You know when you really feel the need to escape? And you know when sometimes your non-moveable work schedules just happen to match up perfectly for some time away, but you don't realise until the day before you decide to go away...? You know that? Well. That.
Our jobs determine our work schedules and annual leave, meaning we struggle for quality family time together.
Three days into the last half term, we noticed we had 9 days off together in a row. Half an hour later and we'd booked a "mini break" in a wooden wigwam. Romantic, eh? Spontaneous, you might say.
Well, we didn't think, we didn't research, we weren't prepared, we didn't pack well, we didn't bring any food or relevant baby supplies and we didn't realise there'd be NO TELLY! Doom. A mini-break filled with Doom.
Not quite. Just look at this delightful little getaway.
|Badger's Holt - our home for the next few days.|
|Our front porch for the next few days.|
|Our morning view for the next few days.|
|Stanley's little play den for the next few days.|
It wasn't an ideal location and Stanley was a little cooped up in the wigwam because of the weather, but with everything being dinky and low level, he got to play "house" like an adult. We loved watching him learn new tricks like turning on the microwave and opening the fridge and generally being a mini person.
The wigwam was on some grounds on a farm near Spalding. I'd put a call out on my instagram feed asking for visitor tips in the Spalding area. Cue tumbleweed and the odd joke of "NOTHING".
Actually, Spalding people, you have some lovely cafes and some secret hide-outs that we enjoyed as a family.
|While Stanley slept, we had a proper HOT chocolate and massive fry up in The Loft|
Spalding was a cute little place to walk around. There are so many charity shops, so we had a field day making sure we went in every single one. We even took trips back to the car with our bags weighing us down.
All the shops were proud owners of some spectacular hanging baskets. We were a bit envious.
|We kept stumbling across some pretty little buildings that were keeping true to the history of the place and their trade.|
Trudging through grey rainy days, discovering that vintage and antiques shops are closed, is often how our mini-breaks end up. Throw a whinging toddler in the mix; it's no fun at all.
Sometimes, though, it all becomes worth it when you stumble across a hidden gem in the form of Spalding Antiques.
The building is rather odd, in that it's a building trapped inside another building, so there's a shop front, then a car park, then the old shop front behind that. I guess the mystery of this place is it's true glory.
|The old trapped shop front. It's beautiful.|
|The car park which is used to store some cute larger furniture|
|And the WOW gasp entrance. Treasure. Lots of it.|
This really was a hidden gem, with a glorious old boy behind the counter, happy to chat and answer questions. He kept Stanley entertained while we shopped around. We chatted about the future of Scunthorpe Steel Works and the "good old days" of the trade and hard working men. We were proud of Scunthorpe for a few moments as we big chatted about the history of the town.
While Mr P spoke with this kind gentleman, I snook around taking photos of things I wished we could bring home, all the while wondering what the smell was. It wasn't the typical second-hand shop smell of fusty glory and many-a-story type smell. It was acid and sour.
It was only on looking back at these photos that I noticed the old gent must sit all day smoking fag after fag. Those yellow walls are painted with white emulsion - he'd told us so while we were nattering. That thick yellow staining made us both giggle as we left. An old-school guy refusing to move on with modern policies. Even though we stank a bit it was a splendid trip into a time that many have forgotten, with an old gent who seemed often forgotten.
The rain really came down on our last day and we decided to seek shelter and lunch in a pub that we kept swooning over. Sunken floors, a thatched roof and some stunning signage.... the pub wasn't serving food that day and we couldn't really hang around too long with a hungry whiny toddler. Luckily we met a very kind couple who advised us to walk up the road to Ayscoughee Hall. We'd seen signs but hadn't realised how close this striking and beautiful venue was.
|Ayscoughfee was easy to find, being less than a minute's walk and having this fantastic frontage|
|Walking in, we kept looking up at the beautiful ceilings|
|...and happening across beautiful rooms. This splendid cabinet full of all the things we love... taxidermy, found objects, tatty books. We spent a lot of time swooning over the birds and creatures in this cabinet, it's a wonderful collection.|
|Some of the objects in the cabinet were found from the continual renovations on the grounds and building.|
Wandering through the hall, Stanley was pottering about, pointing and shouting at various things he was finding.
It was a great safe space for him to run around freely, discovering new things. Which actually drew our attention to things we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.
|Stanley thought these animals were dogdogs.|
Once the rain had calmed, staff recommended that we take Stan for a run around their famous gardens.
Ayscoughfee (pronounced Ay-Sco-Fee apparently) Hall was a lovely place to go as a family and really topped to trip off nicely.
I believe the term for our mini-break is currently called a "Staycation". Modern. We'll never be a family who gets away to far flung exotic places, but having the chance to discover this country's hidden gems is something we really enjoy. We are open to hearing of places to visit, so don't hesitate to get in touch with your recommendations!
This country has some tiny hidden gems that can go a bit forgotten by the local people. So, Spalding, next time an instagrammer asks what there is to do in your hometown... Wooden Wigwams and AyScoFee Hall are ace places to start!