The National Trust….a national treasure

Mr PB and I were married at a National Trust venue – The Vyne near Basingstoke. A romantic ceremony in the stone gallery and the party of all parties in a set of Stunning Tents in the walled garden.


So, you would think that we have been avid members of the Trust for years. Well, whilst we had membership post our wedding day, we didn’t visit many of the houses or gardens apart from our wedding anniversary visit back to the gardens at The Vyne.

As a child, visiting a national trust property always felt like a chore. Attractive to the older generation, it felt like an extended history lesson.

But over the years, The National Trust have genuinely upped their family game, offering so much more than dusty, cold rooms in large homes with some gardens to look at but not touch!

Since becoming parents, we have explored, walked, laughed and smiled around so many of the houses and gardens that I’ve come to realise that this organisation is something special.

Where else can you have a slice of delicious cake and pot of tea, a wander through stately country homes and then play chase on the lawns.


Here are some of my favourites:

The Vyne, Basingstoke – of course it holds a special place in my heart but it has grown over the years to be a chosen destination for families for picnic on the lawn. The addition of a small play area for children with bouncing cows, ride on tractors and push along lawn mowers is great as well as the ability to visit to renovation being carried out on the roof.

Mottisfont, Winchester – with expansive lawns surrounding the stately home, there is plenty of room to play and have a picnic. A beautiful river walk and the choice of 2-3 great tea rooms/restaurants makes this a great meeting place for big groups.

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury – the formality of the gardens make it less about picnics and more about wandering taking in the gorgeous planting schemes and overwhelming views of this incredible mansion. 

Basildon Park, Reading – like Mottisfont, this property is not short of grassy areas to play rounders in! It also benefits from walking routes taking you out into the parkland – varying lengths so you can choose what best suits you and your family.

Cliveden House, nr Windsor – the play area here is by far my favourite of all National Trust properties we have visited. Based around classic children stories, you are surrounded by beautiful wooden sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The house is also a hotel so not one you can visit without staying but the restaurant is great with lots to offer and the grounds are never ending. A great place to get lost in.

If you don’t have membership, please do so. Whether you are a smal family and expanding family or just a couple, this is the best amount of pennies a year you will spend! 

This weekend, most National Trust properties are running Easter Egg Hunts. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ 

x PB x

How to ski with a toddler….#babydestinations

Ok, so I’ll make it clear from the start. We didn’t put Little PB in a set of skis and send him off down the mountain.

Having not skied since before Little PB entered the world, I was very eager to get back out on the slopes. Verbier, Switzerland here we come!

We booked flights to Geneva with British Airways – our go-to airline. Their customer service is always fantastic and the facilities when you have a little one in tow are very beneficial.

We opted for club Europe seats for guaranteed space as well as access to their club lounge which was great for feeding Little PB lunch before the flight and enabled him to burn off some energy watching planes. The lounge also has a dedicated children’s play area which is very convenient.

A short walk to the gate, we had priority boarding and left the buggy at the plane door for collection via the baggage carousel in Geneva – so easy.
The 2 hour flight flew by (excuse the pun, it had to be done!). A set of baby headphones and plenty of Thomas the Tank Engine downloaded on the iPad (guided access turned on of course) kept Little PB engaged. I would recommend encouraging the little one to have a drink or use a dummy to ensure their ears adjust to the change in air pressure – ear popping is not pleasant for adults as well as babies.

We picked up a hire car and car seat at Geneva airport. I must pre warn you that the drive from Geneva to Verbier can be as long as 3 hours so ensure you have enough snacks and entertainment for the drive.

I’m fortunate to have family in Verbier so was able to stay with them. Accommodation is expensive during the ski season so don’t be surprised if you have to stay outside the village and drive in each morning. Furthermore, parking can be challenge so worth considering parking by the station at the bottom of the mountain and jumping on the cable car. Avoids the winding road and gives you some spectacular views along the way.

We hired our skis, boots and helmets from Mountain Air. The best place to hire from by far – excellent customer service and certainly the most pleasant environment I’ve rented skis from in the past! More like a designer store. 
We organised a Petit Verbier nanny in advance of our trip. I can’t recommend this service enough. Fully qualified nannies who go above and beyond with activities in the snow and rides on the free bus to visit the duck pond.

We met our ski instructor supplied by ES Snowsports outside Mountain Air and were escorted up the mountain and even though I fell over more than I would like to share, it was great to be back on skis whizzing down the mountain.


A family lunch back at Le Bec bought our morning ski to a close but it was certainly worth all the effort in organising.

To comfort those that don’t ski, the après ski is a great way to explore the mountain and Verbier village. After lunch, we bundled Little PB into the buggy for nap time and wandered past a wide range of boutiques, cafes and bars. 

Settling on a bar with a view, with a sleeping baby, Mr PB and I enjoyed a café noir and hot chocolate soaking up the glorious sunshine.

We rounded the day off with a family sledging session – hiring a sledge and baby goggles from Mountain Air, we headed on the free bus to the nursery slopes that has a dedicated sledging area. With a space for Mr PB and Little PB securely strapped in, there were plenty of giggles and smiles.

This day by far exceeded my expectations of what skiing with a toddler is like and I would certainly recommend that you give it a go – the key is to prepare and organise your day.


To be continued…..

x PB x

 

Exploring the Swiss Alps – Baby Destinations 

As part of our recent road trip through France, we took the opportunity to go across into Switzerland to visit some family in Verbier.

Hand on heart, neither myself or Mr PB have ever considered Switzerland as a destination for a summer holiday. Clearly, it’s a ski resort through and through so why venture over there for anything but apres skiing and snow? 

We were quickly proven wrong with our first mini hike when we arrived. With little PB in the baby rucksack, we worked our way along the mountain path to take in the extensive views and beautifully clean fresh air. 


On our only full day, we didn’t want to waste it, so we hired some electric bikes from Mountain Air, Verbier. 


With excellent customer service, they provided us with all the kit to help us venture up the mountain with a 1 year old. Little PB in his very own trailer with a sun/bug screen and straps and fantastic mountain bikes making the journey on the steep slopes seem effortless.


Stopping at the top for a bite to eat, the view was breathtaking. It has a very different feel to the winter season….obviously…..you can get a table for a start and there is a quiet tranquility to the mountain. 


Verbier does feel a little ghostly out of its peak season, but if you overlook the small amount of roadworks and the odd shuttered hotel and shop, the absence of tourists makes it’s feel like the perfect secluded holiday destination.

You can hire bikes from Mountain Air for CHF 65 for the day and the trailer is CHF 30 (which gets progressively less expensive the longer you rent for). Contact the excellent team on the following:

http://www.mountainairverbier.com 

rentals@mountainairverbier.com

Tel: +41 27 775 44 00

And with a view like this to wake up to every day, how could you not want to explore further…