An afternoon at Buscot Park has become an annual treat. At this time of year, when late-summer’s sunny days are savoured, there is plenty to enjoy.
Passing beneath the giant stone and copper clock-face, hands outstretched above the stable block, we succumb to the ebb and flow of time in this place – moving forward, lingering, pulling back, and stopping. We have just a few precious hours.
The long shadows of afternoon belie the shortening days; the promise of harvest lends a sweet note to temper the fading flower heads.
I always spend too long in the walled garden, fascinated by the potager-style planting, mesmerized by the jostling bumblebees, who, this year, are joined by a multitude of butterflies, predominantly whites. The bounty contained within the four crumbling, red-bricked walls and surrounding orchards comes into its own towards August’s end.
This year is no exception – the fruit trees are heavily laden, the flowers beds are punctuated with golden bursts of blooming courgettes and the vivid scarlet of bean flowers and sun-drenched chard.
Gourd plants ramble wherever the mood takes them, while rampant runner beans scale the apple trees.
Time moves on without me; the shadow travels across the sundial that stands at the centre of a garden of green and white. It shifts again as we rock ourselves on the hanging wooden benches there.
Further on, along a series of pools and canals, water, like time, flows. A jeweled green-blue dragonfly darts across our path.
We wander up to the far edge of the grounds, where time has galloped up an avenue and is now meandering in curved lines, its movement measured on the face of an obelisk, newly-constructed to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
But inside the house, time stands still: we gaze at the motionless figures of the Sleeping Beauty and her attendants, depicted in the panels by Burne Jones.
An afternoon at Buscot Park is never quite long enough, but there is always time for tea and cake in the tearoom (its colourful frescoes telling their own fairytale) before heading home.