La Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - a delight of a visit

In my day job there are not a lot of 'jollies' to be had as it is not that sort of world; so when I get a 'would you like to join us for a day at La Manoir aux Quat'Saisons?', once I had picked myself up from the floor you can guess how long it took me to say yes!  This was a day I was not going to miss.  

The day would consist of a cookery demonstration, a gin tasting and a garden tour plus lunch.  There were various canopes, cakes and biscuits interspersed.  I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about the food, it was amazing, that is pretty much all you need to know.  If you expect anything less than amazing then I am surprised.  

Bearing in mind I was totally focussed on the garden visit, I have to say the cookery demonstration was superb.  Nothing so complicated that it went over my head, but all looking that effortlessly simple that means it takes far more skill than I have.  I was convinced to have a go at making home-made mayonnaise.  I say convinced, I still haven't had a go.

The gin tasting was very interesting, I am not a big drinker of gin so I don't get as excited by it as some do, but I learned things and the sips of gin were good.  The price of some of the gin we tried was enough to make a lot of people splutter

The gardens though, they were 'the thing' for me.  You can see from the differing shades of grey of the sky in the photos that this was a day interspersed with showers.  Thankfully it held off whilst we went around the grounds.
I always know I am going to be happy when one of the first trees I see is a massive ginkgo.  Always the sign of a good place.  There were two, one each side of the gateway.
When you arrive at La Manoir you quickly notice the sculptures that are throughout the property and the paths that draw you from one vista to the next.  There are approximately 40 sculptures on site.  
The house itself has its origins back in the Domesday Book, with a lot of 15th century development and lattery the 19th century.  Raymond Blanc OBE is the creative force behind the  a hotel and restaurent.  This Belmond Hotel has been open since 1984 and it has two Michelin stars.  Raymond is acknowledged as one of the great chefs of our time and has a philosophy of  using the best organic ingrediants, of simplicity and attention to detail.  His approach is heavily influenced by his mother, Maman Blanc and her approach to cooking.

There are approx 27 acres of grounds/gardens which are looked after by a garden team of 12.  This is no small undertaking.
There is much to see in the gardens.  There is this wonderful orchard with local heritage and French varieties of apples and pears.  We were told that there are plans for a 6 acre vineyard and another 4 acres of vegetable garden.  The land is currently being prepped in readiness for planting.
The large established vegetable area is full of colour and scent; herbs, flowers and (of course) vegetables.
It was very easy to get lost in the detail, just look at the pink of this artichoke - how beautiful!
I loved this willow plant support too.  Simple yet so pretty.
This is a fabulous scarecrow/sculpture - of Raymond Blanc himself.
and the Mother of the Garden keeps her eye on everything.
There was a lot growing, I loved these tall beans and brassicas in the background. 
and these woven mushrooms were a delight.
The Japanese Garden is a place of calm, beautifully designed to make you take your time and be mindful as you walk through it.  You would not walk on the bright green pondweed, it looked like you could, but you would get wet.
The views across the lake all work beautifully.
There is a lot of water in the garden, with large ponds and streams making their way through the different areas.
There are hares boxing,
The individual hotel rooms outside of the main house all have their own themed gardens, how wonderful is that!  What a glorious place this must be to stay at.  I can only dream!

We had such a lovely day - a needed treat.

Take care and be kind.

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