Once down by the pond, I looked around and saw tree-lined paths stretching out in several directions - some straight (one of them a mile long, I'm sure) and, as I was to find, some curving off and into the woods, to open out at some delightful, sheltered location.
One particular path - the longest one - had the prospect of another palace sat dimly and silently in the distance. I opted to take a walk down there, occasionally allowing myself to stray off onto one of the alternative tracks which would present itself along the way.
The whole place felt serene, gentle, soothing..some times radiating solemnity, other times playfulness. Here, for example, tucked away off the main path and occupying a little glade all its own, was an extravagantly ornamental Chinese House.
I wandered around it and looked at all the sumptuous detail, whilst not allowing myself to feel any annoyance at the fact that my camera was starting to lose battery power. This wasn't the kind of place where I could feel annoyed about anything, it was far too nice. After a little while I headed back to the main path.
I love these long, straight walkways. The perception of distance travelled, of the stately building ahead growing almost imperceptibly larger and clearer, and of my starting point being barely visible when I turned round to see my progress.
All was calm, and so was I.
This palace was magnificent, looming silently in its grounds, and sitting facing the long path I had just walked down. I doubted that the place was open to the public at this time of year: I could have been wrong but, in any case, I didn't feel the need to go in.
That, for one thing, might have broken the rather delightful spell that was cast here on the outside amongst the many treasures in the park (the biggest treasure being the sense of peace, of being in an idyll). No, it was enough to be here on the outside.
I strolled the grounds for a while. The winter light was growing weak once again, but without the coldness that had gripped the air that morning. This afternoon light suited the grandeur of the setting well. I lingered for a short time further before heading back in the opposite direction.
Further delights were awaiting. As I strolled back along the path, I took a detour to my left, and happened upon this:
I could go on. On the day itself, I did go on and found many more delightful features around which I could wander, enclosed spaces in which I could feel pleasantly cocooned, porticos and squares which seemed designed for quiet reflection. I stayed until the light faded, reluctant to leave.
I know why I've posted all this now. I've needed to dip back into the serenity of the place: it's provided some welcome respite from some of the challenges I'm experiencing at the moment. Despite the distance both in terms of time and of geography, I don't feel so far away from there, and that's really something to hold on to.