This year I’m really struggling to persuade N to come out with me. I guess most families go out all together, so if the OH came out then he’d be more willing. But this week the guys were turkey picking (ie plucking them) ready for Christmas orders. Usually N loves sitting in the box while the 3 or 4 of them pick the birds. But this time his dad said no because the box gets really dusty and full of feathers, so it wasn’t a good idea for N to be there while he was getting over his tonsillitis.
That didn’t go down well with N. There were nearly tears. Especially when he realised the outing with me was an all dayer. But he had no choice, tickets were booked (admittedly free, but going to Waddesdon Manor for Christmas wasn’t something I was planning to miss. Plus I knew he’d enjoyed it the previous year.
I’d heard horrors about car parking this season with everyone arriving early to try and get some of the last available tickets they put on sale each morning for walk ups. So my plan had been to get there for opening. It worked on the car parking with us only parked a few rows back. Being members who had already booked we were able to jump the queue for tickets, but still had to then wait for the buses to arrive because they don’t start until 11. Lots of people were walking, but there’s no way I fancied a 20 minute walk uphill with N. I know it would just make him grouchy for the rest of the day and we ended up on the second bus anyway.
Our first aim was to head for the Stables via the playground, although we got waylaid by the new Wigwam café. This was really making the most of the current hygge trend for all things comfy and cosy. We had hot chocolate while sitting in on furry bench covers and listening to soft playing music. I’m not sure the food the café served for lunch was that family friendly – grilled meat with tabbouleh, sauces and salad in flatbreads. But it’s perfect for warming drinks on a cold day.
The playground was a bit wet so N wasn’t keen on playing on much. He’s waiting for next month when he turns 6 so he can go down the big slide!
Instead we headed straight down to the Stables where he wanted to write his letter to Father Christmas. Apart from an Elf hat (for the second year running), he was a little stuck but we managed to get a letter written and posted.
One thing I really wanted to see was the Biscuiteers gingerbread house replica of Waddesdon. It’s an amazing piece of artwork (and food), and getting in early was a good idea to avoid the queues we saw later in the day. It’s really intricate, and given the struggles I’ve had with gingerbread consistency in the past I’m amazed at how they manage to work in such detail.
By noon, the queue for the Stables restaurant was already several people long and not moving, so we decided to buy from the kiosk and eat undercover outside. We had no problems getting a table, and N was very happy with his lunch box (his favourite part of National Trust visits). It’s great to be able to sit and watch everything going on, have a chat, take some silly photos, and enjoy the Christmassy lights.
We also enjoyed meeting some bearnese mountain dogs which were at Waddesdon for charity and demo-ing their wagon pulling. I think N fell in love with this 9 month old pup.
We had a bit of time before our house ticket slot, and I wanted to have a look in the glow@Waddesdon shop. Super cool, and N loved it. Maybe he’s a secret raver! I couldn’t turn him down when he pointed out a foam glow stick and he’s been having fun with it ever since.
By this stage N was moaning. It was getting a lot busier, and the playground was rammed with all ages, so that wasn’t really an option. So it was a quick wander around the Christmas market. I’d hoped to get some present ideas, but actually getting to the counters was hard with how busy it was. The food stalls were doing good trade, and we did manage to buy a few slabs of blueberry crumble squares and millionaires shortbread for pudding that evening.
To persuade N to come in the house with me, I had to agree that we’d rethink hanging around til dusk to see the house lit up and the Bruce Monroe field of lights. We did go over to the Aviary to see the lights set up and N’s favourite, throw some coins in the water fountain. I was a bit embarrassed when I turned round to spot him sitting on the floor fishing coins out of the water to throw back in!
We were a bit early for our house slot, but we were able to head in a bit early. As ever the decorations in each room were stunning, each room themed around a different type of material…paint, paper, wood, ceramics and more.
It was a bit crowded waiting to get round the final couple of rooms and to head back out, but I’ll definitely want to come back again next year to see the next creative designs. N enjoyed doing the gingerbread trail, where children could get stickers for spotting the themed gingerbread men in each room. But he was determined we were heading home straight afterwards.
Leaving before the light and music show on the outside of the house was a shame, but the bonus was that we didn’t have to queue for the bus back to the car park. On our return there were cars everywhere, parked all along the exits, and still more people arriving to see the light displays.
Excluding the moaning from N, we had a lovely day. It’s so nice to be out and about again after a few weekends of not doing much.
Have you been to any National Trust locations for festive celebrations and displays?
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