I feel like I’ve not been to a National Trust property for ages despite having just renewed my membership. This time I wanted to go to the Feast weekend at Waddesdon Manor.
I’d prebooked tickets – you had to pay extra even as a member, but luckily it was only cheap because N refused to go with me. He wanted to stay on the farm with his dad, even though I’d been at Blogtacular on the Saturday, so wouldn’t really see him all weekend! It was Father’s Day so I couldn’t really complain. But it was very strange going for a day out without my little man by my side.
Feast was really popular. Even arriving at 10, the car park was filling up and there was a queue for the buses. For a lovely summer day it really was a wonderful and pretty experience, so no wonder the crowds were heading in.
What hit me first was flowers and prettiness. Down the whole of the drive to the house was a beautifully set out long picnic table and chairs for visitors to use (of course, some rude people dumped their bags and things on seats to try and hold them while they went wandering off. The decoration of the avenue was so summery, perfect for enjoying the summer weather and the entertainment. The food tents ran along each edge – a veritable feast of food and drink for eating there or taking away.
I’d already decided the shows I wanted to see – from dance, music and mini theatre performances, there were numerous things to see, hear and do. A lot of the shows didn’t start until the afternoon, so being a morning person did mean I missed a few I wanted to see.
The food stalls drew me in first. There was an amazing mix of foods, and I bought some local cider, pies for the freezer and some absolutely beautifully decorated beetroot chocolate and cherry cake.
I quite fancied having my hair vintage styled by the Pretty Me Vintage Hair Parlour, but there was a large queue and only 1 person doing the styling. I also couldn’t hang around for the tea dance either which was a shame. Instead I decided to make a flower garland headband in the family craft tent. We were able to choose 3-4 flowers and create our own band which I proudly wore all day. I think I should wear more flowers in my hair because they really make you feel happy. There were plenty of girls and other women wearing their creations – so many, that as I left I heard people being told that they’d run out of headbands.
My next stop was the Stables. I thought there would be more down there given that’s usually where most activities happen. But there was only a Kate Malone pottery exhibition. It wasn’t my cup of tea – the occasional pumpkin was ok but the rest was just very strange. The bonus was that the stables were very quiet for food and drink where usually it’s packed out. Not really a surprise given all the amazing lunch options back at the festival.
I was surprised that there wasn’t anything around the back of the house. Still it was nice to get some time away from the crowds and noise. Although I did bump into an old friend there who was working the event.
For the weekend parts of the house downstairs were open to people without tickets. There were some stunning chandeliers, mirrors and flowers, with the hydrangeas in the conservatory particularly pretty. I really should go back to go round the house properly when it’s not Christmas.
I grabbed a crispy duck wrap for lunch – the queues for food got busier later on so for once my timing was right. Delicious and hard to choose what type of food to go for.
Then it was time to catch up with the shows. There was a real variety to watch. I watched the tea cup ladies – great audience participation with the children really getting into having cups of tea, and watching their little show.
Frantic was a bizarre display symbolising the treadmill of busy life that so many people are on from when the actors woke through their working day and the stresses gone through….all the while in a ‘hamster wheel’ with a blind to see into his life. Very odd, and after a bit, it got a little tedious so I wandered off to see other things.
There was a fun brass group – young guys playing jazz styles, and ‘dancing’ around while they played, even lying down at one point. It was good fun and entertaining to watch as well as a different type of music to experience. The small crowd around them loved the performance.
I watched a performance about a lift. Yes a lift. It had a bit of symbolism for Waddesdon because they have an old lift on display. The show was quirky, with the actors inside the lift and making it look like they were going up and down, dragging in a member of the audience to take part as well. It wasn’t the easiest to watch because looking inside a lift along with other audience members was hard to see inside from many angles.
There was also the ‘Smallest theatre in the world’ who put on a funny performance of King Kong. I only caught snippets of this one, but there was a sketch show comedy feel, although it felt a bit silly to me. It’s probably not my type of thing, but the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it more.
My final display I watched was the beautifully emotional and charged performance of Lost. Lost is a duet performed by Motionhouse dance theatre, a contemporary dance number. I’m a dance lover anyway, but it was full of lifts, emotion, raw energy, and beautiful music to portray two people being lost emotionally and physically. Motionhouse are fairly local to me so I’ll be looking out for more of their work in future.
After being at Waddesdon Feast for around 4 hours, it was time to head home, picking up my purchases before leaving. It was great that so many of the stalls had a holding point which was much easier than dragging round heavy purchases all day.
I loved the Feast event that Waddesdon had put on. It’s obviously a popular event because it was quite busy there. But on arriving back at the car park there were still queues and queues of people waiting to pay to visit it. I’ll definitely be returning in future and hopefully will be able to share it with N. Let’s face it, food and activities, plus the great playground at Waddesdon – why would he say no! Even after I told him about it, he said he wished he’d come with me.
Have you ever been to a similar food festival? What are your favourite bits?
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