The weather of the last week has been very welcome after the rotten summer. I Went Out today - to Ikea in the morning, where a successful trip had the shine taken off by waiting half-an-hour to return something (I decided that I did not in fact want a cheery shower curtain) - followed by Stowe Landscape Gardens on the way home. I've driven past the signs to Stowe a lot, but never been there, and it seemed a good destination for wandering around in the sunshine. I did a little lying on the grass, too, but the grass is actually a bit damp, or at least the soil underneath it is, so I didn't do that for long. It was a little early for the real autumn colour in the trees - the chestnut leaves are brown, but not, alas, for the right reasons - but it was a lovely afternoon walking round the rather naff C18 'temples' and Capability Brown grounds, rather like a C18 landscape painting. The family history was the not-uncommon story of a reasonable start* followed by incompetence and self-indulgence* - the second Duke managed to go bust in the 1840s owing a staggering £1.5 million pounds. Guess how they made their money/how they lost it ought to be a car game for children visiting National Trust properties.
Speaking of gaping holes, I still haven't caught up with last week's Downton Abbey, not that it matters in terms of making sense of it. Tonight's episode should go well with assembling flat-pack furniture.
*Up to a point - a display reminded me that a large source of income for the aristocracy was government hand-outs, which in the form of sinecures contributed largely towards building Stowe.
ETA: I don't think I can stick Downton with more Thomas. It's simply ludicrous. I think I may have to switch to Spooks.