Tag Archives: National Trust

An afternoon at Box Hill

On Tuesday afternoon we went to Box Hill with our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick.  We arrived after them, and they had already finished their picnic, so we took our packed lunches with us and set off along the Natural Play Trail.

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The children were very happy that there were lots of things to climb on – Rabbit in particular was in her element!

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The children ate their lunch in the largest of several dens, and then explored some of the others.

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We really enjoyed exploring the play trail, and could have spent even longer there if we had had time.  Owl managed to catch a falling leaf (one of the 50 things) and Monkey spent a long time trying to do the same.  Luckily he succeeded at last.  Rabbit and Tiddler didn’t manage it this time, but they had fun trying!

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We found out, from our friends, that you can eat the flesh of yew berries as long as you remove the black seed first (be very careful if you try this at home.)  And Rabbit learned that it’s probably not a very good idea to go for a walk in the Autumn in your plimsolls!

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The children had fun on the rope swings and it was particularly hard to get them to move on from this part of the trail…

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…especially as there were more things to climb on too.

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The children played trolls with their friends on the “trip-trap” bridges, while I took rather a lot of photos of fungi!

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We even managed to collect a few brambles.  There were not many left, but enough to take home and cook with some apples from the garden – the perfect pudding after a quick supper of boiled eggs and toast because we were so late home.

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Box Hill is so near to us and I don’t know why we’ve never been there before.  Monkey says it is his favourite National Trust place and keeps asking when we can go back, so I think we will be visiting again soon.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Claremont Landscape Garden and Garsons PYO Farm

I’m still behind on blogging about what we’ve been up to, as always, and I’ll get round to telling you about our wonderful holiday in Wales eventually, but first I want to share a lovely afternoon we had with our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick about two weeks ago.  After a morning at the swimming pool, we set off to meet them at Claremont Landscape Garden.

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We met up with our friends and had a picnic by the lake.  The children had a lovely time, though we had to work quite hard to stop them feeding their lunch to the ducks!

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After lunch, they rolled down a really big hill – this is one of their favourite things on the National Trust #50things list so I think they will be doing it at every opportunity from now on.

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We weren’t there for very long, but there was time to play in the dirt, watch the ducks – and a heron – and go for a short walk round the lake.

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The children climbed trees, the dads chatted (and carried stuff) and the mums took photographs!  After finishing our walk, we left Claremont and drove for five minutes to our next stop, Garsons Pick Your Own Farm.

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First we picked carrots, beetroot, onions and cabbages.

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Then we managed to find just enough brambles that were ripe enough to pick.

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Next we picked some sweetcorn which was an interesting learning experience.  We were very glad to have our friends with us to prevent us from picking and buying unripe sweetcorn.  It wasn’t as easy as the sign made it sound!

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And finally we picked enough strawberries to eat some that night and make the rest into jam.  Daddy made the jam the next day, and it is delicious.  We’ve been meaning to go to both Claremont and Garsons for a long time, and we had such a good time that I’m sure we’ll be going back again very soon.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

An afternoon at Chastleton

We are coming to the end of our late and extended summer holiday now, and I’m staying at my mum’s house which gives me a little time to reflect on what we have been up to and begin to catch up on all the blog posts that are pending.  After a relaxed and quiet summer with the children at home, our family holiday time together with daddy started on Saturday 24th August.  We were staying at mum’s then as well, and we had a lovely afternoon at our favourite National Trust property, Chastleton House and Garden.

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The short walk down from the car park to the house takes you through a field of sheep.  Rabbit was particularly excited, and after a close encounter with one of the sheep, she came running to tell me “I heard it do a actual baa!”

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We got a timed ticket to enter the house shortly after we arrived, picking up an explorer backpack for the kids on the way in.  We have learnt from experience that it’s best to have one, not four, or we end up carrying them all!  The children were happy to share the binoculars, torch and magnifying glass which added a bit of fun without being too much trouble.

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I thought we might have to move fairly quickly round the house but in fact we spent quite a long time in there.  I was impressed by the children’s ability to concentrate and they all found something of interest in every room.

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Owl would have spent even longer there if he could, particularly in the reading room.  Monkey was fascinated by the typewriter and it felt strange to have to explain what it was!

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I really enjoyed looking at the wood carvings around the house, and I think it would be fun to go back with sketch books sometime and draw some of them.

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About half way round, I remembered that I had told the children we could take photos of their cuddly toys in the house which added a new dimension and kept them interested for longer.  Owl and Rabbit especially liked posing their toys next to a chamber pot under one of the beds, and they found out that it is one of the oldest items in the house.

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As always we spent a lot of time in the long gallery at the top of the house, testing out the toys.

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The teddies posed for a few more photos too.

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After a quick look in the kitchen, we came out to the courtyard for a snack and a bit of browsing in the second hand bookshop. Then we headed out to the garden to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.  All the children – and the toys – rolled down the slope which just about covered one of our #50things though it wasn’t exactly a big hill.

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The toys – and the children – enjoyed the topiary.

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They were happily occupied for a long time hiding in the bushes, jumping out and making the toys do the same.

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Then – I’m not quite sure how this started – the toys did a bit of sky diving.  Owl, Monkey and Rabbit (with some help from daddy) threw their toys up as high as possible over and over again until they were satisfied that I had taken some good enough photos.

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Tiddler had a go too, but his teddy didn’t get quite so high up.  There was just time for another roll down the slope and then we had to leave.

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A little stroll back to the car park, with a chance to say goodbye to the sheep on the way, rounded off a lovely afternoon perfectly.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Polesden Lacey

On Saturday Tiddler and I went to Polesden Lacey with our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick.  It is one of several National Trust properties not far from where we live, and though I have been there a long time ago, I haven’t been with the children before.  It is in Great Bookham near Dorking, and it’s surrounded by amazing views of the Surrey Hills.

We arrived in time for a picnic lunch, and when the children had finished eating, they played inside a large rhododendron bush which formed a perfect den.  To entice them out, after quite a long time, we blew some bubbles which did the trick.

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We had a lovely walk through the woodland.  Tiddler enjoyed using the binoculars he had borrowed on the way in to look for birds.  We saw very few, but that didn’t seem to bother him.  We hunted for bugs, looked at wildflowers and played in the natural playground.

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Tiddler also enjoyed looking at the sheep in the fields , and we found some wool which he thought was very interesting.

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He also enjoyed climbing on tree roots, and walking through a tunnel of trees.  We ended the walk by rolling down the hill in front of the house (another one of our 50 things), blowing some more bubbles and enjoying the beautiful views before heading home.

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We had a lovely day with our friends, and I enjoyed spending time with Tiddler.  We will be back soon to explore further with all the children.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Morden Hall Park

On Bank Holiday Monday, we went to Morden Hall Park in the afternoon.  It’s that time of year when I start to think we must visit some National Trust properties again, and it is our nearest one.  After we had already planned to go there, we found out that there was a May Fayre on.  So instead of a walk in the park, which is beautiful – and free, it became a rather more expensive outing.  It cost £15 for our family to get in, so I was hoping to avoid spending too much more money at the fayre.  There were some really good free stalls with plenty for the children to do, but unfortunately there were also some very expensive fairground rides and attractions which inevitably distracted the children from the free stuff.  We started off in the National Trust area, where we picked up our 50 things to do booklets, and did our first two activities.  One was to walk barefoot in the grass, which all the children did, and then they had to draw round one of their feet in the booklet.  The second activity was to plant some seeds, which at this point only Rabbit wanted to do.  She planted some radish seeds, and then we had to move on as the big boys were very keen to go on an enormous inflatable slide.  It cost £3 for 5 minutes, and the big three all went on it.  They all enjoyed it, but it was a very expensive 5 minutes.  Tiddler was too young, so we paid £2.50 for him to go on a smaller inflatable slide, but he came straight off as it was a bit too scary.  We couldn’t get our money back, but were offered a voucher for another ride.

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Next we went to look at an army camp which had been set up as it would have been in 1815, with people dressed up as soldiers from the period.  It was really interesting to talk to them, and there were lots of other historical stalls around the fair which I would have loved to explore more.  However, it was difficult to get the children to look at them, because they just wanted to do all the stuff that cost money.

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We met up with our friends from 3 kids and a gluestick, who had won an enormous cuddly dog on one of the fairground stalls.  The children obviously thought it was wonderful, and wanted to do the same, but I didn’t want to spend money and risk winning something so big!

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We managed to distract them for a while by looking at some of the animals.  I am not sure exactly which ones the children saw, but there were ferrets, dogs, chickens, rabbits, horses, Shetland ponies and goats.  We then sat down in the shade (it was a very hot day) to watch the dog races in the main arena.  After a few races, the children were called up to see if they could run as fast as the dogs.  Owl had a go, and did quite well, but it really did show how fast dogs can run as even the biggest children couldn’t quite keep up with the smallest dogs.  After that the children started to get quite grumpy as it was very hot, we had nearly finished our shared bottle of water, and all they wanted to do was go on the fairground rides but we didn’t want to spend another ten pounds or more.  We thought we might have to leave, until we discovered a great stall raising money for Great Ormond Street hospital.  They had Knex kits for sale, but also an amazing display of models including a huge rollercoaster.  They also had a very simple game in which you paid a pound for a jar and there was money wrapped up inside which you could keep.  We had several goes and won lots of 1p coins, but I didn’t mind spending the money on a good cause, it kept the children entertained and was in a nice shady area.

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We then found a small bouncy castle which Tiddler could go on with his voucher.  He only went on for about 2 minutes, but he was quite happy.  Next, we went into the Riverford tent to escape the heat and have a chat.  We are huge fans of Riverford veg boxes and we always try to go and see them when they have stalls at local fairs.  Next to the Riverford tent was a stall selling freshly squeezed lemonade, and I would rather spend money on that than on bottled water, so we bought two cups at £2 each.  The children all really liked it, and daddy got very excited about the idea about buying a proper citrus juicer and setting up a stall at our church fair, outside our house and anywhere else he could think of.  He has been happily occupied researching this idea all week so I’m expecting to see a business plan any time soon.

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Before we left, we headed back to the National Trust area because Rabbit’s compost and seeds had been spilt, and luckily she was just in time to plant some more.  This time Owl and Monkey decided they would have a go, and planted some rocket and courgette seeds.  Owl and Rabbit also wrote and drew on paper leaves the things they liked most about Morden Hall Park.  All four children also had a go at archery, which was right next to the National Trust area.  It was quite expensive, but the kind of thing I don’t mind paying for.  I know they really enjoy it so we try to do it whenever the opportunity arises, which isn’t very often.  So although it had been a little difficult at times, we ended the afternoon on a high.  It was by this time cool and pleasant, the crowds had diminished and it was hard to tear them away.  We managed by telling them we would go and buy ice cream and cones at the Co-op on the way home, because the ice creams at the fair were £3 each.  We spent less money and the children got two ice creams each instead of one, so they were happy!

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I love Morden Hall Park and we will definitely go back soon, but I think it will probably be even more fun on a normal day when we can explore more and spend less.  However, the children have of course asked to go back to the May Fayre next year!  We probably will, but I will be warning them in advance about exactly what they can and can’t do.  And if it is a hot day, I will take more water!  It was a good event, with a lot of interesting stalls and activities, but it would be so much better without the fairground stuff.  So how about it, lovely National Trust people?  If you are reading this (and I will be tweeting you the link in a minute!) then please consider cutting out the commercial side of it and just leaving the good stuff in.  If so, I would happily pay the £15 entrance fee, and have some money left to spend in the National Trust shop at the end of the day!

50 things

This afternoon I took the children to meet some friends at a local National Trust property.  We collected our “50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4” scrapbooks, and set off into the park. After a picnic lunch, we walked along the river looking for somewhere to try and catch a fish.  We saw plenty of ducks and geese, but no fish.  Tiddler discovered what happens if you grab a nettle, but luckily he also found out that crushing dock leaves in the same hand makes it feel better (or at least it was a nice distraction!)

We managed a few activities on the list – all the children looked inside a tree with a big hole in it (and found lots of spiders’ webs), and balanced on a fallen tree.  Owl hunted for bugs, and found an ant and several woodlice.  We didn’t manage to get a bird to eat bird seed from our hands, and although the children had fun fishing, all they caught was mud and leaves.   When they had had enough of that, we took them to the play area where they enjoyed the zip wire and lots of things to climb on.

On our way out, we collected stickers for our scrapbooks and planted some seeds, before setting off home.  It was a lovely afternoon out, and I’m sure we’ll be back there soon.  We are also feeling inspired to do as many of the 50 things as possible, so we will be planning some more outdoor activities and making good use of our National Trust membership.