Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The places we visited this summer

Since taking out National Trust membership earlier this year our weekends have been transformed. Friday night we can be found reading the NT bible and the app to check out whats on near us and find interesting places to explore. So where did we go this summer?

Greys Court  - A wonderful 16th century mansion with so many different walled gardens and also a donkey wheel. We loved looking round the house, and the guides in each room were really great with Charlotte pointing out interesting things for her to look at. The house had such a homely feel to it, you could still imagine the boys playing there. We enjoyed climbing the great tower and looking across the grounds and then exploring all the different bits of the garden. I could have easily sat for hours reading a book by the pond, it was so peaceful and beautiful. The hidden play area was fantastic. A Greys fort, slide, archery, and games, all hidden amongst the trees.

Walled Gardens of Greys Court
 Basildon Park - Which I reviewed earlier this year, and we have since been back to for a big walk. We got to explore the extensive grounds on our second visit which gave some wonderful views looking back across to the mansion. There were lovely seats on the walk in just the right spot for a sit down. There were log bridges and dens to explore along the way so Charlotte wouldn't get bored, we almost got chased by cows through the last field... which stopped any "my legs won't carry me any longer" grumbles. It really wasn't that long a walk!

View across Basildon Park
 Hughenden - we visited on a re-enactment day which made it a lot of fun. Punch and Judy shows, dressing up, Zulu Dawn re-enactment. The house was such a contrast with the stunning upstairs rooms and then the war room downstairs, the ice house bunker which use has only just been discovered was amazing. The formal garden was lovely to sit in and the walled garden was great for children to explore and find the hidden things. Charlotte also made us go on a walk to find the dog graves, we weren't the only parents to be dragged along to check these out thankfully.

Hughenden gardens
 Upton House and Gardens - From the start Charlotte was made to feel welcome, having a map to herself and being shown the special trail for children to follow to the house spotting the characters along the way. She was so excited. We loved exploring the house with the balcony that looked down over the games room. We sat for some time playing snakes and ladders, it was nice to have a room where you can sit down and touch things. The dressing up room was a big hit, and the oh so glamorous bathroom. The contrasting garden areas were lovely to walk round, if a little hard climbing back up. The kitchen garden on the hill side with the lake at the bottom which can't be seen from the house was a surprise. The sunken garden was our favourite for sure, but wish we could work out where the smell of toffee was coming from.

Upton gardens
 Cliveden - We have now visited twice as the grounds are so huge, and we still haven't seen it all. I reviewed our first trip earlier on this year, and the second time we went back to explore the long garden, secret garden and war memorial garden, and of course the excellent slide on the south terrace.

plenty of statues at Cliveden
 Stowe -  fantastic magical grounds with something round every corner to explore. The grounds are so vast it will take a couple of visits to see it all. Before you even get to the grounds your journey starts at the New Inn, with parlour rooms, games rooms and kitchen from the 1700's. The one thing we found stopping us enjoying it quite so much was the one set of toilets right at the start, not great with a young child. The map said there was a second but these were closed.

Stowe grounds
Chedworth Roman Villa - I blogged about this earlier in the year and keep saying we will go back again soon as it was such an excellent day. Its really educational for children and has a wonderful lawn to picnic on. There are plenty of things going on at weekends with traditional skills being shown off.
layout of the formal villa rooms
Waddesdon Manor - Readitdaddy and Charlotte went for the day by themselves. We have visited a few times over the years but this was the first time they have been inside the house and were really wowed by it. The grounds are fantastic for walking round with children and the play park is great.

Big bird at Waddesdon
Now where shall we visit next?

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