It’s almost unreal, isn’t it? You cannot imagine the delight I shared on Good Friday. A planned expedition to Preston Park did not start out well. Why, oh why, had I not factored in Bank Holiday crowds and full to bulging roads on this warm Spring day? It almost sabotaged my plans.
But, not quite! My daughter learned to drive just a few years ago, and is not familiar with the roads in the area. I am a self-confessed terrible navigator. A winning combination, with no Sat Nav? Not really, but we managed somehow. As we crept along in dense traffic towards the gates of Preston Park Museum, my heart was in my mouth. So many cars were turning in to the park. Were we even going to be admitted, or find parking? I had never seen this volume of traffic!
We were almost shrugged in, with a ‘You might find a space. You’re welcome to look’. Even the overflow parking had overflown! It transpired that the miniature steam railway had opened for Easter, and everyone in the north east knew about this, except me. But we were meant to be there. As we crawled around the parking areas a space presented itself, in the nick of time. Heaving huge sighs of relief, we got out of the car, and headed away from the crowds, down to the serenity of the river.
A peaceful stroll along the boardwalk, in gentle Spring sunshine, soon restored our equilibrium. Hearing the soft puttering of an engine, I was delighted to see the Teesside Princess rounding the bend. No passengers. She must have been on her way to an engagement.
There was no shortage of eager dog walkers, and a few children, along the path, but there was space to breathe. Most people had gone to the main event. We exchanged smiles and greetings and patiently examined the verges, collating evidence of Spring.
Suitably calmed after our ordeal, it was, of course, time for tea. There is a beautifully ornamental conservatory attached to the museum, where once you could take tea in complete refinement. Sadly this is now reserved for private engagements, but I knew that we could still get a cuppa in the Victorian tearooms. We weren’t the only ones to have this idea, so peace and quiet it was not. But still a fun place to sit outside, watching the children attempting to bowl Victorian hoops, and down a skittle or two. The spice cake disappeared very rapidly!
Well fortified, it was time to venture further. Leo is perfecting his blacksmith skills and was interested to see the large forge. Tools and ironware weighed down the walls, but the forge itself was not in operation. On quieter days, I have spent time in the Victorian shops chatting to the assistants, but the museum was obviously at full stretch today. A sign announced discreetly that if you found a store unattended it was due to the lack of volunteers. I wished that I lived a little closer, so that I might.
An enviable array of beautiful and fascinating objects are to be found in the museum, and we had a brief look around. You may remember this post from last year, when I showed you inside. Today we had a different agenda, but first I couldn’t resist a peep at the Egg Exhibition. One of the reasons the museum was so busy was the Easter Egg trail. Laid throughout, the vibrant eggs sitting in the display cases, a magnet for small eyes.
An ‘eggshibition’ from local schools was mounted in the grand hall. It raised a smile or two. Then it was back into the sunshine. Past the new skate park and the sky walk, both wildly popular with the youngsters, we approached our destination. Butterfly World. Closed November through February, the butterfly house had only reopened on 4th March, and I had no idea if there would be butterflies to see. Was I in for a treat!
Slipping cautiously through the plastic curtains, we had barely taken a few steps into the enclosure when the flutter of wings caught our eye. We gazed, and gasped! They were everywhere! The steamy heat enveloped us in a green world.
Their wings beating frenziedly, they clung to the flame-coloured flowers, extracting the nectar and flitting swiftly to the next. I was wearing a pink and black checked jacket, and rapidly I became a part of the attractions. Little girls with bows in their hair were easy targets too.
The tropical flowers, with their flamboyant hues, magnetised butterflies and humans alike. A waterfall splashed into a pond full of Koi. It was a completely magical experience, standing there as the butterflies swooped and glided all around us.
There was a good variety of butterflies, in every shape and size, but they moved so swiftly that many were hard to capture. A large species with vivid blue wings was particularly elusive, and a tiny one with completely diaphanous wings was simply a blur in my photos. I was so impressed with the experience that I would recommend it to anyone. We withdrew reluctantly when the heat became overwhelming.
Amazing, aren’t they? The Preston Park Museum website is full of information about the house and grounds, including a page dedicated to Butterfly World. I hope you have enjoyed my Easter special. We certainly did! Do you think Jude might like my Wildlife too?
Thanks everybody, for your company and your wonderful contributions to my walks. Anyone with a walk to share can join in, be it gentle potter or 20 mile hike. (now I’m getting carried away!) Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Just click on the logo above.
First stop- a beach with a view from Smidge. Do bring a jumper!
Tyninghame, East Lothian
Whizzing off to the other side of the world, and some fun sculptures next, with Ellen :
Going for a Walk : Auckland Botanic Gardens
Waiting to be awoken for the Summer season :
The sleeping fairy tale
St. Albans looks a really interesting spot. Must look up Debbie there one day!
A Roamin’ Walk through Roman St. Albans
Like to add to your vinyl collection? Lee Ann knows just the place :
Wellington- A stroll along Cuba Street
Fancy riding a funicular? Join Becky and she’ll show you the back streets of Lisbon :
Off the tourist track
My lovely friend, Gerry, has joined us this week! Please don’t miss this look at his home town :
Jackie’s back home in Toronto but can’t resist one lingering look back :
Monday Walk- Puerto Vallarta
I could be happy strolling on the Piazza Navona- couldn’t you?
What caught my eye in Rome- part 2
Please welcome another newcomer, Kathrin, with a fascinating museum walk :
San Jose Downtown
And a lady called Sim, who likes to walk the London Underground routes. That’s different, isn’t it?
Above Ground on the London Underground- Day 23 : So this is Knightsbridge?
Miriam’s walking away all the angst on the beach this week. Great idea!
Coastal walking – from wild to mild
Just a little inland but with wonderful views- join Susan for a gentle stroll!
Black Hill of Morro Bay
Murals with a message from Jill, and very beautiful so don’t miss!
Sea Walls in my hometown
That’s it for another week! Some great walks there to keep you busy. Looks like a very wet and dismal Easter Monday here, but I’ve still got great company and I really can’t complain. I don’t know if I dare suggest a walk though. After a mighty Sunday lunch yesterday we ventured as far as the local park. Bright sunshine turned to driving rain and hailstones! The ladies at Monday Escapes are out and about again this week, and maybe you’ll find some sunshine there. If you’d just like some smiles, have a look at Lany Poniedzialek (Wet Monday) in Poland. See you next week!