We arrived into Woodstock just as darkness began to descend. My sister and I were amazed to find how close we were to Blenheim Palace, having passed the large decorative gates on our way.
Having chosen to eat at the Feathers Hotel on our second night, we headed out to Woodstock to find somewhere to eat. There are many bars and eateries to choose from, but we plumped for the Woodstock Arms, a short step away, right next door to our hotel in fact. The place looked very festive, all Christmas trees and fairy lights! The bar and restaurant area were very busy, but we managed to get the last table for dinner. Here we found fabulous food, helpful staff and a really buzzy atmosphere with couples and family groups all enjoying a night out.
After dinner, we took our wine to the bar area so that we could benefit from the lovely log fire and the informal seating.
On the first morning of our stay, we found out that we could get discounted tickets at The Feathers to get into Blenheim Palace, so we purchased two and headed off. I have to say a visit here is not to be missed, especially as it is right on the doorstep – no need to take the car.
We spent part of the time wandering the corridors of the vast palace, utilising the Palace App for the audio commentary. Churchill, who was born here, features heavily of course, but there was plenty to see including the state rooms and various collections.
Having wandered round inside, we decided to check out the gardens. Maps in hand, we were determined to see as much as possible. We walked around for hours, taking in the many different aspects of the park: there are formal and informal gardens to explore. We found ourselves walking near the lake and saw they were preparing the grounds for the Christmas show starting on the 25th November (it was only the 22nd). Feeling a little disappointed that we would miss this, as the afternoon drew on, we noticed some of the lights being tested. So, we walked around again and, even though it was not quite dark, we could see how magical it would be for visitors coming later in the week. Once again, all the staff and guides that we spoke to were really helpful. Keep hold of your tickets for the duration of your visit though as we had to show them several times as we moved from the palace to the garden.
Eventually we dragged ourselves away, popping into the Bear Hotel on our way back for a relaxing drink in the cosy bar, warming ourselves by the lovely open fire.
After breakfast on our last day, we went for a walk around Woodstock. We found a lovely but bustling county town, with independent shops, antique shops and a bookshop, bakeries and cafés running alongside a post office, chemists, newsagents and a small supermarket. AIthough the town itself is quite small, there was plenty to see and shops to browse. It felt lived in, rather than just somewhere for tourists to visit and then go home.
We would love to go back to Woodstock, and to Blenheim – hopefully when the Christmas decorations are up, and they have switched on the Christmas lights in the palace.