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?
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.
After spending the morning at Killerton we decided to drive a few minutes up the road to the village of Broadclyst where Clyston Mill is located. Broadclyst is about 5 miles from Exeter and appeared quaint and quiet when we visited.
The National Trust website directs you to park in the villages car park, which is free and then walk to the mill. This was only about a five minute walk – across the road and through the churchyard of Broadclyst Church. The church was beautiful and grand looking and we had a quick look round before continuing onto the mill.
When we reached Clyston Mill and entered, we were told by the National Trust volunteer that they were milling flour there today, and we could watch to see how it’s done. Clyston Mill one of the South West’s last remaining watermills and runs on water from the River Clyst.
After looking around the mill you can pop outside and see the River Clyst and the waterwheel from the outside.
It didn’t take us too long to look around the mill, we were thee maybe half an hour, but it was nice to see and the exterior was beautiful with the ivy growing on the front of the building.
National Trust Fans
As you already know I love the National Trust and am a proud member! It doesn’t matter that I’m only 28 – I save lots of money on car parks, coastal walks and trips out to see historical houses and beautiful gardens. When I moved to Devon I was excited to think about all the new National Trust properties I could visit and the new places I could explore with my membership. Luckily, like Cornwall, Devon has a tonne of NT properties, estates, gardens and coastline to explore so I will be kept busy!
We chose to go to Killerton Estate for our first NT adventure in Devon. We were drawn to Killerton, not only as it is quite close to where I live, but also because the grand 18th century house looked stunning and I wanted to see it in person and explore it’s large surrounding gardens. Killerton is located in the village of Broadclyst and isn’t far from the centre of Exeter. It’s pretty easy to reach and a lots of ample parking (free for NT members).
The Killerton Estate has been owned by the National Trust since 1944. It was given to the NT by Sir Richard Acland who decided to give it away based on his political beliefs. There’s lots of information about how this happened and the circumstances that preceded his decision inside the house and you can write a note on whether you would do the same as Richard if you had been in the same position. People are encouraged to write their thoughts on a tag and place on the ‘decision tree’.
Inside the house you can look around various rooms full of history and 18th – 20th century costumes. I particularly enjoyed the library which was full of books. Here we got talking to one of the NT volunteers and he told us how many of the books had been donated by local people. He also told us all about a couple of groups of children from schools in Kent who were evacuated to live in the house during the war. The volunteer directed us to some photo albums which depicted the evacuees experiences of staying at the house. He seemed very knowledgeable and interested to share his love of the house.
We weren’t able to visit all of the period rooms on show in the property due to some maintenance works that were being carried out (they are apparently fixing the leaky roof). Whilst this was a bit of a shame, the building works and scaffolding outside didn’t dampen the beautifulness of the houses stunning exterior and as we are local, I know we can visit again once the maintenance has been completed. It gives us another excuse to go back! I would like to see the annual fashion exhibition which is due to return in 2018.
After looking around the house, and entering ourselves for the chance to win the NT raffle, we went outside to explore the gardens. The Georgian house is surrounded by 2400 acres of woods, parkland, orchards and farmland (no mean feet to walk around I can imagine!)
It was so lovely to walk around the paths adorned with tress full of autumn coloured leaves and the low sunshine of late October. We walked up the hillside where we found the Iron Age hill fort and discovered some amazing views towards Dartmoor. You could see pretty far out over the fields and gorgeous countryside – my pictures really don’t do it justice!
We continued our countryside walk, collecting fresh conkers, and made our way to the Chapel. What a stunning building this was from the outside. We went inside and it was small, peaceful and had some lovely stained glass windows to admire.
We walked back to the entrance of Killerton and had a quick look in the shop before leaving. It was nice to see the Christmas display of gifts and decorations – made me feel a tad festive, although it still feels too early to think about all that!
Next stop, another National Trust property, Clyston Mill.
Ever been to Killerton? What did you think?
As the end of summer drew near Nathan and I took a trip to Italy for our summer holiday. We were lucky enough to be staying at my supervisor from works apartment in Vallelarga, Abruzzo which was awesome – comfy, clean and well-equipped with a real authentic Italian feel. We really enjoyed the use of the TV and stack of DVD’s when it was thunder storming!
The view from the bedroom where we slept was a highlight too – opening the traditional shutters each morning to the mountain view was amazing. We weren’t so keen on the chickens that lived next door though – they constantly clucked away all times of the day!
During our week in Italy we were able to achieve the right balance of relaxation and chilling with being a tourist and visiting some local sights. The highlight for me was definitely our ‘holiday from the holiday’ to Vasto and chilling on the beach. Closely followed by our day at Lago di San Domenico – simply stunning!
Here’s a list of the different places we visited and what we got up too. Click on the places below to find out more 🙂
Have you ever been to any of these places? Ever enjoyed a holiday to beautiful Italy? Share your thoughts and comments below – I’d love to hear them!