26 July, 2017

Picnic at Waddesdon

We managed to dodge the showers on Sunday to visit Waddesdon Manor. We took a bit of a gamble with the weather and packed a picnic, which we love to do but don't do often enough. In fact, the sun shone for us and we were able to sit on our tartan blanket and enjoy our lunch on the lawns in front of the manor.

Next up was the woodland playground. Our kids are well and truly teenagers now, but they still love to have a go on the huge slide and the zip wire! My husband and I did a quick tour of the house, which is very impressive, while the kids (who have visited the house before and feel that once is enough, unlike us) relaxed on the grass and fiddled with their mobile phones.

We then popped into the shop for a nose around. This is always interesting --  lots of lovely things, but not much that you'd actually want to buy. I was amused to see that the book I'm currently reading -- The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild -- was for sale there. It's always useful if you have a family business in which you can sell your wares!

Finally, we enjoyed (very overpriced, but delicious) brownies, cupcakes and drinks in the cafe.

All-in-all a very pleasant afternoon.

21 July, 2017

Bath weekend away

We had a good, child-free weekend away a couple of weeks ago. After depositing the kids with their grandparents, we drove on to Bath for an overnight stay. This is something that we've done a couple of times in the past, but not for a few years now, so we thought that it was time to re-visit our old haunts.

We stayed in Beechfield House, which is a small, country-house hotel about thirty minutes' drive from Bath. We really like it here. The rooms are smart and comfortable, the setting is lovely, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the staff are very friendly. We particularly like the pretty, open-air swimming pool which is heated sufficiently that it is open from March until October. This time, we also enjoyed sitting in the peaceful bar (a lovely room at the front of the house) for an evening drink.

The other highlight of our weekend was our two-hour session at the Thermae Bath Spa. We went on Sunday morning, which meant that we didn't have to queue for too long to get in. We always enjoy relaxing in the pools and dipping in and out of the (this time newly-refurbished) steam rooms.

Other things that we enjoyed were lunch sitting outside at The Cornish Bakery in the heart of the city and dinner at the swish, modern Mint Room Indian restaurant.

04 July, 2017

Birthday celebration

We had a lovely celebration at the weekend for my husband's birthday.

Firstly, we visited Broughton Castle -- a sixteenth-century moated manor house near Banbury. This is a beautiful place to explore. The castle itself is very interesting to wander round and the staff are welcoming and helpful. The gardens, which run down to the river and are full of cottage garden flowers, are lovely too. Broughton is privately owned, which seems to result in an unusually relaxed experience. Visitor numbers are small compared to the many National Trust properties that we have visited and there are some nice touches, such as guests being able to borrow picnic blankets to sprawl on the lawns. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip here.

Later on in the evening, we had dinner at our favourite Thai restaurant in Abingdon -- the Zabb Thai. The food, as ever, was beautifully cooked and tasty, and the service was superb. We love this place!