Monday, June 20, 2016

Another Outing To Woburn Abbey

Carol has had a really horrible cold over the past week or so. She thinks she caught it off someone in her department at Milton Keynes Academy. That, as well as the miserable weather over the past couple of days, particularly last Saturday, meant we didn't get out of the house, but on Sunday morning we had a real need to get out and decided on a visit to Woburn Abbey. As we are now members of the H.H.A. (Historic Houses Association) it meant we could get in free. This works in a similar way to the National Trust (which we are members of) and English Heritage (which we used to belong to but are no longer.) you pay a yearly membership and then can get into the properties they manage without paying. So, on average you can pay something like £75 for a year for both of us and when you consider that Woburn costs £16 per person, you can see that, if you visit enough properties over the year, how much value there is in these memberships. 

We drove over to Woburn and went through the entrance and then took the two-mile drive through the deer park, driving at around 20 M.P.H. We managed to get some great shots of some of the deer, using my new Canon camera with the macro lens which I have recently bought, meaning I can get some far closer shots than with the lens the camera came with. Fortunately, the weather was fine, which was just as well, because as I write this post it's raining heavily.

We parked up in the carpark and went into the Abbey grounds, through the shop. I have noticed that they have improved the range of items for sale and particularly a book about Woburn Abbey which costs around £35 which I think I'd prefer rather than having the guide book as it looks as if it's far more detailed. We had coffee and a snack in the restaurant. Called the Duchesses Tea Room, because it was one of the Duchesses of Bedford, Anna, the 7th Duchess, in the early nineteenth century, who is supposed to have introduced the idea of afternoon tea to this country. We were intrigued by the ducks who came wandering into the restaurant when we were in there. They were mingling with the customers outside as well as in. I did manage to take a few photographs of them.

The whole of the grounds at Woburn Abbey seem to exude peace and quiet. I can't think of many places which are so quiet. No sound of traffic can be heard. It's like a sort of oasis of calm, which is great when you think how noisy everywhere is, particularly if you live in a town such as Milton Keynes where you are always surrounded by traffic and the constant noise it makes.

We went into the main house. We have visited before, but it was quite a few years ago, and there's so much to see you couldn't possibly see it all in one visit. We were really enthralled by the antique furniture and the amazing paintings, some from virtually every era of English history. The room stewards are very well-versed in their knowledge of each room we visited and what they contained, for example, the furniture and the paintings. Some places we have visited the staff can be a bit off-hand, or snooty, to say the least, but these people are very friendly and willing to chat with you and answer any questions you may have. Another aspect  I noticed was that the toilets have been improved and up graded. If there's one thing that can put you off visiting such places as Woburn Abbey and that's when the toilets don't come up to standard. They are really clean and pleasant. I don't think it can take much to just keep them up to date and in top-notch condition. Just a little care and attention to such things wouldn't hurt in other places we visit. When you consider how much the cost of entry to such places is, surely they can spend some of their profits on upgrading the facilities. Woburn particularly must be one of the leading tourist destinations for foreign visitors, particularly from America, so it would give a poor message to them to pass on to friends and family if the toilets are not up to standard.
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