“ Welbeck / Worksop / Nottinghamshire / S80 3LT / England „
The Dukeries was a district in the county of Nottinghamshire south of the town of Worksop, which was so called because it used to contain five ducal residences in proximity to one another. Including Welbeck Abbey, the principal seat of the Dukes of Portland which is where The Dukeries Garden Centre in situated, within the abbeys grounds. This grand venue begins to gives you the faintest flavour of my favourite shopping venue of all time. As you pull into the driveway and car park you can only see a tiny part of the complex which includes, an art gallery, a restaurant, a cafe, a sports equipment store (hiking and camping rather than basketball and skiing). My first visit had me entirely sold, I was greeted first of all by a huge chunk of gothic looking stone, the remaining part of a gothic folly - for sale, in this part at least for just £1,200. If only I had somewhere to put it. Inside the doors was a Christmas display with cute scenes of penguins and polar bears for kids and then on entry to the main store a darkened grotto lay ahead with a singing moose head mounted above it. Inside the darkness is a glorious multitude of coloured lights and illuminated seasonal fixings. Some loud and bright some subtle and muted but all very Christmassy. Following through you come into the most amazing and award winning Christmas displays ever, there is a tree and accompanying decorations to suit everyone. From wildlife haven covered in realistic robins and wise owls, to cheeky squirrels and hopping birds, all giving the overwhelming impression of nature being at its most impressive. A baby's first Christmas tree, with tiny pink or blue decorations, ideal for the perfect nursery. A dazzling eastern tree with hues reminiscent of sunsets in exotic climes, strangely seasonal all the same. A decadent boudoir tree, all feathers, gold and froth, better suited to the private parlour of a 1940's flapper than our modern environs so entirely luxurious and beautiful. A gothic tree, elegant chandeliers, gold edged mirrors and delicate pendulous strands of metallicized glass and glistening black baubles.. If you can conceive of the idea, they probably have it along with many more besides and all so beautifully displayed. It makes me want a tree in every room. The decorations can be pricey with some baubles at around £4 each, though there are plenty around £2, still, it was worth it. I'll be using them for a long time to come. There are foods available all year though the Christmas selection is especially fantastic, with flavoursome condiments and treats for the entire menu. I bought several preserves and pickles last year, each costing around £3 - £4 and they were worth every penny, each crammed with wonderful sophisticated flavours. The garden centre, if not at Christmas, sells the usual selections of plants, trees, shrubs and garden ornaments within the original Victorian glasshouses. There's a wide variety of water features and all the usual garden functional and decorative items, some exceptional and some run of the mill. You'll also find an extensive range of gardening accessories, furniture & barbecues, gift and lifestyle ranges. The Welbeck restaurant offers a selection of home cooked meals and cakes which I found to be quite respectable despite the usual smell of frying oil for chips. I bought sandwiches with vegetable crisps and generous slices of cake. It was a reasonable price for a tasty lunch. A great stop off, especially in winter when making the obligatory pilgrimage to the Christmas displays! There's a Yeomans to be found buried in a glasshouse en route to other areas, ideal for the camping and walking gear, especially for those in the vicinity of The Dukeries. If you happen to be within a reasonable, or even not so reasonable distance, I thoroughly recommend you go though it can be difficult to park as it becomes increasingly popular.
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