Thanks to my mum and dad, we are members of the National Trust, though I am ashamed to say we rarely go to any properties. This weekend we decided to change that and visited Barrington Court, near Ilminster.
The property itself is a Tudor house, perfect for children to explore as it is empty. Our youngest spent the whole of the visit testing out the wooden floor for echoes and both boys loved tearing around the Long Gallery. There was an I-spy sheet for children to spot things as we toured the house and, as you go round, there are boxes throughout the house containing more things to spot. There was also a craft activity to be found in the library, making paper flowers, and I promise to post some instructions to make these once I can get some photos.The gardens are beautiful and accessible with a pushchair and the grounds extensive, though sadly we weren't able to take full advantage as the weather was so poor.
What made this trip so good, though, were the fantastic crafty activities laid on. Our first stop was the Pottery, where, for £2, children were given a large lump of clay and invited to use their creative skills to make anything they liked. There was a potter on hand for advice and some samples to help with ideas. My eldest son loved the whole experience, making a snake, teddy bear. Christmas tree and various shapes, all using air dry clay and brought home to decorate. I must admit to enjoying my own attempt at making Christmas tree decorations and a witch as well, having not tried working with clay since my school days. This opportunity to play with clay goes on through the summer holidays, details here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/barrington-court/things-to-see-and-do/events/ . It is highly recommended.
Finally, we found a marquee in the garden where children (and adults) were invited to "paint the garden". Both boys tried this and loved it. They were given a clipboard with a sheet of paper, a palette with their choice of paints and a brush and painted to their hearts content. Out eldest son has only just started to enjoy painting pictures, so it was lovely to see him so engaged in this activity and it was a very popular activity with many children.
All in all, a fantastic day and a great place to visit. A final word for the wonderful staff and volunteers at Barrington Court- every single one was friendly, helpful and seemed to enjoy the children having such fun. It is always a relief to feel so welcome with a toddler in tow!