If you are heading off to join the Silver Traveller team at Cricket St. Thomas in April you should attempt to take the time, if you have never been before, to go to Forde Abbey near Crewkerne, a pretty market town, where Lawrence Auctions Rooms are if you also enjoy auctions.
In the minority of large houses that are still in private ownership, this is a former Cistercian Monastry that also opens its beautiful and historic grounds and house to the public. Sadly for us the house was not open to the public when we were there but the attatched chapel was certainly open and enabled us to to visit it and view its lovely interior. The kitchen gardens produce the fruit and vegetables and flowers for use in the house and tearoom and also the inevitable shop. The pumpkin was grown by the staff last year for Halloween and weighed in at an incredible 44 stone (281 kilos) raising £21,000 shared between two charities.
Set amongst its 30 acres of award-winning gardens there holds a secret, if not rather erotic, gem of the Abbey and it is not the giant pumpkin! In the middle of The Mermaid Pond is a spectacular, surprising bronze statue depicting Leda and the Swan and if you didn't realise quite what it represented it really would not make sense. Originating from Greek Mythology, the God Zeus in the form of a swan, seduces or rapes Leda, a queen of Sparta, the wife of King Tyndareus and is set in the poem by William Butler Yeats. In the winter months, let alone a summer day, it is in a stunning setting and this brilliant sculpture should certainly not be missed.
(Incidentally should you attend an auction get there early if you want a parking space; they are very limited.)