Friday, 28 October 2016

A Visit to Darwin's House - Part 2



You may remember that back in the summer holidays we went to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, or as it will now be known 'part one'. Anyway, our previous visit was great, but we didn't really get to see much of the house as my girls were getting somewhat frustrated with a large group of children on an organised visit. I decided that whilst the girls were on a long weekend with their dad, I would make a return visit.

This time, I managed to a) not miss the road I should be driving up and b) not sail past the the main car park, both of which made for a good start. Car parked, off we headed to the main entrance (Dr. BD accompanied me, we have joint English Heritage membership now, remember). We showed our card and headed off into the main body of the house.


Most of the information relating to Darwin and his work is housed on the first floor of the home, so that's where we went. Once on the first floor landing, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman who proceeded to tell us all about the home and Darwin and what we will discover in each of the rooms. Now, it turns out that this super chap is a retired Biology teacher and he and Dr. BD have something in common; yes you guessed it, studying limpets or barnacles etc for 'A' Level Biology. They had quite a nice chat about it having carried out said studies at the exact same place. Once they'd finished, off we trotted to the various rooms, where we saw a lovely collection of dead insects and learnt a little of Darwin's education etc. We were somewhat amused to learn that he had made a list of reasons to marry and not to marry. Having decided that it was more beneficial to marry, he proposed to his cousin Emma and well the rest you probably know; he's rather famous for his 'theory of evolution'. Oh and the house? Well that was a wedding present (of course), lucky chap; I'm not jealous though, not at all....honestly!

We visited the rest of the house then headed off to the gardens. I do love the gardens and particularly the greenhouse. I could spend hours in the green house alone. It was lovely to see how the gardens had changed in just a matter of weeks. I particularly love this little flower garden opposite the veranda. I do love a veranda!


We then headed off in the direction of that fabulous greenhouse and the highlight of my day out...the bees!


I am fascinated by these little creatures and the way they work together to create that amazing structure, it is truly awesome! Poor Dr. BD, I made him stand there watching these stripy geniuses (or genii, if you prefer) for quite some time. We watched them wiggling about in there hive and we watched them go up and down their little bee tunnel to the outside world and back again; I even had the pair of us with our ears pressed up against the glass listening to them buzzing away to one another (they were probably laughing at the stupid humans and wishing we'd sod off and leave them to get on with their work). I must admit, I rather like the idea of having my own wee bee hive, but I'm not sure the girls would like it, though the neighbours may find me in a bee keepers outfit somewhat amusing. Anyway, I eventually prised myself away and went to have a nose around the rest of the greenhouse.


This time around, it wasn't just beautiful, plants, but fruit and veg too. The apples were very tempting, but I didn't think English Heritage would take too kindly to me taking a bite out of each to compare flavours, nor was I sure my fixed retainers would stand up to apple biting and I really didn't fancy a trip to the orthodontist. They did look very good though, as did the courgettes.



Now I must confess, that whilst we were in the greenhouse, we weren't entirely sure what these were. It was only when we got outside in the kitchen garden that we saw them growing and thankfully there was a sign to tell slightly ignorant people, like myself, that these are indeed, courgettes. I have never seen such large ones (not a euphemism, you naughty lot) and nor have I seen them growing like this...


I am not saying anymore, because what I was about to write, really did sound like a euphemism and this is not that kind of a blog, thanking you kindly ;-)

Moving on, from the rather naughty courgettes, there was a lovely wee pumpkin patch and the kitchen garden was generally still looking quite colourful with its greens, oranges and purples.



We left the veggies behind and headed back in the direction of the house, which even in Autumn is still a breathtaking sight (yes, I know I've already used this photo, in this very post, but it's my blog, so I'm using it again, because I can).


I also spotted this tree and loved the way it has been propped up. I'd missed that on our first visit.


I'd like to think that I'd not noticed it before, not through lack of observation (although I did have the girls with me, which can be distracting), but because the prop wouldn't have been so obvious in the Summer months.


And finally, just as we were leaving, I noticed how pretty this hydrangea was still looking.

I am so pleased we made a return visit to Down House. It was less busy, making it much easier to walk around the house and read the information on the displays and the gardens had taken on a new persona, making it feel as though you were seeing them for the first time again. In short, I love this place and the staff here, as before, are the friendliest people I've ever met. They truly seem to love their work and that really does make for a fun, and welcoming visit.



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