Polesden Lacey and the Royal Family

Polesden Lacey royal honeymoon

In 1923 the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and the Queen Mother, spent part of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey. Celebrate their 90th anniversary by following in their footsteps around the grounds – from Friday 26 April to Monday 6 May, you might stumble across delightful life-size photos of the royal couple relaxing in the gardens! There will also be special exhibits in the house, including copies of some never before seen photos of the royal couple from the Queen’s private collections.

On Saturday 4 May, you can also enjoy a special outdoor screening of the award winning film The King’s Speech. Tickets are £12 each (over 15s only). Please book in advance on 01372 414944 or via WeGotTickets.

Kings Speech Polesden

For more information about Polesden including opening times and upcoming events please call 01372 452048 or see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesdenlacey


Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

It’s that time of year when they start to spring up, all around various woods and places. I know little about bluebells but what I do know is they’re pretty, especially in a good wood. As luck would have it, I have a handy guide to some good bluebell woods from the National Trust – though no mention of the fabulous Hatchlands Park which is famous for their wood (and where we almost always end up – if you’re nearby then definitely go!) – the bluebells go on for ever, and it’s a good long walk there and back too (which can take even longer if your child goes on strike and refuses to walk like H did last year). But still, bluebells! Pretty! They say the best time to catch them is around now, and particularly in May, so why not try one of the following?

“Make no mistake, spring is going to happen and it may be all the better for the wait” Matthew Oates, naturalist for the National Trust

Following the coldest March for 50 years, spring may still be someway off, with bluebell flowering predicted to be 3-4 weeks away and peak flowering possibly delayed until mid May or later.

However, when the warmer months do arrive, brighten up your day by dropping in to see the bluebells across many National Trust places.

Get the family together and discover the delights of these delicate flowers that transform Britain’s wonderful woodlands.
Here’s a selection of the top National Trust places and events that are perfect to enjoy bluebells in all their glory:

Ashridge Estate, Buckinghamshire
“I once watched the sun set through the bluebells at Ashridge; it was unforgettable and remains forever in my memory” –Lawrence Trowbridge, lead ranger

Enjoy carpets of bluebells this spring in this vast wooded landscape, filled with breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife and a fascinating history.

Bluebell walk, 8 May, 7pm-9pm

Join a ranger-led walk at dusk and enjoy the best of Ashridge’s bluebells this year with all of the family.

Ticket charge £7 per adult and £5 per child.

Please park at the visitor centre.
Booking is essential, please call 01442 851227.

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

Blickling Estate, Norfolk
“Bluebells are so special to me and those who visit Blickling as they give a great understanding of the history of the woodland and a sense of spiritual connection to the whole estate”-Dave Brady, head ranger

Visit Blickling in April through to May and discover one of the best places to see bluebells in the country. Follow the winding paths through the great wood, and pass through swathes of dainty English bluebells.

Make a weekend of it:   There are seven holiday cottages on the estate, including the magnificent ‘Tower’ converted from the second Earl of Buckinghamshire’s race stand. The ‘Tower’ sleeps four.

Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Immerse yourself in a medieval world at this impressive castle, then escape to the gardens and woodland and find Berkshire pigs, ancient trees and wonderful bluebell woods during the spring months.

Spring flowers garden walk15 May, 7pm-8pm
Join head gardener David Lock for a gentle stroll around the castle’s award-winning garden. Discover the amazing variety of spring-flowering trees, shrubs and plants, and how they grow and care for them.
All tickets £7.
Booking is essential, please call 01691 777701

Make a weekend of it:  Take your pick from two cottages situated within the castle grounds. There’s the House by the Dyke, a 1930’s villa, sleeping five located at the top of Offa’s Dyke, or, Chirk Home Farm Cottage, a traditional stone cottage that sleeps four and is a few hundred metres from the castle.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
“For me the word ‘bluebell’ signals that spring is underway with a shimmering blue carpet overhung with fresh green foliage. At Clumber, they usually look perfect for St. George’s Day”-Christopher Margrave, head gardener

With 1,537 hectares of parkland, gardens, peaceful woodlands and a magnificent lake, there is plenty of space to explore and relax at Clumber, including the bluebell woodlands throughout the spring months.

Blue is the colour, 9 May, 1.30pm-3.30pm

Join Clumber for a gentle walk to discover a few of the bluebell woodlands that are around the estate.

All tickets £4.20.

Booking is advisable, please call 01909 476592.

Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry
The striking 18th century mansion at Downhill now lies in ruin, but the offering of beautiful gardens and stunning cliff top walks makes this is a fantastic place for all the family to visit – especially during bluebell season.

Bluebell walk, 4-6 May, 2pm-4pm

Go along for an afternoon stroll around the Bishop’s Gate gardens and see the bluebells in full bloom at Downhill. The estate warden will highlight the hidden gems.

Normal admission charges apply.

Booking is not required. For more information, please call 02870 848728.

Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
“Bluebells are the undisputed spring highlight at Hardcastle. At their peak, they form an almost unearthly blue haze through the woodlands and fill air with their sweet perfume. It’s my favourite time of the year, bursting with life”- Nabil Abbas, countryside manager

This wooded landscape is often known as ‘Little Switzerland’ because of the valley sides, pathways and river flowing through. In spring, the woodland is awash with carpets of bluebells.

Wildflower folklore walk, 12 May, 10am-1pm       

Learn about the ecology and folklore of the eye-catching local flora. Find out how forebears used bluebells, learn to tell your ramsons from your woodruff and discover how to protect yourself from evil sprits on this slow-paced walk of 2-3 miles.

No additional charges.

Booking is not required. For more information, please call 01422 844518.

Make a weekend of it:  Stay at the converted barn which overlooks the wooded valley that comes complete with original cow stalls or the Victorian Lodge at the pillared entrance. Both cottages sleep four.

Lanhydrock, Cornwall
This fascinating country estate has gorgeous gardens, including a brilliant collection of spring-flowering magnolias and woodland areas blooming with waves of daffodils and bluebells.          

Bluebells at their best, 4 May, 10am-12pm

Join the head ranger for a stroll through the bluebell woods, followed by lunch in the restaurant.

All tickets £15 (50p booking fee for cards).

Booking is essential, please call 01208 265950.

Make a weekend of it:  Stay in the only cottage on the estate, a 1920s villa-style cottage with stunning views over Lanhydrock’s historic parkland. Sleeps six.

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park National Trust

Nymans, West Sussex
Inspired by the setting and the soil, the Messel family created one of the country’s great gardens in the late 19th-century. The garden and nearby woods are perfect for walking, picnicking and spotting bluebells.

Woodland walks: bluebells & wild flowers, 27 April-3 May, 11am-12:30pm    

Join the woods team for a walk through Nymans woodlands, taking in the splendid displays of bluebells and other spring wild flowers.

Normal admission charges apply.

Booking is essential, please call 01444 405250.

Make a weekend of it: Stay at Woodlands Cottage, previously home to the estate game keeper, with walks and lakes on your doorstep. Sleeps four.

Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
A ruin of an Elizabethan manor house, Sissinghurst Castle and estate is a great place to see bluebells and wildflowers of the season.

Bluebell and wildflower walk, 26-28 April and 3-5 May, 2pm-4pm        

Join Sissinghurst for a four mile walk with a ranger, discovering the wildflowers and bluebells on the estate. After, enjoy a cream tea in the restaurant.

£12.50 per person (including cream tea).

Booking is essential, please call 01580 710700.

Make a weekend of it:  Sleeping six Priest’s House is a beautiful detached brick building which is believed to be the former Elizabethan garden banqueting house and is an absolute must-stay for garden lovers.

Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Liverpool
“One of my favourite experiences in spring is walking through a carpet of bluebells. From the amazing blue flowers dancing in the breeze filling the air with heady scent, to the buzz of bees feeding on the nectar inside, it’s a magical scene at Speke Hall and one that always remains forever in my memory” –Ian Ford, estate warden

A perfect oasis of peace and quiet within easy reach of Liverpool, Speke Hall provides stunning views of the surrounding area and wonderful woodland walks through carpets of bluebells.

Stourhead, Wiltshire
‘A living work of art’ is how a magazine described Stourhead when it first opened in the 1740s. The garden and house are at the heart of a 1,072-hectare estate, where ancient woods are a perfect place to spot the glorious bluebells flowering in spring.

Bluebell walk, 12 May 10.30am–12.30pm

Join the head ranger at Stourhead to experience wonderful bluebell displays on a woodland walk and discover how the estate looks after the woods and wildlife.

Ticket charge £10 per adult and £5 per child.

Booking is essential, please call 0844 249 1895.

Make a weekend of it:  Set at the entrance to Stourhead 89 Church Lawn is the perfect country cottage, especially as guests can enjoy bracing walks around the ornamental lake before the crowds. Sleeps seven.

To find out more about National Trust holiday cottages visit www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk or call 0844 8002070 and get planning a truly memorable holiday.

It’s a National Trust Free Weekend This Weekend!

National Trust Scotney Castle - photo by Jo Brooks

We love our National Trust membership, and easily make our money’s worth on it in a year – are you one of those people who just aren’t quite sure, and wouldn’t mind trying a couple of places out? Fear not – there’s a free weekend this weekend – providing a family saving of around £30.

They’re opening the doors to more than 200 of their gardens and houses for free – on the 20th and 21st April. Also, what better excuse to get out of the house – the forecast around here is good and all being well we’ll be going somewhere.

Whether it’s building a den in the woods at Gibside or discovering rare breeds of farm animals at Wimpole Estate, the National Trust has lots of activities offering a variety of family fun.

To plan your free weekend visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/freeweekend and download a free voucher today for the place of your choice.

National Trust Nymans - Photo by Jo Brooks

There will be a number of excluded places, which will be detailed at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/freeweekend.  To enter a property all you need to do is show your free weekend voucher, which can be downloaded from the website.

Polesden Lacey Gold Room Chandelier Cleaning

Polesden Lacey Gold Room by Eddie Hyde

If you’re planning on visiting Polesden Lacey, the National Trust property and gardens in Surrey next week then you’re in for a treat – the house team are going to be cleaning the Gold Room chandelier. It dates back to around 1860 and is highly decorative, made of around 4,000 pieces of cut glass, and adding to the wow factor of the room!

The cleaning of the main chandelier and matching wall sconces will happen mainly in the mornings from Monday 15th to Friday 19th April, where staff will be happy to answer questions about their work.

For more information about Polesden including opening times and upcoming events please call 01372 452048 or see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesdenlacey

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Trail at Polesden Lacey

We’re barely past Easter and already the excellent Polesden Lacey have another trail for kids, running through the holidays.

Almost 3,500 kids went to Polesden to take part in the Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trail (wow.. just think of all those eggs!), and to enjoy all the other activities on offer. The fun keeps on coming with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party trail running from 10am until 3.30pm daily until Sunday 14th April.

For only £1 (plus grounds admission), you can help the Mad Hatter find his cakes and party hats, enjoy your own special tea party and of course win a prize.

For more information about Polesden including opening times and upcoming events please call 01372 452048 or see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/polesdenlacey

Polesden Lacey tree tunnel

Easter at Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey Easter Egg Explorers

We love our National Trust membership – I’ll say this a bazillion times as we get so much from it, especially having Polesden Lacey so close (which often makes the Top 10 overall of NT properties and gardens). Last year we went to Claremont for their Easter Egg hunt, but this year we switched.

Polesden photo area

The National Trust work with Cadburys and do simple trails that two three year olds (and a five year old) get excited about – it’s perfect! They get a sheet with various activities (though it was really too cold), a place to have your photo taken and then the actual trail. It probably took no more than an hour (allowing for a stop in the play area which is conveniently after the second or third clue), and had our three (H, her cousin G and her friend M) running around tracking down each clue.

Polesden Lacey Explorers

My favourite part of Polesden is the tree tunnel (which I’m sure they have a better name for, but we like ours) which had several clues, and leads out to the large grassy area at the front, where the kids had several games of hide and seek, or just rolling down the hill, climbing trees, or sitting on a lion; a stone one that is.

Polesden Lacey tree tunnel

Actually, there was only one gripe – it was a freezing day, and included in the price was face painting. The queue was long and wasn’t moving – so in the end we had to give up, which made the girls sad. On the plus side there’s the free binoculars as you come through the entrance so they could do proper exploring while looking for the clues, so that was fun for them.

Polesden Lacey climbing trees

The Cadburys/National Trust Easter Egg trails have just one more day – today is the last day (Easter Monday) – and there’s loads of trails around the country. Of course, when you finish you get to choose a Cadbury’s Easter Egg at the end, which pleased the three of them a LOT! An excellent day, and it’s all fresh air!

Polesden Lacey Easter Egg trail 2013

A National Trust and Cadbury’s Easter Event? Yes please!

It’s back! The National Trust and Cadbury Easter Egg Trails will be running from the 29th March to 1st April 2013 – head over to www.eastereggtrail.com to find out more. There are events on at 246 National Trust places, so there’s plenty of choice. 2013 also has some new events – an Easter Monday egg and spoon race happeening at over 120 National Trust properties – so check the link for more!

An Easter Egg Trail day at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

Here’s a selection of the National Trust’s best events over the Easter fortnight:

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire
School holiday fun – golden egg hunt, 29 March – 14 April, 11am-4pm
Shhhhhh. There’s a tiny golden egg hidden somewhere on the estate and it’s your job to track it down. However, you must keep its location a secret. Team up with family and friends for this challenging treasure hunt. Tell staff where you saw it and we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win an eggstremely eggsellent prize.

Normal admission charges apply.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 31 March – 1 April, 11am-4pm
Take part in an egg hunt at Fountains this Easter, have your face painted, join in with games and collect a chocolate ‘Egghead’ at the end.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2 per trail.
Easter egg ‘Eggsploits’, 1 April, 1:30-3pm
Get your paints and glitter out and bring along your hardboiled eggs to Fountains for an egg and spoon race, best decorated egg and egg rolling competitions.
Normal admission charges apply.
Booking is not required for any of these events.
For more information on each, please call 01765 608888.

Charlecote Park, nest ball©National Trust Images John Millar

Charlecote Park, nest ball©National Trust Images John Millar

Stowe, Buckinghamshire
Temple trail for kids, 29 March – 14 April, 10am-4pm
Follow in the footsteps of famous 18th century explorers to discover the fantastic temples, monuments and hidden treasures of Stowe. This self-led trail is fun for the whole family. Can you discover the secrets behind some of the temples by the end of your inspiring visit?
Normal admission charges apply.
Dogs on leads welcome.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trails – ‘Easter eggstravaganza’, 31 March – 1 April, 10am-
Crack the clues around the New Inn and gardens at Stowe to claim your Easter egg prize. On the trail, discover the adventures of Greek and Roman gods and heroes, as well as the grand tours of the family who used to live at Stowe in the Georgian times.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2.50 per child’s trail.
Booking is not required for either of these events.
For more information on either, please call 01280 817 156.

Petworth House and Park, West Sussex
Bunny in a bag, 29 March – 7 April, 11am-4pm
Ever wished that you could be the Easter Bunny? Well stop rabbiting on about it and hop over to Petworth to get the ultimate bunny makeover. Pick up a bunny bag and follow a trail of woodland creatures to help build your very own bunny ears, tail and whiskers. Once your transformation is complete, you can enjoy a chocolate treat.
No admission charges apply, ticket charge £3.50 per child.
Booking is not required for this event.
For more information, please call 01798 342207.

Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 14 April, 10am-4pm
Find all of the clues in the garden at Lanhydrock over the holidays and win an Easter-themed prize.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2.50 per trail.
Servant stories, 2-14 April, 10am-4pm
Find out more about the Lanhydrock servants in this fun trail around the gardens and receive a small prize at the end for completion.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2 per trail.
Booking is not required for either of these events.
For more information on each, please call 01208 265950

Stourhead, Wiltshire
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 23-28 March and 2-7 April, 11am-4pm
Join in with springtime family fun at Stourhead and take part in their Easter trail, giant games, face-painting and of course…eating chocolate. (Face painting available
Easter Sunday and Monday only).
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2.50 per trail.
Booking is not required for this event.
For more information, please call 01747 841152.
Beat the egg and chase the rabbit, 30 March, 10am-1pm
Join the Eco Fitness team for some fun Easter antics at Stourhead including a beat the egg 8k run and U’16s chase the rabbit 1k run.
No admission charges apply, ticket charge £10 per adult and £3 per child.
Please visit the Eco Fitness website www.ecofitness.co.uk for more information.
Booking is essential for this event.
For more information, please call 01373 836552.

Nymans, West Sussex ©National Trust Images David Levenson

Nymans, West Sussex ©National Trust Images David Levenson

Castle Ward, County Down
Easter at the barn, 29 March-7 April, 10am-5pm
Join Castle Ward for some Easter fun over the holiday period, with children’s craft activities, table top games, ride-on tractors, sandpit and farmyard trails to enjoy. Bring a picnic, visit the farm animals and relax by the shores of Strangford Lough.
Easter family fun, 30 March, 10am-4pm
Visit the beautiful estate over the holidays and have some quality time with this great family package – hire bikes, canoes and have a go at archery.
Booking is essential for this event, please call 028 4372 3933.
Easter sea safari sightseeing boat trips, 30 March – 2 April
Everyone will love this sightseeing boat tour of Strangford Lough with its abundance of nature and wildlife. See the SeaGen, Angus Rock Lighthouse, surface whirlpools and the seals at Cloughy Rocks Nature Reserve. You might even see a pod of porpoises or a basking shark.
Please note; this trip is suitable for children over 3 years of age and leaves from
Strangford Pier. Please check for times.

Booking is essential for this event, please call 028 4372 3933.
Easter fair, 31 March – 1 April, 12-6pm
Visit Castle Ward and enjoy the annual Easter fair, including kids’ activities, local crafts and food, and horse and carriage rides (weather dependant) for all the family.
Easter family adventure day, 2 April, 11am-1:30pm and 2:30-5pm
Enjoy a fun day out with the family over the holidays and try out a range of activities including canoeing, archery and orienteering.
Please note; this activity is suitable for children over 4 years of age.
Booking is essential for this event, please call 028 4372 3933.
Kids’ Easter camp, 3-5 April, 10am-4pm
Join in with activities galore during an action packed three days at Castle Ward. An answer to all child care problems for the Easter week, with archery, rock hopping, canoeing, climbing and more.
Please note; this activity is suitable for ages 8-15 years.
Booking is essential for this event, please call 028 4372 3933.

Normal admission charges apply for all of these events.
Booking is not required for any of these events unless otherwise stated.
For more information on these events, please call 028 4488 1204.

Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight
Wildzone: spring lambs, 11 April, 10-11:30am
Have fun meeting the sheep and making spring lambs with real wool from the National Trust’s flock at Newtown over the holidays.
No admission charges apply, ticket charge £3 per child.
Booking is essential for this event, please call 01983 741020.

Winchester City Mill, Hampshire
Seasonal baking demonstration – Easter hot cross buns, 30 March, 11am-4pm and Easter baking, 6 April, 11am-4pm
Learn how to make and sample delicious baked treats at Winchester City Mill this Easter. Discover how freshly milled stone-ground flour can be combined with locally grown produce to make delicious hot cross buns and Easter themed treats.
Normal admission charges apply.
Booking is not required for these events.
For more information, please call 01962 870057.

Trelissick Garden, Cornwall©National Trust Images John Millar

Trelissick Garden, Cornwall©National Trust Images John Millar

Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 1 April, 11am-4pm
The eggs-tremely popular Easter Egg Trail is back at Polesden featuring lots of activities for children including face painting, games and storytelling.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2.50 per trail.
Easter holiday trail, 2 – 14 April, 11am-4pm
Join in the fun at Polesden Lacey this half term with their Easter holiday trail.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £1 per trail.
Booking is not required for either of these events.
For more information, please call 01372 452048.

Castle Drogo, Devon
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 1 April, 11am-4pm
Follow the trail around the garden and grounds at Castle Drogo and collect your Easter egg prize.
Easter egg and spoon race, 1 April, 11am-4pm
Come and be part of the National Trust’s nationwide Easter egg and spoon race and have fun with all of the family.

Normal admission charges apply for both events, ticket charge £2 per event.
Booking is not required for this event.
For more information, please call 01647 433306.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
Discover Easter, 25 March – 8 April, 10am-3:30pm
Have you ever wondered when Easter is, why the Easter bunny exists or what an Easter tree is? Then pop into the chapel at Clumber Park this Easter where more will be answered.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 1 April, 11am- 3:30pm
Explore the quiz trail at Clumber Park this Easter. Follow the clues, solve the puzzles and win a tasty prize.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2 per trail.
Traditional Easter Sunday, 31 March, 11:30am-12:30pm
All are welcome to experience a traditional Anglo-Catholic Easter Service with choral song and music from the magnificent organ at Clumber Park this Easter.
Normal admission charges apply for all of these events unless otherwise stated.
Booking is not required for any of these events.
For more information, please call 01909 544909.

Hardy Country, Dorset
Victorian Easter activities, 29 March – 1 April, 3-7 April and 10-14 April, 11am-5pm
Visit Hardy’s birthplace and Max Gate over the holidays and have fun with Victorian craft activities. You can decorate the brightest egg or even make the prettiest Victorian bonnet.
Normal admission charges apply, a small fee may apply for some activities.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 1 April, 11am-5pm
Go and explore writer Thomas Hardy’s birthplace over the Easter weekend and take part in the fun Easter egg trails and puzzles to win a chocolate prize.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £2.50 per trail.
Dogs on leads welcome to both events.
Booking is not required for either of these events.
For more information, please call 01305 262366.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses, Staffordshire
Easter geocaching, 11 April, 11am-4pm
Join the hi-tech treasure hunting game at Kinver Edge this Easter and search for hidden treasure boxes, each one filled with an Easter themed activity.
No admission charges apply, ticket charge £10 per group.
Dogs on leads welcome.
Booking is essential for this event, please call 01562 712 822.
For more information, please call 07920181605.

Dinefwr Park and Castle, Carmarthenshire
Cadbury Easter Egg Trails – ‘Eggs & Birds’, 29 March – 1 April, 12-4pm
Children and grown-ups can join Dinefwr this Easter holiday to discover the wonder of bird-watching. Learn to use binoculars and I.D. sheets and try the ‘Eggs & Birds’ trail over the Easter weekend to win an Easter egg.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £1.50 per child’s trail.
Dogs on leads welcome.
Booking is advisable for this event, please call 01558 824512.

Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate, Cheshire
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail, 29 March – 1 April, 12-4pm

Hunt for clues around Quarry Bank Mill over the Easter weekend to earn an egg, plus take part in games and activities on the Mill Meadow.
Normal admission charges apply, ticket charge £1 per trail.
Booking is not required for this event.
For more information, please call 01625 527468.

A National Trust Weekend

We’re lucky, we have so many National Trust places a short drive from us, and now the weather is improving decided to get out this weekend and get some fresh air. I checked on my National Trust app to see what was open (top tip – bear in mind what date it is – I forgot so we nearly went to two places that don’t open for 2013 for a few more weeks) – and yesterday went to Morden Hall Park (which is open all year round), and Clandon Park today just outside of Guildford.

Morden Hall Park

Morden Hall Park

As with most National Trust places, there’s a children’s play area, plenty of grounds to walk around and a nice house you can sometimes go into – and of course the cafe serving good coffee and good cake. H was asked her age for the first time today too – you’re charged a membership fee once you’re five – but fortunately at three and a half she’s still a way off that!

Clandon Park

Clandon Park with the grotto in the background

The best thing I’ve found about our local National Trust places is that there’s so much to do – and with Easter on the horizon I spotted most places have an Easter Egg hunt on – last year we did the one at Claremont Park Gardens near Esher (and H was particularly happy with her egg) – so keep an eye out for more information!

Funnily enough, after thinking we’d been to Clandon Park before, on getting there nothing looked familiar – I think we must have got there as they were closing when we visited (as Hatchlands Park is just up the road with their amazing bluebell woods – head there around April-May time for some fabulous views) – so we had another great place to discover!

Treat Mum to a Special Day Out with the National Trust

We may have been celebrating Mothers’ Day since the 1600s with chocolates and flowers, but this year why not give mum what she really wants – some precious family time together at a special place.

Discover somewhere new and create memories that mums won’t forget in a hurry. With a 1930s beauty parlour, strolling musicians and horse and carriage rides, show mum just how special she is on a day out with the National Trust.

Here are a few Mothers’ Day top spots for inspiration:

Basildon Park, Berkshire

Basildon Park is an impressive Georgian mansion, surrounded by glorious parkland, which was lovingly rescued from ruin by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the mid 1950s. The house you see today is a re-creation and restoration of the 18th-century mansion. They restored the elegant interior and scoured the country salvaging 18th-century architectural fixtures and fittings. Mums will love the cream teas and the nostalgia of the 1950s kitchen. For outdoor mums, enjoy the lawn games, the hazel hideout or a walk on one of the waymarked trails through the 400 acres of historic parkland.

Mothers’ Day crafts, 10 March, 11am-4pm

Visit Basildon Park this Mother’s day and let the children join in with “Pottering About’ and make their mums a special plate personalised with their handprint.

Normal admission charges apply; item charge will vary, prices start from £10.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information, please call 0118 984 3040.

Mothers’ Day tea, 10 March, 3-4:30pm

Why not also treat mu to something special this Mother’s Day by inviting her to enjoy delicious afternoon tea which includes a glass of sparkling wine, a selection of homemade sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and some of Basildon’s delicious cake.

£25 per person.

Booking is essential for this event, please call 0844 249 1895.

Blickling Estate, Norfolk

Blickling Hall is a quirky-looking building and has a sumptuous collection of Dutch gables and turrets, striking brick chimneys and huge yew hedges. Embark on a voyage of discovery and follow four centuries of history, from the Boleyn family to the RAF and Second World War. Learn what life was like as a servant and hear the voices of the people who kept Blickling in ship-shape. For outdoor mums, the gardens at Blickling look beautiful in spring. Discover the secret garden with the sundial or find the hidden pyramid, a tomb built for one of Blickling’s owners. Spot local wildlife, including woodpeckers, herons and owls and really make a day of it and hire a bike.

Mothers’ Day tea, 10 March, 3pm-4.30pm

Gather the family and come to Blickling Estate for a delicious afternoon tea served in the beautiful surroundings of Lord Lothian’s Study.

£17.95 per person.

Booking is essential for this event, please call 0844 249 1895 (booking fee applies)

Brownsea camping©National Trust Images John MillarBrownsea Island, Dorset

Take the ferry across to this adventure island in Poole Harbour, famous for being an unspoilt, natural haven with a colourful history. Brownsea was the perfect haunt for smugglers, who used to hide their booty of silks and spices in the castle there. From towering trees and shell shores, to the smugglers’ tales and scenes right out of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels, the whole family will feel like they are on quest of discovery. The island is one of the last places to have red squirrels as well as many different kinds of seabirds, which can be spotted on the lagoon from the hideaway. There are many walks, some suitable for even the youngest would-be smuggler, and the island is car free so every inch of it can be explored without mum having to worry on her special day.

Say thank you on Mothers’ Day, 10 March, 10am-4pm

Visit the events marquee and join in with children’s crafts, before heading to the Villano cafe and treating mum to a delicious cream tea.

Normal admission charges apply; there are no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event.

For more information, please call 01202 707744.

Make a weekend of it: Stay on the island in Agent’s House, a beautiful waterside house just 3m from the water’s edge. Sleeping six and overlooking the lagoon with stunning sea views it’s perfect for family get-togethers.

Castle Ward, Co. Down

Castle Ward demesne with its panoramic views over Strangford Lough is the National Trust’s best kept secret. With miles of walking and cycling trails, Castle Ward will take you on a journey of discovery through the 820 acre demesne.

Mother’s Day spring stroll and musical melodies, 10 March

Walks: 11am-12.15pm and 3pm-4.15pm. Music: 1pm-3.30pm

Enjoy a stroll around Castle Ward led by a knowledgeable guide through the exotic Victorian sunken garden and around this stunning demesne. Then relax in the stableyard to the sounds of Vivaldi and other classical works.

Normal admission charges to the gardens apply.

Booking is not required for this event.

Afternoon tea in Lord Bangor’s sitting room, 10 March, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm

Treat mum and friends to a delightful cream tea in Lord Bangor’s private quarters within Castle Ward mansion and then enjoy a guided tour.

Adult £9. plus normal admission charges to the grounds.

Booking is essential for this event, please call 028 4488 1204

Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire

Nostell Priory has been the home of the Winn family for more than 300 years, making it a perfect place for a family day out on Mothers’ Day. Explore 300 acres of parkland with a range of walks, beautiful gardens, a newly planted orchard and an adventure playground to keep the kids entertained. Inside the house, see a collection of Chippendale furniture made especially for Nostell, as well as paintings by Brueghel, Hogarth and Kauffmann. The restored butler’s pantry is also now open and children can look out for the mouse in the 18th-century dolls’ house. To round off the day, visit the new stables area, with its new shop and plant sales area as well as the courtyard café for seasonal treats.

Plas Newydd dancing©National Trust Images Arnhel de SerraPlas Newydd, Anglesey

The stunning ivy-clad house has it all: breathtaking views stretch across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia on the mainland; the military museum contains exhibits from the battle of Waterloo in 1815, and many paintings by the world-famous Rex Whistler hang here, including his renowned largest painting. Mums will lovely the spring gardens, especially the catkin gardens, and the treehouse, newly built to remember Lady Amelia’s 1960s treehouse, will keep the children entertained. The charming tea room cooks up tasty treats.

Sizergh Castle & Garden, Cumbria

Still lived in by the Strickland family, Sizergh has many tales to tell and certainly feels lived in, with centuries-old portraits and fine furniture sitting alongside modern family photographs. Outside, explore the rock garden and then head out across the estate on a walk with fabulous views to the Lakeland fells and Morecambe Bay. For adventurous mums, try looking for geocaches on the estate or the whole family can have a go at den building in the wooded knoll.

Tyntesfield, Somerset

Lived in by four generations of the Gibbs family, this beautiful Victorian estate still has a family feel and is just a stone’s throw away from Bristol. Spiralling turrets and pinnacles adorn the roof, ornate stone carvings and church-like windows complete the Gothic look, giving the feel of a mysterious, fairytale mansion full of family treasures. Families can find the ‘discovery tables’ and handle real objects from the Tyntesfield collection or rummage through family explorer boxes and learn more about life at Tyntesfield. Outside, terraced lawns give way to spacious parkland filled with hundreds of trees collected by the family, and a beautiful walled kitchen garden beyond. Pick up a copy of the play trail leaflet and follow in the footsteps of the estate’s children – discovering the dens in the plantation wood

Music for mum, 9-10 March, 11.30am-3.30pm

Tyntesfield will be host to strolling musicians in the formal gardens for Mothering Sunday weekend. Bring the family and a picnic or just sit and enjoy the music together.

Normal admission charges to the gardens apply.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information, please call 01275 461 900.

Make a weekend of it: Stay at the heart of Tyntesfield in the former Chaplain’s House, built in the 1840s it’s crammed with original features and Victorian touches. Perfect for larger families there’s an interconnecting door between the House and the Lodge next door allowing up to eleven people to stay.

Upton House and Gardens, Warwickshire

Surrounded by internationally important art and porcelain collections, hear and discover more about family life and soak up the atmosphere of the 1930s. Pick up family activity packs and enjoy dressing up and the play spaces this Mothers’ Day.

The stunning gardens – being returned to their 1930s heyday – have a sweeping lawn that gives way to a series of terraces and herbaceous borders leading to a kitchen garden, tranquil water garden and spring bulb displays.

Don’t miss

1930s beauty parlour, 9-10 March, 1pm – 4pm

Take mum to Upton this Mother’s day, for special 1930s beauty, fashion, make-up, hair tips and demonstrations. Join the crafts table and create mum a gift she can wear on her days out to Upton.

Normal admission charges apply.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information, please call 01295 670266.

Make a weekend of it: Keep things strictly in the jazz-age at 1 Home Farm Drive, with art deco features throughout this spacious cottage is the perfect getaway for a vintage loving mum and her family, sleeps five.

Visitors at Winkworth Arboretum credit NT Images, John MillarWinkworth Arboretum, Surrey

Bursting with colour and life, Winkworth is perfect for a Mothers’ day walk. Spring is one of the best times to visit this beautiful hillside arboretum, with early signs of magnolias and azaleas, not to mention more than 1,000 different types of shrubs and trees. For peace and tranquillity, visit the beautiful lake and boathouse, with stunning views and lots of wildlife-spotting opportunities. After all that fresh air and exercise, treat mum to the wholesome range of home-baked food in the tea-room, including delicious cakes.

Mothering Sunday at Winkworth, 10 March, 10am-5.30pm

Visit Winkworth for Mothering Sunday and treat Mum to a delightful horse and carriage ride or a simple stroll through the arboretum and see the early spring flowers in bloom. The tea room will then be open for light lunches and afternoon teas. Normal admission charges apply; mothers get in free to the arboretum when accompanied by their children.

Please note carriage rides will be available from mid day.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information, please call 01483 208936.

Make a weekend of it: Emley Farmhouse has is a large Grade II listed building in an idyllic rural setting, perfect for those looking for a spacious getaway in a traditional house.

Polesden Lacey Volunteer Recruitment Coffee Morning!

Are you interested in being part of the Polesden Lacey team?

If so, come up to the Volunteer Recruitment Coffee Morning at Polesden on Saturday 9 February 2013 from 10am – 12pm to find out more. We would like to talk to anyone interested in either one-off activities, or a longer term commitment, whatever your stage in life. Roles available include room guides, mobility vehicle drivers and much more.

Volunteering is a great way of gaining new skills and experience and of sharing the skills you already have. You’ll meet new people and gain new challenges – all in the beautiful setting of this 1,400 estate in the stunning Surrey Hills. Why not drop in and talk to us about ways we can work together?

Polesden Lacey is in Great Bookham near Dorking – follow the brown signs from the M25 or A246. Nearest station is Boxhill & Westhumble (2 miles).

Polesden Lacey in snow ©National Trust Images Nick Meers