Beautiful Blenheim Palace

Yet another beautiful day out in Oxfordshire this week. Everything looks better in the sun, I know,  but Blenheim Palace is incredible.

On Monday I woke up in a fairly bad mood. Not grumpy, angry, bad. Just a bit fed up and despondent, bad. I knew that I'd only feel worse if we stayed at home so I hopped onto the trusty National Trust website. I originally wanted to try out Waddesdon Manor, but was glad I checked online because apparently it's closed Mondays. And Tuesdays. So, I had a rethink and decided to give Blenheim Palace a try. I've already made loose plans with a few people to visit, but I knew that you can convert your day ticket into an annual pass at no extra charge, so we just went for it.

We arrived mid-morning, parked in the car park by the house and gardens, and walked down to the Pleasure Gardens - a name which has amused me endlessly. We spent most of our visit in the Pleasure Gardens (tee hee hee) which is very family focused. An adventure playground, hedge maze, giant games (chess & draughts), a smaller play frame, Butterfly House, and lots of colourful picnic benches to perch and have lunch, kept us very busy.

The walk between the house and the Pleasure Gardens (*titter*) isn't too long, but it is along the same road cars use to exit the site. There is a smaller car park at that end of the Palace grounds if you were just visiting the Pleasure Gardens (*snigger*), but I knew we'd want to spend time in both areas. There is also a little train that runs between the Pleasure Gardens (ha!) and the house which is 50p per person (free for under 5s), so we decided to hop on that. Logistically it was a bit tricky loading both kids, our bags, a folded up pushchair and a buggy board into our carriage, but the biggest looked after littlest very nicely for me.

Now, this is where our visit went a bit downhill, but purely my fault. We wanted to visit the formal gardens (via the ice cream van!) so off we went.

I spotted a sign for a buggy park, so I peeked my head in to ask if I had to leave the pushchair, or if it was just there if I wanted it. The lovely assistant said I was more than welcome to take my pushchair in, and she'd just help me carry it up the few steps into the gardens. Great! The gardens looked beautiful but I quickly realised why there was a buggy park, and maybe I should have taken the hint! My narrow wheels did not cope well on the gravel paths and the garden was just full of steps. After some kind people helped me carry the pushchair down a few sets of steps I was starting to feel very embarrassed and just bumped it down the rest of them myself. At this point it dawned on me that I was also going to have to leave at some point. I scoured the map and spotted a "step free exit"...which you needed a pin code to get through. Which you had to get from an information point. Which was right back where we started. I decided to head that way anyway, hover, and hope that someone else came to use the exit. Very luckily, when we got there a security person was fixing the keypad so I just smiled, said "hello" and dashed through the gate. I'm not entirely convinced I went the right way as we emerged back into the grounds next to a giant "private" sign, but at least we got out!

As my son had been trapped in the pushchair all day the kids spent a bit of time running/toddling around the grounds before we headed back to the car.

We really did have a lovely day in the sunshine (I genuinely don't think anyone said a cross word all day!) and we didn't even see half of what Blenheim Palace has to offer. I'm very glad we converted our ticket to an annual pass (just take your ticket to the kiosk at the main entrance of the house and fill in a little form) as we wouldn't have managed it in one day. I think we'll head back on a rainy day to check out the house itself, and try the gardens again too - but with the sling rather than the pushchair next time!