I left Battle later than I’d planned; luckily, there was only one spot of backed up traffic on my way to my cousin Connie’s house, north of London. I had my Walker’s Cheese and Onion Crisps, though, so that made it a bit more bearable.
Disclosure: I was given a one year Royal Oak Foundation Membership; all thoughts and opinions are mine.
The next day, Connie and I had plans to meet my friend, Lotte Duncan at a place called The Milk Shed in Oxfordshire. It’s one of Lotte’s favorites, so I had no doubts it would be wonderful, and it was!
You can read about Lucie’s lovely Milk Shed and why her ice cream is a labor of love. She has so many different flavors, and all of her dishes are made with fresh and natural ingredients. As always, Lotte was so much fun to be with; check our her site, and you’ll see what I mean!
During lunch, Lotte suggested we visit Waddesdon Manor which wasn’t too far away, and I’m so glad she did! It’s one of hundreds of National Trust properties in England, and since I still had my valid Royal Oak Foundation membership from last year, it gave us free admission to the property!
Waddesdon Manor (National Trust Property)
There was some sort of community event at Waddesdon Manor that day, with lots of Bernese Mountain dogs on site. I started to take a photo of one of the many dogs, when her trainer said, “Her name is Lotte, call her and she’ll look at you”. I thought I heard him wrong, and asked him to repeat what he said, and yes, her name was “Lotte”! I texted Lotte the photo and told her I didn’t know which Lotte was cuter!
Connie and I walked through the expansive gardens as the manor house was closed. Although, having such gorgeous weather with bright blue skies, dotted with cotton-wool clouds, it would have been a shame to be indoors. The scenery and colors were simply stunning.
I’d highly recommend visiting Waddesdon Manor, even if only to stroll the gardens. Next time, I’ll look forward to touring the manor house. One should always have a reason to return, no?
For those who don’t want to walk the distance, there is a shuttle bus that takes visitors from the car park to the manor and gardens. Although there was a long line, we only waited a few minutes since they had so many buses.
On the motorway back to Connie’s, I spotted a sign for Blenheim Palace. It was getting late, but I would have been happy just to see Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace from afar, so I took a detour to the palace. Blenheim was glowing in the late afternoon sunshine, casting long shadows on the grounds on which Churchill once played as a child. Blenheim Palace was nothing short of awe-inspiring and I was so grateful to be able to see experience it firsthand.
Blenheim Palace (Not a National Trust Property-ineligible for ROF entry)
Connie and I finally made it home about 8 pm after stopping at Marks and Spencer (if you’re visiting the UK, you need to go to M & S, I repeat, need), a high quality, combination grocery and department store. I almost shed tears of happiness on my return to my beloved Marks and Spencer, during this trip.
The next day, Connie, her husband, Tony and I were off to Scotland. I was the only driver on the rental car, and it was Tony’s first time being a passenger for the entire trip, but he was a good sport and managed. The weather forecast was terrible, but thankfully, they couldn’t have been more wrong. After hours of driving and a couple of stops at rest areas, we decided to stretch our legs at Tatton Park, near Knutsford in Cheshire, another National Trust property (note: the Royal Oak Foundation/National Trust parking passes are not accepted at this property).
It seemed to be a trend, but we didn’t have time to go inside Tatton Hall, so we decided to tour the gardens. The entrance took us into some of the most impeccable vegetable gardens I’ve ever seen (similar to the ones at Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s estate).
Tatton Park (National Trust Property)
As you can see, there was much more than just vegetable gardens: there was a Japanese garden and large, peaceful pond, enjoyed by some resident ducks. We felt as though we had the gardens to ourselves.
We finally reached Tatton Hall, and somehow it was not quite as ostentatious as I’d imagined it would be, given the expansive gardens we’d already seen. It might also have been the fact that I’d just been to the much more architecturally detailed, Waddesdon Manor, and Blenheim Palace, which was incomparable.
Every aspect of the gardens at Tatton Hall was pristine, and the grounds were impeccably manicured.
Tatton Park also has a lovely little garden shop where visitors can buy produce from the gardens, and there’s Gardener’s Cottage for dining, which features a quaint outdoor seating area, as well as a tea room.
Visiting Tatton Park was a great way to break up our journey up to Scotland. I love stopping at National Trust properties when traveling throughout Britain. Even in Scotland, my Royal Oak Foundation membership has reciprocal benefits with the National Trust of Scotland, so all those properties include free admission, too!
We were back on the motorway in no time. Can you tell we’re heading to Scotland with those clouds ahead?
We made one last stop at a rest area in England, and I have to say, it was probably the best rest area I’ve ever been to. I bought everything I needed for breakfast the next morning, and it was all superior quality (except for the black pudding, I should have read the ingredients-the company should be ashamed of themselves). I should have taken photos of the shop; I wanted to buy one of everything they sold! I did get a photo of the bacon; have you ever seen such beautiful bacon?
And how about the setting of this rest area?
And the views?
But there’s one view that outdoes them all–one of my most favorite views in the world!
We just arrived in Edinburgh and were getting out of the car, when it started to rain! How was that for timing?
To be continued…
Disclosure: I was given a one year Royal Oak Membership; all thoughts and opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FCC regulations.
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