Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Traveling for Dummies

The first time I visited England, I was here for three weeks. At the end of the holiday, on the way back to Heathrow, I saw a sign advertising an upcoming performance. I believe it was to take place the following weekend. It was Bizet's Carmen, to be performed in the rose garden at Mottisfont Abbey. I was crushed. If I had thought it possible to convince British Airways to postpone our flight, I would have made the effort, but somehow I didn't think they would go for it, so, regretfully, I went back home. Ever since that visit, I have wanted to visit Mottisfont, and today I got my wish.

On the way to Mottisfont, I said to Robin, "Before we get there, I need to buy batteries for my camera." Dutifully, he drove me into Romsey. I went to a newsagent and picked up four AA batteries. When we got to the car park, I took the batteries out of their package, removed the old batteries from my camera, and noticed that there was something missing. I had left the memory card in my laptop, back at the hotel.  Hence, as you might have already noticed, there are no photographs of Mottisfont. There are, however, links -- like this one and the ones in the first paragraph, which will probably give you a better idea of the grandeur of Mottisfont than anything I could have provided. Also, I probably saw the priory and grounds differently, for better or worse, without a camera in front of my face. Nonetheless, there were moments when I truly regretted my forgetfulness -- like when there was a butterfly posed fetchingly against a brilliant flower, or when I was looking down into the River Test, which flows through the grounds. I stood on a footbridge and watched dozens of rainbow trout swim in place above a gravelly stream bed. Aquatic plants with long, grassy leaves waved with the motion of the water. The Test is a chalk stream, and I gather that chalk is a wonderful filter. As a result, the water is so clear as to be virtually invisible, except for its movement against objects under the surface.

There was an art exhibit going on inside the priory. The theme was Water, and many of the drawings and paintings were inspired by the Test and the various streams around Mottisfont. There was one painting, though, that made us do a double-take. It depicted a Mars water bomber on Sproat Lake -- on Vancouver Island!

Shortly after we arrived, there was a scheduled talk about the history of Mottisfont, so we joined a dozen or so other people in listening to a tiny woman with a large voice, who told us that the first record of Mottisfont comes from the year 860 (if I remember correctly), when there was a village on the site. The village was called Mortesfunde, which meant "gathering place by the font". The font is a spring which is still flowing today. She traced the history of the site from village to priory to Tudor house to Georgian mansion, and described the work of its 20th Century owners, Gilbert and Maud Russell. Maud Russell was an avid art collector, and she transformed Mottisfont into the showpiece that it is today. She donated the property to the National Trust in 1957, but continued to live there for fifteen years more.

We spent a couple of hours wandering happily through the gardens. The next time I visit Mottisfont (and I hope there will be a next time -- preferably when the best of the roses are in bloom), I will be sure to take my camera. And batteries. And a memory card.


The Bug said...

We once took a day trip to the Ohio River & realized that we'd left the camera chip behind. So we went to Walmart and bought one :)

I'm glad you had a nice time visiting - it looks pretty impressive!

Sandra Leigh said...

Yes, we thought about that, but I didn't see a place to buy a chip, so I resigned myself to doing without, just for the day. As soon as I got home, I took the chip out of the laptop and put it in the camera, so I'll be ready to go, come tomorrow.

Linda said...

Check list for Sandra:

Camera in bag with me - Check

Double A batteries - check

Memory Card in camera - check

Extra Memory card packed in camera bag - check....

Sounds like you had a truly lovely day.

Sandra Leigh said...

Thank you so much, Linda. When we are actually traveling in the Turtle, we consult our checklist every morning before we start driving -- "Propane turned off? Switch at stove turned off?" etc. Why I haven't thought to make a checklist for non-Turtle traveling, I do not know.

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