Last Friday, the stars aligned and my husband had the day off work during a school day. We did not want to squander such a rare opportunity, but we also had to keep our outing within certain guidelines.
Find somewhere to go within an hour of the elementary school (due to COVID rules, a parent has to be able to pick up their child within a short window of time if called) and keep the excursion within the limits of school drop-off/school pick-up times.
That gave the two of us a five hour window.
Because I like to keep activities as inexpensive as possible, visiting an English Heritage Site seemed like the most logical choice. We are members, so it costs us nothing, plus it utilizes the service we enrolled in nine months ago.
With the what decided upon, I was left with the where.
If you and your significant other are anything like me and my husband, your dates revolve around food. Where are we going to eat? How much are we going to order? And thanks to COVID, I am still uncomfortable eating in restaurants. Honestly, I am not thrilled about eating takeaway, either, but after four months of cooking for tiny humans, you relent to a delivery pizza occasionally.
A favorite British restaurant of ours, Wagamama, is close to 40 minutes away, presenting us with two choices. Bring the food home or collect the food and eat in the minivan. And I don’t know about you, but the idea of paying the pound conversion fee and watching as my four year old spills soy sauce all over the floorboards does not sound like an enjoyable dining out experience.
Which means my husband and I have forgone the restaurant since restrictions began in March. Leaving us both craving some yaki soba and donburi and realizing that a date day out is the perfect opportunity to satisfy that urge.
So, like all respectable foodies, I went to the English Heritage Website and searched for an open site close to our lunch location.
Don’t all couples looking for fun plan their outings this way?
If not, then welcome to my family, where good food is the driving force of all our days.
For those planning some time out in Cambridgeshire, I chose the Wagamama in Rushden Lakes. It has ample free parking, a stand alone building, and the most direct route.
And approximately twenty five minutes away from Rushden is Kirby Hall.
Admission to the Hall without a membership is 9.00 pounds per adult, bringing our savings with the membership card up to a grand total of 119.50 pounds (154.48 dollars).
Open in late 2020 is the Great Hall and the formal gardens, with a face mask being required inside the building.
An Elizabethan and 17th Century house, the area was once owned by Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, that is all I can tell you about the site. I was told later that the audioguide explained in detail why the site is historically important. The guide is currently unavailable, though, because of the pandemic. Meaning for me and my husband, we just had to perform a brief walkthrough of the interior rooms without any knowledge.
One room on the tour did stand out above the rest. It was formerly called the Red Room (because of red wallpaper that’s no longer there) and used to be a bedroom. I found the layout to be gorgeous, and it was one of the few times I have wished I could have someplace similar in my own house.
Just imagine, a roaring fire warming up a four poster bed, the morning sun hitting the azure of the wallpaper, sitting in front of all those windows, looking out on the gardens styled with pinpoint precision.
The English knew how to run a home, I’ll say that.
Since it was a Friday morning, my husband and I had the place entirely to ourselves. What’s better than going someplace without kids? Going someplace without anybody. We were free to take pictures, sit and relax, and enjoy the grounds to our hearts’ content. The local residents even came by to say hello.
I can’t go anywhere without finding a bird to photograph.
Kirby Hall took no more than half an hour to explore, but we stretched it to an hour. Finishing up, I hopped on Wagamama’s website, ordered our food, and it was ready to be collected by the time we made the drive over to Rushden.
The two of us made the call to eat in the car, and it was a good decision. We listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, swapped dishes, and talked. We all want time away from the kids so we can communicate with our partner uninterrupted. By arranging this date, we not only got to create a shared experience together, it did not cost us a lot of money in the process.
If Fate is kind enough to grant you a day with someone you love and you are in the Cambridgeshire area, I highly recommend you both put on your favorite album, visit Kirby Hall, then have lunch at Rushden Lakes. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s worth the time.
Now, if you follow this plan and your kid hops in the car after school and demands, “You and Dad had fun today, didn’t you?” don’t look to me for help. The smell of Udon noodles initiated a third degree interrogation from our son, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Because there’s nothing like enjoying a day out in England with my spouse.