Today, a planned day out with David and Valerie to the National Memorial Arboretum.
It was a return visit for David and Valerie, but it was our first! Thank goodness then, that the rain has stopped, as a month’s worth fell in a day yesterday over the UK! (although it did belt it down briefly on more than one occasion during our journey there).
It was pretty straightforward to get there, located north-east of Lichfield, Staffordshire, and about a 85-minute drive for us. We arrived just before 11am and thankfully, the Sun was out – and that’s how it stayed! 😀🌞
On its website, the Arboretum is described as:-
“The UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in our country”.
More specifically, The 150-acre site is a maturing woodland area, featuring over 30,000 trees and a vast collection of Memorials. It was originally opened in 2001, but had a massive refurbishment (courtesy of the National Lottery) that was completed back in March 2017, when the Arboretum’s new award-winning Remembrance Centre was officially unveiled by the Duke of Cambridge.
First impressions did not disappoint – airy and spacious, and it certainly lived up to its 150-acre size! It felt massive – but also intimate at the same time – with memorials to hundreds of individual/associations/organisations and regiments all in their own individually designed spaces.
What to do first? There’s a lot to cover and impossible to see everything in a single visit. Thoughtfully, to ensure that visitors got the most from their time here, there were guided-walks, buggy-rides and a Road-train too! Or, you are free to just wander around, if you prefer. Entry is free, but you pay for anything organised.
We all agreed that the Buggy-ride was to be our first stop. Steve, our driver/commentator did a superb job in explaining in great detail, the Memorials on the route (we reckon only about 20-25% of the total).
The whole area was immaculately clean too!
Our Buggy-tour lasted just under an hour which led perfectly to lunch-time! The Restaurant turned out to be excellent too! Spacious, with a sensible menu at sensible prices! All vegetables were free (which was a pleasant surprise).
After lunch, we split into our matrimonial pairs and did our own thing. Ann and I headed for the Road-Train. There was only a slight overlap between the memorials covered on our initial Buggy-trip, but we were soon seeing the other 80% of the site.
Again, there was plenty to see. Although the Road-Train was a bit slow for us, at least it gave us the opportunity to ‘hop-off’ at strategic points (but note, no hopping back ON!).
We hopped off at (for us) the star of the site: The Armed Forces Memorial.
Probably the largest Memorial I’ve ever seen in this country, it honours those members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) who were killed on duty or died while deployed on operations or as a result of terrorist action.
Wow! This left a lasting impression! After this, we were all ‘memorialed-out’ and we finished our visit with a cuppa and cake back in our foursome!
David continued his chauffeuring for the day and we were home inside 90 minutes. I feel a return visit for us before too long, in order to look at some of the Memorials in more detail.
An excellent day! 👍👍👍👍👍
Blogging since 2004, about the significant people, places, sights and sounds of my world. Now dabbling with retirement! 👍😁