We’d not managed to get tickets for the Christmas light displays at National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor last year which I was really disappointed about, so I was on the look out for another excuse to visit once it opened again after Christmas. So when I spotted the Colourscape event over the Easter holidays, I knew I wanted to go and see it.
Brilliantly it coincided (although I’d not twigged until a couple of days before) with the Cadbury Easter Trails too, so I thought that’d be a great way to ensure N was keen to come along too…he’s always saying ‘Mummy I want to stay at home today’, which basically means he wants to go out on the farm with his dad.
It turned out it was a repeat visit for the exhibition after last year’s and the warning was to get there early to avoid the long queues. I always aim for opening time, so we got to Waddesdon car park around 10.30, and jumped on the shuttle bus. I’d not realised how long a trek it was up to the house, we were glad we bussed it rather than walking.
When we arrived there was already a small queue at the Colourscape area, so we collected our Easter trail information first, then joined the queue. It had rained the night before, so there was a slight delay opening while they had to wipe off all the water from the flooring, but we didn’t have to wait too long.
N wasn’t keen though. As soon as we stood in the queue, he wanted snacks. Then he moaned he wanted to go home (not even wanting to do the Easter trail). Then when Colourscape opened and the queue moved up to the payment area, there was more moaning. I paid, removed my shoes (then had to replace them) and grabbed N and carried him over to the cape collection area.
He didn’t want to take off his wellies. He didn’t want a cape, which the woman handing them out looked confused about, but then I’m not really surprised, (surely he couldn’t have been the only child to have refused one). I had to then carry him in through the door and into the first chamber, when he had a transformation and was quite happy to be there.
Colourscape is a suite of around 60-70 chambers, lit up with different colours for people to explore. Some days also had musicians playing in the larger chamber. We were given different coloured capes to wear, but I didn’t notice that they looked anything different or special when we went into the different chambers so wasn’t sure of the point of those.
N absolutely loved it. It was like a maze of coloured circular chambers, you could go in any direction, and from most places inside you could hear the musicians playing. When we were there, there was a Balinese Gamelan band playing. A lot of gongs, flutes and chimes.
N quite liked sitting and listening to the music but he was happy to sit and watch from a distance, rather than getting up close to the strange looking instruments.
Once we’d listened to the music, it was time to explore again…getting lost and trying to find our way out again. Up to 90 people were allowed in at once, and we were in the first group in, but it didn’t feel busy at all. You just felt very relaxed and able to roam any direction you wanted.
We finished just in time to go and get some lunch. I decided that we didn’t want to go to the restaurant and presumed that the cafe in The Stables was self service. I was surprised that it was waitress service…and before midday the queue for a table was out the door. Across the grounds there are various kiosks for refreshments, but we wanted more than a cup of tea, and wanted to sit inside given it looked like it might rain at any moment.
At The Stables there was also a refreshments bar which was serving baguettes, soup and drinks, so we queued up for that instead in the hope that there would be a spare table outside by the time we’d bought our sandwiches. I’ve never seen a National Trust place quite so manic. The kiosk queue was moving really slowly as well. Eventually we did get our food (a lunchbox for N and baguette for me), although I gave up trying to get a drink. It wasn’t a great experience, and in summer I’d definitely take a picnic rather than trying to buy food there. What also seemed madness was that there were no menus until you either got to tables inside, or until you reached the kiosk, so you had no idea what you were queuing for.
After lunch it was time for N to do the Easter Trail. This is our third year of doing them, and I love how they’re different each year, and at each site. It also gets us walking and exploring more than we probably would without a task to achieve.
We had to work out which of 8 animals was innocent and hadn’t stolen the easter eggs in Waddesdon. I don’t know what it is with trails like this, but we always seem to miss the first clue. Note to self, must start concentrating from the beginning!
The trail was a lovely walk round the gardens
We also went alongside the aviaries, which were beautiful buildings.
Of course, N decided he wanted to pick flowers. Thankfully I managed to stop him trying for bluebells and he was satisfied with daisies.
I really should remember to take a plastic bag out with us on these outdoor walks because I always end up with leaves, grass and weeds in my handbag. This time it was sprigs of laurel leaves.
It seems that tripping over is also an annual tradition at our Easter trails. I’d warned N to watch out for stones as he was running down the hilly paths, but of course he still managed to trip up. One tiny grazy on his knee, a lot of crying, and even more mud up his coat and waterproof trousers.
On the way back to collect his egg, we walked behind Colourscape again. We could hear the music from outside, and then found that the musicians were marching up towards the manor. Despite his earlier disinterest, N was most put out that there were children marching alongside them with instruments!
N was very pleased with his egg (me less so, it was a bit of a deformed one. Must have been stored badly and squashed when warm), and by that time he was tired and ready to go home. We’d walked some way – around the trail, and then a long walk via the woodland playground to get food and back up the hill again. So I let him have the wanting to go home.
He’d had a great time, and despite it not being wonderful weather, it was nice to get a good walk and experience something a bit different in Colourscape. N’s best bit was probably splashing in the huge puddles.
Next time I want to go and look round the manor house itself. Maybe I’ll have to go without N so I don’t get him moaning left right and centre. Otherwise we’ll hopefully we back for the Christmas displays if we can get tickets.
Did you do any of the Easter trails this year?