When this is all over I’d like to go on some classic days out close to home. Home is a village near Hungerford so a day out could mean staying in West Berkshire or travelling over to eastern Wiltshire, northern Hampshire or even southern Oxfordshire. We live at the crossroads of these counties with the glorious North Wessex Downs on our doorstep.
For now, at the beginning of May 2020, on day forty-something of lockdown in the UK, we are only allowed just down the road – for our daily exercise, or to shop for essentials. UK citizens are only allowed to travel for work if they are unable to work from home, so Mr P is working from home while I’m trying to fit in some work around homeschooling the kids.
I’m formulating a list of days out near Hungerford to places which are currently closed but which I’d like to visit once lockdown is eased. Normally I yearn for adventure, but my list is mainly focused on revisiting old favourites. Perhaps we’ve had enough surprises for one year?
A National Trust Day Out
Within 45 minutes to an hour from Hungerford we can reach some fantastic National Trust properties. A day out at a National Trust property usually means lots of fresh air – wide expanses of land for the children to run free, imaginative play areas, family-friendly trails in their historic homes and, perhaps most importantly, excellent scones in the café. They are great places to meet up with friends and family who live in different parts of the country and, as they cater for all ages and interests, they make a great option when planning a multi-generational day out.
The first place we’ll head to will probably be Dyrham Park near Bath and hopefully meet my brother and sister-in-law and their tribe who live near Bristol, or good friends of ours who have recently moved to Bath with their boys.
Mottisfont is high on my list of new places to go. It’s located in Hampshire, between Winchester and Salisbury and should be within an hour’s drive of our village.
The city of Oxford is just over half-an-hour up the road from Hungerford. We always park in one of their park-and-rides. The boys love the treat of riding the double-decker bus into town. Our favourite days in Oxford are usually spent at either the wonderful Museum of Natural History or the magical Story Museum. The latter has been closed for refurbishment for months, and was due to reopen in April 2020. A visit there sparks the imagination. We’ve always especially loved their dressing-up room, and the giant bed for story-time. It is at the top of my list of places to go as soon as we can. A visit to Oxford is usually topped off with a trip to Wagamama. It’s a family favourite, but we don’t have one locally to us.
Visiting a falconry centre might not be high on everyone’s list, but when you’ve got one kid who’s obsessed with birds of prey, and the other who adores reptiles (which are often found at falconry centres) it finds it’s way onto ours. Millets Farm Falconry and Reptile Centre fits the bill for both birds and reptiles. They run knowledgeable and fun bird displays and, while they’ve been closed due to Covid-19, they’ve been revamping their reptile centre. We can’t wait to see the developments. Millets Farm is a great location to head to on a day out near Hungerford. As well as the falconry centre there’s the farm, a soft play barn, shop and restaurant.
Museum of Army Flying, Hampshire
Situated near Middle Wallop (one of the best British place names on the map), this relatively unassuming museum hits all the right notes. Though the interactive displays are fairly old-fashioned, the kids don’t notice that and get stuck right in while the adults in the group learn plenty from the information boards. It’s the real helicopters on display that really win the day, especially the ones which allow visitors to you sit in, press buttons and pull levers! To make the experience even more authentic they provide army clothes to dress up in too. Our boys particularly rate the playground which overlooks the real army base and from which you can often see aircraft flying.
I know I’m not alone in feeling a deep need to be by the sea. I’m sure many of us who are landlocked in lockdown are feeling the pull of the wide expanse of the big blue. That feeling of sand between the toes, the taste of salt on the wind, the gasping cold of the water, the empty horizon are all just out of reach at the moment. When it’s safe to do so, and hopefully on a not-too-hot day we’ll drive down to West Wittering near Chichester. The beach goes on for miles, especially when the tide is out, meaning it can be quite a trek to get to the water. We won’t mind though.
Days out in Wessex
For more ideas of what to do at near this confluence of counties do check out this Days Out in Wessex post.
Where is top of your list to go once we have the freedom to do so?