As a child I loved it when my birthday fell within the school Easter holidays. Now it’s nice when I can get to share my day with Monkey. This year I’d decided to treat us both to an overnight stay in Bournemouth, so I could wake up on my last 40 something birthday by the seaside. We’d had a great day out at Paultons Park on the Tuesday, the weather had been wonderful too. The plan for the Wednesday involved time on the beach and showing Monkey where I’d spent so many childhood holidays before we checked out of the hotel. Then we’d be spending a birthday at Mottisfont on our way home.
It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for so long, but really a little too far away for a day trip. My birthday was going to be made extra special as my oldest friend messaged me and said she’d be there waiting for us with her daughter. We’ve been friends for 40 years, and I couldn’t think of a nicer birthday treat.
It was immediately obvious that Mottisfont is a popular Hampshire National Trust property. We’d arrived quite early and the car parks were already filling up. There was an Easter Egg trail in operation, but neither of the children were bothered about joining in. It turns out that Mottisfont is as close to my friend and her daughters hearts as Stowe is to me and Monkey. It’s their happy place, and they were eager to show us around.
The site date back to an Augustine Priory in 1201 and has undergone numerous transformations of the centuries, leaving us with the house as it is today.
As well as the house, which we didn’t get to explore, there are the most wonderful grounds. Perfect stick hunting territory too. It was time to explore. With a walled garden, river Test, water and bog playing areas, I knew that Monkey would be in heaven, running on ahead with Miss M, leaving my friend and I to have a good catch up as we wandered. Spending a birthday at Mottisfont had been a great idea, and it soon showed us that it’s exactly our kind of day out.
I can imagine in a few months time that the walled garden will be full of fragrant roses and a multitude of colour.
But even in early April there were splashes of delight. The kids played hide and seek and Monkey had found some sticks within minutes. Squeals of delights were heard, along with a lot of dinosaur roars.
Whenever we visit Calke Abbey we always have a peek inside the stables and with a trip to a Race Horse Stables coming up, Monkey and I were eager to have a look at the Mottisfont Stables and meet the resident.
There’s something for everyone at Mottisfont, and the kids loved the freedom of being able to run from one part of the grounds to another. The Lime Tree walk fascinated all of us.
We peeped inside the ice house before heading off for more hide and seek adventures around the statues on the lawn close to the stone summer-house.
The river Test runs on the outer edge of Mottisfont, and it offers some lovely views and the prospect of adventures at both the water play and climbing bog areas.
The swans were clearing enjoying watching the word go by as our two kids zoomed on by.
As we walked along, I just knew that I’d made the right decision about spending a birthday at Mottisfont. Looking at Monkey with his sticks, having fun with Miss M, someone he adores, was just the best birthday present. Miss M is in year 6 at her school, Monkey in Year 2 and these days I wonder how much longer they’ll enjoy each others company quite so much. They both love the outdoors and Miss M gives Monkey the confidence to try new things and get involved, rather than looking on from the sidelines. It was clear that the water play area at Mottisfont is one of her favourite places. She was soon striping off her shoes and socks and getting right in on the action, Monkey preferred dry feet, but they worked together and with other children to move the water down through the various sluice gates to the river.
What’s not to love about a bog climbing area? Monkey has always been far less adventurous than Miss M and has never been a climber. But with her encouragement he climbed the ladder and had fun.
I wish I had the energy levels of my 7 year old, he never seems to tire. Yes, he needs refueling from time to time, but a quick meal or snack and he’s off again at full pelt. Just occasionally taking a few minutes out, to just sit, but not for long.
As our time spending a birthday at Mottisfont drew to a close, there was just time for a bit of angel spotting before heading back to the car.
We’d all thoroughly enjoyed our day at Mottisfont, and it’s somewhere we are going to have to return to in the summer holidays I think. I can certainly recommend it for anyone who’s in the area.