a rich tradition of impressive house building amongst aristocratic families during the C18 and C19 centuries. Sadly, all too many are in a parlous state, silently rotting into ruins throughout the Hungarian countryside, with only a fortunate few under the protection of  the Múemlékék Nemzeti Gondnoksága.


Nádasdy-kastély - interior looking towards the main entrance


Nádasdy-kastély - the former chapel bereft of all fittings


Founded some 100 years after the United Kingdom's National Trust, one fears that the Múemlékek Nemzeti Gondnoksága lacks the financial resources, organisational expertise and entrepreneurial spirit necessary for the preservation of these historically important and architecturally significant buildings.


season ticket for castle visiting issued and stamped by the MNG


Through the resourcefulness and kindness of our Hungarian friends, Zoli and Viktor, we were presented at Christmas with a pass which entitles us for two years to visit all the properties in the care of the state run and owned MNG as many times as we wish. And so, as the days lengthen and thoughts of day trips come once more to mind, we dream of exploring the former palaces of the Esterházy, Károlyi, Festetics, and Nádasdy families which, we hope, will still have a whiff of paprika in the air.

214 comments:

  1. You are so lucky to have that kind of a pass...
    I'd be ecstatic to be able to see some of those grand homes.

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    1. We certainly thought it a most imaginative gift and are much looking forward to seeing most, if not all, the castles and palaces on the list.

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  2. That season ticket is a great gift idea! In my circle of friends and family, similar tickets (obviously not issued for the castles in Hungary) have been given as gifts for some years now. Since I do not drive, I never had one, but sometimes when friends/family go for a day trip to some such beautiful place, they ask me along, and it is always a most memorable day.
    The Jacobean pile is wonderful, and I very well understand the appeal such a lived-in place holds in contrast to one that has been turned into a museum.

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    1. We were, of course, particularly thrilled with the gift and the promise from Zoli and Viktor to take us to some of the castles as we too do not have a car and there are those which cannot be reached by public transport.

      Yes, we have always preferred those houses open to the public which remain in private hands. More interesting to see the sauce bottles!!

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  3. Nothing I’d enjoy more than seeing any of these places. I love old piles.

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    1. We agree, it is an excellent and interesting way of spending time.

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  4. Such a lovely gift, I hope you are able to enjoy visiting even more of these beautiful buildings! X

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    1. Now that the spring is here, we are certainly looking forward to several days out.

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  5. A great gift to give or to receive, and thereby you are both playing a part in the upkeep of these special places.

    Enjoy your visits; I'm sure you will be writing more about them in future blog posts!

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    1. That is rather a nice way of looking at it, Gaynor. We suspect that some of the days out will feature in future posts.

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  6. Goodness I would be snapping pictures forever...do ENJOY and take us all along for the ride!

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    1. Digital cameras really do make taking pictures almost too easy. The difficulty is in deciding which to use, which to keep and which to discard.

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  7. If only the MNG could learn a few things from the NT, even if they were to go the route of perfectionism, as it would be much more preferable to decay.
    The pass is such a wonderfully creative gift! Maybe on one of your jaunts, you'll come across another little Hattatt castle or manor in need of your personal rescuing...just a though! ;)
    Happy touring...
    xo J~

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    1. We rather think that those responsible for the MNG have very little idea about the ways in which the National Trust present their properties nor the attention to detail given to everything.

      Now that, Jessica, is rather a wicked thought!!

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  8. What an extraordinary gift! You should be able to explore a great deal of Hungary and sample various examples of Goulash at the same time. I look forward to some delicious, savoury, historical and aristocratic posts ... not to mention charming, interesting and mouth-watering! ;-)

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    1. Yes, it will most certainly give us the opportunity to see areas of Hungary which are still new to us and explore houses, palaces and castles which are, for us, an abiding interest.

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  9. What a wonderful gift, so much to look forward to.
    We visited the NT's Tyntesfield near Bristol a couple of years ago, that was very much in the state the owner had left it. It was the first time I had been through a kitchen at one of their properties and seen a front loading, modern washing machine.

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    1. We are so envious, Tracey, of your having visited Tyntesfield. It is somewhere we have longed to go since the time it was acquired by the National Trust. Love the touch of the washing machine in amongst what we imagine to be all that Victoriana.

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  10. The world is bleeding beauty and modern architecture make people sick.

    Great photos from the old world, I especially like Nádasdy-kastély.

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    1. The Nádasdy castle dates from the C19 and was built, or so the owners at the time believed, in the English style. It has been recently restored with money, rather strangely, from Iceland.

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  11. I hear you on the National Trust. In preserving the properties to a T, they've also sucked the life and soul out of them. It's quite a feat of the imagination to stop for a moment, whilst shuffling silently through whichever house one is in, and try to picture actual families living and loving and laughing and fighting in those pristine rooms. I'd love to see a bottle of tomato sauce or a marmalade-smeared knife lurking under a table...or something. :)

    But at least the buildings aren't rotting away, which is even sadder.

    Must say though, that their tea rooms suck. Vile, over-priced cake and even more foul coffee (and I am no coffee connoisseur.) We always take or own picnic with us.

    You have been given a most magnificent Christmas pressie! I love quirky gifts and rather envy you yours.

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    1. As you say, it is difficult to get the balance right between preservation and mummification. However, we too are so pleased that our national heritage is being protected whereas one is all too conscious here in Hungary that so much which is of historical significance is being lost beyond trace.

      It is a long time since we were in a NT tea room but can quite see that a homemade picnic would be far nicer and less expensive.

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  12. Hello Lance and Jane,
    I do so agree with you about the joy of finding beautiful old manor houses which still have the breath of everyday life in them. I love the open gardens scheme in the U.K. where I have had experiences exactly as you describe in your visit to Stanway!
    I'm sure that you are the perfect people to fully enjoy your pass, I too look forward to further tales and photographs of your visits. Jane xx

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    1. Yes, the 'Yellow Book' scheme does open up some wonderful treasures which one might not otherwise see and they have an individuality about them which is so refreshing. And, if one gets chance to speak with the owners, then that is a definite treat as they are invariably full of knowledge and helpful advice.

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  13. As always, L&J, your writing is superb, witty and engaging, and I'm right in line with your interests when exploring the artistic patrimony of a nation and its culture. Maybe one day I'll have the chance to visit one of these Hungarian castles and simmer there for a moment dan son jus!

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    1. Thank you so much for your most generous comment. We are thrilled that you too share this interest and can only say that there are many 'palaces' throughout the capital,Budapest, itself which are also in need of tender loving care. Perhaps you will be able to experience the flavour of the 'Grande Époque' if you visit Budapest one day!!!

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  14. You make a very good point, that many historic sites, as wonderful as they are, are actually too polished, some to the point of slickness. That is one reason I have always liked to examine empty buildings--not so many restored parlors, but you can look at whatever you want. Also, many smaller historic homes and buildings have less structured tours, and allow you to explore a bit for yourself.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. We too try to avoid the 'guided tour', much preferring to explore at will. However, last year when we visited Charleston in East Sussex, the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and the whole visiting experience was enhanced because of the skilful way in which she 'led' the party round but also allowed for individual enthusiasms.

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  15. Yes, I know what you mean. Sometimes they are a bit stage managed. But it seems to depend a bit upon the building's personality itself - some of them are much more casual and "real" than others. What I dislike most are bollards of annoying ropes - oh yes, I see the point, but it is such a ghastly insult. The Open Garden scheme seems to be a more successful system. As do the Open House series (thinking of London's one, which has thankfully now been adopted here in Melbourne too, with great success). Much, much more effective! VB x

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    1. How interesting that the Open House scheme is now operating in Melbourne too. We certainly agree that the London one is very successful and has such a wide variety of buildings from which to choose that there has to be something for every taste.

      Oh yes, the dreaded bollards and ropes....but it is surprising on occasion how badly behaved some of the visiting public are!!!!

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  16. I loved my visit to Standen, mainly because I enjoyed the objects I saw in the house, in particular that wonderful William Morris carpet shown in your photograph of the drawing room. I know the quirkiness of Rodmarton it lies just across the fields from me, and I love it. Stanway too, and Lord N is such a character. I suppose it is the people and the objects that gives these properties their soul, which is sadly lacking in your Hungarian ones.

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    1. Standen is a favourite of ours as it has an accessible feel to it and does, as you say, contain the most beautiful objects.

      Probably you are right in that it is the eccentricities of the owners that have the appeal for us and, although many of the Hungarian properties are fairly spartan by way of furnishings, they more than make up for that on atmosphere.

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  17. I'm another who favours the more individual country house or garden above the homogenising jobsworthiness of the National Trust. We recently spent a delightful afternoon in Abbeywood Garden, Cheshire, where Jane's Garden is almost always attended by Jane, a lady happy to stop and chat.

    Your pass is the most wonderful gift that I'm sure will bring two years of great pleasures.

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    1. Yes, Annie, we were absolutely thrilled with the gift which did take some negotiating by Zoli and Viktor to obtain. As the administrator made an error, our pass is, as you point out, for two years rather than one!!!

      Abbeywood Garden sounds delightful and the visit made,of course, more special by the presence of Jane, the owner.

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  18. I went to Rodmarton some time last year and thought the garden was lovely. I remember particularly the eccentricity of topiary pigs and topiary flock of hens in the (fairly neglected) kitchen garden. I've been to Standen as well, but shamefully don't remember much about it except the wonderful colour of the dining room(?).
    The NT's dead hand on their properties somehow manages to make them all seem similar. Naturally there are similarities because they draw on styles and objects which are the same, but the preservation of the properties seems not to be informed by locality or personality. They are given the same beautifully manicured gardens, the same tasteful goods in their shops, with the same smell, the impeccably restored rooms (and the same superior guardians of the shrines). I recognise that it's hard to build a finite amount of decay into these buildings, but I think we should realise that we aren't seeing their history without it. We are seeing them as through a prism which distorts and sanitises. It's very much a middle class vision. When I listen to the guides (and I often find myself drawn in against my better judgement by what is clearly imperfectly absorbed nonsense) their stories tend to be an obsequious litany of the 'amusing' antics of the original owners. Half a mind should tell them that much of what they relate is really a relation of cruelty which they are retelling in admiring terms. Perhaps I'm wrong, but most of them seem to have no awareness of the repressive system which created so much beauty, and by which aristocratic life was made possible. I know! I'm trailing my seriousness round with me! I promise I enjoy much of the stuff even if I am mentally adding appalling stenches, smoke staining, disorder, crumpled sheets, fleas, and so on.
    And I know I should applaud the fact that the NT preserves places which might otherwise decay, but does the process have to make the end result quite so sterile? The Romantic Movement taught us that decay, even if sometimes contrived, could be beautiful. Perhaps the NT needs to understand it's also part of history. Have you been to Dennis Severs house in Spitalfields? Go if you haven't. You'll be blown away. Guaranteed! That's how to present the history of a house.

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    1. Absolutely, absolutely, dearest Alec. The NT does do so much sterling work but, far too often in our view, the happy balance between a house being preserved or pickled and set in aspic is not achieved. Although we know of Dennis Severs' house, we have yet to visit and, yes, we are sure that we should love it.

      What we can assure you is that, should you ever visit Hungary [and we do sincerely hope that one day you will be our guest],there are the most glorious castles, palaces and mansions frozen in time dotted around the countryside. Some have been put to institutionalised use, some are ruins and some are glittery and gilded, but they all have a romantic atmosphere and not a tour guide, a gift shop or tea room in sight.

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  19. I'd love to tag along... If only I had the time....

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    1. And what fun it would be to have you tagging along, dearest Princess......although high heels are often rather dangerous or not allowed, we must warn you!!!

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  20. Hello!

    How the other half live! Nice to see the 'common touch' - to put visitors at ease! Are you still house hunting - looking for ideas, or are you just making do with 3 properties for now?

    I visited a beautiful Antebellum house (Waverly Mansion) in Mississippi - which was still occupied by the owner who made himself scarce during opening hours. In his bedroom - beautifully furnished in the style of that period (1852) - he had forgotten to remove his mobile phone!

    Re your previous post. I was slightly taken aback at first glance as I thought you had had a change of heart and decided to persuade yourself that you needed to familiarise yourself with your kitchen - and cooking - then Timea appeared - and normal service was resumed...

    Thanks for your recent visit. I am not sure how long Venus and Jupiter will be visible in these parts but they have been like the brightest, 'shine-iest' stars I have ever seen, and we have been lucky enough to see them almost every night for the past few weeks. I thought Venus might have been a satellite at first sight (well, what do I know?) but I was reliably informed by a friendly bus driver that I was looking at planets. For them to be joined by the crest of the moon last night was hypnotising. Fortunately, I had time to run downstairs to grab my camera and capture the image.

    Best wishes from sunny and warm Scotland. BB

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    1. We are not sure that the 'common touch' was intended at all. We rather felt that it was a case of the detritus of everyday life having been completely overlooked. Still, that made it all the more memorable an occasion!

      What fun that the mobile phone had been forgotten. Not exactly the period piece that one expects from 1852!!

      Having had to fend for ourselves in Brighton for so long, it is pure bliss not to have to go into the kitchen at all in Budapest. And, we are absolutely certain that Timea prefers it that way.....it is her domain!!!

      Who knows what we might spot by way of property on our castle visiting days......

      Wishing you a wonderful week. Glorious weather here too in Budapest!!

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  21. I love your style and thoughts regarding the National Trust Jane and Lance. We have never become members of the National Trust and also have that love/hate relationship of which you speak and prefer just to visit houses and gardens when the mood takes us.....and, there are many houses, gardens and villages that do not belong to the National Trust that we visit, that are just as beautiful. I love the thought of a mug of Gold Blend in the kitchen of one of those beautiful houses. Often, the kitchens are pretty antiquated and seem to remain in the 1930's, which I find rather comforting.
    ......I also love Zoli and Viktor's style too. What a perfect gift they bestowed upon you. You will have such a wonderful time, working your way through those beautiful castles, palaces and mansions. XXXX

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    1. We shall never forget your wonderful post on Dennis Severs' house, a place which we have yet to visit but very much wish to. Perhaps we are of like minds about the NT and yes, you are right, often the kitchens appear in a 1930s time warp which does, perhaps, explain their appeal!!

      We thought that the season ticket was a marvellous gift and do look forward to many adventures with them discovering these hidden gems!!

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  22. With your passes, does this mean we will be able to see some great photos of castles and mansions in that area?
    I hope so!
    I understand what you mean about the National Trust. It is the same way that I feel about Wikipedia sometimes...the information may be there (like the house for the National Trust) but somehow is lacking the heart of what the subject is about!
    Hope you are both doing well these days.
    Cheers!
    Kay

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    1. We know what you mean. One wants to experience more than just the architecture and, sadly, it is the soul of the place that is often absent.

      We are both very well, thank you, and we look forward to exploring the Hungarian countryside with all its hidden treasures as the days lengthen and the sun warms the air!And yes, we shall post photographs of our finds.

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  23. Natinal Trust like bodies do need to be entrepreneurial, as distasteful as that is to some. I hope that in Hungary the listed properties have sound roofs and are secured. Money can be found some time. Perhaps EEC funding might become forthcoming, spent more responsibly that Italy seemingly has.

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    1. Sensibly, when buildings are being rescued, there is first a concentration on making the property weatherproof...no mean feat in Hungary as there is searing heat in the summer and arctic conditions in the winter to contend with.

      Some EU funding is evident and that was particularly so with the Nádasdy castle which we visited with our friends, Zoli and Viktor, last summer. At last there does seem to be a realisation that bids for EU funding have to be pursued with vigour if the necessary finance for the restoration of these buildings is to be achieved,rather than a reliance on government hand outs.

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  24. It sounds very much like you, to looks for something more eccentric...
    I hope you let as join your walks, visits and explorations of those palaces : )

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    1. You know us so well, dear Demie!! Yes, the quirky, the eccentric or even the dramatically wild all have a fatal fascination for us!!!

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  25. Lucky you! Do pack your camera and think of us here, eager for your evocative descriptions. And I agree with you on the National Trust: a worthy, admirable body, a credit to the UK, but it is good to let human nature shine through the old buildings as well. The forgotten bottle of tomato sauce is more authentic than many a well-labelled bellows of old.

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    1. We are very fearful of the new idea of the NT to add 'life' to some selected houses by including the equivalent of 'scratch and sniff' experiences to recreate the atmosphere of old!!!! We rather think that the well-labelled bellows is preferable!!!

      The camera will, most definitely be packed but, sadly, our amateur efforts at photography cannot always guarantee a result that resembles anything like what we might see.....

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  26. I totally agree with you on the National Trust's efforts. I think the main aim is to "please themselves". It one of those "jobs for the boys" institutions I fear. We have a similar establishment in Wales called Cadw (Keep in English). Their meddling is kept to a minimum, which I thinks help to retain the true character of a building. They don't attempt to rebuild in many cases, just maintain the effort time has put in.

    I look forward to visit one of Hungarian castles with you one of these days!
    Di
    X

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    1. Rather reluctantly, we feel that we might have to agree with you about the 'jobs for the boys' aspect of the NT. Your Welsh equivalent sounds to have got a better balance to it all. However, we have to say that Erddig remains a treasure in our eyes.

      If you should ever find yourself in Hungary, Dianne, we should be only too delighted to accompany you to a castle, palace, mansion or what you will!!

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  27. Dear Jane and Lance,
    Such a wonderful post. I do hope at some time to travel once again, and seeing some of those amazing historical masterpieces would be on my list!!! Kenny and I were blessed to have traveled to Europe seeing some amazing places before he became too ill to travel. Those are amazing memories for me.
    As always, your post is just terrific.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cheryl, for your most kind comment. It is so good to hear from you!

      How wonderful that you and Kenny were able to travel in Europe and that you have such good memories of your visits. Who knows, perhaps one day you may have more European adventures, we certainly hope so.

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  28. What a fantastic Christmas gift. It is so sad to see places crumbling right before your eyes. For everyone in France that is being restored there are many more crumbling. The cost of restoration is just too high. Diane

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    1. We know from your own posts, Diane, how many wonderful houses in France have been left to decay. It is, as you say, so sad to witness this but, whilst the costs are ruinously expensive, one can just see this situation worsening.

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  29. A season ticket for castle visiting? How wonderful is that! I can smell the paprika from here. And I'm as captivated by the comments, and responses to them, as I am this post. All fatally fascinating. :)

    P.S. I do believe that with the new word verification I am at last learning a second language. Not sure what it is, yet... :)

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    1. Our thoughts exactly, Teresa, when we opened our beautifully wrapped gift!

      Oh how we hate the new word verification which just serves to remind us how seriously myopic we are becoming!!!!

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  30. What a wonderful gift, Jane and Lance. There could be no better way to get to know your adopted country better. The part of your post about the NT has put into words something I've long felt but never articulated - that things can be too perfect and so lose their heart. That said, they do great work - just too well, perhaps?

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    1. It seems mean to criticise an organisation that has, after all, achieved so much over the years. But, houses, rather like gardens, belong to people and if all the essence of humanity is removed somehow the experience is soulless and unsatisfying. Nevertheless, we do firmly believe that there are important historical influences which should be preserved as the Nation's heritage and in this, in our view, the NT is without equal.

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  31. Now that is a gift that keeps giving! I agree that the National trust becomes more sanitised with each passing year. Hopefully you will be able to enjoy a fascinating series of Hungarian delights and entertain us with your photographs and witty commentary!

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    1. That is such a delightful thought...the 'gift that keeps on giving'....we shall remember that as we explore our castles and palaces the length and breadth of Hungary!

      We are sure that each place will have its story to tell.In our experience, one never ceases to be amazed at what one finds hidden deeply in the Hungarian countryside.....

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  32. Dear Jane and Lance! The choices you have!!! Wonderful! And as you describe it, I feel similar insofar, that I always prefer the natural state of things, in houses too! Owners, life, mess....to a degree of course. Nothing is better then lived in with awareness! But the next best thing will have to be well preserved grand houses, although depleted of life, being somewhat stuffed, but giving a glimpse into the former glory of it all! But like you, it always makes me sad to see the doors closing and cold air rushing through places, where life and warmth once has been!
    But it cannot be....
    I am more concerned about the situation in Hungary, where it seems, is not enough money and care, to manage what has been build so long ago. I have a feeling after the change of political systems there is still more of a bare survival mode governing, with less interest in the 'finer' things.
    The better for you to have received such a precious gift to explore all the old beauties!
    It could not have been bestowed onto more deserving friends!
    Enjoy the weeks of explorations ahead!

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    1. Yes, we do recognise that we have a surfeit of riches from which to choose, whether in England or in Hungary.Increasingly, we find ourselves straying from the well trodden tourist paths of the 'grand houses' into those with peeling plaster and crumbling stucco in whichever country we find ourselves.

      You are absolutely right about the situation in Hungary where there seems to be such a wastage of money which could be spent on preserving such a noble and rich heritage. As we write, statues are being moved into new positions and streets being renamed on a political whim...what hope?

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    2. I see that Moszkva tér, which figured large in my life as I travelled mostly by public when out and about on my own, is now Széll Kalman tér - doesn't trip off the tongue quite so easily!

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    3. You are absolutely right, Patricia, but it will always be Moscow Square to us!!! Such an iconic crossing point between Buda and Pest and somehow the name Moszkva tér suits it perfectly!!!

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  33. WOW. Gorgeous inspiration today!

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    1. Thank you! We do find that visiting these houses does inspire one in one's own home...albeit on a much smaller scale!

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  34. Amazing that there are 2000 castles! Thank you for taking us along on this tour, it is truly impressive. I loved Hungary and wish to return, there is so much more to see and do. I'm bookmarking some of your posts as my "must see" list for the next visit.

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    1. We believe that there were more castles, palaces and mansions built in greater Hungary than in any other European country. We can only wonder what percentage of them exist in any form at all today.

      We are so pleased that you enjoyed your last visit to Budapest and are planning a return. Perhaps we might all be in the same country at the same time when you next come and we can meet up?

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  35. That is fairy tale stuff to dream on ....such fun to pretend....and imagine the great parties and the fun times that were had. Just like in the movies, these houses must all have stories to tell....Hungary must be a fascinating country......Enjoy all the lovely spring days!

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    1. In many ways, it is rather like entering a film set when one goes into these romantic ruins and one can easily imagine the lavish parties that were thrown in them! Oh, if only one had been invited.....

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  36. What thoughtful friends and a wonderful opportunity to savor those classic buildings! Enjoy!

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    1. Zoli and Viktor are extremely kind and great fun. We are sure that we shall all enjoy ourselves enormously as we seek out these 'sleeping beauties'!!

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  37. I certainly understand how you feel about the estates that have been preserved and are under the auspices of a government grant. They are so antiseptic and lifeless, but yet need to be to preserve them for the future. I love visiting these homes and finding out about the lives of those who lived there. How fun it would be though to find life still going on in these dwellings.

    Enjoy your gift.

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    1. Sadly, death watch beetle and woodworm seem to be the sole life forms in many of the Hungarian castles that one discovers!!!!

      Yes, we too enjoy visiting these houses and imagining times past and the lives of those who lived there.It all tends to give us wild ideas of what we can do these days, albeit on a reduced budget!!!

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  38. Why do you think that of the some 2000 castles, palaces and mansions built by aristocratic families during the C18th and C19th centuries, so few under the protection of the Múemlékék Nemzeti Gondnoksága?

    Is there little interest in historic architecture?

    Is there interest but no money?

    Is there an ideological commitment AGAINST saving the homes of the rich and the famous?

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    1. Very interesting questions, we only wish that we had all answers.

      First,some buildings were sold to private individuals for a small sum with the agreement that the building would be restored. As restoration costs have soared, so many of these 'contracts' have failed and the ownership and responsibility for the building has then become a minefield of bureaucracy.Whilst the legal battles continue, so the buildings fall into disrepair.

      Secondly, there is a cultural mind set that still prevails from earlier regimes which is that buildings of historical significance should be strictly under government control and state grants will be made available for their upkeep. Hence, there is no culture of bidding for grants or raising funds through entrepreneurial means which has been the case in the West for decades now. Only very recently has there been any kind of determined and co-ordinated effort to seek EU funding for these projects.

      Finally, many aristocratic families were indeed stripped of their 'grand houses'in the change of regime and, subsequently, either did not return, or their houses were placed into multiple ownership or were commandeered for state use.

      All of this has, inevitably, led to the sorry state of affairs that one witnesses today and Hungary is terrifically bad, we feel, at promoting itself and opening up these amazing buildings for visitors which could then produce an income stream for their restoration.

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  39. Dear Jane & Lance

    What a thoughtful gift from your friends. Yes the warm sunny weather is enticing us to plan trips out and about, one of my favourite things is to visit gardens and stately homes. I am a member of the NT and have been for many years now and applaud what they have achieved but I know what you mean about the twee gift shops and tea-rooms! However they are making an effort for their properties to become more open and accessible and to show a more human side, which is great.

    We also visit properties in the Invitation to View scheme whereby you are shown around the properties, in small groups, by the owner. Relaxed, informal and interesting too. The scheme began in Suffolk but I think they are rolling the idea out to other counties too.

    I must say the castles in Hungary look wonderful!

    Jeanne
    x

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    1. When we opened our garden to the public in the 'Yellow Book Scheme' a percentage of the takings went to the National Trust and we were very happy for more than twenty years to support their work. Certainly the UK would be so much the poorer in so many different ways if the organisation did not exist.

      We have not heard of the 'Invitation to View' scheme but that does sound to be exactly our cup of tea.A personal touch is always delightful and, if open gardens are anything to go by, we are sure that the owners will be extremely knowledgeable, passionate and interesting.

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  40. Oh how I would love to visit!

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  41. Dear Jane and Lance,
    It all sounds so exciting. Such a thoughtful gift from your dear friends.
    You will have such fun and take delight in visiting all the old Hungarian historical castles.
    It truly is a shame, that a lot of the old world castles are left in ruins.
    Enjoy your visits.
    val

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    1. Yes, Val, we were absolutely delighted with this gift and our season ticket sits on our desk just waiting for the day when we shall venture forth on our visits. It is such a fun activity as we are able to let our imaginations run wild amongst the ruins or the gilded ballrooms!!

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  42. What a wonderful gift from your friends! Can't wait to see photos of your trips to these wonderful places!

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    1. We hope not to disappoint with our tales and, as for our photographs, well, sadly, they are often hit and miss!!

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  43. What a wonderful gift you got. It will be fun to visit all these historical places, and we hope we will tag along with you :) and visit them through your posts.

    Best wishes

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    1. Perhaps you can be persuaded to come to Hungary and discover all these treasures for yourself one day? We are sure that you would find it a fascinating country!!

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  44. What a wonderful thing--to have the time to find ALL the gorgeous homes and garden, not only the Trust-endorsed properties!

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    1. We do think of it as a great luxury in life that we now have the time to do all these things which, when working, one did not have a spare moment to try out.

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  45. These castles are just bursting with beauty and history!!! WHAT a gift! I would love something like that (There are very little historical landmarks of this caliber in Canada) You guys are just the luckiest! :D Enjoy the stunning tours!

    Hugs,

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    1. We are absolutely certain that you would just love to visit these places. They are, as you say, redolent with times past and full of atmosphere.

      We do feel that we have charmed lives and are appreciative of the kindness of friends, something which we always try to return.

      Such a pity that you do not have similar places to visit in Canada, but we hope that we can give you a flavour of the Hungarian castles in future posts.

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  46. National Trust gift shops? An abomination! Tea shops ? A little less so, because they are often necessary to refresh the spirit after a traipse around some pile or other, past thick red cord and silent volunteers, hands folded on the back, eagle-eyed and distrustful of the hoi polloi. I find visiting large houses extremely tiring, but I love the smaller, less famous, more intimate properties.

    We are, however, also very grateful to the Trust for looking after so much of the natural wonders of the land.

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    1. Oh how you capture the atmosphere of a Trust property! Those women and men of a certain age 'guarding' the rooms and whom we always find rather intimidating. Of course you have Stokesay Castle, the darling beloved of Vita Sackville West, on your doorstep and of that house we are particularly fond.

      As you say, the excellent work of the Trust in protecting shoreline and countryside is beyond measure.

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  47. What a brilliant present!

    Agree that the NT's over attention to detail can, and does, result in properties with a lack of 'soul'. But. I suppose, it is still better than leaving historic buildings to go to rack and ruin which is heart rending. At least if policies change, over attention to detail can be moderated to present a less 'arid' and more lived in environment.

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    1. Yes, we agree, it was!!

      We are absolutely with you about the need for the NT in order that places of historical significance do not simply rot away. And, as you say, an over zealous approach to housekeeping is infinitely preferable to no housekeeping at all!

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  48. Dear Jane and Lance,

    I started a comment, and it disappeared, so forgive me if it shows up, and I repeat myself.

    What a fabulous gift--how will you ever choose what to visit? I have recently been reading about the history of Wales (and its wars with England). The number of castles and manor houses just amaze me. Of course we have nothing like that in the States. I felt it too, when I was in Italy--all the walled cities, all the history...I think I must get to Hungary one day.


    xo,

    Jen

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    1. There are just 14 properties which the MNG oversee but they are scattered the length and breadth of the country so seeing them all will definitely take some time. But, see them all we hope we will!!

      We do love Italy, but it would be an absolute delight for us if you were to come to Hungary one day. We should be thrilled to welcome you as a guest and would like nothing more than to show you some of the treasures of this most interesting of countries.

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  49. How fantastic - I knew nothing about Hungarian architecture until I read your blog, now I'm convinced there is a treasure round every corner. Perhaps while you are touring the country thanks to your kind friends you will find your own castle! xxx

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    1. We can confidently say that we really believe that too now we have made several forays into the Hungarian countryside. It really is a treasure trove of a country, with everything well hidden.

      We live in hope of our own castle. There are plenty for sale but we have yet to find the perfect match of location and ability to be restored within budget!!!

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  50. I love the title. They are beauties indeed, oh how I wish I touched their beautiful old walls that witnessed so many fascinating stories. Enjoy your visits and please do report back on your blog with plenty of pics :).

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    1. Yes,if only walls could speak, what tales they would tell!!

      We shall do our best to report back....

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  51. What a fabulous Christmas gift! I hope we get periodic reports (both written and photographic) as you make your way through the list of Hungarian architectural treasures. Lucky you!

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    1. We feel very fortunate indeed first to have been given such a thoughtful gift and, secondly, to have the company of such wonderful friends as Zoli and Viktor with whom to share the adventures. Let us hope that we all survive to tell the tale.....

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  52. Oh, from right down the bottom of the world in NZ (or the top if you play around with the globe...), I am so envious! We became so blasé about the history and architecture whilst living in London and now miss it so much. Thank you for your lovely pictures and breathe in all the history for me - please! What a thoughtful gift. Annie x.

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    1. It is,perhaps, easy to become blasé when one is spoilt for choice. In Hungary we are very conscious that there are far fewer 'grand houses' in any form of reasonable repair that are open to the public. However, it is fully our intention to make the most of what there is to see, even though it is not always so easy to find!!

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  53. Jane and Lance,

    Thank you so very much for coming to visit me at Pine Cones and Acorns! YOu are so right, both Irina and Anita are such magical and special ladies. I am happy to count them amoung friends and now look forward to following along on your adventures too!

    I hope that you enjoy your wonderful Christmas gift, it is very special indeed. I am excited to see and hear about all of the places that you visit. It is sad as you mentioned to see such beautiful architecture and heritage falling into direpair.

    Thank you again for your kind comments!

    Elizabeth

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    1. We have so enjoyed discovering you and are delighted that you intend to become a follower of ours. It is wonderful when one makes acquaintances through blogging who then go on to develop into friends.

      We are very much looking forward to seeking out these hidden palaces, castles and mansions and to learn more of the families who were responsible for their building.It is all so very different from our English cultural background and heritage and all the more fascinating because of it.

      Thank you for your comment and we look forward to welcoming you here again.

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  54. Jane and Lance,

    What a wonderful gift. I know you will enjoy each adventure, and I hope, return to us with a story and your usual wonderful photographs. I've just recently been reading a little about the National Trust in Katherine Swift's book "The Morville Hours". I look forward to touring these magnificent homes vicariously. Bonnie

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    1. Thank you,Bonnie, and, yes, we are certain that we shall have some fun and interesting adventures. How strange that you should mention Katherine Swift who we know through gardening circles as, of course, for all the years we were in Herefordshire she was a close neighbour in Shropshire. A delightful, self-effacing woman.

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  55. Hello Jane and Lance
    Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire looks to be a wonderful place and it is always heart warming to see that families live in such places.

    What a thoughtful and useful gift from Zoli and Viktor and no doubt you shall put it to good use. Don't you love planning excursions?

    Wishing you a week of joy

    Helen xx

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    1. Rodmarton is a wonderful Arts and Crafts house containing much original furniture dating from the period when it was built. The garden, slightly wild, is somehow or other quintessentially 'English', and very appealing in a romantic kind of way.

      Yes, we thought it was a hugely imaginative gift and now, as you say, we have all the fun of planning days out or even weekends away.

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  56. What a gorgeous building and the pass is such a thoughtful and useful gift to receive. Your friends obviously know your interests very well. I look forward to reading about your future trips to beautiful and historical places. Fifi

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    1. As you may imagine, we were thrilled to have the pass as looking at country houses is one of our major interests. In the UK it is of course relatively easy, through the National Trust, to have access to many wonderful properties; here it is much less easy.

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  57. What great treasures you have to explore over on that side of the pond. We have a cave with a 9,000 year old pair of shoes, the oldest shoes yet discovered. Otherwise, we have rebuilt representations of Lewis & Clark cabins. No castles. But we have lots of volcanic ruins--lava buttes and cracks in the ground.

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    1. Now a pair of 9000 year old shoes is quite something, Mary, but possibly occupies less time than a visit to a country house, palace or castle of which, throughout Europe, as you will know, there are many. That said, we should find the volcanic ruins of great interest - something we have never seen.

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  58. What a wonderful gift from Zoli and Viktor -- made all the more wonderful by their knowledge that it would be an apt gift for such an adventurous pair as my fairy godparents!

    The chapel stripped of its fittings still bears an incomparable magnificence. It may be my own lack of exposure to truly sobering architecture, but that simple photograph impressed me the moment I laid eyes on it.

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    1. How really kind of you, Suze.

      The chapel, stripped of everything [and we have seen several here in similar state] left a lasting impression. These acts of vandalism were either carried out by the Hungarian government during the 'socialist' period or by the Red Army who occupied many large properties in Hungary up until 1990. Never easy to ascertain which.

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    2. Nor easy to imagine it happening, at all ...

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  59. Dear Jane and Lance, as ever a most interesting post. I love to visit old houses and lovely gardens. I do think, on the whole the NT do a very good job, but I know what you mean about the lack of atmosphere sometimes. I have often longed to wander off into the areas where you are not permitted to go, so that I can get a better feel of the place.
    Your friends are very thoughtful to have given you so a useful gift. I am sure that you will spend many happy hours using that pass. Have a wonderful week, with love, Linda x

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    1. But how fortunate we are, Linda, to have the National Trust. For whatever their faults, or ways of doing things which one might not like, they have done the most splendid job of saving so many historic properties which might otherwise have been converted to other use or, indeed, demolished. Yes, we too long to wander 'behind the scenes'.

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  60. Oh, I hope, hope, hope, you will take us along. I know we can't have a whiff of that paprika directly, but it will be such fun to see! I know what you mean about the National Trust and other such endeavors. One does want to see that "glimpse amongst the Arts and Crafts treasures of a hastily cleared dining table resplendent with tomato sauce bottle," that reminder that the place we are observing as some kind of fossil was, or more to the point, is still, a lived in place.

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    1. We are sure that some of the adventures to various properties here in Hungary will have a mention in future posts, and we shall much look forward to sharing the experiences. You are right that too often historic properties, places too, can become a 'fossil' of their former selves.

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  61. Hello,
    There are two properties in Birmingham that were built by a family of which I am a descendant. One is now an office block in the heart of Birmingham and has little apart from the architecture to remind you that it was built in 1601 and that Birmingham was actually built on the original farmland the other Blakesley Hall built in 1590 is now a museum. For UK daughter this provided her with an insight into her family history and she was able to bring back photos and booklets that gave us all great joy. So whilst I agree it is nice to see the reality of life in a home it is wonderful that the preserved is there too!!! I have just spent a lengthy time visiting but will be back to continue.

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    1. How very interesting to have a connection with historic properties in Birmingham which, as you say, provides a wonderful insight into family history. We do know of Blakesley Hall but have never, alas, had the opportunity to visit it.

      Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. It is much appreciated and we shall look forward to welcoming you again.

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  62. Hello, Lance and Jane - I've read from your other comments why the Hungarian properties have languished, and that all follows logically, with such a different recent history. Let's hope that perspectives change soon enough that the lovely buildings don't just implode on their own!

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    1. There is, we feel, a real danger of so many of these country houses just gradually falling into a state when they will be beyond repair. Much of the problem stems from the recent past when all property was nationalised and therefore belonged to the state who had neither the money nor the inclination to do anything with it. Now people struggle to repair the years of neglect.

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  63. I have to agree with you, Jane and Lance, that if a building is frozen in time, uninhabited, it's in danger of losing its purpose and heart. Better to let it ever so slowly devolve.

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    1. It is a very difficult balance to get right, Faisal, between a decay which can, eventually, mean total loss and over preservation, the latter something which, on occasion, the National Trust in the UK is in danger of.

      Delete
  64. We used to look forward to the 'Journees de la Patrimoine' when we could see 'real' places inhabited by real people rather than rather lifeless chateaux policed by guides intent on showing you nothing of interest.
    The NT always turned me off...if I couldn't afford to live in my house I'd have been turned out,but then I've never worshipped at the shrine of aristocracy.

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    1. The greatest enjoyment is, we agree, to see real places occupied by real people who continue to leave their own mark and are very much of their times. When the owners have gone and a house is taken over, as is so with many in the care of the National Trust, both former occupants and their lives become, in the telling, somewhat unreal and sanitised - even glorified. We do not go there!

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  65. I'm with you, I prefer a bit of tat to a sanitized rendition of what life might have once looked like. However, living in the States I can only dream of what it must be like to have GB's much larger and better funded National Trust to save the day. One of the great tragedies of Communist Rule in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union was the ruination of the castles and country houses the disenfranchized nobilty and gentry fled from in wake of the advancing Red Hordes. I believe their fate (as well as those of the countries' people) would not have been so harsh had circumstances worked out differently.

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    1. Yes, whatever criticisms we may lodge, compared with the state of similar properties in Hungary, we are more than fortunate in the UK to have the National Trust whose equal, or so we understand, is not to be found elsewhere.

      As we replied to another commentator, the present condition of so many historic buildings in Hungary is the result of years of neglect by the government when all property, from the smallest flat to the largest mansion, was nationalised and in state ownership, or because of the occupation by the Soviets up until 1990, and even beyond.

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  66. Living in the "wild west" of Canada, I would love a visit to any of your heritage sites, regardless of designation. Like many North Americans, I am bowled over by "ancient piles" ruins, churches that are many centuries old.

    But, yes,history can be stripped of much of its interest by having thing too carefully arranged.

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    1. In comparisons with much 'newer' countries, it is sometimes difficult for us to appreciate fully a heritage which goes back for hundreds of years or, as is often the case, to take it for granted. But Canada, from all that we have read, has much of interest and we are sure that the 'wild west' is no exception.

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  67. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Ah, the age-old debate of preservation has sprung to mind with your most lovely written and illustrated posting. How many Sunday socials have been witness to such debates turned heated? There seems to be as many sides to this topic as there are in fractal geometry. I will save you both the anguish of my droning on about my view of the matter, which is quite extensive I can assure you, having partaken more then once in said Sunday debates.

    I will however make note that when it comes to the opportunity of viewing properties of not my preferred taste is much like yours. So upon reading the last of your post I was most happy for you great fortune in having such wonderful friends. A two year pass with which to enjoy history at ones leisure is truly a marvelous gift. And of course I will be most interested to see and hear of all your visits, at your leisure of course. – gary

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    1. But, dear Gary, how we should love to hear your views on this subject which, we are certain, are most likely wonderfully controversial and, knowing you, interesting and well informed and expressed with that wry sense of humour of which we can never have too much.

      Yes, it was so sweet of Zoli and Viktor to give us such an imaginative present and we are sure that we shall have great fun visiting the properties. As we write this, the 'boys' are already making plans!

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  68. I was dragged around NT properties in the summer months when I was a child, it didn't seem to put me off though. We picknicked at many a stately pile when the children were little. One one occasion we were looking around one property in a dusty old room, and my small daughter looked up at me rather puzzled and said "What ARE we looking for".

    I do agree that the NT go for a rather sterile corporate look. But it is rather like looking at a house for sale, if you look past the decor you can still see it's beautiful bones. Rather that than letting them sink into decay

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    1. Such a good question from your daughter as a small child!!We can think of many occasions when we would have identified with her sentiments.

      We totally agree that one has to look beyond the immediate to capture the essence of a place. For this reason we try to avoid peak times or holidays when visiting as crowds of tourists do not help the general ambience in our view.

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  69. Oh my, but what a lovely present you two have received. What sights you will see...........

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  70. Wow, these places all look amazing. Restoration seems like a rather rich-man's type of endeavor though. How's the average Joe get to enjoy it? I guess by visiting on vacation:)

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    1. This is essentially the problem, Mark. Although the properties may be bought for a 'song', the cost of renovation is cripplingly high, particularly if done well. It is, therefore, wonderful that such bodies as the National Trust exist in order that the public at large can visit and see for themselves what life would have been like in these grand houses.

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  71. Wow, what a woderful present you got Jane and Lance. Your friends must know you well and appreciate you too.
    I once got a year ticket to the National Film Theatre cinema and it was the best present ever. All my tickets were discounted and i saw some amazing films that don't play in regular cinemas.
    These kind of presents are more personal and that makes them all the more special.

    Enjoy your sightseeing and exploring.

    Red

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    1. It was, as you say, a perfect gift for us. And, like your NFT year ticket, just carries being appreciated and used long after the occasion at which it was given has passed.

      We shall indeed look forward to all our visiting and to sharing our adventures with you in due course.

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  72. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift to receive! I would really enjoy that. My parents would never take us into historic homes when we were kids. My mother always said, "We have a house! Why do we need to see someone else's?"

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    1. Your mother's witty remark really made us smile!! Soon the castles and palaces will be opening for the season and we are excited just thinking about the fun we shall have. Perhaps Spain has a similar system or, indeed, similar problems with properties in ruins?

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  73. Indeed it would be interesting to have a group made up of houses and attractions that had been rejected by the National Trust, a kind of second division. I must confess as I walk around the back streets of Britain and see old house after old house, I sometimes want to invent an excuse to knock on the door and see inside.

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    1. We really think that you are on to something here, Alan! However, as the NT seems to only take on properties that are well endowed these days, we may be rather overrun with contenders. In Birmingham we know of a row of back to back houses which are open to the public , through the NT we think, and although we have not visited, friends reported that the experience was most interesting.

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  74. Hello! I will come back here very soon...

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    1. Dear Amin, we are missing you already....!!!

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  75. So many old buildings everywhere decaying into dust, but at least there are some that are preserved for us to admire and appreciate. One wonders if they didn't spend so much time and money on the exacting renovations that there might be more funds for more castles to be restored or at least stabilized on the exterior saving them for future interior renovations.

    Wonder if more funds could be raised if the castle were able to be rented for weddings or parties and the like, oh but then there would be the liability and all, how could I forget that.

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    1. One thing that you can almost be sure of Linda is that such things as Health and Safety or Public Liability tend to get scant attention in Hungary!!

      Yes, there are really hundreds of these castles simply rotting away in the countryside and it is deeply saddening to see. We first read about the plight of a particularly wonderful castle at Tura in the English Country Life magazine in 2006. The article carried the headline.."Who will save me"....When we last visited at least some of the roof had been made weatherproof but little other progress had been made. Soon it will be too late to do anything more.

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  76. What a useful present that membership is. I am sure that you will have many interesting and enjoyable days use from it.

    I read somewhere recently that homes are not intended to last forever and that we should expect to keep rebuilding. I suppose that renovate an old property costs more than building something new.

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    1. We are sure that you are right. A new house seems to be constructed and finished as one watches whereas to renovate an old house takes much longer and is far more costly, particularly if one wishes to pay attention to period detail.

      With most of the properties due to open at Easter, we are getting very excited now about our visits and the adventures we shall surely have.

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  77. What a thoughtful gift that will bring you many hours of pleasure! Touring the castles would be such a treat and I am sure that you will give us a glimpse of each one so that we can live vicariously through both of you!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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    1. It was, indeed, a most thoughtful gift and one which we really do appreciate. Speaking to Viktor and Zoli only yesterday, it would seem that some days out together are already in the planning stage. We shall wait and see where first!

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  78. Oh that chapel room!! I love the shape and baby blue color (looks that way anyway) I'll bet it had a nice view as well.

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    1. It was, as you have guessed, Phyllis, a really attractive room and the windows we thought most appealing. Sadly that part of the house was in a very poor state of repair and we imagine that it will be years before being fully restored. Meanwhile the rain, metaphorically speaking, continues to come in.

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  79. Hello Jane and Lance,

    There is a promise of many more posts of Hungary's treasures, I think...and if they are off the beaten track, all the better!

    I applaud the work of the national Trust, the hours of research, the collective expertise and meticulous restoration that go into the sites. Yet, a house full of life is so much more appealing. I think many historic house interpreters feel the same way.

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    1. We think, Carol, that you could be right here! And now that the clocks have gone forward, the days are certainly drawing out so trips can be further afield, as we are sure that they will be.

      As you say here, it is probably very true that those responsible for the restoration of houses, as for the National Trust, are very aware of the need to retain a personal feel which is not always easy to achieve when the property is no longer lived in.

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  80. Nice place and nice blog!!!
    xoxo

    http://cappucinofrio.blogspot.com/

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  81. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Such a beautiful and considerate present to receive! So sad to hear the Hungarian equivalent of the NT doesn't have the funds to maintain those old Habsburg palaces. I can remember you wrote about it before.

    We are great fans of the NT. Probably because we haven't got an organisation like it in Holland and we love English heritage. However, we prefer the sort of places you mention. It must be fun having coffee in the kitchen with the owner of the house :-)! We had a similar experience in France, when our girls were still very young. They can still remember the homemade Madeleines!

    My book on Budapest is on my bedside table. So much to see and do.... I cant decide what I like best!!

    Happy evening,

    Madelief

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    1. We love your story of the homemade Madeleines! It is testament to the fact that your daughters can still remember this event that these are the things that really make a visit to these wonderful places come alive.

      How wonderful that you go to sleep thinking of Budapest!!There will be so much, we are sure, that you will find of interest and such fun, we hope!

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  82. Hello dear Jane and Lance!

    What beautiful, beautiful images. Oh, how I would love to have a grand house and gardens to explore. On the docket for us, this summer, is the remains of a log cabin built just before the revolution - one time home of a woman nicknamed 'the mother of the Ethan Allen boys'.

    I would much prefer a castle to explore and winding paths through a garden....sigh! There's always Fort Ticonderoga, I guess.... =/

    I do keep meaning to find Robert Frost's home - there's a museum there, too. Even more fun is the build up to the adventure - reading the poems with the boys and learning about the man and time period, before the visit. It makes the experience so much the richer.

    Oh, I just remembered! A decade or so ago, I had a plan to take my mother in law, sister in law and three nieces to tea in Concord, Massachusetts. Then, we were to visit Orchard House which was the home of Louisa May Alcott - beloved authoress. I went to our little library, here in town, to find a book about her. I found one, alright! It was printed not long after LMA's death and written by a friend of the family. It felt like a direct connection to her, somehow. It must have been one of the original books, which is unusual for a typical public library, here in the states. Usually, they're filled with everything current. Unless, of course, one goes to a very special library of rare books but, then, everything is behind roped off glass cases which brings me back around to your post...

    how wonderful to find the still living - an alive - house!

    Although,...those magic moments when visiting a place... I think that, sometimes, they happen because of some special muse of adventure that smiles on us.

    Well, I'm rambling severely....sorry! =]

    Love,

    Me xxo and xxo

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    1. We very much agree with you that a visit is made more special if one learns something of the background to the house and/or its occupants before going there. Indeed, in the case of writers it is always , we find, meaningful to see where they wrote as it gives a deeper insight into their lives and, as a result, their writing. It would, we think, be great fun to go to Louisa May Alcott's house as she had a special place in our childhoods through 'Little Women'.

      And, it is such a welcome pleasure when not only is the visit interesting but, also, when something out of the ordinary takes place. Since then, it is locked in time in the memory for ever and always brings back a smile when remembered.

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    2. Do you know, Orchard House is a wonderful place to visit - every time. Even though the family didn't actually live there quite as long as it seems in the book, it is the meeting place for all things LMA and the people who take care of it do it with a passion. The last time that I was there, it was some big anniversary of the sister's wedding ( the one known as 'Meg' in the book) and her wedding dress was laid out - right there - on the bed to see. it's a very intimate tour and the whole town is full of history - Emerson's home is right across the street. Another absolutely brilliant tour of a New England House that I've been on was in the actual house that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's "House of the seven gables". It was brilliant but they don't allow us to just wander through - we have to be guided. Very fun!

      Well,....hope that you don't mind the further comment - it just sprung to mind! =]

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    3. Thank you so much, dearest Katy, for returning with this comment.

      Orchard House does sound to be the kind of place which we should find fascinating. It is so good to see somewhere which is cared for with real passion and to be shown round by knowledgeable guides. This sounds exactly like Charleston, the home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, our absolutely favourite house and garden to visit in Sussex. But, from all you write, we are certain that we should find New England as a whole an absolute treasure trove of interesting houses and glorious countryside.One day....

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  83. Dear Jane and Lance, what a beautifully written post. The National Trust is a wonderful thing, but I would prefer to experience the grand homes as living, breathing entities as well!
    So sad that many of the Hungarian treasures are in disrepair.
    What wonderful friends you have to give you the precious gift of an "experience". I so look forward to seeing the beauties you come across in the near future..
    I hope you'll share ;)
    Sending love across the miles, and wishes for a relaxing weekend!
    xoxo,
    - Irina

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    1. We are totally in agreement with all that you say here, Irina, about the National Trust which has over the years, and continues so to do, done excellent work in saving so many historic houses, not to mention miles of coastline, for the Nation.

      And, yes, it was such a thoughtful gift and we shall most certainly look forward to sharing our adventures. In the meantime, we so hope that you too have a lovely and completely peaceful weekend.

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  84. What a lovely gift! Getting a chance to poke around Historical building is such a treat!

    So sad that some of the beauties in Hungary are falling into ruins. I still remember some of the amazing properties you posted earlier this year. There is a bittersweet beauty to such places.

    We live in a Historic Building (Which for the US is an "ancient" 100 year old Tudor Building). It can be a bit tricky at times since we own our unit, (there is always some red tape involved) but I am glad that there are restrictions in place to keep the building from changing to much.

    Hope you are well.
    e

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    1. We were, as you may imagine, delighted with the gift. Much to look forward to!!

      How intriguing that you live in an old 'Tudor' building which must be great fun indeed. But we can so easily understand all the red tape involved but, of course, it does help, as you say, to preserve the integrity of the original design.

      Have a lovely weekend.

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  85. Dear Jane and Lance: Late in reacting to your post - as always. Most of the time it takes me some moments and browsing through the dictionary to read your post as your language is so sophisticated - it helps me to broaden my language skills in a most interesting way. Once again you made me chuckle when I read your post: You must be such kind and unconventional persons to like manors like Rodmarton. That is so taking and soothing because I think most people don't. (Apparently I prefer houses which are lively even though sometimes I like it also tidy and well-arranged, usually it lasts only half a day anyway). I am terribly sorry especially for the Hungarian people that the MNG lacks money etc. to renovate buildings of national importance. Still I wish you many wonderful day trips and I hope you'll keep us posted! Christa

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    1. Thank you, dear Christa, for your most kind comment. We are delighted that you have enjoyed the post.

      Yes, we sometimes think that we are in a minority when we enjoy places like Rodmarton as so many prefer the houses they visit to be absolutely perfect in all respects. Whereas, we are always more excited to see houses with a much more 'lived in' look!!

      We are very much looking forward to our days out with Zoli and Viktor and shall be sure to post our adventures!!

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  86. That was, indeed, a wonderful present - the perfect present it seems for you both. Your friend really knows your interests. Don't you love it when a friend goes out of their way to pay attention what you as a person really enjoy?

    We have a similar type of thing here in this country for the preservation of historically important buildings and sites. But I must admit I think the British model rules the roost. Though I thank the stars every day that in American we at least have begun seriously thinking of the past. (Though not nearly as much as I would like.)

    When I travelled to England many years ago we visited Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle, a very rewarding experience even if everything was neat and well preserved. :)

    I bought a teddy bear in the town of Warwick and brought him back home with me (he had to be x-rayed at the airport even then) and he sits in my bedroom on a bedroom chest.

    I wonder if the best part of a trip is the actual trip or the memories...

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    1. Zoli and Viktor are truly remarkable when it comes to present giving. One almost feels that they can read our minds. And yes, you are so right, it really does make one feel very special when people go to such trouble to give one something that one would have bought for oneself.

      Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle are both very much worth a visit, we think, as they are presented so well and really do give a sense of the history of the place.

      An interesting thought about what is the best part of the trip. The memories,we think, since they really do mark out those visits which really were successful.

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  87. Hi there Jane, Lance and all those who delight themselves by going on a visual journey with words of great expression and thought to accompanying the photos.
    I thought the "National Trust" had something to do with the good folks of Britain, believing, trusting, everything the politicians spouted out. Oh, how wrong I was. Seriously and with limited experience, I have stayed at a lovely National Trust accommodation up in the Peak District National Park near Edale.
    I note that most thoughtful of gifts bestowed upon your good selves. Such a gift would equally thrill me. With my luck, I would get a season's ticket pass to all the finest landfills, this green and pleasant land has to offer.
    And how neat. Your reply comment comes out in shocking pink. You guys are awesome. And now, your adoring, starstruck fan, bids the farewell for now.

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    1. We have never stayed in a NT property but know many who have. They would all be in agreement with you, Gary, that the places in which they stayed were wonderful and were situated in the most glorious countryside.

      We smiled about the landfill site tour but just wonder, dear Gary, whether you might be on to something there....!!

      We have no idea why the replies come out in pink but we love it......do feel free to copy, Gary, but we do not know how one gets this to happen!!

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  88. Such beautiful buildings. I hope that a "Knight in Shining Armour" is just around the corner to rescue those in need. I love the idea of visiting places that are wayward. You are right - what fun to discover the unexpected!

    Enjoy your pass. What a great gift and perfect for explorers such as yourselves.

    Have a magical weekend, Stephie x

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    1. A 'Kinght in Shining Armour' is definitely needed in Hungary or, rather, a whole 'Round Table' of Knights if we are absolutely honest!

      Yes,Stephie, it is the thought that one may come across something completely unexpected which has appeal for us rather than an historically accurate representation of the past.In this respect, the Zoli and Viktor gift is perfect!

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  89. I live in a small heap, although you are always welcome to come to my kitchen for a mug of tea.
    Sx

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    1. This all sounds delightful, when may we call?

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  90. I would much rather join you dear Jane and Lance in visiting the less perfect enchanted 'sleeping beauties.' It is fabulous, however, that all these historic sites are preserved . . . if ever too museum like. Perhaps a few fund-raisers could aid the Hungarian 'Múemlékék Nemzeti Gondnoksága.' You could have cook serve your, by now, famous HG! I know you will enjoy the many 'outings' your gift pass will allow. Happy April to you both! Carol

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    1. Happy April to you too, dearest Carol. We are sure that this is a most wonderful month to spend at Flower Hill Farm.

      Yes, we are sure that the MNG does need fund raisers but the thought of setting up a food tent and dishing out Gulyásleves for the cause fills us with dread! We live in hope that the EU will bail them out, but then, perhaps this is what every other EU country is thinking at this very moment!!

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  91. And the "blue highways" are better as well -smile-. Those are the roads that meander lazily, causing those with brains to slow down their vehicle and enjoy the view.
    I would so love to visit these beautiful old homes; in the meantime, thank you, Jane and Lance, for taking me along on your visit.

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    1. What a lovely term 'blue highways' is, dearest Sandra, and how we should love to travel on some one day. But, perhaps the best part of all of this travelling and admiring the countryside or historic houses is the company with whom one visits. We are certain that with you as our guide, Sandra, we should see and appreciate so much more.

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  92. I thought it was about time I paid your blog a visit as your names often pop up on the blogs I read.:) Why did I not do so before I wonder as your blog looks to be very interesting after just having a quick browse around. I will be adding you to my blogroll and will be back, lovely to meet you . :)

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    1. We are absolutely delighted to welcome you as our latest follower and have been pleased to return the compliment.

      We have now found your blog and it is wonderful. Such amazing photography and a slice of life in Italy which looks to be quite delicious!!

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  93. I always like the gardens at the National Trust more than the houses, which I usually come away from saying 'full of brown paintings'

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    1. This comment really made us smile. Yes, brown paintings....and a lot of other brown things too!!!

      As for the NT gardens, well, Hidcote and Sissinghurst are iconic in our view.

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  94. Sleeping beauties indeed, I cannot agree more.

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    1. We are so pleased that you are in agreement. And, are there 'sleeping beauties' in your corner of the world?

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  95. Hello! Excuse me...I had high temperature...

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    1. Oh, dear Amin, we do hope that you are feeling better now.

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  96. So many castles...Very big history!

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    1. Yes, so many, and only a few which are looked after. That is very sad, especially, as you say, there is such a rich history which should be protected.

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  97. What a lovely gift from your friends, I can imagine that you will have many happy days touring around! Then you can come home to a lovely meal and spend an evening discussing what you took in, how perfect!
    Will you share some of the buildings with us?
    Have a lovely evening!

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  98. Dear friend, thanks for stopping by at my blog and leaving a message! I am glad to visit yours as well and be showered by culture and fun subjects. Thanks for sharing with us.

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