We joined the National Trust. Super, super dorky, right?
Yes super dorky but also super cool, membership gives you access to every single National Trust site for free for a whole year. And so we decided to make the most of it whilst the weather is nice and took our dorkyness to visit Cliveden. Pronounced Cliv (as in div) eden and not Clive (as in dive) den. As I found out to my provincial ass horror.
You think that it's going to be a quick day out at Cliveden because it's only the gardens that you have access to. The house, famous for being owned by the american Waldorf Astor family who would eventually give the estate to the National Trust, is now a luxury hotel and you can only snoop around on certain days and by appointment. So I thought we would be in and out in a jiffy.
Erm no, rather it is a huge and magnificent estate with amazing walks, woods and gardens and the most incredibly big, slightly naff and monstrous fountain of love. Yes. Indeed.
Apart from the eyesore d'amour, Cliveden is breathtaking. It is beautifully designed for visitors with posh bits, where dogs are not allowed and it's easy to push your pushchair along, combined with rugged and wild bits that go on for miles and are dog friendly (we didn't take Tilly, we wish we had) but not so much pushchair friendly, although we still did. The place is just so scrumptious, so well maintained, calm (even with the huge amount of people visiting that day), dreamy, inspirational. The gardens are literally stunning, jaw droppingly so, I was in heaven.
I'm not sure why my garden does NOT look like this.
Or this. I'm thinking space would be an issue for this one.
We walked round the gardens, had a row - a family day out is not a family day out without a good row - sunbathed on the rather fabulous lawn, ate lunch in a gorgeous orangery, changed nappies on the lawn because Bets has developed a phobia of public toilet changing tables and she literally ran out of the loo when I was trying to get her in there, got sunburn (me), got scraped and bloody knees (Betsy) and bought plants (me again).
The gardening team at Cliveden are incredible, I'd love to know how many there are, how they are organised, how they plan, plant and grow, I was itching to get to the shop. I mooched about for a bit, not that long as someone who should have been sleeping was shouting and hollering for me to hurry up the whole time. I managed to choose a pretty, droopy white hydrangea that is now turning a pastel pink and an orange bell shaped thingy that just looked pretty, I have no idea what it is, what it will do, if it will live or any of that nonsense, in fact I planted it in and immediately all the pretty orange flowers fell off, I've clearly got skills.
I think that family days out will get easy when Betsy stops needing a nap. She refuses to sleep in her pram and always has which is a bit annoying when you're out and about and she's getting more and more irritable and meanwhile vast numbers of smug mums are wafting past with sleeping angels in their prams. We eventually give up, admit defeat and head for home, soon as she's in the car seat she's snoring away like a demon and we can finally relax. Baby sleeping equals happy parents. Always.
ps. We have caught and released five (FIVE!!!) mice in less than a week, we have no idea if it's the same mice getting caught over and over again. I'm not sure how I feel about it really, a little plastic box filled at one end with nutella is going to be a major mouse magnet isn't it so are we just inviting them in now?