Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Buscot House 

Another National Trust Property. Another lovely afternoon. Another day where the children didn't get bored. 

We arrived at Buscot House about 2pm, which is just as well because that is when the house and gardens open, although as the house isn't open Monday and Tuesdays we didn't get to see the Pre-Raphaelite painting by Byrne Jones -  the Briar Rose series. That didn't matter though because we did spend three hours walking/ running around the grounds and it does provide us with the excuse to go back. 

How suitable is Buscot House for really small children? I guess that depends on how they are around water. There is a lot of water. It also depends on how good they are at walking, because although there are excellent paths, there are also lots of steps. 

My children really enjoyed running up and down the very long paths and mounds, rolling down hills, swinging in the hanging garden, walking along the walls and taking pictures of the things they fancied. We were there over three hours and were not bored once, in fact they love going to these places as they like gardens - or more precisely they like making mischief in them. 

Unlike Greys Court and Basildon Park there are no activities provided, but I am sure that most children are capable of making their own fun. 

It takes about 50 mins to travel to Farringdon from Didcot, and Buscot House is just a little way out of Farringdon, on the A417, on the road towards Cirencester. We drove through Wantage then followed the signs to Farringdon. I don't use my GPS and still got there okay. 

Find Buscot House on the google map I made for you. 


Nearby places to visit: 

The White Horse at Uffington, the Vale and Downlands Museum in Wantage, Weyland's Smithy, the water park in Wantage. 

I haven't yet visited any of these places but I will have by the end of these summer hols! 

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Monday, 28 July 2014

North Leigh  - Roman Villa. 

This villa is a maintained by National Heritage. It is so well presented and so well looked after that one can hardly believe that it is unmanned.

North Leigh is near Witney, sort of. I typed in North Leigh into my GPS and the signs were good enough from there. 

If you drive through Cumnor you will have to go over a toll bridge. This is interesting to me because the only other one I have been over is the one from Whitchurch to Pangbourne and that is now closed (structurally unsound, I think). 

Find North Leigh on the google map I made for you. 

It is quite a long drive from Didcot but it is well worth it if you are interested in archaeology, as I am, or if your children are studying the Romans. 

The site is quite large. Some of the ruins have been covered up so as to preserve them. The mosaics and other stone artefects have been placed inside a building with dark glass, so as to protect them from the light. 


View walking down the hill towards the villa. 

'Central heating' - this villa had three bathrooms. 

One wing of the household.

Sorry, once a teacher, always a teacher, lol!: 

Anyone know what this flower is? That's not a test q, I don't either!

Near North Leigh

Blenheim, Wychwood National Nature Reserve, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Crocodiles of the World  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Nuffield Place

Another National Trust property. We really are spoilt for them around here, so it is about time we used our membership. 

Find Nuffield Place on the google map I made for you. 

Nuffield was the third NT  property we visited this week, after Greys House and Basildon Park. The last time we visited was about this time last year. My son was 4.5 and tore around the house looking for hidden golf balls at warp speed. This time the activity was to find objects in each room that were printed onto playing cards. Perhaps that extra year helped his patience as our walk around the house was waaaaay more leisurely.

We couldn't stay long today as we arrived quite late. We could easily have spent twice as long playing. The children climbed tress and played (I say that in a loose sense as, again, I am just not posh enough to know the rules!) croquet. Last time we were here we made dens in the woods and went for a long walk. 


Matching game 

What child wouldn't find chamber pots - gazunders - entertaining?! 

Croquet on the lawn, anyone?

Lots of trees to climb

 Plug for the NT:) 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sutton Courtenay - Part II

Find this park on the google map I made for you. 

I had always assumed that the play area visible from the High Street was private. It is surrounded by very large and posh houses, and you have to drive through what looks like a private gate to get there. But no: it's a public playground. 

It is hard to know where to park. I suppose you could use the car park at the other recreation ground, or park on the road out the front. I parked inside the gates so as not to force traffic to slow down on the main road. 

It is indeed very nice. We were the only people in there before my son had to use the loo and we were forced to ask at The Swan to use their facilities. 

There is plenty of shade, but the bench hasn't been places in it so we sat on the floor. Part of the play area is shaded. 

This is a very clean playground, obviously well cared for.

This park is close to the village shop and the other recreation ground. 


As noted above, The Swan allows use of their loo: 

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Basildon Park. 

Wowweee! The kids had a fab time here today! They were occupied with assembling tennis ball runs (£3.00 but you get to keep the ball and use it as many times as you choose if you return) and variations on the theme. There were five of these activities scattered around the shaded parts of the park. Additionally they must've spent 45 minutes rolling down a hill. That was fine - the view across the river (you can't actually see the river) is pretty spectacular and there is plenty of shade. 

We looked inside the house. The activity for children was to find the single roses in each room so they raced around trying to find them. The house is big (much bigger than Greys) and has lots of stairs, so you may wish to avoid it if you have pushchairs with you.

The art lovers amongst you will have lots of look forward to. There's a mixture of old and new paintings. The rooms are gorgeous, although I am glad the fashion for wall paper in the bathroom has been surpassed by more sensible alternatives, lol! 

Speaking of pushchairs, there is a hill climb from the car park up to the house. It isn't a long way but nonetheless this may put off some.

Although there isn't an enormous flower garden - compared to Waterperry and Greys Court - there are lots and lots of trees and plenty of picnic tables. 

We spent a good 3.5 hours visiting today. 

Basildon House is a National Trust property located in Lower Basildon, Berkshire, Just outside Streatley, so there are loos and a restaurant. We didn't use the restaurant as I'd quickly bankrupt our family, what with the amount of time I spend out of the house, but my in-laws informed me that one can buy cream teas. 

Find Basildon Park on the google map I made for you. 

Basildon House. Front or back? I'm not 'posh enough' so I really couldn't say with any certainty!

Example of a tennis ball run. 

Some nice flowers, but not the main attraction which I suppose is the park land. Apparently it runs at approx 40 acres. 

The elevated view towards the entrance. This is where my children spent such a long time rolling down a steep slope. 

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Greys Court - got the app? get it free, here

This week we are going to Houses. Today we went to Greys Court (after we'd stopped off at Stoke Row - a fantastically friendly village), which is in Rotherfield Greys. To get there I go through Stoke Row, then towards Highmoor Cross (there's a well here, too) and then towards Shepherds Green. You must keep right. If you go past Highmoor Cross nursery you have taken the wrong turn. 

Find Greys Court on the google map I made for you. 

My children loved it so much at Waterperry that they wanted to go back. They settled for somewhere similar and were not disappointed. 

Greys court has great gardens. It also has a brand new children's play area! It's shaded and there are wooden swords, helmets and wooden blocks to play with. There is a tree fort with a slide, a sandpit and a great tree to climb on. Totally brilliant! 

Near this play area there is a labyrinth, with benches all around so it doesn't matter what time of the day you visit. I've got to say that as today was hot and sunny the thing I appreciated most of all was the shade. 

We did look around the house (quickly!). My daughter was interested. My son was compliant. He noticed the stained glass windows (no photography) because he is brainwashed about them (oops!) but was decidedly underwhelmed by the rest of the house. Sometimes children just need to learn to forbear whilst other people get to do things they want.

Additionally Greys has an ice house and a donkey wheel which was used for drawing 
water from the well. The children were actually interested in them. 

Greys is a National Trust property so it is really well looked after, there are loos, a tea room and plenty of people to ask for help. 


More garden walls, hooray:) 

I have climbed this tower but I didn't fancy it with my children, rucksacks and my very precious camera. 

Lovely gardens.


I'm not sure if this is an arboretum, but there's a whole garden filled with trees like this and  wooden structure where the trees upper branches twist around. It looks bewitching. 

There's something alluring about little doors leading off into gardens. 

Yay - more walls! 

The pond is in yet another enclosed garden so easily avoided. 

The house was once crenellated. This is an old part of the castle. 

The new castle!

The tree fort has quite a lot of standing area. My son spent ages up here. 

An unexpected surprise!

(Sadly) his is more my home from home, haha:) 

I saw really small children playing with these. It's apparent that the NT have made an effort to engage visitors of all ages. 

12th Century! Woah. This was used for over 700 years then. Totally amazing!

I really wanted to see the ice house as I have a bit of a fascination with them after seeing an amazing one on the telly a while aga. Some are beautifully tiled. This one isn't but it's still briliant:) 

When we arrived the cows had made their way into the ice house enclosure, eating the thatch and leaving presents for visitors. 

The light inside the house is solar powered and on a timer. I loved this juxtaposition 

Another labyrinth. We spent a long time here, too. 

View from the front of the House. 

Is there ever a need for a an excuse for pretty flower? 

Greys Court – Review By Jessica Mallows, Age 8.5.

Well it was a very good place although scratched myself on a tree I climbed and it grazed the back of the leg badly. On the bright side the children’s play area was epic!!! I really enjoyed the fort, it was up in a tree.

The gardens are beautiful. We had to wait to go in the ice house because the weight on the gate had broken and a herd of cows had wandered in, eating the thatched roof of the ice house.

Greys House is interesting. It has children’s activity sheets in most rooms - all you have to do is ask a lady in one of the rooms. The kitchen is nice.