Today we made the most of our National Trust passes and visited Kingston Lacy near Wimborne, Dorset.
Being Easter weekend, as well as Granma's birthday treat, a grand historical building with large woodland grounds to explore and a Cadbury's sponsored Easter egg hunt, was a perfect combination for us.
As we arrived and embarked on the guided trail around the woodlands, following the bunting and signs and answering the simple clues, the children enjoyed looking out for the giant eggs, anticipating the treat of Cadbury chocolate at the end. To be honest though, the clues were far too simple or a 7 and 9 year old and they both refused to read out the cutesy story about woodland animals, leaving me to read aloud for them. Also it seemed that every family visiting Kingston Lacy that morning chose to do the Easter trail first. So we wandered around the trail in the midst of a large pack of families wearing Joules welly boots, carrying Cath Kidston baby bags and announcing 'oh darling, do please put down that large stick'. Luckily the end of the trail did result in a fair sized chocolate egg each and the children were especially pleased that we'd been generous enough to fork out for 2 trail packs, meaning they didn't have to share. There were plenty of families complaining that the £2.50 trail price resulted in an egg worth possibly 75 pence, but I figured it was all in the name of fundraising for the National Trust.
Once we were clear of the Joules welly brigade and free to explore the grounds of Kingston Lacy with chocolate egg in our tummies, the day improved ten fold. It was also at this point, I confirmed to myself that I'm not a huge fan of 'organised fun'!The gardens at Kingston Lacy are just what you would hope for from a large, lavish countryside estate, with a huge variety of plants, landscapes and influences from different cultures. My favourite area was the 'Tea Garden'
We also loved the kitchen gardens, which are at the bottom of the grounds and across the road. The gardens were clearly still very much in use and you can explore the outhouses, potting sheds and even a little gardener's rest room complete with armchairs and an open fire. The large area of allotments, vegetable beds and greenhouses gave me lots of inspiration and a desire to go self-sufficient one day.... if only. For now, I'll have to make do with my mini crates of cucumber plants, basket of strawberries and a very hopeful lettuce or two.
The house at Kingston Lacey was just as lovely and in good old National Trust style, the coffee shop lived up to expectation also.
Next trip, I promise photographs to match my descriptions. What's your favourite National Trust property to visit?