It takes me ages to get photos organised and get around to writing about outings but as Autumn turns to winter I was looking through some photos and thought I'd share a trip we took a couple of weekends ago when the leaves were still holding on to the branches and those that were lying on the ground were begging to be rustled through and kicked in the air.
We took the caravan out for the last trip of the year, thinking we'd be the only ones mad enough to go at the end of November. But boy were we wrong. We went to CastleWard in Co. Down and the park was full - so we're not the only nutters lol. But the van was so cosy and comfortable and we were blessed with the most perfect Autumn weather.
CastleWard is a stately home and estate, one of the few run by the National Trust here in Ireland, and it is a fabulous estate. We couldn't go into the house itself, and in truth it didn't look that inviting, but the park is situated on the shores of Strangford Lough and it really is magnificent. The last time I was there, many moons ago, was to see NI Opera doing a traditional opera performance - tradional in that there was a 90 minute interval where we all headed outside to enjoy a champagne picnic on the lawns - a really memorable experience (couldn't tell you what the opera was though lol)
There are lots of walks mapped out and as one couple we met said, it's much easier to get out for walks when you're away from home and it's planned out for you.
On the way from the caravan park to the main house ...
crisp leaves waiting to be kicked up
Playing in the shadows
Lots of knobbly trees
this one was a fabulous shape
and enticing views of the water
A really cute, full man size bug hotel and lots of activity spaces for children - very well managed.
Arriving at the old stables that was used as the set for Winterfell in Game of Thrones
And on to the big house ....
The view to Strangford Lough from the front of the main house - it was very windswept standing at the front of the house looking down, (probably the reason the door is at the back). The family have a fascinating history - the couple who built the house had totally opposing tastes and apparently the house is a mad mix of styles. I look forward to going back someday to get a look around inside.
There are lots of different gardens beautifully maintained including a pristine sunken garden
and amazingly for the middle of November there was lots of colour still around.
As I said, this is one of the few National Trust properties over here and while it is beautifully managed and cared for it was disappointing to find no local crafts or art on sale in their shop - except for Game of Thrones memorabilia and a few items from very big producers in Belfast or down south - and the craft village has been reduced from 18 to 2 crafters. I did manage to find a really nice ornament for my garden though (something for my Spend Local gift) and it was a total delight to find a really good second hand bookshop with an honour system of paying. Poor Tom got to carry a pile of stuff back to the van.
So looking forward to the next trip away once the festive season eases off.