This was a two-coach outing, depending on the participants' choices - either the single visit to the National Trust venue of Wakehurst Place for the whole day or going on after lunch to Quebec House, former home of General Wolfe.
Either way it was a horrible day and stayed that way until the later part of our return journey. Both coaches drove straight to Wakehurst Place in West Sussex using the M25 and A22 before turning off down the side roads. On arrival, we were checked in and given maps of the grounds.
The property had two restaurants, the first being by the reception, so we fortified ourselves with coffee before setting off to explore. Wakehurst Place is run in conjunction with Kew Gardens and looks after a massive seed bank. It was housed under a series of glass domes with a large display area of explanations, illustrations and photographs. Being a Saturday, there was nobody working in the glass-fronted laboratories but we were able to view the state-of-the-art equipment they used.
Most of the party then walked back up to the second restaurant adjoining the main building for an early lunch. Some of us included a look into the house during the visit but it was sparsely furnished and didn't seem to contain much of interest. By now, Paul’s coach had moved on to visit Quebec House, so those that opted to stay on had the place to themselves. There was some sort of public event under way at the bottom of the main lawn, with stalls, play areas and a live band but most chose to leave them to it and wander around the extensive grounds.
On a lovely warm, sunny day, this would have been an exhilarating experience but the awful weather rather took the edge off it (although a few brave souls managed to walk all round the perimeter of the grounds), so much so that Jackie sent a message round to report to the coach half an hour earlier than the set time as most people had had enough by then. This was duly done and we set off home without any delays. A successful visit: pity about the weather!
Quebec House can only take one coach so Paul took a risk and ordered two coaches and set up the outing slips with two options. It paid off as 50 opted for Quebec House. The party split roughly into three with some visiting the House, some visiting the stable block and enjoyed tea/coffee in a cosy room. Another group upstairs watched a video. There was a small splinter group that visited the town of Westerham.
Quebec House is well worth a visit and contains artefacts belonging to Major Genera Wolfe. His success at the battle near Quebec was mainly due to detailed planning and ended the French rule of Canada. He died at the end of the battle aged 32, knowing he was victorious.