When I was a child we would often visit the manor house at Dyffryn Gardens for local craft fayres. I'd wander through the dusty corridors bedecked with fake mahogany cladding, lengthy red, velveteen curtains encased the ornate windows, and I'd muse at the ornaments and homemade bric-a-brac on trestle tables.
During the 1990s, the local council closed the building as it needed extensive restoration work which couldn't be funded. For nearly two decades it stood empty, becoming more and more derelict inside despite vain attempts to fix basic structural issues, until the National Trust stepped in last year taking on a fifty year lease to restore the house and gardens.
My husband took me back to Dyffryn Gardens four years ago for my first Mother's Day, before the National Trust took it over, and therefore before the house was reopened. The Boy was nine months old and couldn't walk, the Winter was harsh and the gardens were lacking in anything vaguely attractive. Basically it was a washout.
Bless him, he did try.
However, Dyffryn Gardens now stands as our top venues to visit aside from the beach. Ever since the NT partially reopened the house last year and The Boy discovered the wonders of the hidden garden rooms, it has become our special place.
The south-facing lawn is a sun-trap; barely any wind blows across the perfectly manicured lawns and the banks which flank it are perfect for rolling down. And believe me, we all have! The long ornamental pond is full of koi carp, frogspawn and newts; just perfect for exploring underwater animals. We've spent many an afternoon throwing a Frisbee around, laughing and joking in the warming sunshine.
Last weekend we returned to see the start of Spring, and what a welcome!
And of course, we managed to get up to all our favourite activities whilst there!
We'll be returning to Dyffryn Gardens this weekend for my fourth Mother's Day, and we'll be taking my own mum with us this time, as well as my sister and her family. We've been there before, and National Trust sites are ideal for all generations as there's something for every one and every taste; history, art, horticulture, outdoor play. That's not to mention the option of afternoon tea in the café! Pop over to the National Trust 'What's On?' section to find events at your local site.