(Billy’s been to a lot more National Trusts than your average baby – more than months he’s been alive, in fact. And that fact is one which I merrily share with every National Trust employee I come across. So I decided that if I’m going to subject the poor boy to quite so much history and culture, then I should make some attempt to document his adventures.)
Tyntesfield is our local National Trust – a fairly hefty Victorian beast on the outskirts of Bristol. And so, it’s one of our standard days out – along with the zoo, and the aquarium, and (much to my husband’s horror and the Partnership Card people’s delight) John Lewis. Yes, I really am an exceptionally rock and roll mother with a deeply rock and roll baby.
And yet, despite its convenience, for a while it seemed that Billy was destined to never make it around Tyntesfield. On his first visit, he didn’t even make it to the ticket desk because I was struck down by a sudden and deeply unfortunate bout of norovirus. Immediately after I’d purchased a brownie. I was really looking forward to that brownie and then it all went terribly wrong.
On his second visit, I ballsed up the timings of his feeds and he only made it into one room before having a meltdown. But, although he didn’t make it round the star attractions the visit was saved by a trip to a nearby tree where he had a lovely time kicking about and flirting with passing tourists. And as he was off to the side of one of the main walks up to the house, there really was some excellent flirting potential and oh my, did he take advantage of it.
On his third visit, however, he finally made it round the entire house. And despite not even being the only baby in our party, he still managed to flirt with everyone. As ever, I had him in the sling while we wandered about and he was so busy grinning at all the room attendants – who all dutifully cooed at him – that he entirely failed to listen when I was telling him about how Sherlock and Doctor Who had been filmed there. And he seemed not to give a crap about the lovely library. Or the billiards room. Or the fancy old fireplaces. Or any of it, really.
Suppose that’s what you get when you try and drag a six month old round the same National Trust for the third time in his life.
There’s a reason I was really looking forward to that Tyntesfield brownie – it was going to be part of a double-brownie extravaganza, thanks to the double tearoom joy of the place. There’s the main cafe/restaurant at the entrance, cleverly located before the ticketed part, so you can be super-stingy and meet there for cake and coffee without actually paying to go into the grounds. Not that I’d ever condone such behaviour.
Then there’s the little tearoom at the other end of the estate, which is cleverly located right next to the playground so that you can keep an eye on any children who you’re meant to be keeping an eye on while also stuffing your face. In case you can’t tell, I think it’s quite clever. But then I was always going to be favour of anŷthing that gets me two brownies. And Billy was always going to be in favour of anything that gives him two opportunities to get out of the buggy and get cuddles.
High. You obviously can’t take your buggy into the house (Christ, imagine the damage you could do with an uppababy vista to a historic doorframe), but there’s a handy undercover buggy park with lockers opposite. And you can wheel straight into and out of everywhere else. Sure, there’s a bit of a hill to be dealt with, but that’s a geographical hazard of Bristol and frankly if you’re daft enough to have a baby here you should be very used to pushing them up all sorts of hills before you’re even able to sit down without wincing.
I have no idea how dog-friendly Tyntesfield is, because we don’t actually have a dog. But “dogs” is a special review category on Billy’s Trust Tour for one simple reason – Billy loves dogs. He loves them so much that even hearing the word makes him grin. But we’ve never seen that many dogs at Tyntesfield, which is one of its few downsides. Sure, there are a few of them pottering about, but there are a few dogs pottering about pretty much everywhere, aren’t there? Could dog harder.
A strong opening Trust, with some added jazz thanks to its televisual connections and double brownie joy. Just needs a few more dogs.