Before North Wales, A Return to Tudor Times

Tales, Trails and Tails. it's the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter and to commemorate it, the National Trust has planned activities at many of their historic sites. Today we followed a Beatrix Potter trail at Speke Hall in Liverpool and it was wonderful.

Speke Hall is an old Tudor house on the outside and Victorian on the inside. Docents in every room had interesting stories to share about the family and history of the house. Apparently it has priest holes. I had to confess I didn't know what this meant and they kindly explained it's a nine foot square room hidden in the walls of a house accessed through a laundry closet and down a narrow passageway behind the chimney. This where priests could hide during the Reformation.  Another curiosity was the number of copies of the painting Whistler's Mother. There was even a mannequin posed like the painting. It turns out the original owners of the house knew the Whistlers. 

The actual Beatrix Potter Trail wove in and out of the house. Inside the house children were guided to search for Hunca Munca's baby mice in the parlor, or four cheeky mice in the kitchen where knitted mice were tucked behind a crock of flour. 

Outside, Mr. McGregor's garden was a vegetable gardener's dream. Rows of lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and parsley were carefully planted in rich soil with not a weed in sight. Mr. McGregor, a mannequin with a gray beard and spectacles, kept a watchful eye over the garden while children hunted for Peter's tiny slippers or the scarecrow made with Peter's knitted blue jacket.  Most wonderful were trees with knitted pears and apples hanging from them while knitted birds and squirrels peered down from the trees. A trellis was covered with knitted flowers and butterflies. We learned the original purpose of a trellis was to hide old worn out brick walls.  

Tonight we are in Conwy in North Wales. It's a seaside town surrounded by old 13th century stone walls with a castle at the water's edge. We took a walking tour using our Rick Steves' guide and ended up at the harbor where there was a holiday vibe. I love the sound of seagulls at the ocean. Families sat on benches eating fish and chips out of styrofoam containers. It's very old world. There's ice cream for sale but no carnival rides. It's a family friendly place and just about as "back door" an experience you will ever find.


Popular Posts