Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Vyne - A National Trust visit

I remember being younger, and my parents taking us for days out to National Trust places. They would usually involve us running around in endless grounds surrounded by various flowers, which we loved, and then being dragged around an old house, which we probably weren’t so keen on!

Several years later, I’m now obviously older and more able to appreciate looking round an old house at different artefacts and paintings.

For my 25th birthday I wanted to do something nice to celebrate. The normal procedure in our house is to go out for a family meal, but I’m not really up to that right now, so spent quite a while trying to think what else we could do. That’s when I came up with the idea of visiting a National Trust property. We are lucky to have quite a few properties local to us, but decided to go to The Vyne, in Basingstoke, as it’s somewhere I went as a child and wanted to revisit it as an adult. Unfortunately, the majority of my family were busy doing other things, so in the end it was just Mum, Dad and I who went, but it was actually quite nice to spend some quality time with the both of them!

We arrived at about midday, to find plenty of free parking, including a good number of spaces nearer to the entrance office for disabled guests. Walking into the office we received a warm welcome from two National Trust volunteers, who explained the different prices, depending on whether you wanted to visit the house and gardens, or just the gardens. My parents are already members of the National Trust, meaning they got in for free, so it was just £12 for me to visit the house and gardens. We were given a leaflet about The Vyne, including the top things to look out for, which gave us things to focus on as we walked round. It looks like things have changed a bit since I was younger, as there are now activity packs for children, which looked like great fun!

On the other side of the office was a waiting point, where a golf buggy will pick you up and drive you up to the main house – a great facility if you struggle to walk that distance or simply fancy treating yourself to a ride in a golf buggy! We decided to take a gentle stroll up the gravel path and through the walled gardens. They really were beautiful, there’s no other way I can describe them, and I was left wishing I had enough space at home to grow my own fruit and vegetables, keep chickens and grow some wild flowers! I particularly loved the fact that each chicken had a different coloured ring on his or her leg, and from this you could identify his or her name.

We took a look in a small building, next to a 600-year-old tree, which housed some very funky art-work that The Vyne are displaying at the moment. I thought this stylish pigeon was rather fun!

At this point we thought it would be a good time to stop for some lunch, so we headed towards the tearoom. The selection wasn’t huge, but it was all quality homemade food. There were three hot options – my Dad went for the stew and my Mum went for the soup and bread, which the both said were lovely. I decided to have a sandwich and a cookie, as well as some pink lemonade, which I’ll definitely be looking out for to have again!

After our lunch we ambled over to the main house, which looked very impressive from the outside. We were, again, greeted by some volunteers who gave us a guide to the house and sent us in the right direction. It was very interesting looking at all the old rooms, paintings and artefacts, and thinking the Henry the Eighth had once walked the same halls that we were walking. There were plenty of eager volunteers dotted around the house to answer our questions and demonstrate some of the pieces to us, like an old music box and piano.

Coming out of the house, you are greeted with a beautiful view of an expanse of lush green grass taking you down to a tranquil lake, with cows grazing in the fields beyond it. It was very relaxing walking down beside the lake, watching the ducks paddle round in gentle circles. We headed back up towards the walled gardens, checking out the gift shop on the way.

We spent just over three hours there altogether, which makes it a great choice for a morning or afternoon out. Leaving through the office, my Dad decided to treat me to a year’s membership to The National Trust, meaning I can now get in for free to any National Trust place. I think it’s definitely worth becoming a member if you enjoy visiting nice houses, gardens and landscapes. There are so many interesting places to visit all over the country – I’m just trying to decide where I should go next!

If you’re interested in finding out more about The National Trust, take a look at their website 

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