Sunday 15 February 2015

Ashridge Estate

I was drawn to the Ashridge Estate because they sell ice-cream for dogs. I don't have a dog but the fact that someone has dreamt up ice-cream for dogs and the National Trust has decided to sell it is very reassuring in this turbulent world.

Anyway, I doubt that many dogs were queuing up for ice-cream today as it's February. I didn't care - for the first time in my career as a National Trust member I had remembered to bring my wellies. This meant that for the first time in my career as a National Trust member I wasn't THAT woman - the one clinging to a tree and shrieking "it's all muddy Pete!" while wearing wholly inappropriate shoes. Yes, you've probably seen me. 

Anyway. Here's a picture of Ashridge - it's the only one I took, unfortunately:

Ashridge Estate National Trust

And here are some facts about Ashridge for you:
  • There have been settlements at Ashridge since prehistoric times
  • A monastery was founded at Ashridge around 1283, although it was dissolved in 1539
  • Elizabeth I spent quite a bit of time at Ashridge as a girl - she was arrested there in 1552 on the orders of her sister, Queen Mary
  • The estate fell into the hands of the Egertons in 1604
  • Francis Egerton (the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater) was known as the "Canal Duke" as he built the first true canal in England
  • The Bridgewater Monument was built to celebrate his achievements - it's still there and you can go up it (but not until April)
  • Ashridge House was built in the early 1800s in the Gothic style - it's now a business school and not owned by the National Trust
  • The Brownlows took over ownership in the 1850s until the 1920s
  • Ashridge is massive - the woods stretch over 2,965 acres

Ashridge has also been used as a location for many films - Maleficent and Into The Woods to name just two.

The Ashridge scone
Talking of films: have you ever seen the film Teen Wolf? It's about a boy (Michael J Fox) who turns into a wolf - that's all you need to know. Anyway, there's a scene in the film, unless I have made this up, where he turns up at school as a wolf and the camera shows you the faces of the other students, all spilling their hot dogs and dropping their jaws in slow motion disbelief as he passes.

Well, today that EXACT thing happened to me at Ashridge as I carried this scone to my seat. A woman did actually say the words "Oh my God" as I passed:

Ashridge Estate scone

And you can see why: it's ginormous and it looks more like a burger. 

There is a good reason why the scones are so unusual: the tearoom at Ashridge is outside. It's large - there's plenty of seating and some of it is under cover - but the food is ordered at a window. I've mentioned before that a cream tea really isn't the easiest food to do as a takeaway, so I take my hat off to Ashridge for finding a way to do it. Amazing work.

I also found out afterwards that the food at Ashridge is actually an "NT approved concession", which I think means that someone else is making the scones. But whoever it is: jolly well done to you. If I ever get stuck on a desert island, I'd want you with me.

Ashridge for people: 4 out of 5
Ashridge if you're a dog: 8,000,000 out of 5
Scone: 3.5 out of 5

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