Hello lovely people, what’s the news with you?
It feels like an age ago now, but I’ve completely forgotten to tell you about our weekend away to Bracknell.
Doesn’t sound terribly exciting does it? But we always have a wonderful time when we’re there. Mostly because we get to see some amazing people.
We stay with our friends Adam and Jess and get thoroughly spoilt. Whether they come to us, or we go there, we always have adventures planned and this time was no exception. We did however have a bit of trouble with this visit, it was originally meant to be a Wales visit. We had lots of ideas, none of which came to fruition! Everywhere we tried was fully booked, so we decided on a Bracknell visit instead.
Of course no journey would be complete without a kitten in a suitcase.
He desperately wanted to come, poor thing. We had a full 5 minutes of me taking him out, turning my back to get something and him jumping back in. I finally managed to shoo him away, packed my bits and off we went. All that time to craft and all guilt free! As crafters, I know you’ll understand the glee at a 2 hour car journey and not being the driver. I was so looking forward to it! Of course this plan was scuppered a bit by the dark evenings. I defiantly struggled on for half an hour then had to give up. Couldn’t be helped though and I knew I had the return journey to look forward to.
We’ve visited Bracknell lots to see this bunch, but have never actually gone into the town centre. I’ve put it on the list for next time obviously, but it means that for now I don’t really know a great deal about the area. What I do know, is that they have good trees.
We‘d planned it well really. This was the last proper weekend where it was bright and warm and dry. From now on it’ll be difficult to get a weekend to be all those things. It was perfect for foliage watching. I wasn’t at all disappointed.
With this in mind, Jess suggested we visit one of the local historical houses in the area. Basildon Park came out on top. I was promised a lovely house with ample tree viewings and even the possibility of cake.
Even the drive was lovely. Yes obviously I was crafting in the car, but was drove through so many lovely looking towns that just begged to be explored. More for the list. As we pulled in we immediately ticked off pretty tree watching off the agenda. Task complete.
Look at this beauty. I love it when they get tinged with Autumn. As you enter, you go through a lovely courtyard which must have been the stables.
I know this, as there were horse sculptures everywhere
The shop was there so we decided to get that out of the way first. They had some amazing plants for sale and I was very temped by this Rosalinde, but thought better knowing I’d have to carry it about and keep it safe all weekend. I didn’t trust myself.
We headed up through the rustic path towards the house. It was completely covered with the occasional stream of light fighting to get to the ground.
We also passed lots of these guys.
All the benches had carvings on the side which were lovely to see. They also had included lots of games along the way. I’ll spare you the picture of me failing to play skittles..
This might be one of my favourite aspects of visiting historic houses. The wow factor when you first see the house. The Pemberley effect. This one didn’t disappoint. With the house on the left and acres of meadow and forest the other side it certainly had the wow factor.
The house was set up for a dinner party so we were ushered straight up to the kitchen where they were preparing dishes for the evening meal. I was hit with a smell long forgotten. The only way I can describe it was walking into the home economics rooms in school. It was like being transported right back. I don’t know whether it was the smell of a sponge cooking, or the same disinfectant, but my nose confirmed it was exactly the same. There was a chance to look in the cupboards and giggle at the rabbit shaped blancmange moulds.
Much like the Housekeepers room at Tredegar, this was my favourite room. There were interactive elements that kept people engaged. There were books, displays and a puzzle that I had to be dragged away from.
We started on the rest of the house which was very dim, presumably as it would have been for an evening meal. This did hinder picture taking however.
They have amazing ceilings there.
A good reminder to always look up in these places. There is detail everywhere.
And I mean everywhere. There were carved door frames throughout and you could spend huge amounts of time just looking at the intricate details.
Also a reminder to look down. Spot the weirdness here. I had to get on my haunches to look at this. The ‘rug’ is actually printed on to the floor mat, with extra floorboards printed to the side of it. It was only when I’d stepped on the edge and felt the difference in height that I realised that part of the wooden floor was a mat. It made me chuckle. Very clever though. Imagine having to line up this huge mat so that it was in line with the floorboards. I wonder how many people actually notice.
Of course it was filled with treasured items and exquisite architecture….
.. but I loved this chair. How clever! It reminds me of my cross stitch frame at home. Every chair needs one of these. A book holder so you can read while doing anything else you wanted to do. I’m not sure how I would install these on my sofa, but I’ve got ideas to try.
Now I’ve been brought up to believe that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then you shouldn’t say anything at all. So I’m not going to mention the tea rooms and the toilets, other than to say that cake was achieved.
Oh, also the tea rooms were situated in a beautiful painted room that completely stole your attention (and nearly took your mind off the tea room troubles).
Now I’ve been trying my hardest not to have this rant. (Yes, It’ll be a rant.) But I feel I have to. It wont be a popular opinion, and I’m prepared for the backlash. Here it goes…
I don’t like National Trust properties. Let me clarify. I don’t like how the National Trust run properties. It doesn’t stop me going to them, I’d never visit any otherwise. But I just don’t agree with it.
Having worked in an historical building where staff are paid, renovations are made and the asset is used to the full, I know the importance of making the most of these buildings. I feel that National Trust don’t do this. If buildings like this are to survive, then they need to think commercially. Part of this includes paying their staff. This isn’t to take anything away from the volunteers themselves, their work is exemplary. And as this is the case, I’m sure they deserved to be paid for their good work. On top of this, you usually find that paid staff work even harder and accept more responsibility. Looking after these houses in any capacity is a responsibility, and more responsibility can be taken on when you pay your staff. Volunteers can cancel their shift at any time, paid staff can’t. Paid staff will also look for and find better ways to make the most of the space, which brings me round to the fact that house need to support themselves. One of the reasons why families can’t keep these beautiful works of art is because they’re not self-sufficient. This should be no different when they’re owned by a trust. Charity is an amazing thing and has done so much good, but they’d get on even better if they helped themselves. Currently houses have to wait for money for renovations gets allocated to them, which means they can sometimes be right at the bottom of the list. Maybe with a stronger commercial view, they could earn that money and renovate when it’s actually needed. And this doesn’t mean raising the ticket price. They have so much space, outside and in. They could use that space to the full, think outside the box and get some much needed revenue. Sigh. See not a popular view. But everything should be self-sufficient if it can. A different outlook would go a long way.
Anyway. Enough of that.
You know when you walk in to a space and it’s just filled with scent. I walked into this garden and just had a wonderful floral smell wash over me.
We wandered around the back of the house and on to some more trees.
This really was a marvelous idea. A huge range with some beautiful colours. I really got my fix.
We also saw a bit of a conker graveyard which was upsetting! All those good conkers gone to waste!
I’ve been meaning to go out and find some for years. Apparently they repel spiders. I have colleagues who swear by it so thought I’d give it a go.. but 3 years on I still haven’t got round to it. Wish I could have had these but they all gone, squished or not fully formed. What a shame.
But that was Basildon Park done for us. Because Jess in a good friend, she said we could pop into Reading to visit the yarn shop we’d been to last time. Well it wouldn’t be a proper adventure without a trip to a yarn shop would it?
I searched the internet but could only find the one, no problem thought I, one is all I need. Turns out there wasn’t even one! 😦 We headed to where it was and found it closed down, searched some more and headed to where we thought it had moved to. Nothing there either. What a wild yarn chase. No matter though, we’d find one the next day, because the next day, we were going to Windsor.
I love Windsor. In my head I always confuse it with York though. You can see why. Old, historical, royal city with new High Street. I love them both. Period buildings and Royal and historical sounding streets. And they have a super castle. The only castle that outshines our own (in size) in Europe. Saying that, we’ve never actually been in! We’ve been here twice on a visit and never had time to do the castles. Himself and I love castles so this is a huge disappointment. Its on the list.
Anyway, from the outside its wonderful, and I’ve heard good things about the inside.
The hunt continued for a yarn shop. There must be one in Windsor I thought. What happens when the Queen wants to knit?!? But alas no. Not even a single one. I tried very hard to spend money but just couldn’t manage it. The best I could do was a Edinburgh Woollen Mill (nice try, no cigar) and a Cath Kidston shop, which we did venture into. This little duck tea cosy slightly improved my mood.
All the hunting did mean that we got to see lots of lovely buildings though. Look at this one.
And this wonky one
This was only to be a short visit to get the air, so we moseyed back to the car via a scenic route. Now I’m afraid its time for me to get a bit childish..
It made a nice change to be sauntering down Sheet Street rather than trudging up it I can tell you!
To finish off we headed through a lovely park and a water feature I wasn’t brave enough to walk through.
Again some amazing trees here. We were so lucky to have picked the weekend that we did. Seems like it was the perfect time to be witnessing the change of the seasons. We’ll have to remember to come back at this time of year again.
Adventures had (but no yarn bought) it was time to go home. Thank you Adam, Jess and Co for their ever amazing hospitality. Please have us back again soon!
Much love xx