I’m a city girl at heart and although we live in a village on the outskirts of London, I love that the city centre is only a 30 minute train ride away. But despite my affection for urban living I do sometimes get a yearning for wide open spaces. Now that the weather is better, we have all (especially the children) been craving fresh air, trees to climb, trails to explore and hills to roll down. Luckily, we also have on our doorstep some of the finest countryside the south east of England has to offer. So on Sunday morning we set off early to beat the crowds and drove up to Box Hill in Surrey where we spent a good couple of hours enjoying the great outdoors. We all had a fabulous time and, best of all, come Sunday night the kids were so exhausted they were out like a light at 8pm!
One of my best purchases over the last year was not a new bag or a pair of shoes, but a family membership to the National Trust. So far we have enjoyed a Boxing Day walk at nearby Claremont Landscape Gardens and an Easter egg hunt at Ham House as well as trips to Petworth House and Uppark, both in Sussex.
The staff are great at engaging the children with stories of what life was like in ‘the olden days’ and there are usually little activity stations and play areas dotted around the houses. What my three enjoy most, however, is exploring the often vast grounds and gardens – climbing trees and rolling down hills, things they don’t really get to do on a day to day basis. And best of all, once you’ve paid for your membership, if you bring a picnic it’s virtually a free day out and all that fresh air is sure to guarantee sleepy children by bedtime.
Yesterday we spent the morning at Bodiam Castle in Kent, about an hour away by car from where we live. We had promised Casper that we would go there before Christmas as he missed a school trip to the medieval castle when he had his operation a couple of months ago. It was a grey and drizzly morning but we had lots of fun exploring the castle which was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dallingridge, a rich soldier. As it wasn’t quite picnic weather, we warmed up afterwards in the National Trust cafe with home baked scones slathered in butter and jam and cups of tea and hot chocolate.
A lovely day out.