I know I just said I was falling down the Olympic rabbit hole and not coming up for air, but this is a PSA that must be shared. If you are living in driving range of Blenheim Palace (Day Out: Blenheim Palace) they are doing something so cool for the London 2012 Olympics: the Olympic Outdoor Cinema in the Garden.
When my kids made faces one morning at my original plans for the day (“What are we doing today, Mommy?” “Watching the Olympics.” “BUT MOM, WE’VE BEEN WATCHING THE OLYMPICS NON-STOP FOR THREE DAYS!”) — I knew I needed to shake things up. So I suggested a trip to Blenheim, one of my and their favorite places. The new visitors centre and “Oxford Pantry” is now open, and beautiful:
We walked parts of the gardens we hadn’t seen together before:
There was a small burst of rain as we wandered the water gardens, which left behind some droplets in the rose garden:
Oh, how about another rose, you know I can’t resist a rosy close-up
The sun perked up as we passed a temple to Artemis — where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife.
The cascade makes a gorgeous roaring sound:
Oh, the weather was glorious!
I could have run up and down this hill yelling “SUN! SUN! SUN!” But I kept it together. For the sake of the children.
The Secret Garden was a fun treat.
This is where my hidden plan started to come in to play — our train ride to the pleasure gardens, where the kids knew we would find a playground and I knew we would find:
THE OLYMPIC JUMBOTRON! To the left? A Champagne Bar. Yeah, that’s right
It was the best of everything. In between sports action, we could take breaks and:
See the butterflies in the Butterfly House. And:
Explore the Bygone Days exhibit — this is the potting shed. And:
A wooden I, Robot? I dunno, but it looks very cool. And:
Run through the playground and maze
. With all the activities around, we were able to hang out on the lawn and watch plenty of Olympic sports all day — I even found a cider
It tasted like apples, had a light fizziness, and there was no undertone of sadness and betrayal. Yes
Other families came and went during the day. The grill (slightly off photo to the left) served up fantastic burgers (really!), and the garden cafe served tea and cakes (note teacup in lower left corner). Other families brought blankets and complicated picnics — or plastic bags filled with foods from the Woodstock Co-op — or just hung out on the lawn like us.
The outdoor “cinema” is open while the Olympics are on, and while the gardens close at 6pm the cinema remains open until 10pm. Entry is free if you have a yearly member pass, or for a relatively low entry fee (which is reduced for entry after 5pm). The food is not cheap — about 7 pounds for a cheeseburger — but it is good and freshly prepared. If we go back (I hope we will!) we’ll bring a picnic and a big blanket and expect to while away another day with a perfect mix of kid-friendly and Olympic-addict activities.