It’s half term at the moment, and the kids have been doing their homework, like very good children. So today we went out for the day. We didn’t go far. But it doesn’t matter how far you go, it’s good to spend quality time with each other that matters. To be honest I didn’t want to drive far, as the previous couple of weeks I’ve driven a long way. So after consulting the National Trust handbook we decided on Clandon Park and then Hatchlands Park. They’re both very close to each other, so it was the sensible thing to do. We’ve not been to Clandon Park for a couple of year at least. The last time we visited was before the devastating fire in April 2015.
The gardens at Clandon Park are open we had a lovely look around at the Hinemihi, or Maori house, then we looked at the Grotto, but Santa wasn’t there yet. To be honest I don’t think he’d like to set up his special place there, because it’s at risk of falling flint and rubble. Still it looks beautiful from the outside.
We then went to explore the little play are with the wooden balance beams in. It was very tiny and my kids are a little too big for it (it’s meant for little people, not great oafs like mine). But we all walked the balance beams, even me, and none of us fell off. We had then booked a time slot to go into a small section of the house and have a look around at the devastation the fire did and how they are rebuilding the house. You have to wear hard hats and high visibility jackets to go inside, and are only allowed into a very small part of the building on a guided tour. The tour guides showed us before and after photos and told us all about the fire. The mystery of the Stoneware duck from South Korea. How the marble has all survived and why. Apparently marble can withstand the heat from a fire as it’s created using temperatures even hotter! You can still see the amazing marble decoration on the fireplace and other figures that are still in the house. How they saved what they could, what started the fire and where it originated from. We were able to look around for 30 minutes. And as the restoration goes on, they’ll open up other parts of the house so we can see how they are getting on. I wouldn’t know where to start, but they have a magnificent team who just get on with the job. They’re hoping in about 5 or 6 years to have it complete. I hope they do.
We then walked through the Lime Walk to the church. Very noisy bells at West Clandon, I’ve rung them several times. Not bad to ring, but no sound proofing at all and you can’t hear yourself think when ringing them. Then across the meadow to the Dutch Garden where we sat on a bench and had our lunch.
The sun was shining and it was very pleasant. Although there were masses of ladybirds about. You looked up to the sky and they were everywhere. Once we’d had lunch then we went back to the car and set off for Hatchlands. The drive from Clandon to Hatchlands only takes about 5 minutes. The most important thing to do when we arrived was to ALL have a go on the space hoppers. Yes even I had a go! I may not have got much height on my bounces, but at least I tried. We then wandered around the grounds looking at various points of interest. Some of the holly bushes were covered in red berries and others had none on them at all. I told the kids that you can tell what sort of winter you’ll have by how many berries appear over the autumn. Loads of berries then it’ll be a hard winter, no berries it’ll be warm. George got so excited at seeing the berries he is now hoping for lots of snow this winter. We’ve not had any for a couple of years, so just a sprinkle will be good. Although they would like enough to build a snowman with.
We wandered round a little more and went through the various wooded areas, we saw The Temple, The Icehouse and all sorts of other things. We then left around 3pm, and then went to see Dr Strange at the cinema. A very impressive film and thoroughly enjoyable. I’m pleased to say we saw it in 2D. There is no way I would have been able to see it in 3D, I would have felt very sick. If you do go and see it, then make sure you stay right to the very end. Like all Marvel films there is an end credits scene! Only the hard core Marvel fans know this always happens. Oh and please concentrate when you’re driving!!