Browsing Category

Days Out

Halloween, My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo – 15/10/2017

For My Sunday Photo this week it’s a picture of Eden at Cammas Hall Farm, we popped along for some Pumpkin fun and to get lost in the Maize Maze! As you can see from her face she had a whale of a time!

We love Halloween so are already getting prepared for it. Costumes have been bought, days out planned, pumpkin picked. We even like to decorate our house!

Thank you for reading ‘My Sunday Photo’.

Photalife

Linking up with My Sunday Photo!

Crafts, Days Out, Farms, Home, Outdoors, Parks, Shows, Unusual

Entertain the kids this Halloween half term!

Halloween Half Term week

Halloween Half Term Days Out

Looking for ideas for Halloween Half Term? Here is a list of some of our favourite spooky and unusual days out over Halloween Half term in and around Essex.

Farms

Barleylands Farm Park are running Pumpkinfest during the Halloween Half term week. Halloween themed activities and a free pumpkin for each child. They have two spooky evenings Friday 27th & Saturday 28th October packed with thrills, spills and chills for tots to young teens.  With family friendly activities including Huge Fairground Ghost Train, Haunted Fairground House, Boo Barn, Witches Walk, Haze Maze, Spooky Toddler Story Time, Creepy Reptile Cave, Halloween Disco and spooky games. Book tickets online.

Hopefield Halloween at Hopefield Animal Sanctury on 29th October 11:00-16:00.  Halloween event with Fancy Dress Competition, Haunted Bus, Halloween arts and crafts and mask making fun, Halloween themed Love On The Rocks and fantastic face painting. Entrance: Adults: £6, Kids: £5, Under 3s are FREE.

 

 

 

Pick your own pumpkins

Cammas Hall Farm at Hatfield Broad Oak  you can pick your own pumpkin, enjoy a tractor and trailor ride, get lost in their Maize Maze, face painting or maybe make your own Halloween mask. Don’t forget to stop off for a Halloween treat in their Tea Barn.

The Pumpkin Patch at Basildon or Colchester. Free entry and open every weekend during October 10-4pm.

 

Pumpkin Patch Halloween Half TermThe Pumpkin Patch Halloween Half Term

 

Take a ride on a Halloween Train

Audley End Miniature Railway

Ride the spooky train deep into the woods to visit the witches. Every ticket includes craft making, face painting, story telling, a visit to the dance tent and a gift for every child. Book online.

Epping Ongar Railway, Ongar

Are running 3 spooky ghost train events during Halloween Half term. Saturday 28th October 2017 (day + evening), Sunday 29th October 2017 (day only), and Tuesday 31st October 2017 (evening only). Don’f forget to visit the Halloween marquee at North Weird, where there is magic shows throughout the day, face painting, a silent disco and, for the grown ups, a bar. Each child receives a gift. Book online.

Audley End at Halloween Half Term

 

Essex Police Museum

Essex Police Museum in Chelmsford are offering Halloween crafts, make your own scary mask and trick or treat bag. Fancy dress welcome and free entry to the museum. £2 per child. 21st, 25th and 28th October 10:00 – 16:00.

Check their Facebook page for further details.

 

Essex Wildlife Trust

Essex Wildlife Trust have many Halloween Half Term activities across all of their centres, here are some of our favourites.

Hanningfield Resevoir have plenty of activities running through the Halloween half term, check their website for further details. Spooktastic Family Trail. Solve the spooky clues and track down the creepy creatures of Hanningfield Nature Reserve? Trail sheets £2.50 per child. Sun, 22/10/2017 – 10:00am – 3:00pm. No need to book.

Haunted Hanningfield on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October 10-3pm. Follow the spooky trail through the woods to the spooky House, dare you go in? Halloween treat for the brave. Bug hunting, Pumpkin carving and Halloween crafts in the Visitor Centre. Donation £8 per child. No booking necessary.

Belfairs Woodland Centre have Horrible Halloween crafts, drop in for some Halloween crafts on Saturday 28th October 10am -2pm.

Haunting Halloween at Langdon Nature ReserveSat, 28/10/2017 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm aimed at children 6yrs+. Follow the self-guided trail but beware of things that go bump in the night! Finish with stories and marshmallows at the camp fire. Three sessions available starting at 6pm, 6.30 or 7pm (younger children are advised to attend the earlier sessions) Family event aimed at children 6yrs+, must be accompanied by an adult at all times. £7 per person, booking essential.

 

Haunted Hanningfield Halloween Half TermHaunted Hanningfield Cabin Halloween Half Term

 

Halloween Book Reading

Free Book reading event of ‘The Seven Sisters’ by Sibel Beadle, local author of children’s book series ‘Witchy Travel Tales’. With craft activity and book signing at Barleylands function room on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October and Saturday 28th and 29th October at the following times each day: 11-11:45am, 12-12:45pm and 1-1:45pm.

Broomstick Making

Make your own broomstick at Norsey Wood. Tuesday 24th October. 1pm – 2:30pm. £2.50 per child. Prebooking required.

 

Spooky Fest Wat Tyler Country Park

Spooky Fest running Monday 23rd October 2017 until Sunday 29th October 2017, 11am until 3pm. Three halloween themed mazes with live characters. Step back in time and walk around the haunted house, looking out for ghosts, ghouls and all things that fright. Meet the 2017 freaky clowns in the extra large Circus. Hook a duck, have your fortune read and see if you can escape the never ending corridors. Introducing the new vampire village. See the vampires hide out, rotting corpses, and spooky effects. Book tickets online. Children 4+ £5 each includes a sweet treat.

 

Lullingstone Castle & World Gardens

Lullingstone Castle just over in Kent is hosting some Halloween magic on the last day of the season. Pumpkin carving, spooky house and garden tours – perfect for all the family. Tom will give garden tours at 1pm and dusk tour at 5pm, learn about the origins of pumpkins, colours and varieties and children can spot the Halloween tricks in eerie torchlight! Fancy dress is welcome. 29th October 12-8pm.

Hedingham Castle

Halloween Weirdness and Wondercraft at Hedingham Castle. 10  Halloween themed workshops, creepy creatures, bash the rat or smash the skull, gooey cauldron of ghastly gunk, slithering reptiles, gory face painting, scary stories in the castle dungeon and a spectacular fiery finale! 10% discount when booking online.

 

Magic Shows

Monday Mayhem at Orsett Hall. Halloween Children’s Party with AJ Entertainers. 10.00am – 1.00pm and 2.00pm – 5.00pm. Entertainers, Balloon Modelling, Face Painting, Arts & Crafts, Mini Disco. Tickets £8.50, book online.

The Magic Frostie Halloween Show on 23 October at 14:00–15:30 at Wickford Community Centre. A Halloween themed show filled with music, Puppets, Balloons, Mind-Blowing Magic. Book online.

 

Thank you for reading ‘Entertain the kids this Halloween half term!’

Pumpkins Halloween Half Term

 

 

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Museums, Outdoors, Unusual

Ingatestone Hall

Ingatestone Hall

We visited Ingatestone Hall one Sunday and had such a lovely time. A wonderful old house to explore with gardens and a tea room.

The house was built in the 1500’s and has been passed through fifteen generations of the Petre Family. The house is still occupied by the family until this day. Situated in the countryside just 1 mile from Ingatestone in Essex. It’s a splendid Tudor Mansion which retains its original Tudor form and appearance. Inside you will find oak-panelled rooms adorned with furniture and objects gathered over time from many different periods.

Ingatestone Hall - the front

The House

As you enter the house into the Inner Court there is a small shop selling gifts and souvenirs and a restaurant situated in The Summer Parlour. They serve light lunches, sandwiches, delicious cakes, and cream teas. Full afternoon teas can also be prebooked. There are lots of paintings on the walls and Eden sat happily drawing her own versions of them!

Ingatestone Hall, the summer parlour

Ingatestone Hall the cakes

Exploring the rooms

You start your self guided tour in The Stone Hall, a beautiful large oak panelled room. Each room is adorned with various pieces of furniture and objects collected over the years. There are also lots of personal photos and articles belonging to the family. Eden found looking around the house so interesting, looking at the paintings, tapestries, stuffed animals and various artifacts. She was amazed to find the priests hiding place hidden in the Study and found it fascinating that this was a hiding place for someone once upon a time. The secretive chamber is hidden within a cupboard, entry via a small alcove. At the opposite end there was once an opening where food might have been passed to the priest. Eden insisted on having a photo next to the Priests hiding place.

Ingatestone Hall  The Stone Hall

Ingatestone Hall Inside the Stone Hall

Ingatestone Hall The priests hole

 

There is also a second Priests hiding place on the main stair case. It had been lost for many years and was uncovered in 1855 when a child lost its toy through the floorboards in the room above.

There are many rooms to visit within Ingatestone Hall. The Dining Room was particularly impressive, the table laid out in fine silverware ready for entertaining. Upstairs in The Gallery there are lots of glass display cabinets filled with lace, coins and documents. There are so many interesting things to see, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ingatestone Hall The Dining Hall

Ingatestone Hall The silverware

Ingatestone Hall  The Gallery

The Gardens

Ingatestone Hall is surrounded by ten acres of enclosed gardens comprising extensive lawns, walled garden and stew pond. In the garden there are several routes to take around the garden, whether it’s The Lime Walk lined with trees, The Nut walk named as it is lined with Hazel trees and The Wild Walk, an area to encourage wild life. Each one makes an interesting and exciting adventure for little ones. We spent lots of time exploring the gardens, Eden was so excited to explore. For her she found it magical, her imagination ran wild.

Ingatestone Hall Gardens

Ingatestone Hall Stew Pond

Ingatestone Hall the garden walks

Ingatestone Hall Eden and I

Visitor Information

The house and grounds are open from noon to 5 p.m.  (last entry 4 p.m.) on Wednesday, Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday afternoons from Easter until the end of September.

The house is now closed for public visits until Easter 2018 but open for special events.

There is free parking available in the Meadow Car Park.

Adults are £7 each

Pensioners £6

Children 5-16 £3

And under 5s are free.

The house is also open to other events and available to hire for weddings and parties. Please see their website for more information.

Thank you for reading Ingatestone Hall – A Review.

 

Pin me for later

Ingatestone Hall Pinterest

Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Parks, Shows, Unusual

The Halloween Train – Audley End Miniature Railway

Halloween Train

Halloween Tradition

So Autumn is almost upon us and it’s time to start planning for one of our most favourite holidays… Halloween! It’s become part of our Halloween tradition to visit Audley End Miniature Railway and ride the Halloween Train. This will be our third year and Eden loves it so much she talks about it all year round!

If you haven’t visited Audley End Miniature Railway before, it’s definitely one to add to the list. It’s a wonderful train ride through the forest spotting Teddies with an enchanted fairy walk and fairy & elf festival! It’s such a lovely day out with the kids. You can read our previous post about it here.

The Halloween Train

Come Halloween time… Everywhere is decorated and themed in a spooky Halloween theme, even inside The Signal Box Cafe! It always looks so amazing! All the staff are dressed up too, it’s a wonderful sight. Every year so far the Halloween Train at Audley End has not disappointed.

 

Halloween Train Entrance

Halloween Train inside Signal box cafe

 

You are able to book the time of the train and then you can play and explore the rest of the facilities at your own leisure. At the platform you board the train and are waved off by the creepy conductor on a journey through the spooky forest. On your travels be sure to look out for all the spooky goings on! There are lots of fun Halloween things to spot whilst on your train ride but all aimed at children so nothing too scary. Halfway round you stop to visit the Witches who dance and cook up a witchy spell… if you’re lucky they may even give out a sweet treat too! Or as Eden would say ‘candy’!

 

Halloween Train Platform sign

Halloween Train

Halloween Train Conductor

Halloween Train

Halloween Train Deep Forest Halt

Halloween Train ghosts

Halloween Train Witch

Halloween Activities

After you return back to the station you are free to explore the rest of the Halloween fun. It’s got better every year adding more fun things for the kids to do. This year they are promising: A Train Ride through the woods to visit the witches, craft making, face painting, story telling, a visit to the dance tent and a gift for every child.

 

Halloween Train Sign

Halloween Train Eden the witch

Tickets are now on sale on their website! We can’t wait to get dressed up and go again this year!

Thank you for reading ‘The Halloween Train – Audley End Miniature Railway’

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Rayleigh Windmill – A Review

Rayleigh windmill

Rayleigh Windmill

I previously listed Rayleigh Windmill in my top local free/cheap days out in Essex. You can see that list here.

Rayleigh Windmill is situated next to Rayleigh Mount and is a great place to visit with or without kids. There is a car park right outside and it is free to park on Sundays. You can also hire the Windmill for Weddings and other celebrations.

The Mill

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, and dress up in traditional costumes. An interesting and unusual day out for the kids.

We popped along one Sunday to have a look around. We found the volunteers that run the Windmill were very friendly and knowledgeable. They were happy to answer any questions we had and told us some of the history of the Windmill and The Mount, where Rayleigh Castle once stood.

Rayleigh windmill on the stairs
Rayleigh windmill climbing the windmill

 

Ground Floor and First Floors

On the ground floor was information about the Windmill and some children’s arts and crafts. We climbed up the narrow stairs to the first floor where we found a small museum. It housed lots of interesting historic pieces and there is a quiz that you can take part in. It was simply finding items on a list so even our 5 year old could manage it with a little help. Eden was fascinated to learn about the gas masks for used during the war and in particular one used for babies.

 

Rayleigh windmill pieces of history in the museum

Rayleigh windmill quiz

Rayleigh windmill adult gas mask

 

Second Floor

On the 2nd floor they regularly hold exhibitions and on this occasion there was an artist displaying her paintings for sale. Eden was also able to paint a picture which she was very happy about. She loves to draw and paint. Whilst we let her painting dry we climbed up to the top floor.

 

Rayleigh windmill painting exhibition

Rayleigh windmill Eden painting

 

Top Floor

The stairs do get much narrower and steeper as you climb, so bear this in mind before visiting. Eden managed the steps absolutely fine though. On the top floor was an amazing model of The Mount and how the castle would of once looked. We spent some time hunting for a tiny little brown rabbit. See if you can spot him! There is also some dressing up available and a large board with characters from the castle. Eden happily played with that whilst we had a look at the views from the top of the Windmill. They have some pocket money toys for sale on the top floor.

After climbing to the top of the Windmill, children are awarded with their very own certificate!

 

Rayleigh windmill Castle model

Rayleigh windmill on the top floor, castle display board
Rayleigh windmill Eden outside the windmill

Visit the Windmill

Entry is free for Rayleigh Windmill 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

Please check their website before visiting for a full list of closures due to private functions.

There are no toilets at the mill but you can use the facilities in The Mill Arts Centre next door.

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.

After looking around Rayleigh Windmill we took a short walk around Rayleigh Mount. Climbing to the top of the steps to reach the top where the Castle once stood. We then walked around the outside. It only took about 15-20 mins so not too far for little legs.

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill climbing rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill view from top of rayleigh mount

Eden is wearing a floral dress from Next, lemon leggings and Gold Converse High tops.

Thank you for reading ‘Rayleigh Windmill – A Review’.

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