The first real 'day out' we had during our recent holiday in The New Forest, actually took us out of the boundary of the national park to Mottisfont, which is a National Trust property near Romsey in Hampshire.
Having pretty much had a week of rotten weather and being limited to either chilling in Border Cottage or exploring by car, we were really looking forward to getting out and about for a bit of exploring on foot.
The National Trust website describes Mottisfont as ... A romantic house and gallery set in beautiful riverside gardens.
As well as the house, which is converted from an old priory church, there is a walled garden, the requisite tea room and, what looked like, a crazy piece of outdoor sculpture. It sounded just the job and right up our street.
From the minute we arrived we knew we were going to enjoy our visit. The sun was shining, it was pretty warm for this time of year and the information board really made us want to explore further ...
To enter the property we made our way through the reception area, past the shop and along a wooden walkway through the trees, which gave no indication whatsoever as to what we would find on the other side.
We couldn't wait to explore.
We decided we'd take advantage of the weather and have a wander about outside first and headed, past The Font, where an endless spring of pure water has been found for over a 1000 years, towards the walled rose garden.
We were stopped in our tracks along the way as we came across David Breuer-Weil's 'Alien' sculpture, which was previously installed in Grosvenor Gardens outside Victoria Station in London. Mottisfont was chosen as the next place to land because of its history - the last owner, Maud Russell, was from a German Jewish family and welcomed both artists and refugees here - and its wide open landscape and huge trees really do show the sculpture at its best.
We had a quick look at the Shepherds Hut and the Planetarium before continuing on our way to the walled garden.
The walled garden is a real treat, it's like a garden within a garden within a garden. There wasn't masses of flowering going on today, but there were still a few splashes of colour and it was easy to sea how amazing it would look at the height of the flowering season.
It was now time for the obligatory National Trust refreshment so we sat in the sunshine in the courtyard of the old stable block where I had yet another National Trust flapjack, which has definitely become a firm favourite.
Refreshed and ready to continue exploring we headed over to the house, which does look lovely from every angle.
The interior of the house is interesting and some of the old priory church has been retained and preserved. You can see the old sacristy and explore the cellarium.
Having been blessed with such a lovely day it wasn't long before we were back outside to look at the rest of the grounds.
Round the front of the house we found the mosaic angel, a hidden portrait of Maud Russell by Boris Anrep, her lover and great friend, one of the many artists who came to stay at Mottisfont over the years.
Then it was a quick look at what we assumed were 'pet graves' before making our way back, via The Font, along the main drive.
We really enjoyed out time here and would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area. We would love to go back when the rose garden is at its best. Definitely the best day of our holiday so far. Thank you National Trust!