Mention stately homes - what memories do they bring? Happy days with friends and families, exploring the fascinating places of interest?
(Not according to Mumsnet - there is a eye-opening series of threads about toxic parents called "But we took you to stately homes..." - if you have a spare hour or two, it is quite a
Thankfully for me stately homes bring only positive associations and beautiful memories of dear friends. I arrived to the UK as a young student all those years ago, and was "adopted" by several British and American friends who became my close family here. Among many other things, they took me around the country on trips to palaces and stately homes.
I remember picking raspberries at pick-your-own at Buscot Park, admiring the most wonderful arts and crafts at Kelmscott Manor, oohing and aahing at the amazing gardens in Sudeley Castle etc.
Those dear friends of mine are gone now, but memories remain...
Why am I going all nostalgic about stately homes? I was recently working on a colourful 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger's range Days Out No.1 - The Stately Home.
This is the first in a series of puzzles, depicting lovely days out, and families and friends enjoying their time together.
The puzzle shows a typical stately home, and everything it has to offer.
The family depicted in the foreground has a laugh together and enjoys a picnic. They reminded me of the picnics by the lake at the Blenheim palace, where I used to work as a palace assistant years ago.
They are well-prepared for their picnic, just look at the size of that pitcher!
There are inevitable ducks (or dreadful geese in the Blenheim park) which are very much interested in the picnic and all it has to offer.
An amateur photographer is admiring a vintage car.
An elderly grandpa offers his granddaughter a pair of binoculars. Rather than look at the marvellous display of kites and aeroplanes over the lake, the little girl looks elsewhere, maybe at the migrating birds above the manor house.
The stately home itself is a beautiful work of architecture, elegant and imposing. Imagine which stories it could tell about its owners.
The lake is busy with boats. There are so many details to discover in the puzzle. This bright cheerful scene was created for Ravensburger by the artist Andy Walker.
The finished jigsaw measures 70x50cm. It's suitable for ages 12+.
Like all Ravensburger puzzles, The Stately Home is made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish to minimise glare on the puzzle iage.
This joyful cheery puzzle will make a great gift for any jigsaw puzzle fan.
Disclosure: I received the puzzle for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are my own.