As you lean on the quayside rails watching the children crabbing, you can see Tapeley Park high up on the hills across the estuary. A grand house surrounded by forests and sloping fields high above Instow, overlooking Appledore.There is something quite special about Tapeley. Open to the public with beautiful gardens, fields and a kitchen garden to explore, it has a mysterious air about it - as though you've spotted a gap in the fence and clambered through to see what you can find.
It feels refreshingly rustic - perhaps because it hasn't had the usual National Trust or English Heritage treatment - with hand painted signs and out of scale maps.
With map in hand, Mr M led the way down to the peaceful lake undisturbed and hidden by the high canopy. The path is steep coming back up and we all had to stop to catch our breath on the benches that had been strategically placed along the way. In fact, it almost felt like a bomb crater - although the shrubs and trees were far too established for that to be the case.
Next stop, the obliterated obelisk. Intrigued we ploughed on, past cowpats, through gates and up more hills. The view was worth it - simply stunning.
There's something quite daring about sharing space with rather large beasts - fortunately they really weren't that interested nor were the dishevelled sheep.
By the time we'd trekked back along the field to the house in the midday sun, we were gasping for a drink. The Orangery is the most beautiful tea room I have ever come across. I wish I had spent more time in there. The rooms inside housed retro, vintage delights from knitting books to cushion covers and posters. Tea and cake are served on vintage china. Divine. They even have a pine dresser with some of their little finds for sale.
We opted for ice cold Devonshire apple juice, served on the croquet lawn, and sat back to admire the borders.
The Italian terraces are just lovely - flaking brickwork, drying alium, agapanthus in bud and lavender bushes a-buzz with bees.
The pond was thick with lilies so white that my camera couldn't cope with the glare from the sun.
From the Italian terrace to the ice house and beyond to the walled kitchen garden. Rows of beans and artichokes baking in the sun.
A derelict glass house complete with underground furnace and cold frames.
An old gnarly vine finding its own way.
There are parts of Tapeley where time stands still and has done for some time. We hardly saw a soul when we visited midweek - I felt like the Lady of the Manor, if only I'd been wearing a tea dress. If you get a chance, do pop in. They have a calendar of events running this summer, and rumour has it that they are currently taking part in Country House Rescue.
Just look at that view.