Our Easter weekend in photos

Our Easter weekend in photos!

Dear mummy, phew! What another hectic weekend! We like being busy even in the mixed weather.

Eat Street at Festival Place

Multi Michelin Star award winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli

Over the Easter weekend we visited #EatStreet at Basingstoke’s Festival Place Shopping Centre. Here we picked up some last-minute chocolate from Hotel Chocolate, enjoyed free food tasting from Costa and Nado’s and watched the talented multi Michelin Star chef Jean-Christophe Novelli put on a live cooking demo. The weather was horrible and it was a lovely way of spending a rainy afternoon out of the house.

Exbury Gardens steam train

Exbury Gardens steam train

On Saturday we visited Exbury Gardens, in the New Forest. We were supposed to be visiting on Good Friday but chose the better day to visit.

Daffodils at Exbury Gardens

Daffodils at Exbury Gardens

However it was very windy and overcast, still it didn’t dampen our spirits as we ran through the daffodil fields and saw the beautiful flowers!

I chickened out of the steam train ride to see the Easter Bunny as I got scared of the bunny man (more like boogie man!) I get frightened really easily of large mascots and characters.

Highclere Castle

Easter Egg Hunt at Highclere Castle

On Easter Sunday, we braved the weather and went to Highclere Castle (where they film Downton Abbey) to join the Lady of the manor on an Easter Egg Hunt in aid of Naomi House and Jacksplace. We had a great time at the Easter Fair.

Easter at Grandparents

Easter at Grandparents

Bank Holiday Monday was a more quiet affair as we saw my Grandparents down in Hayling Island and spend the day by the seaside. We weren’t brave enough to go skinny dipping though!! We hope you had a great Easter weekend too.

Love Bella x

Chocolate Easter Egg baskets

Easter cake



Living Arrows

My first trip to Basildon Park

My first trip to Basildon Park.

Friday, February 21, 2014.

Front of Basildon HouseDear mummy, ever since the 2013 Christmas Special of Downton Abbey you’ve been wanting to take me to Basildon Park. I couldn’t figure out why until today. It’s the tail end of half term so we decided to head off early to avoid the crowds. It’s another short jaunt up the road for us so I have a sneaky nap while you drive us through Pangbourne village towards Lower Basildon.

Basildon Park is a stones throw from the M4, which is handy, on the other side of Reading. The country road takes you alongside The River Thames and today we could see that its quite flooded from all the heavy rain we’ve had.

The day is bright and sunny but very cold and the wind makes my mummy’s ears hurt and her hands blue (silly mummy forgot her hat and gloves!) when we get there we are greeted with imposing gates and a long drive up a hill towards the car park and entrance. We are the first people here and the car park is empty.

Basildon ParkWe see staff bustling around getting ready for 10am all with big smiles on their faces (they must love working here!) Basildon Park is well catered for buggys with wide doors and a slope going up to the entrance of the estate.

We met a lovely guy called Colin at the visitors centre who gives us a map and directs us towards the house. A quaint little courtyard (stable yard) which has toilets, shop and a visitors overview of the estate sets the scene.

Lady Iliffe, was the lady of the manor in the 1950s and lovingly restored Basildon Park back to its former glory. 25 years later the National Trust aquired it and opened it’s doors to the public so everyone could enjoy the estate. Lord and Lady Iliffe did a great job restoring the house and there is a room off the courtyard with a 1950’s feel to it with a TV playing an interview with Lady Iliffe. The room is just like a comfy front room and mummy gets a bit too comfortable there. It also doubles up at a secondhand bookshop where visitors can make a donation and pick up a real find! Next to it is a old fashioned garage.

Basildon Park HouseThis is all in the courtyard and we haven’t even walked up the hill to the house yet! I would say the woodland walk was a bit hairy with a buggy as the shingle underfoot made mummy slip a bit as it was hilly, but it was fun to be pushed past a giant chessboard, carved woodland creatures and sculptures.

Finally we glimpse a look at the impressive house, the first thing you notice are the giant pillars! It’s so windy up here so we pause for a second then head into the house. It’s 10:30ish and the first floor isn’t open till 11, so we grab a quick bite to eat in the very pretty tearoom.

Basildon Park TearoomThe home-made cakes looked gorgeous and mummy indulges in a slice of lemon drizzle cake which is lovely. The tearoom is busy with lots of visitors enjoying tea and other little babies to gurgle to. I enjoy this immensely and we both chill out and take our time eating lunch.

Mummy leaves the buggy downstairs as we go upstairs to see the first floor of the house. She carries me in her Pouchlings Mei Tai wrap which is sensible considering the amount of stuff I could grab (it’s not exactly baby safe in the house!)

Downton Abbey castBasildon Park was the setting for the Downton Christmas Special in 2013 and through the house you can track the ‘behind the scenes’ story. The National Trust has printed photos of the cast of Downton Abbey in the rooms used.

It’s amazing to see this and know that mummy’s favourite actors were here. All the rooms are stunning and ropes corner off the furniture and breakables….good thing too with me around! In the main hallway there are visitors playing the piano which was a nice touch 😉

Smoking roomWe visit the library where the cast were filmed in the smoking room playing cards. It seems much smaller in real life, must be due to all those wide angle lenses!!

The volunteers are helpful and friendly, but it’s busy and stuffy indoors and I’m getting fractious not being able to touch things and crawl around. So we head back outside. We only stay for a couple of hours due to the wind and coldness outside, but I bet this place is lovely in the summer. Lots of walks to go on but next time we’ll get to that!

Bye Downton Abbey Fans!

Downton Abbey Picture

Bella x