Erddig

A lovely sunny Saturday and a need to be outdoors meant a good time to give the new camera an outing.

I decided to try a new (to me) National Trust property, just over the Welsh border in Wrexham is Erddig Hall and gardens. After driving along some narrow country lanes I arrived at the entrance gates and drove up to the car park and some farm type buildings. However I was in for a surprise.

I was a little early and the main house didn’t open for another hour so I made the most of the sunshine and had a walk around the gardens, this was when I saw the house itself. It is beautiful, as are the gardens.

Inside the house was even more surprising, the family was very unusual in that they really cared about and for the servants.

Not only did they have portraits and photographs of the servants, with individual poems written by the family, most worked for the family for many years and when retired had a pension paid to them, some are even buried in the family cemetery.

They were also vegetarian and tee-total although did provide meat and beer for guests and were well known for hosting parties. I had a very informative tour of the ‘below stairs’ servants life followed by a self-guided tour of the rest of the house, although other tours were available.

Back out into the sunshine for another wander around the grounds and the stables to see the donkey’s then it was time to head home.

It was a lovely day and I will return again for see more of the grounds and learn more about the house and family.

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New hobby – my new camera

After months of being solitary I decided to do something that will get me out and about more and make better use of my National Trust membership.

I bought a camera. I wanted something a little more than my phone camera but maybe not as advanced as a full DSLR, so after a little research and chatting to people who know about these things I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ200 bridge camera.

The timing was perfect as I had a couple of weeks before our London trip (you’ll have seen that by now) to practise and learn a few of the settings beforehand.

So one sunny Saturday, with a fully charged camera, I set off to my nearest National Trust property and a well known and loved place, Speke Hall.

Here are a few photo’s of the memorable day …

Not bad for a first attempt and felt much easier than I expected. So it didn’t feel too bad using it whilst in London. Here’s a few (unseen) from that week away.

I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going and what new places I discover.

Behind the scenes at Dunham Massey

Sometimes misreading a calendar has it’s advantages, and this was one of them. Dunham Massey is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, so whilst looking through the national trust book I ‘thought’ it said the house reopened to the public from February.

Off we set, a grey day with drizzly rain which got heavier and heavier the closer we got. Thankfully it was well signposted and easy to find as I forgot the trusty sat-nag (she drives me bonkers and causes more road-rage than any driver ever could)

So we arrived and made a quick dash inside, unfortunately the house wasn’t fully open but they had guided tours for certain areas. I was a little disappointed (at my mistake) but my mind was soon changed as we had a great time.

The first tour was all ‘below stairs’ the guide was beautifully dressed, very informative and hilarious. He told us all about what jobs we would be expected to do, conditions and even had the children getting involved. One boy (aged about 6) was perfectly dressed for his new role as a tiger in his orange and black coat. A tiger was a small stable boy who held the reins of a horse to keep it from moving around. Oscar and another boy were too young to be household boys, so they could have been scarecrows, running up and down the fields shouting to keep the birds away. At 12 they would/could have moved inside of the house for other duties. The first being silver polishing, which they both did very well.

Then we went into the kitchens and laundry rooms, time for us to get wet. The children had a go at washing using a tub and dolly, it lead to lots of splashing and laughing. They all agreed that washing machines made life a lot easier now. It was interesting to discover that gin was used for washing silk, I wonder at what point they decided to have a taste?

The next tour was the art of the house and the two tour guides made this tour something special, they were like a comedy double act. Even Oscar, who wasn’t looking forward to this one because it sounded boring, loved it. The half hour tour took 90 minutes and I’ve never laughed or enjoyed a ‘serious’ tour so much.

I learnt a lot from both of these tours and we are both looking forward to going back again to see the rest of the house and explore the beautiful grounds, weather permitting.

Getting home was an adventure in itself as following road signs for the motorway lead us round in a circle back to where we started ! At least we know for future reference which signs to follow and how to get home.

Den building and snowdrops

It was a chilly but bright day. A day for being outdoors and having fun. We took a short drive to our local National trust property, Speke Hall.

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A lovely Tudor mansion with large gardens, an ever-changing maze and woodland trails, including a woodland play area. The costumed volunteers give guided tours of the house and grounds. They’re knowledgeable, friendly, and brilliant with children, especially the unusual questions they always come up with.

Anyone who loves William Morris will adore this house, the wallpaper is stunning, and they clean it the old way, using bread, cheap white bread. Simple but very effective at removing coal smoke from the beautiful original Morris paper without damaging it.

Whilst the house is lovely to explore, today was mostly an outdoors day.

It was good to spend a day playing in the woods. The joy of having a nine year old is being able to join in.

Today we built a mini den, played on the zip-wire and crossed the log trunk stepping stones. A quality mum and son day. Looking forward to a return visit in the coming months to see the bluebell carpet.