Bluebells, Afternoon Tea and Rhinos

The Great British Summer and another May Bank holiday weekend is yet again on our doorsteps. According to the latest predictions, we are to ‘sizzle in highs of 33 C’, with expectations of hotter than normal temperatures over the coming months. The thought of topping up my suntan without having to go abroad makes me feel giddy already.

As a Hungarian, I was always used to guaranteed and consistently good weather during the summer in my home country, but here I always feel the need to seize every opportunity to head outdoors at the first sighting of the sun, as I never know when this rare opportunity will come along again to do something fun outside the four walls!  And when it does, I love to have a day out somewhere whilst staying active, combining this with my passion for discovering new places and hidden little gemstones in  the countryside.

This post is the first one of a new series I am looking to start on my blog and is called ‘Active Escapes‘, giving you some ideas for shorter holidays or days out whilst staying active, either on your own or with your family/other half. On this occasion, I will be taking you to the Oxford area and to the edge of the picturesque Cotswolds.

My Hubby and I were invited last weekend to one of his friend’s birthday party at the stunning Lodge Park and House in Gloucestershire, just outside Oxford. This quaint little estate was built by its owners in the 17th-century for deer coursing, gambling, banqueting and entertaining guests – the perfect place for weekend stag do’s in those times, by the sound of it. The venue belongs to National Trust so it is open for visitors, however, it can also be hired for private functions, such as parties and weddings etc.

1A perfect sunny day

9…made even more perfect with the company of great friends! 

Exploring some views from the grandstand…

…whilst a group game is happening down below us.

The estate is surrounded by peaceful meadows, and has an abundance of wildlife, from fallow and roe deer to badgers and foxes in the neighbouring woodland – there are plenty of walking routes you can explore for a chance to spot some wild animals. You can find some inspiration for walking routes on the National Trust website of the estate, or by all means you can make up your own one!

8The blubells are out!

The countryside is calling!

14Taking shelter from the sun at the shepherd’s pod

We were provided with plenty of entertainment throughout the day such as live music by a string quartet whilst being served a buffet style lunch; a selection of board- and card games, a role playing game and also enjoyed a traditional afternoon tea with a nice selection of teacakes and muffins. When the venue is not hired for a private function, there is a small shop selling light refreshments for visitors so you won’t have to stay dry!

I even discovered an outdoors game called croquet which my Hubby and his friends enthusiastically gave a go. Following the rules was clearly not being as much of a priority as getting a good giggle out of it!  If this article has persuaded you to pay a visit to Lodge Park, make sure to ask for the croquet kit inside and have a go yourself at this lighthearted game.

The croquet team – playing by their own rules!

If you would like to have a proper lunch or just some cold beer after exploring the views from the grandstand, having had a nice walk or even trying a game of croquet in the first half of the day here, I suggest that you drive to the Swan Inn in the neighboring village of Swinbrook (just near Burford). We (and Pierce Morgan…) had our wedding reception there and I can honestly say that the food and service are excellent, you will always get fresh and locally sourced produce from a seasonal menu. Make sure to book a table a few days in advance though, as the place gets fully booked very quickly!

4

The Swan Inn

Sit outside in  the pub’s garden on a sunny day and say ‘hello’ to the chicks roaming in the backyard

If you are up for another adventure in the afternoon, head to the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in Burford. We have been there a couple of years ago and had an amazing time walking around the parkland and looking at the animals.

 

Hopefully this article has given you a couple of ideas for a fun day out on your feet in the Oxford area in true English style, whereby you can do a bluebell walk, have a posh afternoon tea and gaze at rhinos, all on the same day!

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