This last weekend we decided to take a break. Instead of having guests to us, we decided to be guests ourselves! And so, courtesy of a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel deal, off we went to Suffolk to stay at the grand, wacky and totally over the top Ickworth Hotel. In my mind I had pictured a relaxing, gentle, pootling sort of weekend. The papers, tea & scones, a nice bottle of wine with dinner. That sort of thing. And we did do all those things, but, well, ‘gentle’ is perhaps pushing it a bit ….
It all started with trying to get there on Friday night. Getting the kids out of the house, with their gear, plus the wife, with her gear. We left at about 8.30 and made it as far as…. McDonald’s. Then onwards, with the satnav to guide us. But although we were only travelling 38 miles, it took an hour and a half (we had the setting on shortest route – so it was windy roads the whole way). Sometimes tech can get in the way…
But the following day we decided to be intrepid and hire some bikes. I had a secret plan – to ride around the whole Ickworth estate (7.5 mile round trip). Within 200 yards Charles crashed into Isobel, sending her sprawling over the handle bars and onto the road, right in front of 2 girls walking up to the main house to be waitresses or whatever. Now, every time we went into the house, there would be sniggers and jokes about townies in the country (quite justified actually, I don’t know why Isobel was even trying to ride a bike in Loubertins…)
Eventually, in spite of the rain, the sheep poo, the hills (God the kids complained – you would have thought it was an Alpine stage in the Tour de France!) we made it round the estate. The relief of the tea and scones!
Luckily Ickworth Hall has a games room for the kids. To give them a chance I staged tournaments of ping pong where I had to play left handed (still won). And there’s a swimming pool, where it quickly became evident that Immy is almost a teenager (she posed incessantly and only dipped her toes in the water – it was rather cold.)
And in the evening we ate in the conservatory. Because all the other guests had left we decided to play fizz buzz (counting where 3 and multiples of 3 = fizz, and 5/multiples of 5 = buzz. Get it wrong and you have to drink). We made it to 31! – the kids are better than me at drinking games. Mind you, I was on Malbec and they were on OJ.
The following morning I had another cunning plan. First, get the whole family to visit the National Trust Ickworth property (house of the Hervey family, as I said: wacky – the main building is a rotunda!), then walk down to the lake and admire the walled gardens. Again, that sort of worked if you ignored the complaints at walking. Complaints until we actually got to the lake where we were treated to the spectacle of 2 Canada Geese having a massive scrap. Hissing, feathers flying, pecking, charging across the lake after each other – nothing like a bit of violence to cheer everyone up, it was ace!
And so our weekend came to an end and it was time to head back to reality. Good weekend really – we’ll never forget it!
(By the way, if you like these photos, they were all taken on my iphone using an app called Hipstamatic. As you can see it fakes old film/old format cameras. Great fun for £1.19! Put away the Leica!!!)