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Published: July 17th 2013
The boys getting to know each other
What a day. Suzy sat on the drive, she only moved a few feet for us to get Gunter the Grunter (our car) out of the garage. Sion got up very early as he had a meeting set with his best friend Woolly. He had never met him before although they had conversed by email for some time. This was going to be a first for him and he was really excited with himself. The thought of trying out the loos and giving them marks out of ten , looking for manholes and sliding down bannisters in Attingham Park really got him and us very excited. Normally I write the emails but for once Sion pushed me out of the way and decided it was his day and he was going to blog.
It's me Woolly -Sion your bestest bestest friend . Jen has let me write to you. The journey took us a little over an hour from our home and all the way I think my excited voice got on Jen and Glenns nerves. I kept on saying "Are we there yet?" "Will Woolly like me?"
We had to keep telling Sion to keep quiet - we
Woolly Mammoth and Sion - the bestest of friends
would get there and we were sure Woolly would like him. For those who have followed the blogs you will know that Sion and Woolly have never met but are the best of friends always comparing the joys of sliding down bannisters in stately homes, searching out the toilet facilities and eating pistachio nuts and chocolate.
We got there early . No sign of Oliver or Woolly so to keep Sion quiet we drove round the car park a few times trying to pick a good place to stop. The little voice kept chirping in "Are we there yet?" " Has Woolly arrived?" There was plenty of room in the car park even for Suzy the motorhome. At least you can be sure of parking in National Trust properties. We didnt have to wait long before Oliver the 4 x 4 arrived with Jo, Ian and Woolly inside. Woolly was jumping up and down. Sion got exited and waved his paws until he nearly wore them out.
I had been to Attingham Park many years ago when I sat on a summer evening listening to a Battle Proms complete with fireworks and cannons. But this was the first
Doing what boys do best sliding down the bannisters
visit to the house. It is a National Trust property so cost us nothing to get in as we are members and Sion stowed away in a bag so the cashier didnt spot him. It is hard at times to keep a good sheep down as he gets excited and today was worse than usual. All he wanted to do was talk to his new found friend.
Sion and Woolly sat in a tree getting to know each other and seemed to get on as we caught up on Ian and Jo's travels across Europe or Ewerope as Sion calls it in Georgie the motorhome and Oliver the 4 x 4 in Big B the tent. . The boys compared notes on the toilets they had seen and the manhole covers they had photographed.
As the sun beat down they slid down the bannisters when the National Trust lady wasnt watching. The house is Palladian in design, perfectly symmetrical with the perfect number of windows in the perfect spots. Equal numbers of columns in the correct building order . In other words it was going to be boring . Anyone who reads the blogs will know we hate
guided tours and we found ourselves on one. With hindsight its free flow after 12.30 and that would have been a far better option. Attingham Park was built in 1785 for Noel Hill the first Baron Berwick. Noel Hill was a politician who aided William Pitt in the restructuring of the famous East India Company. Noel Hill already owned a house on the site of Attingham Park called Tern Hall, but with money he received along with his title he commissioned the architect George Steuart to design a new and grander house to be build around the original hall. The new country house encompassed the old property entirely, and once completed it was given the name Attingham Hall. The family had connections with Hawkstone Follies just up the road. Money of course ran out as did the family line and the house eventually came into National Trust ownership.
The house could have been impressive but it started off with the most greyest of grey rooms. Grey mock marble, grey paintwork and grey and white paintings on the wall. Behind the grey was supposed to be the most impressive room of the house . Excitement grew - there were four
Ceiling at Attingham Park
doors in the room and we were going to be taken through one of them - into a room. Not an impressive one, a few pieces of furniture , a dark room and a monologue from the guide about the cost of refurbishing the room. Curtains replaced with copies, furniture stolen from Caserta in italy, carpets copied and relaid. Nothing seemed authentic. And she spoke about the costs. On to the next room -more of the same , - more copies - more stats and figures until our heads were reeling. Paint stripped back by professionals .Should the Trust return the building to its 18th century glory? To be honest after nearly 45 minutes Sion was trying to go to sleep and we had lost the will to live. There are guided tours and then this one. We entered the piece de resistance the long gallery with its art collection. And what did we see - a few pictures leaning against the wall and a nice line in scaffolding poles. This was followed by a story of the leaking glass rooflights , the leaking glass replacement and the need to put it all right.
At this point we were
offered a choice - always bad news. We could continue up the fantastic staircase and see the second and third floors or retreat and sneak out of the house and head for the restaurant . Sion and Woolly might have wanted to slide down the bannisters but we dragged them outand headed for lunch. .
Food ordering was interesting. Missed the queue and went the wrong way round. Perhaps things would have gonemore smoothly had we gone the right way round. We ordered jacket potatoes for Jo and I and for the boys Two small flans for Glenn and a scone for Ian. We confused the lady behind the counter which was not that difficult to do. It's not every day she gets the chance to feed a Woolly Mammoth and a sheep in the tea room. Jo was given the starship Enterprise to tell her when the jacket potatoes were ready. When its many lights flashed red we had to race in to pick up our order. Sion was sure that lunch would blow up if we didnt get back to pick it up quickly.
Over lunch we discussed the best and worse campsites we had used,
and another one
our next adventures and the best and worse roads in Europe. Where did time go to? Over 5 and a half hours later and we were still talking.
On our way home Sion wouldnt keep quiet - he had enjoyed his day meeting his best friend and wanted to know when he would see him again. Turkey sounds good to Sion
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