Sundays are pretty sacred in our house. It’s the only day of the week where all of us are together and so we try to keep them for day trips and adventures and exploring new places. Sometimes things get in the way of those adventures – lovely things like family or friends coming to visit, or a birthday party that one of the girls is invited to. Sometimes ‘life admin’ gets in the way and our precious Sundays end up being more about running all the errands that we didn’t get the chance to do during the week. That’s just the way things go I guess and we roll with it, knowing that when we do have a full Sunday together we’ll absolutely make the most of it.
Lately it feels like most of our Sundays have been the latter and I’ve been craving a bit of a break to our normal routine and a change from the usual places we end up going to. I was absolutely determined that May half term week wasn’t going to pass us by without us going somewhere we hadn’t been before. And so on the final Sunday, the day before the girls went back to school, we consulted the list I’ve made of places we want to visit (which grows longer by the day) and settled on Attingham Park in Shropshire.
It’s a National Trust property about an hour away from us and I’ve heard many good things about it from both friends and lovely accounts that I follow on Instagram. We arrived at lunchtime, had our traditional ‘car picnic’ (which the girls love!) and headed in.
We’d been toying with the idea of joining the National Trust for months and it’s been one of those things on my to-do list that I’ve never managed to get round to. You know the ones? Those things that just keep getting transferred to the next day’s list and gradually slip down the list of priorities as the weeks (and months) pass by.
And so as we approached the entrance we decided that there was no time like the present and signed up for a family membership on the spot. I guess that means we’re now officially ‘grown-ups’?! 😉 I have to say I was super-impressed with the whole process and the girls were thrilled with their ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and 3/4′ booklets that they were given, immediately setting about ticking off what they’d already done, sticking in stickers and pondering what we might be able to tick off on our visit that day.
We decided to start out our afternoon by heading for the Walled Garden, which I loved. The borders were absolutely bursting with beautiful flowers and colours, the scent that filled the air was utterly heavenly and the rows of vegetables growing neatly made me immediately want to transform our garden at home into a little patch to grow our own produce. There were intriguing gates which made you wonder what lay beyond them, green lawns which were perfect for cartwheeling and the kind of landscaping that makes an organisational perfectionist like me swoon a little bit at it’s clean lines.
From the Walled Garden we headed through the Orchard (so many different varieties of apple trees!) and on to the fantastic adventure playground – the ‘Field of Play’. It was vast, with picnic tables dotted around, tunnels to explore, hills to roll down, natural wooden structures to clamber and balance on and so much space to run around in that even though it was really busy it didn’t actually feel like it because everyone was so spread out. Because our three girls are a bit older I wasn’t too worried about losing sight of them (they have a habit of immediately vanishing in three separate directions as soon as we arrive at a play area!) but with littler children I’d be a bit wary of letting them run off too far I think.
Unexpectedly the heavens decided to open just as we’d bought an ice cream from the Greedy Pig kiosk that’s there, so while everyone else left and ran for cover, we huddled together under the awning, licking our ice creams and trying (unsuccessfully!) to avoid getting dripped on. Thankfully it stopped as suddenly as it started (we weren’t exactly dressed for a downpour!) and whilst the sun didn’t come back out to play we decided that we weren’t going to let the weather dampen our spirits and so once we’d finished our ice creams we set off to see what else Attingham Park had in store for us.
Attingham Park is pretty big and there were a few different route options to choose from after leaving the Field of Play. We decided to head up through the Woodland rather than down through the Pleasure Grounds (we’ll save that for another visit) as we wanted to see the cool-looking Suspension Bridge marked on the map, eager to find out if it was like the Burma Rope Bridge we crossed at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall at Easter. The Woodland itself was lovely – gorgeously green thanks to all the rain, with plenty of logs to balance on, stepping stones to jump over and alternate pathways to investigate. And the Suspension Bridge was exciting too, prompting the girls to ask about what it was made from and how it worked.
From there we opted to take the shortcut through the middle of the Deer Park as it was starting to head towards late afternoon and we knew we still had an hour-long journey to get home plus tea, bath and bed to navigate before school the next day. I’m really glad we did though as the parkland itself was beautiful and we saw plenty of handsome pheasants proudly strolling across the pathway in front of us as well as the deer themselves, peacefully grazing not that far from where we walked.
As we headed back towards the car, tired and a little soggy, we all agreed that we wanted to come back and visit again soon. We didn’t visit the Mansion itself (which looks gorgeous from the photos I’ve seen) and there was a World War Two Walk that Ella is keen to explore as it’s her new topic at school for this half term, plus the Pleasure Gardens as I mentioned before, as well as a whole host of other things that are too many to list. I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be long before we’re back for another adventure here, and now that we’ve got our New National Trust passes it means we can visit as often as we like.
(Please note: no-one has asked or paid me to write this post or include these links. All thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, words and photographs are my own)