I’d unknowingly timed my trip to Compton Acres badly. Having spent the previous day ticking off the big, Beyond the Beach three – SUP, Kingland Crescent and Poole Quay – I was pretty whacked.

Enough of my woes. Point is, I was weary heading over to Poole’s swanky Canford Cliffs and it was set to be another scorcher. But like a good yoga practice, bit by bit, everything settled into place until I began to connect with my inner zen goddess.

I parked in a nearby side street and walked into Compton Acres on foot, looking up and marvelling at the otherworldliness of the terracotta-tiled Mediterranean architecture. I felt transported away from the discomfort of my reluctant limbs and hayfever.

I’d worn a maxi-dress and a straw hat straight from the “how to look like you’re off to spend the day wandering around one of the finest privately owned gardens in England” handbook.

Grace standing in front of Compton Acres entrance sign

Once the lovely Fay on the ticket desk had furnished me with a map and set me off on the circular route, I assumed an appropriate saunter.

The route starts and ends in the immaculate Italian Garden. With water features trickling in the background and trees rustling in the breeze, I started to feel my cares drift away. Surrounded by sculpture inspired by heroes of antiquity, I was reminded of studying for a degree in Classics a whopping 20 years ago.

I continued, sashaying from radiant glades to dappled shade, and was quickly completely immersed in the magical land of Compton Acres.

Occasionally I caught a glimpse of the magicians who tend to these exquisite grounds as they trundled a wheelbarrow along perfectly maintained gravel paths.

In the past, I have all too often sought to share these experiences with friends and loved ones, which is, of course, essential. But, through Julia Cameron’s self-help book for creatives, The Artist’s Way, I have only recently been introduced to the value of enjoying time in my own company and indulging my inner artist.

Sketch of the pond area in Compton Acres Poole

Strolling alongside babbling brooks and hopping across streams, I reaffirmed my great love for the water. Finding myself drawn to the unparalleled peace of the memory garden, the baby hippie in me managed a five-minute meditation.

I’d gone in with a loose timeframe but that got looser and eventually fell away entirely as I gave into the freedom to walk and look and think for as long as I wanted. This newly claimed liberty culminated in a quick sketch back in the Italian Garden before I grudgingly left my slice of heaven, and only because an empty stomach was necessitating my departure.

I do know Compton Acres is not mine alone but, on that day, it really felt like it was and I urge you with every fibre of my artistic being to go and make it yours too.

Blog Written by Grace Lovelass 




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