Easter Day can be a bit deadly if you're not particularly religious - everywhere shuts and there aren't even any Christmas presents to open. The last couple of years we've been badly caught out, deciding to go somewhere only to be greeted by locked gates or car parks with their barriers down. So this year we prepared a little better, and came up with a shortlist of local places to choose from. On Sunday, we picked one at random and popped out for the afternoon to Coughton Court. It's a spectacular Elizabethan manor house, owned by the National Trust, which we hadn't visited for years. In fact, the last time we went I'd been seriously ill and was creeping round like an elderly sloth. We thought it would be nice to see it properly and enjoy it more.
If only it had worked out like that. Of course, National Trust properties are pretty much the only places open on Easter Sunday, so half the West Midlands had descended on the place. We got one of the last overspill parking spaces (muddy field, glad of the 4x4), then had to queue for ten minutes in a draughty shed for a 'ticket' even though we're members. Then they told us there was an hour and a half wait to get into the house. That's fine, we said. We'll find something to do while we wait. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. The shop was packed, the second hand book stall was packed, the restaurant was so packed people were practically sitting on each other's laps, and the only other thing to do was walk round the gardens and grounds. In a temperature of 3 degrees celsius.
We tried, we really did. We went all round the garden twice, then found a woodland walk and a riverside walk and plodded along those, then went in the little estate church. And there was still over an hour to kill, and we were frozen to the marrow and a bit fed up. There wasn't even much to look at in the garden because all the plants are so far behind. So I'm afraid we told the staff we'd had an urgent phone call, surrendered our tickets, got back in the car and came home again. So much for Easter Sunday out. Next year I think we'll give up and go abroad!