By Celia Kellua H0LIDAYS are upon us towns"women. Country women have holidays around them.
To take the family into the country from any central London district is an expense. It is not undertaken lightly. But it would be a dull family who never went anywhere.
Let me say right from the beginning that I can't see any delight in taking really small children out for an excursion, whatever the nature of the excursion.
Time drags for the baby who can't find any amusement in travelling nd who merely wonders why he is jogged about so much. And any garden is as good as a park to him and any sandpit as good as the shores of the ocean. So I firmly refuse to plan an outing for infants.
But when it comes to a family of mixed school ages upwards there is great pleasure and a refuge from the worst summer weather in setting out to see Over something.
Among the most interesting things to see now are England's country houses-once full of a life of splendour which does not exist any more, and now open to everyone to show the furniture. the china and the pictures with which that life was lived.
was done-all these things can be fascinating.
Then the fact that these houses were huilt to the designs of our greatest architects makes them, in their park settings, pictures of the highest kind of gracious living at its best, taste without ostentation, and without luxury.
For you, perhaps the house itself will offer the greatest and most human attractions; for the children, probably the gardens, alternating between the formal. cultivated parts where gardening husbands browse and collect names for next year's pleating, and wild parkland tit for hide and seek and even cricket or rounders, sometimes.
Touch of history LONDON Transport has a folder describing the routes to many of these houses within striking distance of the centre of London. Here are a few: Hatfield HOUND (Herts) : The Marquess of Salisbury lives there. Much of it is Tudor. Queen Elizabeth I has left behind from her visit a straw hat and a pair of silk stockings.
Knole (Kent) : Home of the Sackvilles. Jacobean, built on a fantasy whereby chimney-pots, staircases, windows, etc., are each related in number to a measurement of time. e.g., 12 staircases for the 12 months of the year.
Luton Hoo (Beds) : Sir Harold Wernher lives there. Adam built the house and "Capability" Brown designed the park. Wonderful ivories and other art treasures.
Polesden Lacy (Surrey) : Small regency house once occupied by Sheridan and later by Edwardian society, Very domestic indeed and very family. Photographs stand about and chairs begin to be easy again.
West Wycombe Park (Bucks) : Eighteenth-century home of the "Ilell Fire Club," with a fascinating church on the hill complete with a mausoleum reminiscent of a setting for "Ruddigore."
Albury Park (Surrey) : One of the Duke of Northumberland's houses. John Evelyn, diarist, laid out the garden with a fine terrace, yew walk and tunnel. Interesting paintings and pottery.
Other towns in England are also surrounded by such romantic and historical houses. Their names and details about opening hours can be obtained from the National Trust, or from almost any local travel agency. I believe, whatever the weather, and whatever the interests of the family, it is possible to enjoy a day spent re-living the past in one such delightful setting.