In which we bravely visit Wrest Park, near Bedford, despite evil weather conditions.
We’ve had some glorious sunny days around here lately, very springlike. Sadly though, Sunday was one of those grim reminders that we shouldn’t yet take spring for granted and that winter could still turn round and bite us in the bottom.
Having felt that I might actually climb up the walls, across the ceiling and down the other side, I decided that I needed to ‘get out of the house’ at the weekend. We didn’t have a huge amount of time to spare, so we stayed local and paid our first visit to Wrest Park, since they’ve introduced a new visitor centre.
Now we go camping in Scotland for our holidays, so we’re not exactly unfamiliar with bad weather, and indeed, such is our spirit, that even rain which my Dad would have called stair-rods, didn’t stop us setting out on our trip.
But, perhaps we bit off just a little more than we should have.
On arrival (and let me tell you, there were half a dozen other mad people there already), we were ‘greeted’ by a poor chap with an umbrella, and told where to park. We worried about him all morning. I hope he was being paid, but I’ve an awful feeling that he was a volunteer. By the time we left, he’d gone – we hope it was to home and a nice hot lunch, not the emergency department for people with hypothermia.
We made our way to the new visitor centre – and decided on a fortifying cup of coffee before we set off into the garden.
Now, only a few weeks ago, we had one of the best meals ever at Goodrich Castle. What a pity that Wrest park couldn’t achieve the same standards, despite having considerably bigger facilities and more staff.
Suffice to say that the presentation of the chocolate cake was worthy of my old school dinner hall. Had they not also overcharged us, I wouldn’t have been so put out, but in my book, if someone makes a mistake, a simple apology and quickly putting it right is what’s called for, not being made to stand around while your tea goes cold and being told to sign bits of paper and provide full address details.
The cafe was not busy – I really hope they get their customer service act together before the season heats up.
We had a look around the few rooms of the house that are open to the public, then took our courage in our hands and braved the gardens.
Well, by that time, the stair-rod rain had turned to sleet.
Full marks must go to the brave buggy drivers who kept ferrying people about – I think if they’d had a St Bernard dog with them, they’d have had even more business.
We walked down the canal to the pavilion. Somehow much more atmospheric than the house. My other half always thinks that rather nefarious things probably took place in this type of folly – he may be right, but certainly not in that weather.
Retracing our steps, we went back via the Bowling Green house and the Orangery.
And then, cold to the bone, we gave up and drove home – with the heater turned up very high in the car.
My coat was still wet on Monday morning. How I love the English weather.
We’ll go to Wrest again when the weather improves.
For visitor information, see English Heritage’s page here.