A fantastic,fabulous freebie day out

A couple of weeks ago I won something!! It doesn’t happen very often, but I won something that not only is a great prize but it’s something that has also saved my sanity.

I won four day passes with the National Trust through a competition with npower. We used our first one yesterday.  We only needed one as The Cyclist was working and both boys are under 5.

After a slightly stressful Monday, Tuesday’s visit to Calke Abbey was bliss.  I’ve visited the nature reserve a couple of times and been impressed, but never visited the gardens or house.

Let them loose

There was a extra event on, ‘Games that people played’.  It was ok, but not that suitable for my age boys. We carried on to the gardens. It was lunchtime and oh The Farmer was fading away, he needed to be carried.  Evil mother said ‘no’ and walked on. He soon snapped out of it when he saw The Fireman with sticks. We had our picnic in the Pleasure Grounds under a beautiful lime tree.  Spotted a few butterflies, I think speckled wood and meadow brown. The boys explored the area.  The Fireman was playing with sticks and started giggling to himself, I asked him what he was doing, ‘I’m forking up the hay!’.

Hay forking

Yes he was well and truly ‘forking up’ the hay.  We continued into the walled garden.  The Farmer was delighted to see lily pads on the small pond in the flower garden. We then headed for the old kitchen garden, which had a nice mowed grass path maze.


The boys went crazy running in here, must be the grass pollen??!! There was a huge willow den being built, so we need to go back soon to see it completed.

They ate anything they could get their hands on

The next place was the vegetable garden ‘Wow! It’s like Granpa’s allotment!’  The Fireman exclaimed.  They had a few fruit and veg for sale and we picked up a delicious looking tray of redcurrants.

Deer resting under the tree – boys weren’t interested, they’d seen a digger!

Off then to The Grotto. ‘Oooo what’s the otto? The Fireman asked, I didn’t really know other than it’s in the process of being renovated, another reason to visit again soon.  See picture below for cause of major distraction.

A digger!!!!!!!!

Then onto the major project, which was the house.

Through the meadow, with sticks of course

I wasn’t sure if the boys would be that interested in looking through the house, but to my surprise they were desperate to look inside, they thought it looked like a castle.  
We were in this huge house for a whopping 30mins.  If there had been a competition on who could tour Calke Abbey the quickest we would have won gold. Despite the speed we travelled at, they thought it was fantastic.  
The staff were incredibly helpful.  They gave the boys an I Spy sheet each, something they had to find in each room.  Even better, they have a safe place for you to store your bags and mine was about to break my back. Plus the redcurrants went into store too and was an excellent way to stop the boys eating them all before we got home.

So off they go around the house, there were many people giggling at us and saying ‘Oh you’ve got your hands full with that pair’.  
Yes I did have my hands full, as they tried to crash through the barriers to play with toys and ornaments that are likely to be at least a century old.  
I can’t quite remember what the house was like, I found the boys with their heads down a wooden seat with a hole through it, the one thing that intrigued the boys the most…. an earth toilet. An old style toilet where instead of flushing water, you pulled a handle and it tipped earth onto your ‘doings’. At the end of the house tour you can then walk through the tunnels, which leads back to the shop and entrance. I have to say the tunnels were really exciting, but quite spooky!

To finish off an exciting day, we bought ice creams from the shop and had 20mins at the playground.  Then just as we were heading for the car, I noticed a bird hide, so another 30mins looking there and watching the deer and it was definitely time for home, I was exhausted!

Squirrels at the bird feeding station = a very happy Farmer

Deer grazing – ‘They’re like kangaroos mummy!!’ The Farmer

Our free pass saved us over £10, which makes me consider joining National Trust in the near future as it was a really great day out.  A big thank you to npower and National Trust.