as one of our group nearly said, but snowdrops – too early in the year for the others. We toddled over to the local stately pile, braved the wind and ignored the looming clouds to go and admire their snowdrops. In our garden we have about three – somewhat in contrast to our neighbour’s garden which has dozens – so the prospect of seeing lots of them was pleasing. There were quite a few, I suppose, but I don’t get as excited over them as those people who are willing to spend a small fortune on rare specimens. I think I enjoyed the walk round the grounds but I was not keen on the muddy detour called the Lakeside Walk. So I left the others to it while I repaired to the tea rooms in the hall proper. What could be better than a nice cup of tea in one of England’s historic stately homes?

Well, I asked for a pot of tea for one. What I got was a paper cup with a tea bag floating in hot water. That may be how they take their tea in the USA but I was not impressed. To be sure the establishment was run by the “Friends” and not a commercial venture as such but I thought there of all places: china to drink from and boiling water for the tea itself would have been automatic. I tracked down the milk jug (yes, just the one for the entire room) and added it to the tea. Now, I believe it is said that even Her Majesty puts the milk in after the tea but as a rule I don’t. I want to be able to pour the properly drawn tea into a cup which has the right amount of milk already in it. That way the two liquids are properly mixed and that nasty scum you sometimes get is much less likely to appear.

Still, I contented myself with the thought that the drink was at least warm and wet – somewhat like today’s weather – and made no complaint.

Meanwhile, here is a photograph of some of the woodland flowers we saw. These are not snowdrops, nor yet bluebells, but celendines.

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