Monday, 26 August 2013

A National Trust Birthday Weekender

Birthday boy and girl

Last weekend I headed home to Oxfordshire to celebrate mum and dad's birthday. Ruth and I had organised a day out for them to a couple of National Trust properties with some family friends.

We gambled on the weather and decided to start the day with a picnic at Upton House. It wasn't a particularly fine summer day, but we managed to find a sheltered spot in the orchard to have our picnic.

Upton House

After lunch we decided to visit the gardens before going into the house. As we stepped onto the lawn I thought it was all a bit dull with only a few borders to provide interest. As we walked towards the edge of the lawn a huge walled garden built onto the hill below us was revealed.

The walled garden had one of the largest and most impressive kitchen gardens I've seen. There were large rows of fruit and vegetables covering most of the area you can see in the photos below. The pumpkins and squashes seemed to be thriving. The autumn raspberries were ripening too. I wasn't quite sure if you were allowed to help yourself and decided that I had better restrain myself...

Walled garden at Upton House
Inside the house is on a grand scale with all of the rooms very generously proportioned. I walked round oblivious to much of the history of the house, but I think it was last done up in the 1930s as a weekend retreat / party house. You could definitely remember some amazing functions there.

Farnborough Hall
After Upton House we headed to nearby Farnborough Hall. The house is still live in by descendants of the Holbech Family. It was interesting to visit a country pile is still lived in. You can only view four rooms and the staircase and it really does feel that the family have made themselves scarce and a few ropes put out to stop you sitting on the sofas. The house was substantially renovated at the time of the Grand Tours and has many Italian influences.

After Farnborough Hall we head to the nearby Inn for dinner. It is a very pleasant pub which now places a big focus on the food. I was hoping for a pint of the local Hook Norton beer, but it sadly for me it was one of the few pubs in the area which doesn't serve Hooky. The service was quick and the food was all beautifully presented. The portions could have been a bit larger, but overall it was just what we were looking for.

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