Saturday, 19 April 2014

How to hunt an egg

Firstly find the free National Trust voucher that came with the yoghurt a couple of months ago.  Tell the children they will be going on an egg trail with the possibility of chocolate at the end of it.  Spend the next fourteen hours trying to contain the eggcitement.  Pack enough food for a siege and set off for Tyntesfield.

Get there a mere forty minutes after they open and park in one of the last remaining parking spaces in the main car park. Join the mile long queue to go in.  Discover that you have inadvertently turned up on Knights Weekend, when most of Bristol have also turned out to join in the revelry.  After ten minutes, send other half to the book shop to prevent spontaneous combustion.  After fifteen minutes, send the children to join him.  On nearing the front of the queue, admire the shiny sign that says, "Members only this side".  Walk a hundred metres back to the end of the correct queue and spend some time hoping that the book shop is really interesting.

Finally herd family through the correct door.  Despite having a free voucher, part with a nice fat chunk of cash for having an extra child and for the privilege of joining the Egg Hunt.  Join the queue for the Egg Hunt stuff, leaving other half outside to befriend other eggxasperated men of a certain age.

Once you have three Egg Trail cards, passports, free pith helmets, a map, membership leaflet, information leaflet, two separate receipts, Knight's Day schedule and all of the children you started with, you're good to go.  Once you've queued for the toilets.

Spend the next hour trotting round behind supercharged egg-hopeful boys, lugging the world's heaviest picnic, five large drinks bottles, a large blanket and three pith helmets.  Snap away randomly as you jog to keep up.  Something to remember the magic of the day by.

Find some yew, a favourite thing.  Try to find someone to share the excitement.  Fail.  But look, fifty-seven yew trees!

Give in to popular demand and crack open the picnic.  At least it'll be less to carry now.  Narrowly avoid being too slow to get a vegetarian sausage roll.  Spend the next six minutes focusing hard on the food.  It's eat or be eaten now, kill or be killed.  Not a time to lose concentration.

Re-pack the bag, which mysteriously appears to weigh exactly the same as before.  Decide to tackle the house while the children are lulled into a slight post-prandial stupour.

The morning room.  Where the lady of the house used to sit in the morning to do a little needlework or correspondence and give the housekeeper the day's instructions.  Sigh.  You would have been so good at that kind of thing.

Once deep into the bowels of the house, you will need to retrace your steps to find a toilet.  All the way back out.  Against the tide of people behind you.  It will take a while.  The queue for the two toilets is approximately twenty people long.  Send the person in question alone into the gents instead.  Loiter very close to the door.  Look through the door every time it opens.  Try not to catch anyone's eye or be offended when the door is closed to prevent viewing.  Edge a little closer to the door.  Wait.  Listen at the door.  Smile reassuringly at anyone who appears to find your behaviour unusual or worrying.  Finally, you're back on track.  Back to the house to find the rest of the party.  Anyone with you will slip through the crowds with ease.  You will not be so lucky, so at this point you will be separated from everyone.  Shove past the hoards, like some classless fishwife with no interest in history or culture.  But hold your head up high anyway.

Find the rest of the fam. Your other half may be grilling a hapless guide about the unsympathetic replacement of the glass in the windows.  It was done in 1870, so not strictly his fault.  Press on through the house.  By this time the children will be getting a bit lively, it's no time to dawdle or a game of tag may break out.

Fresh air.  Space.  Cookies and a sit down.


All the food is now gone.  Everyone is fully fuelled, but it's important to leave enough time to get home before they turn feral.  Three egg clues remain.  Onwards.

A really fast turn about the walled gardens, greenhouses and kitchen garden.

This may be your favourite bit, but don't falter now, the egg is in sight.  Back towards the house.

On the croquet lawn there's a medieval scrap.  Knights hacking at each other with swords, axes and hammers.  Be sure not to miss this, small boys love this stuff.  So many new ideas for their arsenal of deadly moves.  Stand behind them and watch them absorbing the information with utter relish.

Run through first aid procedures with other half and ensure you both know the opening hours of the local Minor Injuries Unit and the quickest route to Children's Hospital.  

Explore the Medieval village.

This is especially recommended as any boys you happen to have with you will be allowed to hold any weaponry they may choose, thereby getting a feel for the weight of it and the amount of cut and thrust required to disembowel, main and decapitate.

Back at the start, queue for an egg.  Feel an unreasonable jubilation at scoring the penultimate three eggs before a certain wait for a new batch to be brought by the Easter bunny.

Success is yours my friend. 

Wishing you a very Happy Easter.  


  1. Wot, no egg for Mum? You'll have to go back..
    Happy Easter x

  2. Oh my.. what a funny account of your day.. and after that you just get one choccie egg each for the boys? Wow! I loved that castle!

    ❀.•❤•.✿.•❤ Happy Easter! ❀.•❤•.✿.•❤

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  3. Now this is just a dream! You gave me a chuckle during this post friend! What an exciting day and the scenery is just fantastic! And yes I would be good in that role too!!! WOW! How wonderful for your boys to have this experience! Wishing you a very blessed and happy Easter! Nicole xo

  4. What a lot of effort for such a small egg! Such fun tho' what a place for an egg hunt looks amazing and weapons to boot, perfect for small boys........

    Our egg hunting is a bit low key compared to yours although we have a picnic to match............we are going to canoe to an island on a local lake where a friend is going to hide eggs and the children will hunt for them and then most likely gorge themselves on said eggs and be sick over the side of the boat, we have to hope that is not what will happen! Enjoy the rest of the weekend :)

  5. Such a restful day and you avoided being arrested! Happy Easter

  6. Sounds like a busy day --- I'm tired just reading about it. LOL Hopefully, Sunday will bring a day of relative quiet and enjoyment of those chocolate eggs.

  7. Oh the joy of a family day out at Easter! This post had me laughing, as did Sue's comment, and commiserating in equal measure. Terrific photos.
    I hope that the rest of your weekend is rather more relaxed and slow paced. Happy Easter, Flighty xx

  8. Ha ha, the joys of Easter events with kids. It looks like a lovely place, though perhaps best to avoid during Easter holidays if you want to look around properly.

  9. Absolutely brilliant - you made me laugh out loud CJ.
    Hope the journey home was calm and quiet !
    Have a lovely Easter,
    Kate x

  10. What a beautifully written post! You have conveyed the hilarity, joys, and, dare I add, the frustrations of family outings!

    Happy Easter to you all.


  11. Haha, brilliant! Can definitely sympathise with the swords and deadly weapons - I'm sure I'm getting a permanent wrinkle from my furrowed brow every time my youngest finds a sword, or a light saber or a stick, or anything vaguely pointy!

    Great photos - that tulip is beautiful. And loving the Superman outfit :-)

  12. Brilliant post. There was some sort of egg hunt at RHS Harlow Carr when we visited this week. Sue wouldn't let me take part. Disappointed that there was no medieval jousting on the lawns at Harlow Carr.

  13. You brave, brave woman ! Love the post :o)

  14. Hey CJ,
    Oh my these days always seem like such a good idea, and I expect your boys loved it. But this made me laugh so much, because I have had many days like this. I always say to myself through gritted teeth "you are making memories for them, Leanne.."
    Go and treat yourself to an egg. I believe Tescos has loads of One Direction Eggs left...

    Leanne xx

  15. How funny CJ, you must be exhausted. I hope you treated yourself to a nice egg, too. We were thinking of going to the National Trust's Culzean Castle but I am glad we did a small egg hunt in the back garden instead. I get so annoyed when family tickets only include two children! Sam, my oldest, is a weapon "expert" and would have loved the medieval weaponry. He once made a dart blowy tube of sorts that was so effective, the pins he used as darts stuck in the plaster wall... my sewing pins. He also constructed a trebuchet, not to scale luckily. Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend. x

  16. What a wonderful place to visit. You must have been exhausted but I know exactly how you felt because that is the way of it when you visit a place with kids and crowds. This post made me smile. I hope you're having a good Easter with your family.

  17. God Bless Moms is what I have to say! I've just been trying to put the little babe to bed for 3 HOURS. Not sure which is worse - that or all the hassle you had to endure for 3 little eggs. Reading your post is just what I needed right now - reminding me that other people have lived through this, some 3 times, and are still able to laugh about it.
    The medieval tent display looks fun. I'm sure your boys had a blast.

  18. Awesome post :) Love that selfie... ;)

  19. Wow what an intense egg hunt (and day!) Died laughing at the bathroom story. Happy Easter!

  20. Oh yes, this looks familiar.....especially the bit when you are inside the big house, its really crowded and one or all of your boys have slipped out of your grasp and are just about to do something potentially costly, do you yell (I too do the fishwife thing well) or just look the other way and hope no one rumbles that you are with them. I do love a day out with the national trust though, generally best left for the quieter days though. Happy Easter!

  21. CJ, you're so funny! I always want to do those kind of National Trust type egg hunts but maybe it's better to go on a quieter day...oh, the endless queuing we have to do in those places, the endless trips to the toilet. You bore it all very well. I hope you all had a happy day and I bet you had three happy boys, full of fresh air, culture, chocolate and good memories. x

  22. I think after a day like that I would have needed a lie down in a dark room xxx happy Easter x

  23. That is so funny - I wonder how many of us can relate to your story? I bet the children had a great time!

  24. Brilliant post, you do make me smile! A great day out with chocolate at the end, I hope they let you have some?

  25. We love visiting places like that when they have a historical day with displays, the problem is that so many other people enjoy it as well ;-)! Though these days my boys cannot be dragged inside a historical house any more... maybe if the reward was an Easter egg...
    Hope you got some good chocolate as a reward!

  26. This is just hilarious! I loved reading every word, and of course looking at your gorgeous photos. I would have required a good stiff drink after that.
    Have a lovely week.

  27. A brilliant post! I enjoyed coming along with you on your day out :). We go to Tyntesfield a LOT. (Husband has life membership of NT, very useful!) I must say that I'm more than pleased that we didn't go there on this day, I would have hated all those crowds. Your pictures are gorgeous, it looks like you all had a lovely day. x x

  28. (My comment just disappeared mid-type, CJ, so apologies if you have double comments from me!) I had a real sense of being rushed along through your day when reading this CJ - wonderfully written and I could empathise with every step from the heavy picnic basket (Sod's Law says the further you have to carry the food, the greater the amount needed, unless you're my sister who always manages to whip up a round of cheese rolls and makes do) right through to weaponry tactics and lurking nervously outside the men's loo! (I always used to call out to my son so everyone would know he wasn't on his own!!) I think the Nat Trust should give free return tickets to the mums that want to go back and look at the gardens when it's a bit quieter; you would certainly have earned such a treat! Glad you had such a lovely day! C x

  29. A wonderful post you made me chuckle throughout so much you describe is familiar!! At least you can share those 57 Yew trees with us. I'm glad you completed the quest of the 3 chocolate eggs despite all the hurdles along the way! Sarah x

  30. Love it. Been there, done that, got the tshirt. Would it surprise you to know that when the day comes when an Easter egg hunt no longer supercharges the boys (and it comes sooner than you like) you will miss every bit of the day out? Even the toilet loitering is a memory to cherish!