Happy Michaelmas! Don’t worry – we didn’t really know what it was either. It’s something to do with autumn and Saint Michael it turns out – thank you all-knowledgeable Wikipedia. But any excuse to check out an obscure festival and we’re happy. Although it did mean we both had the similar-sounding Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas stuck in our heads most of the day.
So, in Southampton there is the Norman Saint Michael’s church (circa 1070), something I hadn’t expected when what you normally see of Southampton is the industrial docks or the post-war mess of hastily erected tower blocks. Check out this one awesome specimen just minutes’ walk away:
Just off the square, filled with medievally people doing medievally stuff (of which Weasel was completely uninterested despite their cool costumes), is Tudor House and Gardens, which opens for free on Michaelmas weekend. Husband insisted it was boring from memories of being dragged around as a kid. Oh well, free is good and worth it even if it turned out crap.
Pram access: A little bit of a sore point. 2 different ladies tried to actually turn us away, quite rudely, saying they had already filled their 2 pram parking spaces. A little bit of advice to you – if you have a policy of only admitting 2 pushchairs, get people to collapse them to fit in more. They totally didn’t volunteer the fact that there was plenty of space to put them in the cafe just beyond or in the courtyard, where we came across plenty more. Thankfully there was a kind guy behind the counter who I’d asked in a last ditch attempt, who took pity and let us fold our pushchair (which being a Bee takes up at least half the space of any other anyways) and put it behind the counter.
You won’t be able to take it around the house, although could take it to the cafe at the back. Not that we tried it, but you would struggle with wheelchair access too as the lift was broken whilst we were there.
Changing: Very new facilities off the courtyard for all and a disabled, unisex baby changing loo.
Food on Site: The cafe did look really good, although we didn’t pop in. I was still fuming at seeing the prams parked around it and we were quite late in the day, so wanted to see the place before it closed.
Price: Free on Michaelmas every year or £3.95 normally; so a pretty cheap day out.
Will your kid enjoy themselves? Well, Weasel would list the high points as: tunnels, old toys in a cabinet, a cross-section of a toy pirate ship (which she wasn’t allowed to touch), rails to swerve around down in King John’s Palace and the rocks in the herb garden. Low points: angry mummy about a pram, the ghost room at the beginning was a little scary with all the disembodied voices and not being able to touch anything in the house. There was an arts & crafts room next to the cafe which looked inviting, but with Weasel in a bit of a mood, we decided to avoid it. The gardens were definitely more of a hit than the house.
Best over-heard parent: (to a 7 year old boy throwing rocks at the people below)”Oh why can’t you be more like a girl!!!”
Verdict: Definitely worth a go, especially when free. Fight your corner with the pushchair parking; they need to understand that it’s unreasonable to turn you away just because you can’t carry your kid all around town.