Friday, 21 April 2017

Exploring: Burtown House and Gardens, Athy

As I've said already, I'm on Easter holidays from school this week. There's nothing I hate more than doing nothing when I'm off work, but obviously as Shane works completely different holidays to me it's not always he can afford to go wandering around where ever I want to go. Step forward Rusty, our friend from Kildare, who's currently living in Sweden but came back for a week visit to his parents. He also loves exploring, and is a bit of a keen photographer so when he suggested we go somewhere that would be nice to look around I jumped at the chance.

I had visited Burtown House and Gardens last year with Shane when it was just starting out as a visitor center, and my gosh - has it changed in that year. The place is teeming with flowers, plants, herbs and home grown food, and the walks are even more gorgeous the second time round. They've since expanded the little cafe which they had on site, and they've built a much bigger restaurant, filled with organic seasonal food which obviously we had (!) to try.

The restaurant at Burtown House is called The Green Barn, and it's the first thing you see when you walk from the parking area. Not only is it a restaurant, but it also has an art exhibition featuring local artists and lots of accessories to fill your home with - I wanted them all.

You obviously would have the choice to walk the gardens first and then eat, and vice versa, but we were feeling a bit peckish and the food just looked so good that we said we'd have a bite to eat first and then go exploring.

Check out the dessert table below - scrumptious!

I loved the look of the restaurant itself - lots of rustic features, which if you've ever looked at pictures of our house you'll know I'm a fan of. Plenty of flowers around, and huge windows which looked out onto the herb and kitchen garden. The instagrammer's dream. Rusty even pointing out how alike the menus were here to the menus which we had made for our wedding - got to love kraft paper.

I ordered the assorted of breads and dips as I wasn't feeling too up to a main course (which looked huge as they passed by us). It came with homemade breads, garden pesto, beetroot hummous and tapenade, and was just lovely. Rusty ordered the carrot and coriander soup which he wasn't the biggest fan of but also enjoyed the variety of breads and dips.

There's also a lovely open area at the end of the restaurant which we walked down to as it wasn't too busy, and there's some lovely portraits on the wall for people to look at.

{The view out to the gardens}

They also had the nicest bathroom area. I think you can tell a lot about a place on their toilets. Again, it was full of rustic, homemade details, and I had a big fondness for the wreaths which they had up on the walls. I really want an all year round wreath for our front door.

After eating, and before the gardens we went into the area where they had a number of botanical paintings by the artist Wendy Walsh. I had seen some of Wendy's work the last time we had visited and picked up some cards with her designs on for around the house, but I was glad to see them in their own allotted space this time around.

They still had some of her cards for sale, along with a much bigger collection of prints, both framed and unframed. They also had some cook books, gardening books on display in this room - and I was glad to see so many Irish ones present.

The weather didn't seem to be getting worse (or better) but it was dry so we decided to head off around the gardens. Tickets cost E8 each, which can seem pricey for a garden walk in Ireland, but as you can really see where the money is being put back into the placee, in both the look and the upkeep of the house and gardens, we really didn't mind.

The first area we went to was the New Garden. There's lots of lovely flowers here to look at, and a gorgeous stone bench for you to sit on as you admire them all. Rusty was in his element here as he loves to photograph flowers upclose.

You can catch a glimpse of the sundial garden through the hedges of the New Garden.

From the New Garden we walked up past the house, past where the old cafe used to be where we could catch a view of the back of the Main House, and it's herbaceous borders surrounding it.

{The old cafe - The Gallery Cafe}

{The back of the Main House}

We walked down to one of the many sculptures that are dotted around the gardens - this one was called Viewpoint, and had used laser technology to pull the pieces of stone through one large piece of rock.

{Having fun with the sculpture}

We took the path from the sculpture back to the gardens where we got to the Yew Walk and the Orchard. I especially loved the pergola as evident by all the pictures, and I am wondering where I could incorporate one into our own garden!

Walking through the orchard, admiring all the blossoms.

At the end of the orchard is a lovely sit down area, which is right beside Wendy's Garden, and the entrance to the Stable Yard Garden.

This was one of my favourite parts of the walk. I loved the look of the houses in the Stable Yard, which have actually been converted into houses for people to stay overnight in. At the moment our house is plastered, but I really want to bring this look to it by adding on a layer of brickwork to the top. I'm going to be using this look at my inspiration as I just loved the way it all came together.

I feel so on trend with the orange plant pots outside the door - I've got mine outside the front already.

{Sneaky peeks into the cottages}

It looked like one of the cottages is been used as an artists studio - we couldn't help peering inside.

Through the Stable Yard brings you to the Stream Garden and the Nutgrove. It was so quiet here that all you could hear was the water from the stream and the buzzing of bees around the bluebells.

And there were so many bluebells - I was in bluebell heaven!

Unfortunately, this where my battery died. I'd just been so busy snapping away that I hadn't noticed it running down. Rusty did manage to get some shots of the herb and kitchen garden which was where we finished up our walk, and when's he finished processing them, I'm sure he won't mind if I put one or two of them up here.

If you do manage to visit Burtown House and Gardens, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as we did. They told us that they're putting in a wood burning pizza oven for the Summer months so we'll be dragging Emma and Shane back with us to have a taste of that.


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