Imagine a bitter cold, but sunny day. You decide to go for a little walk at one of your favourite National Trust properties. On your walk you stumble upon a café terrace with sheepskins on the chairs and warm woollen blankets ready to wrap up in. It is so tempting to just snuggle down with a warm hot chocolate!
Alas, your children will not even contemplate that. They have no intention of sitting still! They want to be playing hike and seek in the bushes- all 3 of them, including the 1 year old- and wanting you to join in.
As they get bored you all race across the grounds to the aviary. Well, they all race ahead, except the littlest. He finds every puddle and tests them for splashability.
When you finally catch up with the others at the aviary, you find a perfect picnic spot by the fountain, listening to the exotic birds singing as you consume your yummy picnic.
This was our visit to Waddesdon Manor the other day. It really was a lovely day, however chilly.
Waddesdon Manor is a mere 20 miles from Oxford across the lovely Oxfordshire countryside and as National Trust members we don’t even have to pay anything further to get in. Yet we remark each time that we should go more often!
Waddesdon is such a beautiful property- One that is not steeped in many centuries of history. The Manor was “only” conceived in 1874, but none-the-less has immense beauty all around- the buildings, the gardens and the collections inside the house are all wonderful.
In January the house itself closes for essential maintenance and deep cleaning.
The grounds, the café and restaurant still offer enough to keep a family happy.
The two highlights of our visit are always the aviary with its beautiful rare birds and the adventure playground. They didn’t disappoint this time either.
The Sunday was the first time we’ve visited since Max is properly mobile and he loved toddling around looking at the birds in the aviary. Birds fascinate him anyway, but to have such a variety that he could look at relatively up close and run between the different cages was great. He also loved the wishing fountain, loved kneeling by it and splashing his hands in it.
Cue: soaking wet child. Note to self: put him in double layer of waterproofs next time!
My wet one year old meant we needed to use the facilities, which were lovely, clean and most importantly warm. After a change of some clothes and a drying of others using the hand dryer we were off to the adventure playground.
The Adventure Playground
The adventure playground is really well thought out! It’s in a rather large sloping wooded area. The different levels are connected by wooden walkways. Facilities, at the Stables, are very close to the lower level playground.
It kept our lot swinging, climbing, sliding, playing for a good hour and a half. They would’ve stayed much longer but mummy was not dressed in enough layers and wasn’t running around enough to stay warm. (Booo!!!)
As we headed back to our car we stopped by at the Power house. There was a film running on the history of the house. This was very informative. The children were ready to warm up and tired enough to sit through the 20 minutes or so of the film. Max just went around pushing the buttons on the huge machinery on one side of the room- it really used to be the power house for the estate.
The film was the perfect way to relax before hitting the road. It also gave us some interesting facts to talk about on our way home- mostly about the ingenuity of the Rothschilds for the four brothers moving to 4 corners of Europe and conquering the banking sector as the first “international” bankers.
This chilly visit to Waddesdon was a perfect winter’s day out and we look forward to coming back next month for the Princesses and Knights events happening over half term.
This year I’d also like to see the gardens as they change from season to season. We saw the first hints of life springing up already.
To find out more about Waddesdon Manor – head over to the Waddesdon Manor website.
For other inspiring ideas of getting out and about with children, please visit some of the other blogs sharing their outdoor fun on Country Kids