"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum,
and they charge the people a dollar and a half just to see them."
( Joni Mitchell )
I love trees. I love the infinite variety of their natural architectures. They are organic, living sculptures created by the master artist in his cosmic studio and they please my eye. The best place to tree watch in England is in the extensive parkland that surrounds our stately homes. Here, the trees have been allowed to grow old and venerable, protected from the axes and chainsaws of developers by the centuries of privilege enjoyed by their aristocratic owners.
Croft Castle in Herefordshire is now in the possession of The National Trust rather than a descendant of a genocidal, Norman knight, so anybody willing to pay the entrance fee can go and enjoy both the parkland and the buildings without fear of being shot at by a gamekeeper. On Wednesday, on the hottest July day in England since records began, we did just that. In the morning we went for a leisurely stroll around the fields and then, after lunch, we took it in turns to look around the castle and medieval church of St Michael and All Angels just outside its front door, whilst the other one of us looked after the dogs under the shading branches of a nearby ancient tree.
Then it was a quick procession with photographic opportunities around the walled garden before we headed back to the MadMobile to enjoy the air conditioning turned right up to eleven. Phew, what a scorcher!