Shugborough, the National Trust property, formally the home of the Earl of Litchfield (Patrick, the famous photographer), was clearly signed from Stafford which is only 6 miles away making it easy to reach and has good parking failities. We walked to the entrance and paid our £12.00 (concession - worth being a pensioner after all) then walked through the Walled gardens, with numerous plants, flowers and traditionally grown vegetables, some in raised beds. The blacksmith hard at work was an impressive sight, demonstrating their craft in their "bothies". There were activities for children from meeting a large black rare breed sow who resides in the pen and in another area are a happy group of scarecrows, next to a pile of colourful fun clothes, waiting to be dressed up. A short walk took us to the craft shops which had glass blowers, woodturners, carpenters, candlemakers and then out to the shuttle train to the Mansion House which in a word is fabulous. So much history from Admiral Anson to the Litchfields, gorgeously decorated rooms and architecture. Very friendly guides were on hand to answer questions and gave an interesting account of some paintings and furnishings. We could have stayed for hours going from room to room, but decided since the sun was shining to explore the servants quarters and grounds. Fortified by delicious coffee from the Ladywalk Tearooms, we strode out to visit the follies, arboretum,gardens with lovely shrubs, the chinese house, cat monument, bridges and animals. we crossed the old bridge over the River Sow and watched families picnicing and children swimming in the river. We then made our way to the Canal and watched longboats making their sedate way through the locks, which are a feat of simple but effective engineering, on their journey up river. Finally tired but happy, we decided to walk back to our car, making use fo the excellent lavatory facilities before our long journey home to Gloucestershire. This is a brilliant family day out, and the ticket price is great value for money as one can spend the whole day and even take ones own picnic! Jan Long
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