Thursday, May 9, 2013

Vicarious Tourism: The Vyne

As an early anniversary present, we got a year's subscription to the National Trust from the Husband's parents. I like this sort of gift: it'll encourage us to get out more and to enjoy some of the fun things we can only see living in the UK. So, on the Bank Holiday, we took the chance to grab our friends and head over to Basingstoke and go see the Vyne.

The original house was built during Tudor times. As I recall one of the guides telling us in the family chapel, one of the members of the original family who built the house, saved the life of Henry VIII in battle. Pretty awesome. The house was a fun mix of Georgian and Tudor decor and the grounds were loads of fun to walk around (though the 'Shimmering Lake' wasn't so much shimmering as it was covered in pond scum...). The best part for the kids, though, was the Hidden Realm play area...all themed like something out of The Hobbit.

Though the crowds were definitely in force that day, the kids still had a great time running around, wandering through the tunnels designed to look like Hobbit holes, and going up and down the slide. Snowy in particular got quite good at queuing to wait her turn to go down the slide again. Who knew that was a skill your kid could pick up at the playground?

The whole place was just nice to walk around in. I know the Husband isn't a big fan of crowds (everything feels more hectic when you're navigating throngs of people), but I felt like the whole time there went pretty well. It's the sort of thing that feels really worth the time when you've got a membership and don't have to think about whether you'll do the grounds or the house or both: you can just go as the mood takes you, no planning required. Since our initial plans of hitting up Leith Hill Tower and a few castles during the weekend didn't pan out, we'll definitely have to get back around to that some time soon...what with this nice weather and all.

The downside to the day? Ethan managed to let the 500-year-old gravel at the Vyne leave its mark on him...well, on his forehead. The poor thing! He came home bruise and scraped and dirty, and altogether looking like an action hero at the end of the movie. But he did seem to enjoy the chance to run around outside for so long. We'll have to refine our small-children-in-historic-houses strategy.

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