Batsford Arboretum
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Colours - and falconry - at Batsford Park
I'm no horticulturist. I came here purely because I was on the trail of the Mitford sisters, keen to see their ancestral home (Batsford Park) as described in so many of Nancy Mitford's novels. But as well as a view of that house (outside only, it's a private residence), Batsford Arboretum can also offer one of the largest private collections of trees and shrubs in the UK. It was just a beautiful and peaceful place to walk, taking in the visual delights of the many brightly blossomed cherry trees and flaming maples. And then there was the falconry. The park contains the Cotswold Falconry Centre, where we saw all sorts of different owls, eagles, hawks, buzzards and vultures... all safely behind cages, until the display began. I'd never known anything about falconry before - I don't think I'd even realised it was a form of hunting - but the hour-long display was an eye opener as birds circled, swooped and dived at the falconer's bidding. It doesn't always go right, sometimes the birds aren't particularly hungry and won't play along. But that's all part of the entertainment. (Batsford Arboretum is open Feb-Oct)
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