|The garden front in 2016|
This is a good time of the year to visit County Armagh, Ulster's orchard county.
The apple blossom is flourishing, as I saw today at Ardress House, a property of the National Trust.
Ardress is well signposted from the M1 motorway, at junction 13 or 14; as is The Argory, only a few miles from Ardress.
I had made up a round of fresh egg and onion sandwiches and brought tea as well.
The house is having a face-lift at the moment, mainly on the east or entrance front.
I sat at a bench in front of the house and had my sandwiches, prior to passing though Reception and into the farmyard.
I don't think I've ever been to Ardress before, and it was delightful to walk into the farmyard and see the chickens contentedly wandering about.
Little packets of seed can be bought for 10p in order to feed them, as I did.
Our tour of the house began at about one forty-five and our guide today was Joan, a former schoolteacher, who was particularly informative about most items on display.
|The garden front ca 1960|
When the Ensors sold Ardress in 1960 they left virtually no furnishings, so the furniture and paintings are all from other properties, including a considerable number of oil-paintings on loan from the Earl Castle Stewart.
The late-18th century drawing-room has remarkably fine plasterwork by Michael Stapleton.
The dining-room, though joined by a later extension, is inaccessible from the house, so you walk outside through the courtyard in order to enter it.
A number of Lord Castle Stewart's paintings hang here.
At the conclusion of the tour we left via a sort of French window at the garden front.
Thereafter I went for a stroll through the garden and along The Ladies' Mile walk, before driving home.