Where does this ever happen in real life?
It was raining when I pulled up to the gate of Ballyfin. I'd been driving for more than two and a half hours and the first actual sign I saw for Ballyfin was just 8 kilometers from the gates. I'd stopped in a lot of small towns along the way just to make sure I was headed the right way, but I do that when I'm driving just to meet people. And the rain, it just added to the ambiance.
Ballyfin was built in 1826 and back then the rule was for the driveway to your manor house to show nothing until it showed everything. As you round the bend and the house at the center of more than 600 acres of woodlands comes into sight you are instantly impressed. And two uniformed modern day footman and the hotel general manager were standing with umbrellas ready to welcome me inside. I felt like a princess the entire time I was there.
And when I asked about walking the grounds to take pictures of the gardens they offered that they had a fleet of electric golf carts....or perhaps a more traditional option. And when I went to the door, a horse drawn carriage awaited. Full of wool blankets as it had started to rain and Lionel, my guide explained that Kit and Ben ( the horses )were happy to take a tour, even in the rain.
We saw the fountains and a garden folly of a viewing tower on a hill surrounded by a mote that never has actually had water in it, but sure looks like it could hold it. There were private picnic areas, fountains and gardens. Not only do they grow most of their own produce there, they grow all the flowers for the house. They even grow the apples Kit and Ben would get as treats when we got back.