We are getting to that point in the summer holidays where I am ready for them to go back to school! After a day at home yesterday, I had to get them out of the house for my own sanity.

I love Stowe, but was probably not in the best mood this morning and I called my husband after I had loaded them all into the car with my complaints “I don’t know what I’m doing… I don’t even want to go…” one of them had sat on the seat belt buckle and was screaming the place down.

But I went anyway, and even after we were there it took them a while to calm down and behave well enough for me to stop nagging at them.

We had picked up the booklet for “50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4” on our way in, and tried to do a few while we were there. It’s nice to have something for the kids to focus on. We started on the Lake Walk and found 3 straight away: skimming stones, grass trumpet and picking blackberries.

Then we walked around the lake, the kids exploring in all the monuments along the way. Then we found a bridge and they wanted to play Pooh sticks to tick that off in their booklet. They each found a stick and dropped it in, but because the lake was so calm it took aaaaages to come out the other side. They watched the sticks through the slatted bridge. Oliver won, but because Max started a huge tantrum everyone tried saving the moment by saying “actually, I think that was Max’s stick”.

At one point I had to deal with the whole pushchair stress of who is going to walk next to me. I think parents of 4+ children will understand this. There are only 2 sides to the pushchair and 4 children who all want to be there and chat with me. You can’t make one go forward a little because the one behind will tread on their heels (on purpose but claim it was an accident), and if one steps aside even for a second then someone else will take their place. Always fun.

But by the time we were ready to leave Stowe, everyone had calmed down and they were all getting along. They were even giving each other piggy backs at one point and playing leapfrog.

waterfall at stowe gardens national trust

Max sat up here and said “take my photo” – don’t you think he chose the perfect spot for a picture? Beautiful.

And because we were all in such a good mood by the end of it, we finished with a scone in the cafe.

5 top tips for visiting Stowe

  1. Check the website for any events. They have regular toddler mornings, and crafts for children, and dog walking events.
  2. Bring your “50 Things to do before 11 and 3/4” booklet (or download the app). You can get a free booklet from the visitors centre. See how many you can do!
  3. Do some Geocaching! There are over 30 geocaches hidden around Stowe.
  4. Get the children to read the map. The monuments are pictured on the map so it is easier to identify where you are based on what you can see. Pick a monument and get the children to lead you there.
  5. Be prepared for a lot of walking. I have to admit that my daughter didn’t wear sensible shoes and had to hobble back to the car barefooted!

You can find more details about visiting Stowe on the National Trust website.

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