This year, it feels like we’ve hardly been on a day out for ages. With tennis mostly on Sunday afternoons, and swimming on Saturday mornings, it doesn’t leave much time to actually do anything or go anywhere, other than maybe for a quick park visit or to play tennis. N always tells me at the last minute he wants to go out, and as I noticed Easter trails had already started at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford, suggested that as an option.
N doesn’t like gardens (I’m not surprised, as I wouldn’t have done as a child either). Mainly because I stop a lot to take photos. But throwing in an Easter trail and he agreed. The prospect of a prize at the end perked him up, and we headed off for the 40 minute journey. It’s always a nightmare finding it because the signs aren’t always in the best place to see the correct direction, and sat nav takes you off somewhere totally different. So just head towards the village of Waterperry and you should get there the quickest route.
Waterperry Gardens has changed a lot since I was last there when I’d just found out I was pregnant, and visiting for a craft fair with a friend (who was also just announcing her pregnancy). There’s a rural museum, small tea room, gift shops and plant centre as well as a gallery. Plus of course the gardens – 8 acres of landscaped gardens. You pay to go round the gardens (free for children), but to walk round the estate and visit the shops there’s no charge.
We paid for N to do the trail and set off into the gardens to find the wire Easter rabbits.
There’s a beautiful amphitheatre which N was quite excited about as he’s been studying Ancient Rome so wanted to know why there was one in Oxfordshire. It was being refurbished, so it’ll be spectacular again once it’s fully open.
The gardens are a mix of wild river walks, beautiful hedge work and flower beds, ornamental style, orchards, open space and areas of contemplation. You can enter into smaller enclosed areas to sit, and once summer arrives I’m sure the colours in all the flower beds and trees will be stunning.
I’ve never seen fritillaries growing, but there’s a pretty fritillary meadow with the flowers looking beautiful in the gloomy damp air.
We whizzed through finding the first 5 rabbits, but couldn’t find the last 3 we needed (there are supposedly 10 and you need to find 8 to mark on the map). I debated just adding random stickers to the map and saying N put them on and we weren’t sure exactly where we were, to say we completed the challenge. But N was ready to leave after I’d dragged him round one side a second time to try and complete it.
Lunchtime was calling so we debated the tea shop. It’s basically just in a static prefab building, and quite small. It was busy and the layout of the serving area and queuing was chaotic. I think they could probably do with changing it round to make more sense. We only wanted sandwiches, but the children’s lunchboxes were already made up so if your child is older like mine and would prefer a double sandwich and to drop the flapjack, you can’t. There were tuna sandwiches, but otherwise they were all a bit fussy – I don’t like chutney or mustard in my sandwiches, so we decided to just stop at Asda and pick up a sandwich before we started back home.
Considering N isn’t a garden fan, the trail kept him entertained, and he didn’t moan until his trainers and socks started getting soaked from the damp grass. I’d told him to wear boots but of course he didn’t listen. He didn’t even moan that we didn’t complete the trail (I was more frustrated than him), and didn’t want to go and stand in the tea room queue to see if he could still get a prize. If we’d been able to pick up in the gift barn or garden centre shop I’d have tried as there was no queue there.
Even in the damp weather it was nice to just have a walk around and explore. I’m sure there’d be lots more to take in in the summer too, once everything’s in full bloom.
Let’s hope we get some better weather back again soon so we can get visiting more places again.
Have you got any Easter trails on your list to do this spring?