2017 was nearing an end. We had a little bit of ‘Christmas money’ left over and were trying to think of where we could go for a nice, memorable day out to end the year.
Beaulieu had come up in conversation a few times in the past. I had been there when I was much younger (about 8) and knew I enjoyed it and wanted to go back and Jack has a big love of cars, so what’s a better place? The only thing was we thought Beaulieu and the New Forest area was hours away as that’s what it seems when you’re in the car as kid, but it turns out it isn’t at all so that’s how we decided.
The drive there was very painless and great weather for it (says the passenger). We booked our tickets online so when arriving the entry process was very quick and easy and the staff were really helpful.
With it being the end of the year it was actually really quiet, which was great because it means you don’t feel rushed by the people behind you when you’re looking round.
The first part we went into was the movie car display, where we were instantly faced with the light blue Ford Anglia that is seen flying above the scarlet steam train in the one and only HARRY POTTER. This definitely brought the fan girl out in me and a very promising start to the exhibition.
This was closely followed by the actual car Elvis Presley owned and drove the day before he died. I think it’s quite hard sometimes to get your head around things like that being real. It was so amazing and interesting to see and read about being a big Elvis fan.
They also had a car from James Bond, Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous film, Only Fools and Horse and Mr Bean which were all equally as cool to see.
We moved on to the Top Gear exhibition, this one was more for Jack because I’ve only really seen the odd episode but they had loads of the iconic creations from the shows and it ended with a little film at the end which was cool to watch.
The next part was the main attraction, The National Motor Museum. It started with showing the evolution of cars and then you began to walk round the exhibition. From there you walked round and saw the earliest motor carriages dating back to the 1800s to legendary F1 cars.
There’s a 1930s garage set up which is pretty cool to see with all the old logos and advertising. I just love all the vintage Shell designs and stuff. We also went on a ‘pod ride’ where you went round on a track with a speaker on the back on your pod explaining the evolution on cars as well as it occasionally spinning round and showing you through little displays that kind of reminded me of the small world ride in Disneyland, kind of? It was pretty cute anyway.
And not to forget we met the CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG!! Definite highlight of 2017.
After walking around the motor museum for a couple of hours we decided to give our feet a rest and jumped on the monorail that went around the top of the park including inside the motor museum. We got off on the other side to the Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and gardens.
Although with it being winter the gardens were pretty bare they were still stunning to look at, especially with their awesome Alice in Wonderland display and cute little animal figures. We walked through the Abbey Ruins and the Monastic Life Exhibition learning about the 13th Century English Abbey and the Cistercian Monks.
From there we walked over to the Palace House which even from the outside was stunning and as it was December it was still set up with all the amazing Christmas decorations. They had a Victorian Christmas set up with table all set for guests, roaring open fires in each room, different themed Christmas trees in each room, a nativity play and apple punch which was being served in the kitchen – which was delicious. It was so fascinating walking round and knowing that it is still used by the Montagu family for events and how amazing the condition of everything still is. Everywhere was so beautiful and interesting to look at.
After finishing up at the Palace House we got on to the open top bus and drove back to the entrance. The bus ride was definitely an experience and we thought we were going to get thrown over the top a couple of times but it was still fun. After about 4 hours of walking around we were ready to take our aching feet and head home but of course we went via the gift shop on the way out.
I’d definitely recommend visiting Beaulieu whether you’re interested in cars or not. It’s such a fascinating place to go to and the gardens are so beautiful. I’d like the go back in the summer and see it in full bloom.
Thanks Beaulieu, I’m sure we’ll be back.