Charleston had been on my list of places to visit for years so when we had a free day recently we went there, taking country lanes and passing through pretty little villages. We found the turn but what a long bumpy lane we had to drive down to reach the farmhouse. I hadn’t made an online booking for a tour of the house so we weren’t able to do one until an hour and a half later, but that was no problem as we’d taken a picnic and knew there was a garden to look round. It was suggested that we first watch a video. I asked if it had subtitles as my husband is very hard of hearing, but the lady said not though did turn up the volume. Unfortunately he couldn’t follow it but there were notices around the room explaining some of what we were being told.
The garden was a picture – so colourful – and the perfume as we passed by the sweet peas was exquisite. There were masses of water-lilies on the pond by the farmhouse and some large fish in it. The studio cafe serving locally made cakes and light lunches seemed very busy but we made do with our picnic.
At our booked time of 2.30 our guide, Patsy, met us; there are just 10 in each group which was ideal as even my husband was able to hear and follow most of what she told us during the one hour tour. She led us into the various rooms and pointed out the paintings on walls, doors, furniture and ceramics, and explained about the various members of the Bloomsbury Group. It made what could have been extremely confusing, reasonably clear: what complicated love lives they all led! I knew the names of Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf but had no idea that John Maynard Keynes was a regular visitor too, only having heard of him as an economist.
Our visit was a few days after the first part of the television series “Living in Squares” had been aired, which we hadn’t watched. However, having learnt so much that afternoon we settled down and watched it on the iplayer when we reached home and so were able to follow it.
I’m so glad that we visited it when we did and were lucky to have such beautiful weather to enjoy the ride and the beautiful garden too.