If your Christmas tree droops, your balls are too heavy!

December the first, I'm travelling home! When I get in, I shall have a cup of tea, then get the Christmas tree out of the loft and start putting the 200 baubles I have on it! I don't do coloured themes, I like my tree to have baubles that mean something, and most do have a story attached to them! This year there are five new baubles from Prague, so I will always remember my holidays there when I put them on my tree.

Still, I had to make way home before festivities could begin, and I thought I little detour to Stroud would be good, because I believe that there is a gothic mansion that Marc Warren may have "lived in" as Dracula! I know the house is closed to the public at the moment, but I'm sure I will be able to get close enough to look around the grounds, and maybe go back again in the spring if it looks good.

Woodchester Mansion should have been one of the most glorious private houses in existence built in the Gothic Revival style. It was built by the Leigh family, but they mysteriously upped and left the property during its construction in 1873. Well a place that is gothic with both a mystery and a link to Tom Burke must be checked out! There is a National Trust car park near the property, so I parked up and took a walk down a long hill into a wooded valley.

Apparently bats roost in the property during the summer months, by now, they will have hibernate back into the caves that are dotted around the area. As I walked through the valley, I saw a glimpse though the trees of a turret. It was with relief that I turned a corner and could see a drive towards the house, I really didn't fancy sloshing through ankle deep mud on the forest paths if I could help it!

The house is enthralling, why would someone just mysteriously disappear and abandon such a glorious building? I think a bit of research is called for, and what I find out will be added to my piece about the Dracula sets in the TB Online Magazine!

It looks as though the local council is using the winter break to maintain the property. I'm not sure if it is just to keep it in repair, or whether they intend to finish construction. I really hope they don't; as it stands with its upstairs windows missing, and it's moss covered wonky roof, it is unique and mysterious, adding to its already strange charm. Why would anybody think that the bottom of a valley, hidden away from everything, was the perfect place to build a house? If you take a break from reality and let your mind wander through tranquillity to its lowest depths of fantasy, you can start to understand that this was indeed the perfect place for the mythology of a gothic mansion to be built.

Anyway, enough of rambling in strange woods, I have a home and a tree to get back to...I mean it is the 1st December and I need to start getting festive!