08 March, 2014

Cultural weekend away

I had a lovely birthday weekend a couple of weeks ago, spending a cultural two days in and around London.

We visited two impressive stately homes:

Kenwood, in north London, has recently been refurbished. It is a beautiful Robert Adam-modelled mansion which houses a stunning collection of paintings. The grounds are very pleasant, too, and lead out to Hampstead Heath. We were lucky enough to have bright, sunny weather and so were able to take advantage of the outside tables in the restaurant area to eat lunch. Just about warm enough in the February sunshine if you kept your coats on! Kenwood is managed by English Heritage but, unusually, doesn’t charge for admission, so is great for family days out.

Hall Place and Gardens in Kent is a beautiful Tudor house with magnificent gardens displaying Tudor-style topiary. The house has an interactive display area in which both adults and children can learn a lot about everyday Tudor life. The house also hosts a programme of exhibitions. When we visited, there was an exhibition about the (now defunct) local textile printing industry. We also enjoyed lunch in the onsite cafe (not outside this time!). Once again, this was a good value day out for us – as National Trust members, we qualified for half-price admission and only paid £10 in total for the four of us.

The final element of my birthday weekend was an adult-only treat. The parents-in-law babysat while my husband and I enjoyed dinner out in London, followed by a trip to St. Martin's Theatre to see ‘The Mousetrap’ – great light-hearted fun, and very well acted and produced to boot. Highly recommended!

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