I feel the need to impress upon you, dear readers, what an Unmitigatedly good day out is to be had at Audley End House, on the fringes of the delightful Essex town of Saffron Walden. English Heritage do some remarkable things, in this case the superb presentation of a house, a garden, and the attendant detail. A Jacobean house looking out on the formal gardens and surrounding countryside from tall windows with blinds half drawn; walls lined with the stern portraits of ancestral ownership punctuated by Venetian views; warm bright kitchens with copper pans reflecting firelight, pretty Victorian girls shouting to each other over pudding bowls; the heady scents from an expansive walled kitchen garden, grapes inflating in dazzling white greenhouses. So much to delight the eye round every corner. And after all that the Fry Gallery in the town, and a stunning exhibition of Eric Ravilious's Essex paintings. I had to be led out weeping, and into the Kings Arms on Market Hill to gather myself back together.
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