We woke up on Saturday to grey skies and chilly temperatures and could have easily written the day off, but instead we decided to pack up some warm food and head off to Mottisfont for the first day of their Christmas trail.
We have done several trails at Mottisfont, including the Halloween trail in October, and last year’s beautifully done A Christmas Carol trail. We visit National Trust properties fairly regularly as we are members and have done a number of their trails at different properties, but the Mottisfont ones always deliver and never disappoint.
After togging up in warm clothes and welly boots, we headed to reception where we picked up a trail booklet for £1. The theme of this year’s Mottisfont Christmas trail is The Twelve Days of Christmas.
The partridge in a pear tree was the first to be found:
After checking our map we walked over the bridge (which was beautifully decorated with garlands) to find two turtle doves!
Next up, three french hens! These are so massive that Rosalie asked if she could ride one! We did a little french speaking, then headed up to the picnic benches.
Call us crazy, but we like to picnic even when it’s cold! We just pack warm food and drink. If you haven’t tried Herta frankfurters in a thermos flask then you need to. We also had hot chocolate, so were nicely warmed and ready to continue the trail.
In the garden we found four calling birds and five gold rings (where we sang very loudly!), then in the woods we had to help the geese find their eggs.
The seven swans a swimming were beautiful and probably my favourite installation of the trail.
To find the eight maids a milking we had to set off towards the house, where we found a stunning display of overflowing milk churns in the entrance to the tea room.
We were then invited into the house to seek out the nine ladies dancing. The drive to the main entrance was lined with lanterns and festive decorations.
The house was wonderfully dressed throughout all the rooms – there were Christmas trees, presents, festive displays, and even a little dressing up area for children to try on period party costumes. I’m not sure Lady Rosalie would have been allowed into the party with her puddle suit and welly boots on!
The table was set for the festivities too. I wish I could create such a stunning tablescape for my Christmas dinner, but perhaps we wouldn’t need quite such a large cake.
But the main event was still to come – the nine ladies dancing were gorgeous rotating dresses that are miniatures from various ballets. Rosalie was mesmerised.
The tree is also quite a spectacle, with presents as tall as Rosalie and enormous baubles.
After spending a little time enjoying the atmosphere in the house we went back outside to find ten lords a leaping in the stables. Every time we have visited Mottisfont they’ve had some form of craft activity for kids in the stables, and this time it was making leaping lords. They really do put in a lot of effort to make the day fun.
After making our leaping lords we took a break from the trail to enjoy the glorious autumn leaves – savouring the last of the season. There were some seriously epic piles of leaves, Rosalie was having a wonderful time being buried, throwing leaves, rolling and jumping around shouting “autumn fun!”. I think we can safely say that we have truly made the most of autumn this year.
I think Rosalie would have happily spent much longer playing in the leaves, but it was getting pretty chilly and we wanted to finish the trail before dark! So we strolled (or rolled in Rosalie’s case) over to the noisy musical area where we found eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming. A fun end to a brilliant trail.
Every element of the Twelve Days of Christmas trail at Mottisfont was beautifully crafted, I am really pleased we visited at the start of the season, before the elements took their toll. The artists and volunteers have really done a tremendous job in making Mottisfont a wonderful place to visit this Christmas, I felt so festive after our day!
I love these decorations made out of book pages which I spotted in the stables where we made our leaping lord:
If you do live in the Hampshire / Berkshire area then get on down to Mottisfont this December because The Twelve Days of Christmas trail really is a wonderful family day out.
Disclosure: I was not asked to write this glowing review of the Mottisfont trail, I just think it was an absolutely brilliant day out and they deserve lots of praise and support for the effort they put in to making the trail really spectacular.