Browsing Category

Days Out

Crafts, Days Out, Eating Out, Fashion, Food, Lifestyle, My weekly round up

My weekly round up with My Little Loves 12/08/17

weekly round up bracelets

My weekly round up

Well I have to apologise… it’s more like my two weekly round up (possibly verging on three!). Since the school holidays hit I’ve literally been on auto pilot and my feet have barely touched the floor. I’m exhausted to say the least. I’ve been juggling days out, working, the gym, volunteering, parenting, party planning and the odd bit of housework! So with all that going on I have to confess. Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat for the last couple of weeks.

So it’s been jam packed so far. We’ve had my husbands family come to stay for the first week. They travelled down from Scotland hoping for some sunshine sadly, all they got was rain! We soldiered on and went on plenty of days out braving the truly rubbish British weather! We still had a fantastic time.

Week 1

During the first week we visited the Fairies and Elves festival at Audley End Miniature Railway… it was a truly magical day. A ride on the train through the woods followed by lots of fun with the fairies, you can read about it here.

weekly round up audley end fairy and elf festival

We also got some more use from our Merlin Annual Passes and visited Chessington World of Adventures. The rain meant few queues so was great news for us! Read our review on the Merlin Annual pass here.

weekly round up eden at chessington

We were lucky enough to be invited to the Barbican Centre to meet ‘Buttons’ the animatronic Cadbury Cow. We had a life drawing class with illustrator Rose Blake and stuffed our faces full of chocolate! My kind of day! It was part of Cadbury’s ‘Adopt a Cow’ campaign. You can read more about it here.

weekly round up cadbury adopt a cow Buttons

I’ve also recently been invited to try out our local David Lloyd club, so have been making the most of it. It’s been brilliant taking Eden along to the kids club classes and I’ve been able to train with my husband in the gym. It’s really taken the pressure off childcare during the school holidays. We even tried out the squash courts and I managed to hit myself with the racquet! The bruise is still going strong after a week. ha ha. Read more about it here.

weekly round up david lloyd gymweekly round up david lloyd squash courtweekly round up david lloyd selfie collage

Read

Well I’ve recently been enjoying reading a new blog ‘whinge whinge wine’. Fran has been making me laugh out loud this week and choke on my coffee. Not forgetting her amusing Facebook posts… the Ta Ta towels were quite an eyeful! I love looking out for Fran’s posts!

Watched

I am volunteer befriender for Age UK and regularly visit a wonderful elderly lady called Beryl. She is 90 years young, just celebrated her birthday this week. We have a lovely bond and natter away for hours each visit putting the world to rights. During the school holidays I’ve taken Eden with me to meet her. Initially I was nervous that Eden might get bored or play up but she has made me very proud. It was so warming to watch the two of them together. Reading books, laughing, joking, colouring in and having a cuddle on the sofa. It was simply magical. Eden told me as we left ‘she is a very nice lady isn’t she mummy’ and I tend to agree with her!

Heard

About million questions every day from my almost 5 year old. My brain needs a rest! Enough said!

Wore

Well I think this adorable outfit with matching headband from Next has to be my ‘wore’ choice this week. I just loved Eden in this outfit with lemon leggings and matching cardi. I think she look so adorable. Doug my husband passed comment that she looked like a little washer woman! What does he know?!

weekly round up eden in next dressweekly round up eden in next dress and headband

Made

Eden made me the prettiest little friendship bracelet. She also made herself a matching one too. She used up all the heart charms on my one so didn’t have enough for her own! I love it, Eden can be so thoughtful, I will treasure it forever.

We also went on a Scrapbook Safari at Hylands House, set in the Park. Unfortunately it was in the rain so wasn’t a great time to see the grounds! But after getting soaking wet outside we got to go into Hylands House. Eden got to make scrapbook pages about the trail, this weeks theme was ‘under the sea’ and we made a cardboard fish. The least waterproof type of fish!

weekly round up Our friendship bracelets
weekly round up eden at hylands house nature trailweekly round up cardboard fish and scrapbook

Ate

We returned to one of my favourite afternoon tea spots, Camelia Hotel in Southend. We were thoroughly spoilt with the warmest, freshest scones straight out of the oven! Served with a huge cup of clotted cream, just as they should be! Read more about my favourite afternoon tea spots here.

weekly round up camelia hotel afternoon tea

And lastly

We have partied hard over the last few weeks. Many of Eden’s friends are turning 5 so we’ve been busy attending all the parties. Best is yet to come though as Eden’s will be next week! I cannot believe that my little pickle will be 5! That went by in the blink of an eye!
So next week I will be busy making the cake, balloon towers, card and a Playdoh surprise egg (oh god help me!). The last one took me about 4 hours… you can see Eden open her last one here! What am I thinking doing it again, I must be mad?! I’ll blog about it and let you know!

weekly round up eden and balloons

weekly round up party table and cakes

Thank you for reading ‘My weekly round up with My Little Loves 12/08/17’

Linking up with My Little loves

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat
Castles/Houses, Days Out, Outdoors, Unusual

Exploring Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden

Well I can’t actually believe I hadn’t heard about Lullingstone Castle & The World Gardens before. I have always visited old houses and castles since I were just a little girl. My love of them has continued to grow into my adult life. That is why I couldn’t understand why I had missed this little gem. It’s based in Kent so not too far to travel to from Essex. I will warn you now though it is slightly off the beaten track and not the easiest to find. Overlooking that, it is a wonderful place to visit.

Lullingstone Castle is one of the oldest family estates in England and has been home to the same family since the 15th Century. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays between 1st April and end of September and Sundays only in October. Please visit their website for exact opening times and dates prior to your visit. Entry is: Adults are £8, children £4 and under 5’s are free. There is also the option of a free guided tour of the house.

Lullingstone Castle Front Castle

Special Events

We visited Lullingstone Castle on a special event day, The Fire Engine Rally. It was a fantastic showcase of fire fighting history with engines and carts dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods to the present day. We were also lucky enough to see some of them in action. We watched a demonstration of the fire engines responding to a fire incident overlooking the lake. It was really exciting, the children and adults all seemed to really enjoy it. The Castle is host to various events throughout the year. Including the last day of the season where they hold their Halloween Magic special event.

Lullingstone Castle Gatehouse view

Lullingstone Castle house with fire engine

Lullingstone Castle fire engine rally

 

Our Visit

Lullingstone Castle is an enchanting place to visit with plenty to see and explore. Set within 120 acres of Kent countyside. You enter via the Gatehouse to a beautiful view of the house and St Boltolph’s Parish Church to one side. The house is stunning both inside and out and overlooks a picturesque view across the lake. Henry VIII and Queen Anne were once regular visitors at Lullingstone Castle and ‘Queen Anne’s Bathhouse’ and an 18th century ice house can be found within the grounds.

We started our day with refreshments in the Castle Marquee. They serve sandwiches, homemade soup, sausage rolls, cakes, drinks and ice creams. They had a basket of picnic blankets for you to help yourself so you can enjoy your food outside in the impressive grounds of the castle. It was such a nice and relaxing spot to sit down and eat lunch among the lovely flowers, taking in the view. The food and cake were all really yummy and on that particular day they also offered BBQ sausages in a bun so Eden was very happy!

Lullingstone Castle flower bed overlooking castle

Lullingstone Castle Marquee

Lullingstone Castle picnic blankets

The Castle

After looking around the fire engines and watching the demonstrations we ventured inside the house. As the house is still inhabited not all the rooms are open to the public. The rooms that are open are really beautiful, fully dressed with antique furniture, paintings and artifacts. You enter into the impressive Great Hall and upstairs are the state rooms where you even get to see Queen Anne’s bed.

Lullingstone Castle The great hall

The World Gardens

Tom Hart Dyke the current heir to the estate started his plans for the World Gardens in the year 2000 and they have grown since then. The Gardens take you on an adventure around the world with some interesting and unusual plants to see. Eden absolutely loved exploring the Garden. In particular we liked the Hot ‘n’ Spikey house with over 1000 varieties of Cacti, the beautiful Moroccon Blue Room and The Cloud Room. Whilst exploring the gardens look out for some wacky sculptures.

Lullingstone Castle the world garden

Lullingstone Castle eden exploring the gardens

Lullingstone Castle Cactii room

Lullingstone Castle Blue Moroccan room

Orchid Meadow and Woodland Walk

After the gardens we crossed the small wooden bridge into the Orchid Meadow and woodland walk. After a short walk we found a wonderful spot for a game of poo sticks on the river. It was such a picturesque spot too.

Lullingstone Castle woodland walk

Lullingstone Castle river

St Boltolphs Parish Church

Within the grounds of the estate is St Boltolph’s Parish Church which contains some of the oldest stained glass windows in England. I am always so fascinated by churches and although small, it was really interesting with the beautifully carved tomb of Sir John Peché d 1521. The church still holds regular congregations to this day.

Lullingstone Castle inside st boltolphs

We had such a lovely family day at Lullingstone Castle and World Gardens I thoroughly recommend it. I love all things history and culture. My dad used to take myself and my sister from a young age to all these wonderful places. I can remember how exciting and how much fun it was. They always felt so magical and enchanting. Sometimes its not all about the usual zoos, farms or soft play centres but getting your kids to try experiencing something new…. Read about one of our favourite castles to visit here!

Lullingstone Castle us outside the house

Lullingstone Castle eden by the flowerbed

Thank you for reading ‘Exploring Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden’.

Pin Me for Later

lullingstone castle pin me

Linking up with
CulturedKids
Days Out, Outdoors, Unusual

Fairy & Elf Festival at Audley End Miniature Railway

Audley End Miniature Railway

Come rain or shine, the Fairy & Elf Festival at Audley End Miniature Railway will brighten your day! This is one of our favourite places to go, it is truly enchanting! We have visited the railway on many occasions previously. We especially love their Halloween and Easter trains. However this was our first visit to see the Elf & Fairy Festival in full swing!

We visited Audley End Miniature Railway on a miserable grey and rainy day. Initially I thought this would spoil our day but in actual fact we all had a fantastic day out. Even better was the fact the rain had put many others off attending so we had the place to ourselves. On arrival we collected our tickets, pencil and booklet detailing all the things to lookout for during our visit.

Fairy & Elf Festival EntranceFairy & Elf Festival Entrance

The train

We arrived earlier than our designated train time so had time for lunch in the Signal Box Cafe before hopping on the train. I can personally vouch for the hot chocolate with a huge pile of cream and marshmallows!

Suitably refreshed we boarded the train and went off on our adventure through the woods. Eden loved spotting all the teddy bears as you go through the forest. She also really enjoys going through the tunnels. The train ride is so much fun!

Fairy & Elf Festival Audley End miniature railway
Fairy & Elf Festival Us on the train
Fairy & Elf Festival Forest deep haltFairy & Elf Festival Eden and the train driver

The Fairy Walk

After the train ride we decided to go on the Fairy Walk through the forest. First off we were greeted by cheery and bright Fairies, even though it was grey outside. With their help Eden made her pencil into a glittery sparkly fairy wand! A quick photo beneath the beautiful flower arch before setting off to hunt for Fairies in the wood.

Eden really enjoys looking out for the Fairies along the route and ticking them off in her booklet. We stopped and carefully read about each fairy. Each one has their own story, it’s so enchanting. There are lots of Fairies, elfs and other woodland folk to look out for along the trail.

Fairy & Elf Festival Making her wandFairy & Elf Festival Eden and the Fairies Fairy & Elf Festival Fairy walk entrance Fairy & Elf Festival Reading the signs Fairy & Elf Festival Fairy in the wood Fairy & Elf Festival Fairy in the wood

Fairy & Elf Festival

The Fairy and Elf Festival really makes a lovely difference to your visit. This is a new addition from our previous visit and made it an extra special visit for Eden.
We enjoyed some fairy crafts, Eden made a glittery mermaid and I got to make a colourful rainbow cloud! The whole area looked so magical with fairy bell tents, toadstools and colourful bunting. It really captures the little one’s imaginations! Eden ran around excitedly playing with all the outdoor games. Even in the rain we didn’t mind a bit.

In one of the tents they offered free face painting and hair braiding. Eden was very excited by this and dashed in to get hers done. After getting her face painted Eden settled down for some story telling with a fairy! Eden loves story time, even more so when a fairy is telling the story!

Fairy & Elf Festival Eden at the festivalFairy & Elf Festival Playing hooplaFairy & Elf Festival Playing games Fairy & Elf Festival Fairy craftsFairy & Elf Festival Fairy face painting Fairy & Elf Festival Story time Fairy & Elf FestivalFairy & Elf FestivalFairy & Elf Festival Eden and her mermaid

It was such a beautiful afternoon, rain or shine it didn’t spoil our time. I thought it would be a total washout but Eden got to splash in puddles in her wellies and loved the magic of the festival. We had some truly magical family time together!

When the weather is behaving itself a little better there is also a kids playground area, a bouncy castle and swing chairs. I believe there is a small charge for the bouncy castle. They also have a costume parade in the afternoon.

You may also be interested in reading about our favourite free and fun days out in Essex for kids, you can read more here.

Thank you for reading ‘Fairy & Elf Festival at Audley End Miniature Railway’.

Pin me for later

Please note all views are my own.

Lifestyle, Unusual

Eden meets Buttons – Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow Campaign!

Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow Campaign

We were invited along to take part in a life drawing class with Illustrator Rose Blake and ‘Buttons’ the 8 foot animatronic Cadbury cow for Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow campaign.

The journey

Eden was super excited, she couldn’t remember the last time she went on a train as she was still small and in her buggy. We had taken her for a sightseeing tour around London to see all the sights. Even managing to get into Downing Street to stand outside number 10 that day! I think Eden slept through and missed most of it!

The journey was simple, we went straight into Liverpool Street. Followed by a short 15 minute walk to the Barbican Centre. I’ve never been there before and thought it was an amazing place. With exhibitions, a shop and cinema.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat in The Barbican Kitchen where kids eat free with an adult meal! Always a bonus! Then headed up to our life drawing class with Rose Blake.

cadbury's adopt a cow At the stationCadbury's Adopt a Cow On train

Meeting Buttons

So Buttons the animatronic cow was created to mark Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons Adopt a Cow campaign. It was revealed that many city children had never seen a cow before and many children had no idea of their size or what they looked like. Buttons The Cadbury cow is giving city children an opportunity to get up close and see what they are like.

When we first walked into the room, at first glance you would think it was the real thing. Controlled by animatronics and puppeteers, Buttons stood 8 foot tall and was extremely impressive. Lifelike and mooing just like a regular cow.

Eden wasn’t intimidated and went straight in for a hug. She wasn’t quite so brave when it came to touching his tongue but she did it and then made a run for it!

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow Eden hugs Buttons

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow Buttons the cow

The drawing class

The room was set up perfectly. Several easels spread around the room, each with its own equipment. All centred around for a great view of Buttons. Rose Blake had kindly prepared booklets giving easy step by step instructions on how to sketch your cow. Eden of course went free hand and drew a rainbow cow with multicoloured spots! My husband couldn’t resist having a go too, even I got in on the action.

The session was super relaxed, Rose Blake was very friendly and came and chatted to each of us about our pictures. Once finished the children got to show their pictures to Buttons. Eden was thrilled that Buttons liked her picture!

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow Eden and daddy drawing

Cadbury's Adopt a CowCadbury's Adopt a Cow Drawing the cowCadbury's Adopt a Cow colouring the cow

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow Rose Blake

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow Showing Buttons her pic

At the end of the class, Eden received a cow balloon and a Cadbury gift bag which of course included some Cadbury Buttons. She was so pleased! Especially with the balloon and chocolate buttons.

The Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow campaign gives families the opportunity to adopt a cow via an on-pack promotion and 20 lucky families the chance to win an overnight trip to meet their cow at its farm.

Special promotion packs can be found in stores now with the competition closing on 31st August 2017. For more information about the Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow campaign go to https://adoptacow.cadbury.co.uk/.

I think Eden will be talking about meeting Buttons for a very long time! What a great day out!

Cadbury's Adopt a Cow CampaignCadbury's Adopt a Cow Eden and daddy

Thank you for reading ‘Eden meets Buttons – Cadbury’s Adopt a Cow Campaign’

Days Out, Museums, Outdoors, Parks, Unusual

Fun and free kids days out in Essex!

Okay so we are now welcoming the kid’s summer holidays. Some of us with welcome arms while others are more likely burrowing their heads in their hands! It can be daunting, thinking ahead of 6 weeks of entertaining your offspring! It can also be super expensive so here is my list of my favourite fun and free kids days out in Essex!
So in no particular order:

Free kids days out in Essex

1. Priory Park, Southend

Priory Park is a particularly picturesque park, not only does it have a large children’s play area, it has a lake, a woodland walk, a cafe, beautiful walled formal gardens and it’s the home to Prittlewell Priory Museum. The Priory originally formed part of a Cluniac Monastery dating back to 1180. There are plenty of nice spots for picnicking and letting the kids run off some steam.
The museum is free to enter and if you particularly enjoyed your visit then donations are welcomed.
Free parking onsite (although not a huge car park).
Opening times – Summer opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10:10 – 17:00
Bank holidays 10:00 – 17:00
For more information visit their website.

2. Wind in the Willows Sculptures at Hanningfield Resevoir

Hanningfield Resevoir in Downham, Billericay is a great family day out. Stick on your wellies and take a wander through the woods to spot the well known characters from Wind in the Willows. A special map is available to purchase at the visitor centre. At each sculpture you can use the back of the map to make your very own brass rubbings of Badger, the Weasels, Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad.
You can visit for free but there is a suggested donation amount of £2 per adult, £1 per child or £5 per family.
They are also offering a range of children’s activities during the summer holidays for just a £3 donation.
The visitor centre has a refreshment area, gift shop and toilets with baby changing facilities. There is also a viewing area with views out across the Reservoir where you can relax and enjoy watching the wildlife.
There is free parking available onsite.
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

3. Peter Rabbit Sculptures at Langdon Visitor Centre

Langdon Visitor Centre is in Lower Dunton Road in Basildon. It is a lovely nature reserve with a trail, meadows, woodlands and lakes. As you take a wander around the trail you will meet wonderful wooden characters from Peter Rabbit. They are also offering lots of children’s activities during the summer holidays from scavenger hunts to making arts and crafts for just a £3 donation. No booking required, check their website or Facebook page for details.
The visitor centre sells refreshments, has a gift shop and toilets with baby changing. To the rear of the visitor centre is a pretty wildlife garden.
There is free parking onsite.
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

4. Hollytrees Museum and Colchester Castle Park

Hollytrees Museum is a great museum set in Colchester Castle Park overlooking the picturesque Colchester Castle. There is a cafe, formal gardens and children’s playground with large sand play area to explore.
The museum gives a glance into life in Colchester and how it has evolved over the years. It has some really interesting exhibits and interactive to kids interested and entertained.
Free entry.
Opening times of Hollytrees Museum:
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm
Parking is not available on site, you would need to use Colchester Town car parks.
You can visit the Castle Museum but there is a fee to enter.

5. Stick Man Trail at Weald Country Park

Weald Country Park is set within 500 acres of parkland in Brentwood and home to The Stickman Play Trail. A fun trail bringing to life the story by Julia Donaldson encouraging imaginative play. A gorgeous walk through the woodland and parkland with activities to explore at each stop. You can purchase a map at the visitor centre. There is also a deer to visit, cafe, play area, gift shop and toilets.
Free entry and parking is onsite, there is a charge for parking however.
For more information please visit their website.

6. Hylands House & Park

Hylands House is a personal favourite of mine since we got married here in 2010. Based in Chelmsford in Hylands Park, the Grade II listed house is set in gorgeous landscaped parkland, with pretty formal gardens to explore, cafe and adventure castle play area.
Free entry to the park and free onsite parking.
To enter the house is £3.80 for adults and free for under 16s.
Please check their website for opening dates and times of the house and cafe. Please also be aware that it will be closed for visiting during mid August for V Festival.
For more information please visit their website.

7. Canvey Island Transport Museum

The museum in Canvey Island is the home to a selection of vintage buses, coaches and classic cars. In addition to the museum there is a model railway and gift shop selling die-cast models and transport souvenirs.
Entry is free but donations are welcomed.
Open Sundays 2017: 16th July; Every Sunday in August; 3rd & 17th September; 1st & 15th October.
Opening times 10am to 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

8. Chelmsford Museum at Oaklands Park

Chelmsford Museum is actually in Oaklands Park situated Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
Set within gorgeous grounds with two fantastic playgrounds for the children, one for older children and one for younger.
Chelmsford Museum has some really interesting exhibits and also houses Essex Regiment Museum.
During the summer holidays they are hosting a number of Back in Time themed craft sessions for school aged children. Children are encouraged to get creative, using the museum’s collections and displays for inspiration. £3 per child.
Free entry and free parking is available onsite.
Opening times:
Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1pm to 4pm
For more information please visit their website.

9. Join the Animal Agents Challenge at your local library.

Essex libraries are encouraging children to sign up to their Animal Agents challenge this summer. They need to read 6 books to earn their Animal Agents certificate and medal, collecting stickers along the way. Children can read library books of their choice.
Challenge runs Saturday 15 July to Saturday 2 September.
Pop by your local library to find out more.

10. Rayleigh Windmill

Rayleigh Windmill is a 200 year old Grade II listed building where you can learn how the Windmill worked, try the quiz in the museum, dress up in traditional costumes.
Entry is free of charge but a donation of £1 per person is suggested.
Opening times:
Wednesday 10:00am – 1:00pm
Saturday 1:00 – 4:00pm
Sunday 1:00 – 4:00pm
Parking is at Mill Hall Car Park which is a paid for car park but free after 1pm on Saturday and free all day Sunday.
For more information please visit their website.

11. Great Notley Discovery Park

Great Notley Discovery Park is situated in Braintree. A great place to explore with the kids with interactive play equipment and sensory trails.
There is a cafe onsite, toilets and car parking.
Free Entry.
Opening times: The park is open daily from 08.00 till dusk
The visitor centre and cafe is open daily from 10.00 till 16.00. (Except 25 December).

12. Thames Chase Nature Reserve.

Thames Chase Nature Reserve based in Pike Lane, Upminster has a great nature trail with activities as you go round. It also boasts a play area, very nice cafe, gift shop and bicycle hire. It’s a great place to take the kids bikes to cycle round.
There are some great wooden structures as you go around the trail for the kids to play and climb on.
They are organising a range of children’s activities through the summer holidays on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 25th July to 24th August between 10:30am and 12:30pm. £3 donation per child.
Free entry.
Opening times: 10am-5pm weekdays and weekend (10-4pm in the winter).
Includes café and shop with toilets and baby changing.
Parking is onsite for a small fee.
For more information please visit their website.

13. Wat Tyler Park

Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea, Basildon has 125 acres of country walks, wildlife spotting adventure play area for kids and a miniature railway. The park has a fascinating history and was originally an explosives factory. There are informative signs as you walk around the trail.
There is a cafe and gift shop onsite with toilets and baby changing.
Free entry and free parking onsite.
Railway runs in the school holidays, adults £2.50 and children £1.50.
Opening times:
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 16:45.
For more information please visit their website.

14. Hadleigh Castle

Hadleigh Castle is situated in Castle Lane, Hadleigh. The ruins of the castle are set high upon a hill overlooking the Essex marshes and Thames estuary. A gorgeous spot for settling down for a picnic and letting the kids let off some steam exploring the castle ruins.
Free entry all year round at any reasonable time.
It is situated right next to the Salvation Army Tea Rooms and Rare Breeds Farm with car park. Please note there is a charge for car parking.
Entry to the Farm isn’t free but it is very reasonable and is well worth a visit if in the area. They have a Willow maze, play area and lots of rare breed friendly animals to see.

15. Gruffalo Trail – Thorndon Country Park North

The Gruffalo Trail is in Thorndon Country Park North in Brentwood. It’s a great walk through the forest spotting all your favourite characters from The Gruffalo books by Julia Donaldson.
There is a visitor centre where you can purchase a trail guide for 50p. There is also a gift shop, cafe and toilets with picnic area.
Free entry and parking onsite. There is a charge for parking.
Opens at 09:30am.
For more information please visit their website.

So this is about fun and free kids days out in Essex. The following day out is not free but is very cheap and definitely a worth mention.

Canvey Island

You can get an all day wrist band for £5 to go on the fairground rides! It’s brilliant value for money and lots of rides to keep the little one happy. They also have the beach right next door, soft play centre opposite just incase it rains and Movie Starr cinema where tickets are just £3.50.

Please note all information was incorrect at time of publishing, please check venue websites or Facebook pages before you visit for up to date information or changes.

Thank you for reading ‘Fun and free kids days out in Essex!’. If you can think of any other great free days out in Essex, let me know!

Pin me for later:

Watch our video:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Lifestyle, Shows, Unusual

Rapunzel & Beauty & the Beast Shows

At the theatre

Eden absolutely loves live shows and theatre productions. Even from an early age she would happily sit through a film at the cinema but I wasn’t sure whether she would sit through a full length theatre production. I always worried it could work out quite expensive especially if you can’t be too sure if your child is going to sit through it all. An expensive gamble to make.

I found ‘The Princess and the Party’ company offered a Rapunzel show at Orsett Village Hall in Essex last summer. As this is one of Eden’s favourite films I booked up tickets. They seemed super popular and sold out very quickly.

Rapunzel & Beauty & the Beast Shows

Rapunzel

Initially I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it would be someone dressed up as Rapunzel who sang a few songs on stage and the kids got to dance around and have some fun! How wrong I was! They had gone to so much effort, the stage design was brilliant, the characters all looked the part and they acted out the whole show from start to finish. What really blew me away was the quality of the singing and acting. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so good. They sang all the old favourites and all the children really seemed to enjoy it. Honestly it was so amazing. Mother Gothel sounded just like the real thing and Rapunzel was absolutely charming!

It was really nice because the show was super relaxed so perfect for the little ones. All the children could sit on the floor at the front if they wanted and parents could sit on the chairs behind. It was very interactive so the children were encouraged to get up and dance and join in the fun! At the end of the show, all the children had the opportunity for a photo with the cast. Eden was so pleased to meet them all!

Tickets were £10 a head and in my opinion such good value, worth every penny. All the children were dressed up in their Rapunzel themed costumes and all had the best time.

We loved it so much we booked up to see their second show Beauty & the beast as soon as tickets were released.

Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows Eden rapunzel dressRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows rapunzel stageRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows

Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows Cast

Beauty & The Beast

This was another amazing show with more characters and another great stage design. It was really very clever how they pulled it all together and made the film come to life.

Belle was wonderful of course and Gaston had us all laughing our heads off. Quite a few of the children heckled him and he responded so brilliantly in character. Again this show did not disappoint with such good quality singing and acting. The kids had lots of fun, they loved getting all dressed up and dancing along to the songs. I think they felt every bit the princess! I even went the extra mile and made Eden’s Belle dress! I’ll be doing a blogpost soon with instructions on how to make your own princess tutu dress.

Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows Eden and IRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows Belle dressRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows Belle and gastonRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows cast on stageRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast showsRapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows

Songbird Theatre Company

Since then ‘The Princess and the Party’ have now become The Songbird Theatre Company focussing on producing shows rather than Princess parties. This is great news, especially as they will be repeating the Rapunzel performance again this summer in a bigger and better venue. This can only make it even better than it already was. Still at just £10 a ticket, it is brilliant value! I’d really recommend this for a fun afternoon with the kids or adults!!! Perfect for a child’s first theatre performance or simply to feel like a princess for the day!

Thank you for reading ‘Rapunzel and Beauty & The Beast Theatre Shows’

Pin me for later:

Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows

Indoor Play, Lifestyle, Toys

Eden’s Good Report Treat – Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van

Eden’s First School Report

Well Eden has almost completed her first year at school. The Reception Year has absolutely flown by! I can’t quite believe she will be going up to Year 1 in September. Coming to the end of the school year meant Eden had her first school report. Both her dad and I were so pleased with how well she has got on this year. We are both super proud of her and decided to reward her for such a good school report with a Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van!

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van Box

As a child I can remember wanting Sylvanian Families, they have certainly stood the test of time. Unfortunately I didn’t have them myself as a child but I can remember visiting friends and playing with their Sylvanian Families collection. I’m sure I must of pestered my mum non stop for my own! Meany Mum, ha ha!

As soon as Eden was old enough I couldn’t wait to start building her very own Sylvanian Families collection. First off we bought her the cosy starter home and have added extra Families and sets along the way. The great thing about it is the huge range available. It’s easy to ask family members to add to the collection for birthdays and Christmas to build the collection. It’s a toy that last for years and Eden really enjoys with all the ‘tiny’ pieces that comes in them. We store all the little bits in plastic boxes so not to lose any.

The surprise

Eden had no idea what her treat would be for her good school report. It’s safe to see she was blown away when she saw the Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van. Eden especially likes play sets that contain food so this set was perfect for her.

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van Eden's surprise

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van Eden's surprised face
The Set up

It was super easy to set up (unlike some toys we’ve opened recently), the van comes ready assembled with just the sign to add on the top. There were a few stickers to stick on and some paper napkins and boxes to make up but nothing too taxing. Eden was playing with it in just a few minutes.

The set includes a retro style hot dog van, an outfit for a Sylvanian character (it doesn’t include the character) , several hotdogs and food items, tongs, menu, drinks and condiments. The set is really well made and the hot dog van is nice and sturdy.  There is so much attention to detail that makes this set so sweet. Some of the hot dogs even come out of their buns!

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van straight out of the box
Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van stickers
Hours of fun

Eden has not stopped playing with this set since she received it, it’s official she ‘loves it’. Every day after school she has got it all out with her other Sylvanian Families collection and played happily. Eden particularly likes the tiny mini hotdog so she can make her own up, pretending to add her own ketchup and mustard. She really enjoys serving all her Sylvanian customers. This is a really lovely set and I can really recommend it.

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van The Van
Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van close up
Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van eden playing
Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van Eden with the set

Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van

You can see Eden’s reaction to her new toy in our short video we made of her opening it. I’d love to know what you think, please leave us a comment below.

Thank you for reading ‘Eden’s Good Report Treat – Sylvanian Families Hot Dog Van Review’.

Pin me for later

Eden's Good Report Treat - Sylvanian Hot Dog Van ReviewThis post was in collaboration with Sylvanian Families, all views are my own.

Castles/Houses, Memories, Unusual

My Sunday Photo – Lullingstone Castle

For My Sunday Photo this week I have a photo of Lullingstone Castle. 

We visited Lullingstone Castle in Kent on their Fire engines event day. They had fire engines from all eras, showcase of fire-fighting history with over 20 fire engines and carts. They even had demonstrations of the engines in action. We had a lovely family day for my dad’s birthday. 

The Castle has the gorgeous World Gardens to walk around, with flowers and plants from across the world. The Moroccon blue room was my particular favourite. 


Linking up with:

Photalife
Eating Out, Farms, Outdoors, Unusual

Fruit Picking In Essex – Lathcoats Farm

fruit picking in esse lathcoats farm

Fruit Picking

Lathcoats Farm is a lovely fruit farm and a great day out with the kids fruit Picking in Essex. Situated in Galleywood just outside Chelmsford, not too far from the A12 so it’s very easy to get to.

They have Pick Your Own fruit, a farm shop, The Bee Shed Coffee House, a small natural play area for the kids and some animals to visit.

Pick Your Own Fruit

Lathcoats Farm have over 40 varieties of apples, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants and many other fruit available. Fruit picking runs from around June to August. There is a calendar giving dates of when fruit is ready to pick on their website, along with regular updates on fruit availability. You should also check their Facebook page before going. Sadly it’s coming to the end of the fruit picking season for this year but Lathcoats is still worth a visit, with or without the kids!

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Strawberry tent
The Bee Shed Coffee House

The Bee Shed Coffee House serves food where the ingredients are sourced from their local trusted farm shop suppliers.

Serving breakfast and lunch, there is a really good menu with a great selection of food to choose from. They serve sandwiches, panini’s, ploughmens and jacket potatoes. You can even treat yourself to a slice of homemade cake. I can personally recommend the Cream Tea, the scones served with Rodda’s clotted cream and Tiptree Jam were fresh and delicious.

From the vast menu, we opted for a deluxe toasted sandwich filled with Dan Hull Ham, Hanningfield smoked cheddar & sweet apple chutney. It was incredibly tasty and a definite step up from your bog standard cheese and ham toastie!

They have some good children’s options and serve a children’s platter which comes with a roll, cake, crisps, a piece of fruit and a drink for £3.75 which is great value. Eden ordered the children’s bacon roll and she loved it!

They also serve afternoon teas which is now on my list to try! You can read about some of my favourite afternoon tea venues here. There is plenty of seating available inside and outside is a small terrace. Although there may be a longer queue on busier days, the food was served very quickly.

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm The Bee Shed Coffee House
Outside Area

Behind the coffee house is a small natural play area, a track with ride on cars for the little ones and some farm animals to visit.

We met the goats, donkeys and pigs on our visit. The goats were super friendly and Eden enjoyed feeding them some grass, she thought it was hilarious in fact. She also enjoyed spending lots of time hopping across the tiled stepping stones in the natural play area. Kids love the simple things, it is so nice to get them outdoors.

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Natural Play area

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Eden in the play area

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Outside

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Donkeys

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Pigs

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Eden feeding the goats

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Eden and the goat

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Eden and the goat
The Farm Shop

The farm shop is well stocked with lots of lovely treats from local suppliers, fresh eggs, artisan breads, fruit and vegetables, speciality meringues, handmade chocolates, Tiptree Jams and savoury goods, there’s plenty to tempt you.

We didn’t pick our own strawberries on this occasion but bought some from the farm shop and they were some of the biggest strawberries I’ve ever seen! They were perfect topped with lots of cream.

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Farm shop entrance

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Inside the farm shop

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Meringues

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Apples in shop

Fruit picking in Essex Lathcoats Farm Apples
Thank you reading ‘Fruit picking in Essex – Lathcoats Farm’.

Pin me for later

Fruit picking in Essex at lathcoats Farm

Eating Out, Food

Celebrating National Cream Tea Day

National Cream Tea Day

So this year my mum shared a very special day with her birthday… ‘National Cream Tea Day’. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a ‘National Cream Tea Day’! Now you’ve only got to read my ‘My Favourite Afternoon Tea’s in Essex‘ blogpost to know how much I love a scone. It is safe to say, this is going to be a day that I definitely celebrate every year!

The Cream Tea Society in association with Rodda’s and Tiptree announced that 30th June 2017 would be the 3rd year of ‘National Cream Tea Day’. They help support charitable causes, fundraising projects up and down the country.

National cream tea day Tiptree restaurant

National cream tea day Tiptree restaurant

National cream tea day Tiptree restaurant

National cream tea day Scones

National cream tea day Tiptree gin

Tiptree Restaurant

Our local Tiptree restaurant at Barleylands Village was supporting ‘Mind for better mental health’ charity. They had games to take part in, donating £1 to charity per go, guess the amount of jar lids, guess the unusual jam flavours and guess the weight of the super sized scone… sadly we couldn’t eat that one! I reckon given enough clotted cream, I could of given it a fair go! You’d probably have to roll me out of the restaurant though!

National cream tea day super sized scone

National cream tea day Charity games
So as it was ‘National Cream Tea Day’, the Tiptree restaurant had 4 scone ‘specials’ available, each one served with a drink to suit! There options were Lavender, Cherry, Chocolate or Cheese scones.

Scones

I let my sister Donna choose our scones to share, she choose the Voluptuous Violet Cream Tea. The Lavender scones arrived with clotted cream, wild blueberry preserve and a Lavender tea. I do tend to stick to strawberry jam with my scones usually but the blueberry preserve was delicious. The Lavender scones tasted lightly floral but not too over powering. The Lavender tea however tasted like something I should wear as perfume rather than drink! It smelt amazing though such a relaxing scent, reminded me of my dear nanny Dolly.

National cream tea day Lavender scones
The chocoholic cream tea arrived with two chocolate chip scones, clotted cream and Tiptree Chocolate Spread. They were served with a hot chocolate cream and flake! They were lovely, although maybe a tad sickly for my palate, perfect for my Mummy with her sweet tooth! It was really nice to try some new scones with different toppings. Definitely encouraged me to try something new next time!

National cream tea day chocolate chip scones
So my mum’s birthday turned out to be an extra special celebration! We look forward to celebrating ‘National Cream Tea Day’ again next year!

Thank you for reading ‘Celebrating National Cream Tea Day’

Pin me for later

Celebrating National Cream Tea Day Tiptree restaurant in Essex