This meant that I could finally wave goodbye to my floral trousers, lovely though they are, and start wearing my frocks.
This one, a dusky pink Crimplene number, printed with a yellow, orange and green flower print, is making its debut on the blog, as it was a fairly recent find from Think Twice.
We were off to Wales again, to visit a National Trust property near Wrexham, called Erddig. And no, the double "d" isn't a typing error: it's a Welsh name, and it's pronounced "Erthig"!
As we were only about an hour and a quarter or so away (we'd passed signs to it when we we driving up to Chester), this was our chance to put it on our itinerary.
Widely acclaimed as one of Britain's finest historic houses, Erddig is a fascinating yet unpretentious early 18th-century country house reflecting the upstairs-downstairs life of a gentry family over 250 years.
The atmospheric house features an impressive range of outbuildings, including stables, a smithy, a joiner's shop and a sawmill.
As the house itself only opened at 12.30, we had a look around these first.
After lunch, we walked to the front of the house to admire its long, creeper-clad façade. The wings at each end of the central block were added by John Meller, a rich London lawyer, who bought the property in 1714.
Since that point, nearly all of Meller's original interiors have been left intact.
On his death in 1733, unmarried and childless, the property went to his nephew, Simon Yorke, and the house was subsequently passed down through generations of the Yorke family.
The house is entered via the servants’ entrance, a nod to the unusual nature of the relationship between upstairs and downstairs at Erddig.
Servants' bells (top left and bottom right), a glimpse into the Butler's Pantry
(top right) and a very early pedal powered vacuum cleaner (bottom left)
Early 20th century ice box with instructions to use
Through a unique collection of paintings, printed documents and even poems, the Yorke family created an unmatched record of domestic life in a stately home, detailing who their servants were and how they lived.
The oversized bug you can see among the freshly ironed linen on the bottom right (below) is a moth, and is part of the Erddig Bug Bonanza. Ten of these huge creepy crawlies were lurking in the house for visitors to spot, each one drawing attention to the damage they can cause.
In the early seventies, Erddig was on the brink of ruin. The last Squire and only remaining heir, Philip Yorke III, had inherited the crumbling Welsh stately home.
As the Bersham colliery runs underneath the house, erosion had caused it to subside 5 feet (1,5 m), to the extent that, without underpinning, it would have become a ruin. The huge responsibility weighed heavily on Philip’s shoulders (he was, after all, the last curator of his family’s home with its unique collections) and eventually, in 1973, he handed the house and its contents to the National Trust, who faced their biggest conservation challenge at that time.
The contraption top right is a 19th century free standing shower
which worked with a hand pump
Erddig Hall is set within a 1200-acre country park.
The gardens and parkland were largely the work of landscape designer William Emes, who worked at Erddig from 1768-1780.
Emes created gravelled walks, planted many trees which are still thriving today, and manipulated the flow of water across the park through a series of cascades and weirs.
Emes also designed the unusual "Cup and Saucer" water feature, the "cup" being a hole in the middle of a large disc (the "saucer") into which a flowing brook disappears creating an internal cylindrical waterfall. This system quickly lowers the brook, preventing erosion.
Nearby, an Hydraulic Ram pumped water up to the house to storage cisterns in the roof of the house. The distinctive thud of the mechanism became known as the "heart of Erddig". The water is still used today to power the fountains in the garden.
Emes also incorporated into his designs some of the early earthwork features at Erddig, for example the remains of the 11th Century Motte and Bailey castle, now only witnessed by raised earthen mounds covered by trees.
Several walks around the estate are laid out, all starting from the dovecote, which you can see in the centre of the above collage.
We chose the 1-mile orange one through Big Wood to the remains of the Motte and Bailey.
Following the orange markers seemed very straightforward, until we came to one which at first had us stumped, as it was pointing in two directions. Then we clocked that we'd arrived at the motte and bailey and that we were supposed to walk around it, which we promptly did ... in the wrong direction!
Back at the house, we finished our day with a cup of coffee in the tea garden, planning to return in a year's time for a longer walk in this quiet oasis.
* The title of this post is a quote from Philip Yorke II, who inherited Erddig in 1894.
I'm taking my pink dress to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!