Today, with it being Easter Monday and sunny, we decided to go out and go to Cliveden, a National Trust property near Maidenhead. We live just inside the M25, the circular parking lot / ring motorway around London, which means that whenever we go, we have to go along it. Cliveden has the advantage of being only around 25 minutes off the M25, and 10 minutes away from the M4. As a bonus, it’s also absolutely spectacular.
Off we went, ready to join a public egg hunt: you pay a small fee, get a map of the trail, walk through the beautiful gardens and pick up an chocolate egg at the end. The well-organised German in me had not only checked the weather forecast carefully (dry with heavy rain forecast for after 3pm) but also packed raincoats, just in case, which we clearly wouldn’t need as it was sunny and warm. Surely nothing could go wrong.
Unfortunately, we were not the only ones who had this great idea, so we spent the first half hour taking part in another curious British pasttime, queuing. I took the opportunity of taking a picture, as such beautifully formed queues are a dying art. Personally, I blame foreigners and their tendency to not see a queue: they jump it, successfully, which gives everybody else the idea.
Cliveden house and gardens are on a hill above the river Thames, and if you have enough of the impressive formal gardens you can go off the beaten track and walk through the woods down to the river. At this time of the year the paths are lined with wild bluebells, which makes up for the steep climb on your way back to the house and car park.
We had a great time, the kids were running around, looking for clues in the hunt or playing tag, whilst the adults enjoyed the sunshine. Talking of sunshine, despite it being forecast to last well into the afternoon, it was ended suddenly at 1.30 by an unscheduled but heavy thunderstorm, which had us soaked to the bones within minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t content itself with that and we spent half an hour covering under some tall bushes, hoping the massive solitary trees nearby would attract the lightning. It didn’t help to know that our raincoats were snug and dry in the boot of our car, only a 20-minute walk away.
When the rain finally stopped and we could make our way back I was consoled by the fact that everybody else had been just as daft as us: soaking wet t-shirts and cardigans everywhere, and high-heeled pumps competing with my friend’s flipflops for the deepest and muddiest puddle.
We did get our egg in the end, though, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. And no, I can’t post pictures of the house, because we never got there!
Have a lovely Post-Easter!