Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A National Trust day out

Sorry I've been so scarce in the blog lately. I've been working away on edits to Temporary Mistress and writing A Season Lost, and getting ready for my upcoming trip to England. But before I left I did want to get this post in, so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle when I return.

If you'll recall, I bookended two England layovers around a business trip, and this post is all about the second bookend. By the time I got back to England, I had spent two weeks with much of my schedule all arranged for me, taking corporate vans everywhere we needed to go. I was ready for some freedom, and also not ready for some freedom.

Let me make sense of that! I had been wanting to go to the Bermondsey Square antiques market, so on my only full day in London, I got up in the morning and took the tube over, and ended up making a few little purchases. I had decided to leave the rest of the day open for whatever I was in the mood for, and what I quickly realized was...I had no idea what I was in the mood for. This normally isn't me -- one of the reasons why I love solo travel is that if I decide I want to do something, I just go off and do it, and normally I'm quite decisive.

Turns out I was not yet ready to go back to being my decisive self. I sat down for about 15 minutes by the side of the road in complete waffling indecision, swiping around my Google Map. Finally, I lighted upon the idea that I wanted to go back to the Tower of London. I haven't been there since my very first trip to London ten years ago, so it seemed like it would be fun to go back. I ended up walking over there, took one look at the giant crowds, and decided that jostling with all of those people was not, in fact, what I was feeling like doing (travel tip: I recalled that when I had gone before, we went there first thing in the morning, to get ahead of the crowds).

Suddenly, the second runner-up, going to Osterley Park, was sounding much better, as I was not feeling crowds or being in the city. What sounded really good was what I always think of as a "National Trust day out:" touring an old estate house, having a wander among the grounds and gardens, poking into the gift shop, and having some food at one of their quite good cafes.

I chose Osterley Park because it was open on a Friday, and because I geek out over Robert Adam, but it was not necessarily the most efficient place to get to from the Tower, as it's on the Piccadilly line out near Heathrow. Still, though, I think I got there in less than an hour.

Osterley Park

Ahh, what a difference that made. This is one of the really cool things about London: if you are not in the mood for the city, you can easily get out of the city. A relatively short walk from the tube and I was suddenly in pastoral England, right down to the cows and horses on the side of the path.

Osterley Park isn't particularly large for a great house. The grounds aren't the largest or most impressive I've seen. It does have an interesting history with connections to the Child family of Child's Bank and the Earl of Jersey, plus a scandalous elopement (there was a chase, to Gretna Green!); some extremely intriguing Robert Adam rooms; and a cafe set within the old Tudor-era stables. What Osterley Park mostly had going for it, though -- because I fully enjoyed my day there -- was that it was a complete "National Trust day out," just outside of London. Once I decided it was what I needed, it was exactly what I needed.

Some more pictures from my visit below:

 Entrance hall
 Long gallery

 Tapestry room



Etruscan room

The grounds are still lovely, even if they're not the best ever!

Some of the garden and Orangery

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