We’re lucky to have a number of wonderful places to explore on our doorstep. It often means that we don’t take as much advantage of them as we should. Monkey and I needed to get out for some fresh air last weekend and I didn’t want to drive too far, so we spent a few hours for our first visit of the year walking around Queen Pool at Blenheim Palace.
Generally when we visit Blenheim Palace these days we spend most of our time in the Pleasure Gardens. If I’m lucky I might persuade Monkey to visit the fountains in the formal garden, but it’s not often we get to explore the wider parkland like we did when he was much younger.
As luck would have it we’d arrived a little later than normal and the main car park was full, and the parking attendants directed us towards the bridge by Queen Pool. I plan was hatched. I suggested we spend some time walking around Queen Pool at Blenheim Palace, before catching the train down to the Pleasure Gardens for lunch. The idea went down well, Monkey grabbed his camera and off we went.
My son has grown up with a mother who is constantly taking photographs, so it’s no wonder that he is also fascinated with his camera. He’s still using the one he received a few years back for the Capturing the Colour campaign we took part it. Some of his shots are really rather good. The joy of the digital age being that he can see the results of his work immediately, check and improve, and delete if it hasn’t worked. It did make me chuckle as we wandered around the Queen Pool with Monkey checking his camera and snapping away, even more than I was.
The walk around Queen Pool is 1 and half miles and is well paved, so ideal for buggies as well as walkers, and takes around 45 minutes. You can also ‘off road’ in places to get closer to the water’s edge and explore amongst the trees. There are benches dotted around the waterside and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views. You might have to share the grass with the ducks and geese, but you get a unique view across to the palace itself, and it’s a walk we really should do more often.
I love going on adventures with Monkey, always have, but these days, those moments are just so special. We have the most wonderful conversations, the questions he asks are meaningful and considered. The constant why, where, how? of his younger days actually now have focus. He has a real interest in nature and the world around him, and it’s a joy to watch him explore his surroundings. We don’t have to be in a rush, unless his stomach is calling of course. We can wander and take our time. It’s really lovely.
We would both stop and capture moments on our cameras and compare shots. Walking along with Monkey when he’s also got his camera, makes you see the world in a different way, as he often finds joy in tiny details that I would miss.
There are signs dotted around Queen Pool with information on the landscape, the estate and the wildlife. Monkey just loved them and often took photos of the pictures, so ‘we can remember what we’ve seen Mummy’. He was thrilled when he saw a picture of a pheasant. I don’t remember seeing the signs before, which clearly shows how long it is since we’ve walked around that part of the grounds. They certainly caught my son’s attention, he needed help with the words but loved identifying the wildlife.
It was a strange day last Saturday, not sunny but still pleasantly warm compared to recent weather. Perfect weather for ambling along and admiring the views.
There’s always plenty of wildlife to spot around the grounds of Blenheim Palace and I’d taken my longer lens for its first outing in the hope I could get a few closer shots. With the signs and out existing knowledge, it was also a great opportunity for Monkey to work on his identification skills.
He also thinks he’s Doctor Doolittle, and loves talking to the animals as we walk along.
We even spotted a squirrel watching us at one point.
You can walk up to the Column of Victory monument and admire the sheep grazing, but we decided to save that for another day and just admire it from a distance.
If you’re eagle-eyed you can also find a clue as to where the Royal Woodstock Manor once stood.
Walking around Queen Pool at Blenheim Palace gave us time to just enjoy being out in the fresh air, time to forget about school and homework and just be a Mum and a son out for a stroll.
Of course, there was also time for a little nature treasure hunting.
Time to run across a bridge running your fingers along the railing.
Of course there was something that had been missing from our time walking around Queen Pool at Blenheim Palace, but that was rectified before we made the final turn towards the Palace. Sticks. This boy and sticks!
By this time his stomach was definitely calling him, and we headed off to the train station to wait for Winston Churchill to take us down to the Pleasure Gardens and more adventures. But that’s a story for another day, and yes the stick came to.