The other weekend my best friend and her son came to visit. We only see them about once or twice a year, so it’s always great to catch up. The added bonus is that we have an immaculate house because I cleaned it from top to bottom the week before!
They arrived on the Saturday and we wanted to get out somewhere nearby where the boys could run around. We both have National Trust membership so decided to visit Upton House. Despite it being only a 5 minute drive from us, we’ve only ever been to the gardens while doing the Easter Egg trails. This time we wanted to go in the house as well, because they now have the house set up as though it was war time.
As we drove up and parked, N got very excited.
‘Mama, I know where we are. The sheep are down that way’ pointing down the side road. Sometimes we have sheep on Upton Estate, and my brother in law sometimes helps them out with sheep buying and support, so N’s used to driving straight along the tradesman’s entrance.
We checked in and walked down towards the restaurant and out for a walk round the grounds before backing back round towards the house again.
The boys had a good old investigate of the sweet chestnuts, followed by some balancing at the start of the woodland trail.
Then we headed via the orchard where they examined the apples on the ground. Because N just walks as I generally ask, and is long past the moaning or dawdling stage (well, sometime he moans, but I can usually distract him with a time it’ll take before we finish), it was so funny to hear my friend suggesting they try and find the biggest windfalls to keep them entertained and from wandering off. Maybe I’m just slack and we talk about things, rather than always having physical challenges, although it’s probably something we should do more of. Mostly though, N just finds his own things to do, or I point out items for him to look at and understand.
The swimming pool was exciting for the boys. Challenging to keep them away from diving in which N wanted to do, even though I told him that October probably wasn’t a good day for going outdoor swimming.
Then down the paths to the kitchen garden where the vegetables and fruit were growing or not. It was a little weeded over – something I’d probably never have noticed. But my friend’s a bit of a gardener, so she was telling us about the various plants and pointing out things I’d not have noticed.
The Mirror Lake’s all been drained for winter repairs so it was looking a bit sad walking round it. Seeing the Sunken Lawn was a draw for the boys and a bit of hill rolling, and chilling out. N had a little shadow copying him.
We also investigated the wartime bunker, explaining to the boys why it would have been there, and wondering how cold it would have been.
A walk zigzagging back up the hill to the house saw us with a couple of little superheroes. I told N he’d have to carry his coat, so that was the solution which of course, O had to copy.
The house is full of old masters and amazing art work, but we were interested in seeing Upton house as it would have been during the war.
Dust sheets, dormitories, typing pool and more, it really is interesting and brings history to life. I really hated history at school. I didn’t see the point, all we studied was what I thought was quite boring, the World Wars and Cold War. I preferred the earlier kings and queens history. But seeing how people actually lived and imagining what it would have been like for us in those days is so much more interesting than learning from a book.
I particularly loved the old version of recycling which N was quite taken with as well.
The typing pool was interesting to try out – memories of me typing on my mum’s old manual typewriter I had.
Also something of interest was a table of photos, showing weddings from Upton’s owners and occupiers through the years, right to the last few years. It’s particularly of interest because being just round the corner, and having family farming connections, meant we’d been invited to one of the most recent wedding receptions a few years ago. We couldn’t make it unfortunately, but the in laws said it was a really special occasion.
The weirdest part was the silver bathroom. It was a bit futuristic for the time, and looked like it had been Blue Petered. It provided us a few giggles, not really expected in such an old house. A bit like putting a (badly done) blinged up bathroom from the noughties into a beautiful mansion.
Of course, a day trip out with little kids is never trouble free. N was happy enough roaming around, but litle O was getting bored and wanting to play with one of N’s trains he’d brought with him. His mum had words with him, and then I removed the train when he wouldn’t stop trying to put it on the wooden furniture. Cue tears and tantrums despite trying to negotiate when he could have it back. Obviously hitting the threenager stage, so we made a quick escape doing a quick look into the wine cellar, vault, and various other rooms under stairs on the way out.
I didn’t realise there was so much to see at Upton House, and there’s still more we didn’t see like the Squash Court gallery.
If you’re in the area, I’d recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve already got National Trust membership.
Do you have National Trust membership? Where do you love to visit?