Not the Pink Panther

I’m sorry but whenever I think of Dyrham Park, that splendid, to be honest, a bit overdone,  National Trust-owned mansion in what used to be South Gloucestershire, I’m reminded irresistibly of the Pink Panther.

Something about the rhythm of the words…Dyrham, Dyrham….(rising)  four beats…Dyrham, Dyrham (falling) ….   start singing it and you’re singing the Pink Panther theme tune.

Oh yes, just one of the bizarre things one finds oneself doing when walking a chunk of the Cotswold Way. I put it down to the tedium of the field walking. You go slightly bonkers crossing ploughed fields gathering ten pounds of claggy mud on each boot so you have to raise each leg high like Jed Clampet doing a jig but much slower.

I had been so looking forward to that stretch of the route. A couple of miles and then into the NT caff for home-cooked lunch with maybe a glass of vino or at the very least a really nice pot of tea to prepare one for the next eight miles or so.

But first of all it was impossible to get into.  The route runs around the western edge of the estate and it seems the only entrance is on the eastern edge – off the horribly busy A46.  It beggars belief that there is no sweet little gate manned by sweet little volunteer for the Cotswold Way walkers but there isn’t.  So we had to gain entry by covert means which I can’t go into here.  Suffice to say grappling irons would have come in useful and it’s just as well that National Trust volunteer trainees don’t have sniper rifles.

Once inside, it was but a nonchalant walk through the parkland to discover that the house, restaurant and other fancy bits – orangery, something for the kids, shop – were closed due to water drainage work.  At least it meant it was quiet so we nosed around the gardens, undisturbed and found, oh joy, the little alcove in the wall by the grapevine that we’d all squished into when the boys were little and stayed for ages, our secret hideout among the vine leaves, picking sweet juicy black grapes from the bunches hanging over us.  No grapes – just the old vine still in place, beautifully pruned and the promise of a fruitful autumn.

Back on the walk, in Dyrham Woods, there was an unusual feature – a message box.  Not so much a dead letterbox as it was clearly marked “MESSAGE BOX”  which would never work in a John le Carre novel but somewhere to leave messages. Inside was a book and a pen wrapped in polythene and a couple of scraps of paper from people who had been doing sponsored Cotswold Way walks.  A photo of three girls in their late teens, early twenties had been signed with their names and the fact that they were walking the Cotswold Way to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of their dad.  Poignant.

Inside the book people had written the sort of messages you might find in a Visitors’ Book but more physical… “Glad of a rest. Quite knackered. Thanks for the excuse to pause” and other comments were simply descriptions of the scene when they visited… “blue skies and birdsong” or in one case a simple message in memory of a chap who loved to walk the Cotswold Way.

Apart from two skylarks dancing in the air fairly low and singing their hearts out, the rest of the walk was pretty unremarkable apart from The Shed.

On the edge of a village there was a garden next to a field with the Shed of Sheds. This was raised on a platform, painted green with a door and symmetrical windows (very important) flying a very ragged skull and crossbones.  That, I said, is probably the last refuge of an elderly Treasure Island fan.  That it be.

Anyone who has seen the film, The Remains of the Day will remember that last shot of the house with the Severn Vale laid out behind it.

The house from the back. Gates firmly locked. Railings quite high.

Terrific Cornus.

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About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Countryside, Current Affairs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Not the Pink Panther

  1. I’m sure I visited around 1997 when I spent a few weeks working in Bristol. Its down quite a big hill from the road isn’t it? My only memory is of the rooms on the ground floor near the entrance having the blinds down to protect everything from the light and it was extremely gloomy.

    Is it ‘Speak like a Pirate Day’ already? 😀

  2. Pseu says:

    Lovely piece Jan! That must’ve been Saturday’s weather, not yesterday’s…. ? I’ve never been there, but am tempted now even though I’d never have the nerve to ‘brrak in’!

    • janh1 says:

      Thanks Pseu 🙂 Oh we only entered the grounds by unorthodox means. Fairly harmless. We didn’t avoid paying either because the deer park is free and the house was closed so no fees payable. We have to maintain some standards! 😉

  3. valzone says:

    Lovely images here, and a lovely tale too. I have been to the area quite a few times, I have family living near by too. As a child we spent many holidays in the Cotswolds, it was easy access from Birmingham. My Aunt and Uncle have often begun the Cotswolds way, never quite finished it though. Such a beautiful area to be.

  4. janh1 says:

    Hi Val. Had no idea you have Cotswold connections! When we’ve finally finished, I’ll dig out and blog the best pics from the whole stretch and you might recognise some of the places. My favourite bits are at the “top” end but I suspect the descent into Bath will be good too
    😀

  5. IsobelandCat says:

    Gorgeous pix, and I’m now humming The Pink Panther theme tune.
    Yesterday’s weather was beautiful. Today it is wet and cold.
    I do like the idea of a message box. I wonder if there are many others around

  6. janh1 says:

    Thanks, Isobel. There certainly aren’t any others that we noticed on the Cotswold Way. A couple more would be good because not everyone walks the whole thing.

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