“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade”
~ Charles Dickens
Last week we had a completely unexpected day of sunshine and warmth after what has felt like weeks of snow, rain, wind and freezing temperatures. To make matters even better, it happened to be a Sunday, the only day of the week that we are all together as a family. After a short discussion over breakfast about what to do, we settled on exploring a National Trust property we’d not visited before. I packed a picnic, we bundled into the car and headed off to Croome in Worcestershire, singing our hearts out to The Greatest Showman soundtrack (of course!)
We’d spotted the sign for Croome last summer when we visited the confetti flower fields at Pershore, and had made a mental note that we wanted to visit one day as it was just about the right distance to make a day trip of it. I’m so glad we decided to go as we had a really lovely day together – it was exactly what we needed to blow away the last few remaining cobwebs of winter and embrace the start of Spring in all its glory.
The first two things I noticed about Croome were how much space there was and the gorgeous views of the Malvern Hills. The blue sky coupled with wispy white clouds provided the perfect backdrop to the contrasting horizon line and the perfect green of the landscape below. The girls had an absolute blast running & rolling down the hill, doing cartwheels & handstands on the fields and chasing each other in an epic game of tag.
Ella and I popped into the pretty little Church of St Magdalene at the top of church. Ella was fascinated with the Latin engravings and the statues inside, whilst I was drawn to the beautiful window and the light. It felt very peaceful in there. I’m not religious at all, but I do love the serenity of churches and I have on occasion been known to simply go and sit quietly inside for a few minutes just to access something inside myself that I’ve been unable to reach in the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
From there we made our way down to the Lake along paths edged in plants and greenery, past the Temple Greenhouse where the sunlight was streaming in, and towards the centuries old Grotto and the statue of Sabrina.
The girls collected sticks (of course! It wouldn’t be a family walk without sticks of various sizes putting in an appearance 😉 ) and we then headed across the field towards the Chinese Bridge, following the curve of the river on our left hand side. The bridge was a beautiful construction and the views back towards the lake we’d just walked from were glorious.
We were gradually making our way towards Croome Court, an imposing building in the heart of the parkland. Truth be told, I’m always a little hesitant to take my girls into properties like this which house important historical artefacts and breakable objects. Especially when we’re heading towards the time of day where they get a little ‘hangry’. We decided to have a wander round anyway and I was happily surprised at how much interest the girls showed in the history of the place. Ella was fascinated with the story of the Lost Tapestries whilst Mimi and Lola had fun quietly slow dancing together in The Long Gallery, only stopping to gaze at the views of the grounds through the vast windows through which the light poured in. We were all surprised to learn that Croome Court had been a boys boarding school in the 1950’s, run by nuns – it was really interesting learning all about what life would have been like (and the girls all said how pleased they are that they don’t have to do all the chores that the boys in the boarding school had to do on a daily basis!)
By this point little tummies were rumbling so we headed down to Kitty Fisher’s Coffee House in the basement. It was absolutely heaving with people so we bought some cakes and retreated back upstairs and outside, where we sat on the steps in the sunshine, simultaneously people watching and scoffing.
Bellies full, we climbed up the hill, which had breath-taking views when you looked back towards where you’d just come from, and continued along the path towards the Rotunda, where the girls climbed trees for a while. The Walled Garden (which is privately owned) wasn’t open for the season yet, so we couldn’t go in but I’m pretty sure it’s very beautiful during the summer months when everything is in bloom.
We completed the circuit by heading back through the trees towards the Church of St Mary Magdalene, passing by The Ice House on our way. Mimi commented that it looked like Hagrid’s Hut (from Harry Potter) so we went over to investigate. Essentially, it’s an ancient refrigeration system. Only a third of the building is above ground, with the remaining two thirds stretching deep underground. Food used to be kept in there because it was much colder below ground level so the food stayed fresh. The girls were wide-eyed at the thought of living a life without electricity.
The final stop of the day were the two playgrounds. One was RAF-themed and I have to say it was pretty cool, though perhaps for slightly younger children than my girls. The other was a natural playground – logs and a wooden obstacle course which the girls had great fun timing themselves on to see who could get round it in the quickest time. After playing for a while we realised how late it was. We didn’t have time to look around the RAF Defford Museum, which was a shame – it’s something we’ll definitely be sure to do next time we visit. We did stop for a quick look in the second-hand bookshop attached to the café and I’m SO glad we did because we scored almost the entire set of Nancy Drew books! I loved the series as a child and have been looking out for them for years for Ella and Mimi as I know they’ll love them too. You can’t buy them new any more (to my knowledge anyway) so I’ve been scouring the charity shops looking for them. It felt like we’d found treasure and we left a generous amount in the honesty box as I was so thrilled to have found them.
We really enjoyed our afternoon at Croome and will most certainly be making a return visit as I’m pretty sure it’s one of those places where you find something new each time you visit.