Matilda in Wonderland


Today’s guest picture, taken by Clare, her mother, shows Matilda enjoying refreshment in the cafe at the Archerfield Walled Garden.


After breakfast Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled out to the Archerfield estate, a few miles from North Berwick, and apart from being nearly knocked off our bikes by the powerful scent from this huge field of rape beside the road….


…we enjoyed the scenery as we went.


We met up with Matilda and her parents at the Walled Garden and had a cup of coffee before going to see what the Fairy Walk had to offer.

We passed the big house on our way down to the walk.

Archerfield House

It has had a new avenue of trees planted and these will look impressive in years to come.

The Fairy Walk lived up to our hopes.

It had proper sized gates at the start and finish…

Fairy Walk Archerfield

… and a path that wound for a good distance through a wood…

Fairy Walk Archerfield

…with various fantastical creatures beside it on the way and fifteen little fairy houses to visit.

Fairy Walk Archerfield

There were wild flowers and orange tip butterflies among the trees and many interesting willow constructions (a spiral, a kirk, a yurt and a tepee) to explore on the way back to the cafe.

There was also a lot of this….


…which Mrs Tootlepedal thought might be Wolfsbane, which doesn’t seem quite so fairy like to me.

The grounds are well looked after….

Archerfield House

…and every now and again, the visitor passes a wicker deer or two.

We had spent so long exploring the fairy world that it was time for lunch when we got back.  After lunch, Matilda took her parents home for a snooze and Mrs Tootlepedal and I looked at the walled garden itself (a work in progress with an excellent polytunnel) and then cycled into the village of Dirleton where we stopped to visit the fine castle  and gardens there.

We passed this good looking tree, almost exactly 100 years old…

Direlton Castle

…and visited the substantial doocot….

Direlton Castle

…before going on the the castle itself.

Direlton Castle

I haven’t got the time (or the energy) to detail the various stages of its ruin and rebuilding but it was a rewarding place to visit on a perfect spring afternoon.

Those interested can click here for a full review of the castle and its history.

Although it is basically a ruin and the owners left it as such when they built Archerfield House to actually live in, there was still plenty to see.

Dirleton Castle

Dirleton Castle
Store rooms and bakehouse
Dirleton Castle
A view from every window
Dirleton Castle
Dark corners and winding stairs
Dirleton Castle
A new bridge on the site of the old drawbridge

The castle is built, as a good building should be, on a firm foundation of rock…

Dirleton Castle

…and is an impressive sight, even today.

Dirleton Castle

Below the castle, surrounded by aged yew trees, lies a bowling green, which was added in Victorian times.

Dirleton Castle

It comes with added squirrel…


…which the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted when it scampered up a tree on our approach.

After a last look back at this splendid building…

Dirleton Castle

…and a quick look over the garden wall to admire the typical roofs of the area…

East Lothian roofs

…we cycled back to North Berwick.

Fellow cyclists will share our pain when I remark that the wind, which had been in our faces as we cycled out from the town in the morning, was now in our faces as we cycled back in the afternoon.  But it was light and we laughed as we cycled along.

After some recovery time, we went down to the beach with Matilda and Clare and there was any amount of sand castle building.  There had to be a lot of building because someone, who shall be nameless but was aged just over three, kept knocking any castles that were built quite flat again.

There are thus no castle pictures but we did see a sailing boat passing us well out at sea.

Sailing boat
The Lumix was at full stretch to get this shot.

We got home just in time to enjoy a delicious meal of macaroni cheese prepared by Alistair.

We have been very lucky with the weather so far and the forecast is offering us the hope that it may last until Friday afternoon which would be very satisfactory.

No flying birds to day but as there have been more than enough pictures already, that is no great loss.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “Matilda in Wonderland

  1. So glad the weather has been kind, you took me back to my childhood with the mention of Dirleton Castle. I used to love climbing walls. I also remember a bakery nearby with delicious treats.

  2. The child-sized gates are a wonderful idea – Matilda must have been in her element! Ancient staircases are quite amazing – my back aches thinking about how such places were built.

  3. Matilda looks quite grown up in that first photo.
    The tour of the castle and the gardens must have been a thrill.
    I think Mrs. Tootlepedal is right about the wolfsbane. That’s a very poisonous plant and it’s surprising to see it in a children’s garden. I know of some plants here and they also grow in a children’s garden. I have to wonder how much the people in charge know about plants.

  4. Sounds like a perfect day out for 3 year olds and those a little more advanced in years too. I remember very little about Dirleton Castle, except the name.

  5. Can’t find where to leave a comment for 10 May. I did click Like- because I really did like all your wonderful photos. We are definitely going to visit there one day- it’s amazing.

  6. I love the gate for little ones! Beautiful grounds and an impressive castle. It would have been interesting to have been around to see it in its heyday.

  7. Superb photos, as always. Looks like one of those holidays you will always remember. Looks like aconite/wolfsbane to me – one of my gardening customers used to grow it in profusion. It always worried me.

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