Take a great location in Oxfordshire, England, mix in some history and fantastic photo opportunities (optional: a desire to learn something from the trip). Schedule your trip when the weather's perfect (definition is entirely up to you). Pack your creativity, camera/s, loads and loads of film, and possibly some lunch. Sprinkle a little magic and enjoy an amazing day out!
Let’s all raise our glasses in honour of all the gardens around the world! May they be huge or small, Japanese, English or Spanish, naturally overgrown or meticulously well kept, designed by man or nature! Let’s just all celebrate our gardens – sanctuaries of peace and tranquility, an oasis for action and fun – let’s have a drink to them!
You might wonder why I’ve decided to raise a toast to those green, sandy, dry, wet, and flowering plots of land. The answer is simple. I’ve visited one of the most awesome ones: the Gardens and Park of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, UK. And apart from being such a fantastic piece of land, it also has its very own (hi)stories to tell.
Blenheim Palace is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough and a stunning piece of English Baroque architecture which make for amazing photo opportunities. It is furthermore celebrated for being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill – you can even visit the room where he was born in 1874. Geeky? Maybe. Boring? Possibly. But even if historical artifacts and figures doesn’t make your blood pressure rise, you’ll be amazed at what you can explore on the grounds around the Palace – like the Park and Gardens, hence my enthusiasm!
Personally, I’ve always preferred being outdoors snapping away, but on occasion I enjoy marveling at beautiful interiors, artwork, with freshly brewed coffee accompanied by a slice of delicious cake – thank heavens for the many cafes and dining options around Blenheim Place. But before anyone reads too much into this, the cafes aren’t the obvious or main reason why I love visiting the place, those are just a welcome addition to a beautiful day out – or in, for that matter.
The Churchill Exhibition is one of those indoor possibilities and considering the man was born there, one doesn’t have to make huge leaps on why he/she should visit it as this is open to anyone. Don’t let all your bad memories of boring school trips cloud your judgment! You won’t have a “how-much-knowledge-have-my-students-gained” test or questionnaire to look fear and you most definitely won’t have to write an essay or presentation about your visit. I just suggest that you have a bit of fun, you never know, you might even pick up a snippet of historical information along the way.
You know what they say: “a little history never killed anyone”, or something like that anyway…moving on to another indoor activity: ‘Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story’, a permanent visitor experience inside the Palace. You follow the steps of the household staff and experience the stories and tales of the last three hundred years – and even if history isn’t your thing, this is actually quite fun! All you have to do is listen, enjoy, and experience. Now, how difficult could that be? Plus, it’s the perfect hideout when those little rain showers come out to play.
And even if it’s raining, head towards the Gardens and Park, as those are worth a photo or two. ‘Rain or Shine’, we all know, the beauty of nature is that it’s alive and no visit is the same. Considering that you have 2000 acres of beautiful parkland under your feet, I’m sure you’d want to come back! Nothing says ‘natural beauty’ as nicely as ‘Oxfordshire Cotswolds’.
You’ll always find something new to discover and admire and nothing really beats a lunch out in the open, unless of course, it is raining hard, then I would advise the cafes.
Blenheim Palace, the Park and Gardens are usually open all year around, but it won’t hurt to check its website beforehand, just in case the day you’re planning to go is one of those special occasions. Plus, you can find out what else is currently on at the Palace, be it ‘The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival’, the ‘Great Blenheim Palace Easter Egg Challenge’, the ‘Blenheim Palace Jousting Tournament’ , the ‘Classic Car Show‘ or simply ‘Christmas at Blenheim Palace’ to name a few. But even if you’re not after action or entertainment, and you’re just coming for a short or long stroll in the Gardens or the Park, you won’t regret it, but don’t forget your camera/s!
I usually take one of my Brownies with me, for the dreamy looks of times long past – yeah, vintage geek I know, but you can’t really beat those little gems now, can you? Or can you? Drop me a line before, after or even during your visit and we can discuss things further! I’m always up for a challenge so get those shutters clicking!