This year we headed back to Essex, prompted by wanting to visit Kentwell Hall on the Home-Ed day. Instead of being crazy and going for the day like some LOOPY friends of ours, we decided to go to the other extreme & make a week's holiday of it! This also gave us time to catch up with some of our friends-of-old ~ something the kids had been nagging to do since we last went down 4 years ago!!
I'm going to post in parts (one per day) so as to not make it SUCH an epic read ~ if you get bored feel free to skip forward. I write for our own sake as much as anything else :D
Before we went though, we need a BIGGER BUS, which Paul picked up on the Wednesday (YEAH!!!). We loaded her up (in the rain) as much as we could on the Thursday night, threw in the last few bits Friday morning and aimed to get to Essex between 2 & 3pm (for a forecast gap in the rain). The last part failed. We arrived around 5pm (due to me being too fussy at home) and it was raining again! Not too hard, but enough to feel rather damp after pitching for an hour!
Minnie and TP have spent most of this year learning about life in Victorian Britain, so whilst we were 'in the area' I booked us a H'Ed trip to Audley End House, which English Heritage granted us free of charge despite the Saturday being a public open day :D
We started our day exploring the servant's wing, listening to the cooks and kitchen maids for quite some time, and watching them at work (I was listening so intently I forgot to take pictures!). Abbie bought a couple of victorian recipe cards (and has made 'Custard Ice' today - with the addition of some cocoa). The servant's wing was possibly our favourite part of the day and the one we could have spent more time at. The little boys were particularly fascinated with the heavy old 'iron's.
Next we wandered through the beautiful grounds,
...up to the stables, where we met the horses (who are 'rescued') and played dress up for a while, which everyone enjoyed. There were also some very nice interactive displays about life in and on the grounds.
Lunch was a bit pricey in the tea room (though nice enough), but the play area was lovely.
The day was ticking on rapidly, so we headed back through the grounds to the house. I had the privilege of walking around slowly with the bigger 5, while Paul did a whistle stop tour with the smallest 3 and then took them to romp in the gardens. It was a shame that a few of the rooms were closed to the public, for various reasons, and the one room the girls would have liked very much to see - the nursery - is not open until NEXT summer :(. All the same, a very interesting & beautiful house to visit.
As I said, whilst we were exploring the house, Paul and the younger ones were exploring the ornamental gardens and the grounds beyond. We went out and joined them when we were done, at which point Paul managed to fall into a 7ft ditch (a 'ha ha' that was built to act as a 'boundary' between the house and the landscape) and land completely flat on his back, winding himself very badly. In the days that followed we wondered if he had maybe cracked/bruised a rib (it hurt him to cough, or breath deeply), but I am still amazed (and very glad) that he didn't do more damage to himself than that!
Drama over, we headed back to the gift shop. DD bought himself a crossbow with leftover birthday money, and Stitch bought a long-bow because he didn't have enough money for a cross-bow, which he was very sore about. We bought Sol' a short sword so he could join in and the two big boys each bought themselves giant foam planes! Everyone had an ice-cream and we headed onto the fields to play with the weapons & planes for a bit, only brought to an end by the groundsman telling us it was time to go home!
All in all a LOVELY day ~ and I think one to be repeated if ever we are nearby again - we didn't even fully explore the beautiful 'Capability' landscaped gardens :D
We rounded it off with the ever-popular decision to have tea in Frankie & Benny's :D
You can see more pictures from our day in this slideshow - if you're not bored yet!
Tune in tomorrow for Day 2...