Christmas at Blenheim: Buggy pushing in a winter wonderland
Yes, the festive season is here! That means ice cold mornings that will leave my hands looking ashy AF – black people problems – but full of all the mulled beverages and cranberry sauce-laced creations I can get hold of.
We kicked our first festive family adventure off the other weekend as we went to Blenheim Palace for the seasonal Christmas at Blenheim light display laid on throughout November-December.
Last year I went for a work visit, accompanied by one of my mates (Jenna was working) and remember thinking how incredible it would be to visit with my then-unborn child.
Leap 12 months into the future and that vision became a reality as Jenna, Roma and I cruised to the grand former Oxfordshire abode of Winston Churchill.
The first thing I noticed was how much busier it was. Granted I went on a weeknight before, but it could also be a case that word of the illuminated wonders beyond the gates of the palace has spread.
Roma has turned six months and it’s been incredible to see how nosy (not entirely unlike her mother) she’s become, with awareness of her surroundings developing all the time.
With that in mind, I was interested to see how she’d find the Blenheim lights, the ultimate sensory class appropriate for adults and babies alike.
As night needs to have fallen for the walk to begin, we kicked our ramble through the winter woodland at around 5.30pm and wrapped around 75 minutes later.
There’s no time limit to adhere to, you can spend as much or as little time absorbing the assortment of shimmering decorations as you like, but it’s not something you’d want to rush.
If packed lunch seems like too much grief, there are food stands found in the entry courtyard of the palace, but also halfway around. With soup, marshmallows and cookies on offer, as well as hot drinks, so you won’t freeze or, more importantly, go hungry.
For the most part Roma stayed awake – her new thing at all hours – aside from a brief 20-minute nap, which was a refreshing change of pace from our early days when she’d sleep through whatever agenda we had lined up (cinema, festivals, seaside).
Maybe it was the chill in the air, maybe she wasn’t tired, or just maybe she was captivated by the ever-changing palette of colours blinking in the night.
I’ve been on a mission to make memories for the three of us, so that, even if Roma will have no recollection of the days out, Jenna and I will be able to look back on them with fondness and relive the days with her when she’s older.
And when we stop remembering them, hopefully she’ll be able to return the favour.
Not to wish the time away, but I can only imagine what it would be like to revisit next year with Roma then 18 months, tottering around and being even more aware of her surroundings.
But truly, whether you’ve got a babe in arms, a child old enough to run the route, no intentions of any children at all, or just a hungry mate that’s looking to fill the shoes of your other half while they’re at work, you’d have to be a real Grinch to sneer at the wintery delights hidden in the depths of the Blenheim Palace woods.
Although, the cost of a cup of mulled wine (£4.50) might leave you silently muttering “humbug”.
What festive plans have you got lined up this year?