Saturday, 23 January 2016

Houses visited and remembered

The weather was mild enough today to encourage us to visit Dyffryn House and Gardens for the first time this year. We had a light lunch in the cafe before entering and watched blue tits feeding at the bird table near where we were seated. In the grounds, plenty of snowdrops were out, an occasional early primrose too, but none of the daffodils were yet blossoming, just appearing as shoots yet to bud. It's that much colder for them to develop out here in open countryside than it is in the urbanised coastal plain of Cardiff. The grounds have been tidied up as far as possible after the fall. All is quietly waiting to emerge, buds are appearing on trees and bushes, earlier than usual.

Inside the house is where changes have taken place since our autumn visit. The main drawing room and the library have now been furnished elegantly with suitable period pieces, now that the restoration of the walls and windows is complete. It's impressive, and the enthusiasm of the volunteer guides is also impressive. It's a grand labour of love, this landmark place in the Vale of Glamorgan, of which many are justly proud.

Owain came over, both to see us to visit friends in the evening and stay overnight. With a Sunday sermon readied on Friday, there was time to enjoy cooking supper and relaxing with another episode of Young Montalbano, in which he lunches with his vineyard owning Father in his huge barn of a bottega. The traditional wine barrels in the background setting of the scene caught my eye, about three metres in diameter, and five metres in length on their side. They reminded me of the large ones I saw for the first time forty years ago in the bottega at Palazzola, at that time, the English College summer residence, south of Rome, above lake Albano. We were staying there as ecumenical guests of a local Catholic parish community that hired the fourteenth century convent buildings for group summer holidays. The site had been in use as a dwelling place since the days of ancient Rome, and the cellars, hollowed out of the volcanic tufa dated back that far. Happy memories of summers when the girls were toddlers.

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