It feels a bit strange writing about a trip outdoors on a day as miserable as this, but the weather is supposed to perk up over the next few days, so my optimism may yet prevail.
I visited Rousham Gardens over the summer with my mum (below, demonstrating the biggest tree trunk I’ve ever seen), and it a really fab trip out.
You’ll find Rousham just to the North West of Bicester, literally a ten minute drive away from Bicester Village (the centre of the universe *sigh*). The gardens are well known amongst the green-fingered, but not so much to the general public, as Rousham House is still privately owned and the gardens, untouched since a certain William Kent got his hands on them in the early eighteenth century, with many features still in situ, such as the ponds and cascades in Venus’s Vale, the seven-arched Praeneste, a temple, and, on the skyline, a sham ruin known as the ‘Eyecatcher’.
One thing you should know from the off is that Rousham is resolutely non-commercial. There’s no tea room, no shop, no dogs allowed, and unless you can prove that you have more control over your children than Mary Poppins, no children allowed under 15 without prior arrangement.
I met the lady owner by chance on arrival, and she was wonderfully eccentric, just about to go on walkies with her dog and very humorous about the trials and responsibilities of living a place like Rousham. Here she is.
The gardens are ‘doable’, they’re not vast, but they’re exquisite, and have lots of lovely little ins-and-outs if you get what mean – secret areas opening out onto pretty vistas, an idyllic dovecote…
…and all with the beautiful backdrop of the house itself. You can easily spend an hour or two here, for a £5 entry fee, that’s taken by a kind of automatic honesty box.
You can request entry to the house, but it’s £10 each and you have to be a party of 12 or more. I guess that would only happen for most of us if we’re taking two sets of inlaws and brothers and sisters, but it’s worth the mention!
Rousham is open every day from 10am-4.30pm – they don’t even get a break at Christmas! – so choose a fine day and enjoy.