Blenheim Palace visit with a toddler

Trying to make the most of the good (ahem, cough) weather (mmm, think the forecast was a bit optimistic!), I’d decided we’d make a trip out to Blenheim Palace.  I’d won a family ticket and therefore annual pass upgrade from our local paper so wanted to get that all set up as well.  As needless to say, the OH was working, we invited Grandma to come along as well.

Of course I wanted to make things hard by not wanting to specific the 2nd adult on my annual pass.  As I see it you turn up and ask for a family ticket on the day – this doesn’t necessarily have to include family members as it’s just 2 adults, 2 kids or 1 adult, 3 kids.  But if you upgrade to an annual pass, you have to specify as each person gets an individual photo card pass.  Hmmm, but I’ll never know who I’m going with as it’s unlikely the OH will ever come with me, and if we’re going for a bit of a kids run around then chances are, it’ll be with other friends/family, not always with my mum.  

No way of getting round this – I’d presumed that they’d just have the family name/lead person with a card, but as everyone has one there’s no taking along a different adult family member so it would mean whoever had gone along would have to pay the full price.  In the end I had to just put my mum down – at least the 2 of us would be able to go in for the year whenever we want, and N’s free anyway as he’s under 5 (generous for free compared to a lot of other places which are only free for under 3s).  I guess the upgrades to annual passes are free, so I can’t really complain too much.

After the faff of sorting that out, we’d missed the mini train round to the Pleasure Gardens and the children’s area, so we walked.  Turned out to be further than we thought, but was a nice walk.  We’d gone as soon as the place had opened so it’s wasn’t too busy either.

Quick whizz through the butterfly house (none of us were too keen on them fluttering around us), we then found the playground areas.  They’ve lots of grass areas perfect for picnics and playing, normal climbing frame/slide bits, plus large chess and draughts sets, and a few puzzle maze games for children.  Great for older kids (and adults).   We wandered into the Marlborough yew maze (against rules, taking the pushchair in), but decided to not bother doing it fully and instead headed for the adventure playground.

The area looks small to begin with as it’s long and narrow with not many places around the edges for parents to sit and hang around.  But there’s an under 12’s wooden playframe and a second smaller version within a sandpit for under 7s.  I avoided the sand so N was quite happy to climb up with me on the larger version and walk backwards and forwards along it.  

He did the wobbly bridge bit (felt a little scary for an adults weight), but the slide was a little high – too high for us to reach and hold his hand.  Lots of practising counting with him while he was climbing up the step parts.  He loved it.  Luckily there were only about 3 families there so plenty of room for him to be slow at it while the older children whizzed past.

Playing and exploring Blenheim Palace – Pleasure Gardens

Afterwards, a run to catch the mini train back to the palace and a bite to eat (the rest’s pretty hot and good quality, but some work needed on the cakes – both of the ones we chose were a tad heavy & dry, plus more choice needed as it was fairly restricted in the ‘cafe’.  We didn’t check out the smarter restaurant, although there was hot food on offer there.

N couldn’t make up him mind on the way back to the car, whether he was walking, being carried (he’s too heavy to carry for long) or in the buggy, so decided he’d just do his own thing and take his time on the grass areas on the way back to the car.  

He was tired, but hyper at the same time…you wouldn’t believe he was used to playing on big areas of grass at home, the way he was enjoying lying, running and falling there.  We just stood and watched him mucking around, while a random lady wandered over and started jabbering about how it was wonderful to see him enjoying the grass; telling me how she’d once done an exhibition based on grass.  Err, ok.  Why do random eccentric people start conversations with me?  We were then stuck with her for a while until I managed to make a move and go and grab N.

It was a lovely morning, and hopefully next year once the weather gets warmer again we’ll go again for an afternoon picnic and play session.

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