Thursday, 12 April 2012

Barrington Court

If it's a Bank Holiday weekend then it must be time to a) visit a DIY store (check); b) go to the supermarket and panic-buy because the shops might be closed for several hours and we might run out of essential things like olives and scouring pads (no check); c) get the wet weather gear out or stay indoors and batten down the hatches (check); d) visit a National Trust property (check). In this post I will be mostly talking about (d), since we've already talked about (a) in the last post, we didn't do (b), and (c) doesnt really warrant a blog post.

We'd been checking the weather keenly all weekend and had decided in advance that if Easter Sunday dawned bright(ish) and/or sunny we'd be heading out to Barrington Court, which is just about a five mile drive away. Had it been rainy, DC and hubby would have headed for the swimming baths while Granny and I had the fun task of cleaning the house. Whoop whoop for blue(ish) skies.

But of course, before we could head out with all the other Easter crowds, we had to unwrap our Easter eggs! DC was he lucky recipient of a Peppa Pig egg, a Smarties egg and an Easter chick chocolate lollipop. He also had the remnants of an Easter egg hunt we'd had in the house and garden the day before with DC's friend Johnny. Lucky chap.

As DC was tucking into his first egg, hubby asked if he could have a piece of the chocolate. As you can see, DC's generosity knows no bounds...

After the choc-fest, it was time to head to Barrington Court, get ourselves out in the fresh air and walk off a few calories (until we got to the Tea Room and put a few calories back into our systems.)

First stop was the fabulous walled kitchen garden. Unfortunately none of us got to fully appreciate it (and I didn't get to snap any photos) as DC headed straight for the pond in the middle (as we feared he would if past performance was anything to go by, but then again we also hoped the rhubarb plants or apple trees or any other of the things to look at in the garden might distract him) and spent the entire time until we dragged him unceremoniously away threatening to throw a badge (if not his entire self) into the water. When we finally got him away from the pond he was in such a strop that he went stomping off across the vegetable beds (lucky ones that had black weed control fabric across them and not actual crops - but still, that's not the point) and refused to come back, but instead decided to lie down in the middle and demonstrate to all and sundry what terrible parents we are with no control over our child. Good start to our visit, non? Anyhoo, once that little episode was dealt with, we hastily made out way out of the kitchen garden and headed through the grounds.

Having been here before, we decided to give the house a miss this time. It was owned and restored in the 1920s by the Lyle family of Tate & Lyle fame, and even has a fancy sprung dancefloor in the ballroom (last time we were here DC had lots of fun running back across it, making lots of noise...); it's a lovely house, but is empty of furniture and effects. So, while the architecture is impressive, there's not much to give a sense of how the house might once have looked/been used. Although, on the plus side it does mean that taking a toddler in there isn't the heart attack-inducing, white knuckle ride it could be - "Don't touch the Ming vase", "Don't stand on the Persian rug"; "Get off the Louis XIV chair", you get my drift. The other advantage of such a large, empty space is that from the end of April through until August the house will play host to Anthony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles" clay figures.

(Photo courtesy of Studio International)

And who thought living in the countryside meant no chance to be a culture vulture?!

Anyway, instead of traipsing through the house we stuck to the grounds and, in particular the Dragon Swing which DC thought was fantastic. He sat on there with all three of us, and shouted out "Again, Daddy, again, again" while hubby pushed us higher and higher. We finally persuaded DC that enough was enough with the Dragon swing, but his luck was in as we headed through to the grounds to the other side (not sure if this was the front of rear?) of the house and found an empty swing seat where we sat while DC ate his picnic lunch. Once he was full of Wotsits, raisins and banana (healthy, balanced diet), we headed for the tea room (with a short stop at the lovely National Trust shop along the way) where the grown ups among us fortified ourselves with coffee and cake before heading home to eat more Easter chocolate.

Barrington Court also has some lovely craft shops which we also didn't visit this time, although we had on a previous trip, hence these photos. The craft shops are housed in what look to be the old stables (or possibly workshops?)and include a fabric and stitchy-goodness shop called Barrington Patchwork.

A pottery -Barrington PotteryA wood carver (sorry, no photos of that one)

And The Muddy Dog Company(photo courtesy of the company's own website)

A very pleasant day out!

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