Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Uppark


Today our National Trust love-in continued, and bolstered by yesterday’s hit-rate we gave another new property a go.  So off to Uppark we went, which is Petersfield way. 
Hopes were not high as to the success of the day (1) because the small people are not big fans of car journeys lasting over half an hour, and (2) because Harry  - despite explanations otherwise - was fully convinced that Uppark was just some clever variation on Paultons Parks, an expectation that did not seem to bode particularly well.  By the time we got there, in a fairly round-about route (my husband comes from this neck of the woods, so obviously the sat-nav would have been an affront to his masculinity), we were all starving and headed straight for the restaurant.  There was some shock at the soup costing £5.50, we’d kind of forgotten the bit about having to suck up the food costs in NT restaurants.  But once all seated and watered it was easy to see it had been a good move and every last crumb was happily hovered up.

Then it was off and away with the Easter quiz.  Uppark is a really nice size, plenty to explore without fear of losing anyone, and the quiz was well thought-out so that you made the most of the gardens and got to discover all those hidden spots.  There were absolutely amazing views over the South Downs, a tour of the house with special child-friendly directions and games, and best of all, the servant tunnels – which according to the literature inspired HG Wells.  These also housed bat nesting areas, although the children were somewhat less enamoured of this knowledge than me.  The house itself, which had been through a huge fire 20 years ago and has been brilliantly restored, was rather lovely, but most fascinating of all were the extensive servants’ quarters, which you don’t usually get to see in these places, and the volunteers in every room were very good with the children. (Charlotte’s eyes lit up when she heard that JK Rowling had been a visitor.)  The master of the house (Sir Harry, a coincidence which my Harry loved) had fallen in love & married one of the servants, which obviously made you warm to him more than the idea of your typical landed gentry.  I wish I’d taken photos, it was so impressive, but felt I needed my hands free to dive in lest small hands touch highly-breakable/expensive relics.  So the only time I ended up getting my camera out inside the house was for the awe-inspiring dolls’ house (although I suspect this might be an age thing, as my daughter looked as if it was totally normal to see room-sized dolls’ houses every day of the week).



After the house, we discovered the outside toy-box on the huge lawn beyond the house, a great idea for burning off a bit of steam after all that good indoor behaviour.  This was conveniently-placed for a return to the cafe for tea and the rather excellent cakes that the National Trust specialises in.  I think this was the longest period of the day which Katie had no complaint over, which is indeed not to be sniffed at for a two-year old.  By this point, it was getting pretty near to closing time and we needed to jet off to claim the quiz prizes (various aeroplane/fairy-themed gliders, not that the affable staff made any gender assumptions about preferences – wise indeed).  A really lovely property, which we will definitely be returning to with picnics over the summer.

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