Before and throughout university I spent approximately 9 out of 10 Bank Holidays working at a historic site. To be honest I rarely minded, as I always felt that it was better to have a day off when nobody else was around, as you could then enjoy the world without the hordes of people that the bank holiday brings.
The August Bank Holiday weekend was always particularly notable during this time, as this was usually the busiest weekend of the season and if we were lucky, the hottest.
It was therefore slightly alarming when I realised that I could choose to have the entire weekend off this year due to the perks of self employment. In fact, both Des and I were able to mark four days off in our diaries.
With the prospect of a long weekend ahead and a tank full of petrol, we decided to take the slightly unglamorous trip down the M1 to stay with my parents, who live in Warwickshire (the Midlands to you Northern folk).
Having spent the first 20 or so years of my life in the county, I definitely have ticked off most of the "must do" places, including Stratford Upon Avon, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, etc.
So come Monday, after binge watching practically the entire Netflix collection, we were faced with the question of what to do.
Now as we are both National Trust Members, I decided to see what was in the area and quickly came across Charlecote Park, a 16th century country house and parkland just south of Warwick.
As a complete history nerd with a serious penchant for Tudor buildings, it certainly sounded right up my street.
There was however one snag. It was a very sunny Bank Holiday Monday. From all of my professional experience, I knew that this meant things were going to be extremely busy. Perhaps uncomfortably busy.
Faced with the alternative, which probably would have involved more Netflix and sofa surfing, we decided to take the plunge and see whether we could cope with the crowds.
First things first, Charlecote is gorgeous, I suspect it's even good looking in the rain.
The house certainly makes a vivid impression, as does the gardens and estate landscape.
The drive there is also pretty stunning, as you race along twisting roads, hurtling through picturesque countryside villages.
In terms of History, Charlecote Park was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy and although the general outline of the Elizabethan house remains, nowadays it is in fact mostly Victorian.
The grounds were also landscaped by Capability Brown in about 1760.
The estate famously has royal connections, as Queen Elizabeth I stayed there during her Royal Progress in 1572.
The National Trust acquired the estate in 1946 and have been looking after it ever since.
It is now open to the public with added visitor facilities such as the lovely cafe above, which is housed in Orangery. We braved the rather long queue for a decent coffee and excellent caramel slice.
Inside the house you are greeting with a vision of life at Charlecote during the 19th century, with a fabulous collection of furniture, art and material culture.
You can also get a glimpse into life below stairs through visiting the Victorian kitchens, laundry, brew house and stables.
Outside the parkland offers beautiful views and a couple of walking routes. We actually plan of coming back to explore some of these further, as someone (me) forgot to pack appropriate walking shoes.
The parkland is also home to a large variety of wildlife, we were lucky enough to spot this herd of deer taking a midday nap in the shade.
If plants are more your thing, there's plenty to see. Having never knowingly seen a (non bag) mulberry in the flesh, I was delighted to spot a mulberry tree which is 180 years old and still in fruit!
A Parterre garden is also worth looking at, as it has been recreated from the original 1700's plans.
The only downside of the day really had to be the sheer amount of people, as crowds can obscure the true "feel" of historic properties. Though what did we expect on a Bank Holiday Monday?
I must stop to praise the ever knowledgeable NT volunteers, who clearly knew how to manage such a large number of visitors, especially in the house where they clearly ensured they interacted with everyone filtering through.
We will certainly be back, albeit on a quieter day...