Let’s Get Festive
We visited Killerton a few weeks ago which you can read about here, and enjoyed the National Trust house and gardens and so we were keen to return for the festive offerings. Each year Killerton, like many NT properties, adopts a theme based on a classic story and decorates their property for the festivites. This year we were in for a treat.
Wind in the Willows
Killerton’s festive theme this year is based on the book and film ‘The Wind in the Willows‘ and it’s glorious! You are invited to visit the estate and go on an adventure with the classic character Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole. NT asks that people book an entry slot (every 15 minutes) so that the house doesn’t get too overcrowded and busy. I think this is a really good idea as visits are popular and there’s nothing worse than going to see a display of some sort and not actually being able to see it.
On arrival at the entrance to Killerton you are given your time slot cards and provided with a Wind in the Willows story and activity book which tells you about this years theme, a synopsis of the classic story and has some activities for the younger ones.
So Much to See
After collecting our ticket and activity book we made our way outside and headed along the path towards the house. The path is adorned with wooden cut out statues of woodland animals and theres lights and baubles hanging from the trees. We were immediately put into the Christmas Spirit and were really pleased to see that the scaffolding what was around the top part of the main house on our last visit had gone.
We entered the house and couldn’t believe how different if looked compared to when we were here a few weeks ago – the place was decked with brightly coloured trees, beautiful festive decorations and looked stunning! I particularly liked the garlands that decorated the doorways as I thought they looked really effective.
Following the Story
As you walk around the house you are greeted by various classic scenes from the story, some with a lovely Christmas twist. I particularly liked the Christmas dinner scene – the animals sure looked like they were having fun and enjoying themselves!
There was lots to look at and many decorations to admire. Upstairs in one of the rooms there was a place for children to dress up and try on different costumes and we saw many children engaging in this and having a good time.
It took us around 20 minutes to walk around the house and displays I think. We enjoyed it although it did get quite hot with the number of visitors in there and quite a few excited children running around!
Magical Outdoor Trail
After visiting the house we decided to walk along the outdoor trail which had been set up based on the Wind in the Willows theme. There were lots of lights and decorations along the route as well as games such as hook a duck and noughts and crosses. In the activity book there is a tick list for children to tick off all the woodland animals they encounter along the route.
We made our way up to the chapel which was beautifully decorate with trees from local schools. There was a small carol concert going on with a four piece choir. We sat and listened to a few songs which added to our warm festive feelings.
No Hot Chocolate
We thought it would be nice to visit the Stables Cafe but by the time we got there mid afternoon they didn’t have any chocolate left and the selection of cakes wasn’t too plentiful so we decided not to worry. It was busy in there and I guess the lack of things left shows how busy it had been all day – we will have to get there earlier next time!
There’s lots to do at Killerton during the festive period including visiting Father Christmas and Christmas shopping. Check out the events page here. I would really recommend the Wind in the Willows festive display and think anyone of any age would enjoy it! It’s open until Friday 5th January so plenty time left to visit!
Another National Trust Day Trip
If you follow my blog and read my posts you will know by now how much Nathan and I enjoy a Sunday outing to a National Trust property. When I looked at the National Trust’s website and saw Knightshayes had a Christmas Food and Drink Fair I couldn’t resist!
Knightshayes is an amazing Gothic Revival house and is simply stunning to look at, both inside and out. The house was built in the late 1860’s by William Burges and so it’s pretty old! There is a stunning drive way which you drive up to park the car and then it’s only a short walk from the entrance building to the grand house.
The opulent house has been home to three generations of the Heathcoat Amory family and there is information about their history within the house. The house was then given to the National Trust in 1972 and has been visited by many NT members and public visitors since.
The house if full or lovely historical artefacts and grand pieces of furniture and is such a pleasure to walk around and explore.
Plenty to See and Do
Like with many of the NT properties there is lots to see and do. You can visit the house of course, as well as the formal and woodland garden and also the kitchen garden which we had a good look around. You can also try out the Douglas Fir walk or peruse the wider estate which covers over 200 acres of parkland and forestry.
Knightshayes is also home to the Stables Cafe and Conservatory Tea Room. The tea room looked lovely and is attached to the main house, overlooking the gardens. It wasn’t open when we were there due to seasonal opening hours but I can imagine it would be a lovely place to stop for a drink or lunch in the summer months. We didn’t visit the Stables Cafe either as it was rather busy and we had already enjoyed some treats at the Christmas Fair.
Festive Christmas Stalls
On various weekends in November and December Knighthayes is holding various Christmas and festive events in the lead up to the big event. The weekend we visited, the estate was hosting a Christmas Food and Drinks Fair. This included a marquee full of lovely stalls offering their delights including a posh marshmallow stand, a macaroons stand, various cakes and biscuit stalls and some cider offerings too.
We tried a few samples of such items as we made our way around the stalls; everything was super yummy although some things did seem a little over-priced in our eyes. We settled on having getting some savoury pastries for lunch and picked a couple of pic n mix yummy fudge bits to take home.
The weather wasn’t the best on the day we visited and so we didn’t go for a longer walk but I look forward to visiting again soon and exploring the gardens and walks a bit more.
Knightshayes has various festive Christmas events coming up in the next month and you can check them out here!
Have you ever visited Knightshayes? Been to many Christmas fairs yet?
Lets go Down in the Woods Today
Cardinham Woods are located two miles from the Cornish town of Bodmin and is an area full of beautiful nature. There are walking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and lots of trees and woodland to admire and explore. The woods are managed by the Forestry Commission. You have to pay and display for parking and on the Sunday we went it was quite busy with cars. We saw lots of families enjoying the Gruffalo Spotting trail, along with couples walking their dogs and cycling groups out for a Sunday cycle.
The woods are also home to the Woods Cafe which looked nice and busy when we were there but we didn’t have time to stop off ourselves – maybe next time!
A Sunday Stroll
We were a bit pressed for time here so weren’t able to complete any of the suggested trails or walks but we enjoyed spending some time walking through the trees and getting immersed in nature and the feelings of Autumn.
I would recommend Cardinham Woods for a Sunday stroll and some fresh air and hope to return soon to complete one of the designated walking or cycling routes.
Ever been to Cardinham Woods? Where’s your favourite place for a Sunday stroll?
Remember Remember the 5th of November
Sunday 5th November, bonfire night, saw myself and a group of fellow clinical psychology trainees head to Westpoint, Exeter for the Round Table’s 37th Charity Fireworks Display.
We had pre-brought our tickets (you can do this each year at selected local shops or online) for £6 each and after reading the event information online we decided it would be a good idea to get the bus being put on by Stagecoach to take people to the event. The ticket was £2 return from Exeter St David’s train station and picked up at a few other stops en route. Initially the bus wasn’t too busy and was moving at a normal speed but as soon as we got within a few miles of Westpoint we ground to a halt. And we stopped for an hour and a half! Yep the bus crawled along and around packed roundabouts before for finally dropping us off at the entrance to the fireworks, not long before they started! I think next year I’ll go in my car – at least I’ll be in my own space and can listen to the radio!
Chips, Hot Choc and Sweets
We had enough time to look around the food vans and I chose to get some chips and a hot chocolate. Again, like in Porthtowan the week before, the food was over priced and lacking in flavour and quality – I guess you pay for the connivence of getting some warm food and have to make do with what is there really. We all were a bit naughty and got some candy straws from the sweet stall which were £1 each for a huge cable/lace and made up for the poor chips!
There were quite a few fairground rides and arcade style game stalls but we didn’t partake in any – I think we were feeling a bit old!
Before long the booming tannoy announced the fireworks would be starting soon (they were later than schedules, I assume as there were so many cars/buses queueing to get in). We did the countdown from ten and then the fireworks began!
The display was amazing! Each year Sonic Fireworks accompany their display to music and this years theme was Disney: Be Our Guest. Yep, you guessed it – spectacular fireworks matched to the beat, lyrics and songs of Disney movies! My favourite was probably the circle shaped fireworks to the Lion King song “Circle of Life” and the display to Frozen’s “Let It Go” went down a storm with the younger crowd too.
The display went on for about 20 minutes and built to a tremendous finale. I was in awe of the display and loved it! I wasn’t the only one, with people of all ages oohing and ahhing at the lit up sky.
I would certainly recommend and go back again next year (minus the bus trip) and it’s made even better knowing proceeds go to charity.
I lived in Porthtowan, minutes from the beach, for over two and half years however never got to see their annual fireworks display for November 5th. The first year I lived there I went home to Kent the weekend they were on as it was my little sister’s 18th birthday party so I missed them. The second year I lived there I had to go to Nathan’s Gran’s birthday meal so missed them again!
This year, despite leaving Porthtowan back in September I was determined to go back and finally see their fireworks. I’m so glad we made the effort to go – they were awesome and even better they were free!
Heading Back to P-Town!
The display was on Sunday 29th October which did seem a bit early for fireworks but I guess it was only a week before the 5th November and it did mean I could go to a second fireworks show at Exeter WestPoint. Everyone was in the fireworks spirit and was wrapped up in their winter clothes and wooly hats.
It did get quite busy, and parking looked like it was a bit of a nightmare with the road in and out being blocked. Luckily we had the foresight to get there early and parked up near where I used to live (this also gave us the chance to have a little nose around to see who had moved into my old place!)
Dinner at the Beach Cafe
As we were early we stopped by the Porthtowan Beach Cafe for some food. There were no tables left inside and had to wait quite a while to order at the counter as they were so busy. We both chose to have a beef burger and chips, along with a hot chocolate. In total the bill came to £20 and was, in my eyes, a bit of a rip off! I know the cafe was busy but the burger wasn’t that special and the chips were rather lacking in flavour and quantity – they didn’t match the high price tag unfortunately and I did end up leaving quite a bit of it all. A bit disappointing really.
The fireworks certainly made up for the food though. My good friend Nel arrived just in time for us to have a quick catch up before walking down watch the show outside the Blue Bar (who put on the show). The fireworks lasted quite a while, and considering they were free, I thought they were excellent! I’m such a big kid when watching them though – I couldn’t help but ooh and ahh throughout!!
Sadly I didn’t take any pictures of the fireworks so this post looks a little bare! However I can assure you they were awesome!