After visiting Croome and driving a bit further up the motorway, the plan was to visit Hardwick Hall, south of Sheffield. But we spent so long looking around the lovely Croome that we realised we’d get there about 15 minutes before it closed so we had to change our minds!
After a quick search on the National Trust app on my iPad (which works wonderfully offline), we settled on Packwood House instead. Very closed to Baddesley Clinton which we visited on our last holiday, it was quite lovely. Smaller than the other houses we’ve visited this week, but still large! When I was walking around, I was imagining it as somewhere Elizabeth Bennet would have lived in P&P, whereas the houses we’ve been visiting were more like Darcy’s Pemberley.
The house had a lovely lake in the garden which gave us a nice walk and some fresh air before the final leg of our journey home. A wonderful end to a wonderful holiday!
Today was our drive back to Leeds from Bristol, and rather than break up the journey with service stations, we decided to break up the journey with a couple of National Trust properties instead. The first was Croome.
We didn’t realise until we turned up that the property was undergoing major restoration so was completely enclosed in scaffolding. But they’d put some interesting artwork on the scaffolding unlike when we visited Castle Drogo, and they still had a lot of interest inside the house, including an exhibition about shoes!
It was an absolutely beautiful sunny day, perfect for a walk along the new trail through the woods from the visitor centre and church at the top of the hill to the house at the bottom. Much better than stopping at Tamworth Services as we usually do!
This was a slightly longer drive away from Bristol than I had anticipated, and a lot of small narrow country roads, my idea of driving hell. But it was interesting to be walking around a place that was built about 1,700 years ago, it’s baffling to even consider how old that is. Especially when you consider that they had underfloor heating! If only! And the tiled mosaics that they’ve preserved are fantastic.
I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as walking around a lovely period house, but it was a good day out all the same. There were coach-loads of primary school children while we were there, I imagine they would love it if their history lessons are anything like ours were in Primary school.
For the next trip of our holiday we decided to go to Tyntesfield. Alan had been there a few times before and loved it, but we’d never been. It was a beautiful house inside and out, and the gardens were lovely. But by far my favourite part about the entire day was the chapel. Never consecrated due to arguments with the local church, but absolutely stunning. So so beautiful and unbelievable that it was built as a family chapel, so ornate!
Once we’d walked around the house and down to the cafe and gardens at the bottom (along with a lovely cuppa and slice of cake in the cafe), Alan and Vicky took the minibus back to the car park at the top of the hill, while Cameron and I spent the next half hour with a leisurely walk back up, soaking up the sunshine, which was bright and beautiful, just like Tyntesfield.
I’d highly recommend a visit to this stunning property!
For the final day of our holiday, we didn’t really know what we wanted to do, so I googled things to do in Coventry and the top result was the Midland Air Museum, based at Coventry Airport. At only £6.50 per adult, it was an absolute bargain!
The main exhibit is all about Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the Jet Engine. His story was fascinating, and I’m really glad I got to learn all about him. There was a hangar full of old planes, including a couple with steps up to the cockpit so you could sit inside. Around the edge of the hangar were display cabinets full of information.
Once we stepped outside, I got a big grin on my face to see a Vulcan parked outside! You could even climb up into the cockpit if you wanted (although the ladder looked a bit rickety for me!). There was no charge to do so, although they do say you can leave a donation for the upkeep if you want to. The outside exhibition area contained a lot more planes on display, with a few people hard at work on restorations.
I’d really advise people to go for a quick look around, we stayed there a couple of hours and we learnt a lot. You could also combine it with a trip to the RAF Museum at Cosford which is nearby. I’ve not been there, but I’d love to go!
After we’d left the air museum, it was a bit too early to head back to the hotel, so we decided to visit the nearby National Trust property that my uncle had been telling us about: Baddesley Clinton. It was a beautiful medieval moated house, with fantastic gardens. The interior is Elizabethan, showcasing the priest holes which were necessary to hide the priests from the persecution of Catholics at the time. The house contained some beautiful stained glass, although I wouldn’t call the mounted foxes head above the door particularly beautiful – quite horrifying really!
Outside round the moat were lots of little ducklings, and some ducklings that were obviously not so young and halfway between fluffy down and grown up feathers. They were very tame though and not scared of coming near us! Just like the ducks in the café courtyard, who were not shy about trying to demand some food, pecking at our legs until we shooed them away to bother another poor family!
Day four of our holiday involved a drive partially home for the next stage of our holiday in Coventry. We didn’t want to lose an entire day to travelling, so we decided to pick a National Trust property on our way and stop off for a look around. We picked Castle Drogo in Devon completely at random, and it was quite an interesting choice to make.
Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in the UK and it was built will full electricity. But despite only being finished less than 100 years ago, the roof has never been watertight and there is a lot of water damage.
We didn’t know this until we got there, and neither did we know that they are currently in the process of a multi-million pound restoration of the castle, which involves taking it to pieces and rebuilding it again. Most of the castle is covered in a big plastic sheeting covered scaffolding structure to keep the weather out, so you couldn’t see what it was supposed to look like.
One condition of the funding that they received for the restoration was that the castle had to remain open throughout. None of the regular exhibits are on show as the castle is in such disarray, so each room in the house which remains open contains a different theme, for example the ‘Room of Time Passing’, which was storing every clock from the house.
It was fascinating to see how the restoration is completed, and I’d love to go back there once it’s finished to see the castle in it’s true glory!
After we’d walked around the castle and the gardens, we stopped for a quick Devon cream tea, during which we were joined by a very friendly little bird who just wanted a few crumbs!
No trip to Cornwall would be complete without a trip to Lands End, so we decided to venture down there on day three of our holiday. We arrived quite early, but it was already packed with visitors! There were quite a few shops to go in, then we ventured out to the actual end of the land, with spectacular views!
Surprisingly, after having no phone signal in pretty much the rest of Cornwall, we actually got a really good signal out there, go figure!
We were initially undecided about whether to pay to get our photo taken with the famous sign post, but eventually we realised that we’d paid so much to get there that another tenner wasn’t going to hurt, and it would be a nice memento of a lovely day!
After eating a proper traditional Cornish pasty, we left Lands End to go to St Michael’s mount, but after seeing the boats that were going out to the island, and then reading that the path up to the top was steep with no hand rails – with no proper shoes with us, we decided to just sunbathe on the beach instead. Unfortunately, we didn’t put sun cream on, so we both ended up quite sunburned since it was such a lovely sunny day!
But Cameron had fun digging a big hole, and I had fun walking around in the cool water, so it was a perfect end to a great day!
On the second day of our holiday we decided to go for a drive and find one of the National Trust car parks on the coast which are free to park in for National Trust members like us. We picked Holywell Bay randomly from the map and boy did we make a good choice.
The car park was a (slow) ten minute walk /stroll from the beach, although you do have to take your shoes and socks off to cross a stream that flows into the river. Not that I wanted to put them back on after because the sand was so soft and golden white. And the sea, I’ve never seen anything like it! I’m used to the slightly murky looking seas of Scarborough and Bridlington, but this sea was so crystal clear and blue it was almost Caribbean!
We sat on the beach for quite a long time before taking a slow stroll down to the sea and then back round up the stream back to the car. Unfortunately, Cameron couldn’t get his jeans to roll up over his calf muscles, so as you can see he got his jeans quite wet!
As it was Sunday, everything was closing quite early, but we stopped off at the Cornwall Gold shop for a look around at some very nice (and expensive) jewellery and then a scrumptious cream tea!
The first day of our holiday was mostly spent driving from Bristol to Cornwall after staying the night with my uncle the night before. But after we’d unpacked at the hotel, we decided to go for a drive and check out some of the Cornish countryside. After getting stuck behind an old VW campervan on a single track road for what seemed like ages, we ended up taking a ferry boat across a river to Fowey (pronounced Foy as in Boy), a picturesque little town with a lot of boats on the crystal blue water and a lovely little church where someone was getting married.
In the evening, we drove across the bridge to Plymouth to the cinema to see Maleficent, and had the chance to drive across it in sunshine and darkness. Surprisingly, Cameron loved the film, even though it was a Disney film! It definitely wasn’t aimed at young children though, it was a bit dark and scary!