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Christmas, My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo – 10/12/17

My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo this week is a shot of Eden at ‘An Elf’s Wish’ Christmas experience at Nevendon Manor in Essex. You can read our full review of it here.Eden had a wonderful time, fully immersed in the magic of Christmas! She met the Snow Queen and Mrs Christmas, fed reindeer and decorated a Christmas tree before meeting Santa himself! A real festive treat!

My Sunday Photo, Eden in a snowy woodMy Sunday Photo, Eden standing with a giant candy caneMy Sunday Photo Eden standing looking at her present with santa in the background

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Christmas, Home, Unusual

An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor – Christmas experience

An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor Santa

An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor

We visited the Christmas experience ‘An Elf’s Wish’ at Nevendon Manor in Wickford. An Elf’s Wish’ is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story & his whimsical elves. We have visited Nevendon Manor Events for several of their previous events and have always had a truly magical time. This is their first year hosting a Christmas event and we were excited to try it out. The events are an immersive outdoor theatre production. You can read about one of our previous visits to see Alice in Wonderland here.

On Arrival

As you arrive you collect your tickets and are given the option of purchasing a token for reindeer food for later on during the visit. There are a number stalls offering drinks, snacks and face painting for an additional charge. We opted for a hot chocolate, it was a nice cup of hot chocolate but a tad expensive at £3.20 each. Face painting was quite reasonable at £3.50 a head.

An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor sign

Hot Chocolate Stand at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

 

After a short wait we set off in our group on our exciting journey around Nevendon.  Our Christmas adventure started off at the Elf school! The characters were great fun, we were taught the elf welcome, our elf names and the children were able to write their Christmas wishes to give to Santa. Shortly after we met our guide Brumble the elf.

 

Elf school at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden writing her christmas wishes An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Brumble the elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Story

Brumble the elf took us on our Christmas adventure on the quest to earn her jingle bell! During our journey we met many friendly characters! We walked through the wintry wood and met The Snow Queen, we helped her to make it snow again! The children posted their Christmas wishes and helped raise Christmas cheer! We got to decorate Christmas trees with a funny pair of lumberjacks who are responsible for growing the Christmas trees! We met Mother Christmas and some charming elves busy making toys ready for Christmas. We met some beautiful real reindeer and as we bought a token earlier had the opportunity to feed them too. We got a song and dance from the mechanic elves fixing Santa’s sleigh before meeting the big man himself Father Christmas. Each child and adult were given a gift and had the opportunity for a photo with Santa. Professional photos were also available for purchase.

 

Eden and brumble the elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Snow Queen An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden hugging a tree to help the snow queen An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Winter cabins An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The lumberjack elves and Brumble elf An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Candy Canes An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

The Reindeer at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

 

The Experience

The whole experience is such great fun for kids (and the adults). The children are made to feel like part of the production and to see their reaction is just magical. The characters really bring the story to life. The grounds are dressed beautifully and there is so much attention to detail.

I would of really liked to take some more time to walk through and appreciate the wintry wood and maybe  had a few more photo opportunities as it did move quite quickly but we really enjoyed our Christmas experience. An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor wasn’t your usual Santa’s Grotto or Christmas Experience. It wasn’t all about Santa and his presents, it was more about the simple magic of Christmas and the characters that make it special. It was a complete pleasure to visit! Eden had a magical time and it made a lovely change from the usual Christmas experience!

You do need to book tickets in advance, please visit Nevendon Manor Event’s website for further details.

 

Santas cabin An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Santa at An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Eden and father christmas An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Meeting Santa An Elf's Wish at Nevendon Manor

Thank you for reading ‘An Elf’s Wish at Nevendon Manor – Christmas experience’.

Christmas, My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo – 19/11/17

My Sunday Photo

For my Sunday Photo this week is a shot of these truly beautiful hand painted candle holders that I found at the German Christmas Market in Essex this week. Don’t they look so pretty when lit up! You can read about our visit here, it is such a lovely festive place to visit with lots of wonderful handmade and traditional gifts. We got a brilliant Russian Doll there!My Sunday Photo German Christmas Market in EssexMy Sunday Photo German Christmas Market in EssexThank you did reading ‘My Sunday Photo – 19/11/17’.

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Christmas, Days Out, Home, Lifestyle, Shopping, Unusual

A German Christmas Market in Essex

German Christmas Market in Essex

Every year I always promise myself a visit to a Christmas Market in Europe. Yet, every year life gets in the way and it just doesn’t happen. This year however the Christmas Market came to me! Meadowcroft Garden Centre in Battlesbridge plays host to a German Christmas Market in Essex.

Christmas German Market in Essex - A view of the stalls and seating area

On arrival

Outside you are greeted with festive baubles, reindeer and Christmas Trees inviting you inside. As you step through the doors you are transported into the festive atmosphere of a German market. Inside there are 20 traditional wooden market stalls. They are filled with many delights from Nutcrackers to Cuckoo clocks, along with lots of wonderful Yuletide gifts. Its a great opportunity to get some unique Christmas presents this year. We particularly liked the handmade Russian dolls. Eden picked one of these as her reward for receiving the Head Teachers Award this week! It was difficult to choose just one, there were so many beautifully designed dolls of various sizes.

 

Christmas German Market in Essex - elves

Christmas German Market in Essex - festive market stall with dried orange arrangements

 German Market in Essex - dried orange gifts

Christmas German Market in Essex - close picture of a cuckoo clock

Christmas German Market in Essex - Brightly lit up candle holders

Christmas German Market in Essex - A selection of brightly coloured russian dolls

Treat yourself

Whilst shopping you can treat yourself to some German beer or hot Gluhwein or maybe something to eat. They serve Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, Belgian waffles, along with lots of sweet treats. We really enjoyed our Bratwurst sausage in a bun with lots of mustard. There are plenty of seats in the middle to sit and soak in the festive atmosphere of the German Christmas Market. We also bought some of the Schokokuss chocolates they came in a variety of flavours and are filled with sweet whipped egg whites and are not too dissimilar to marshmallow.

 

Christmas German Market in Essex Food stall

Christmas German Market in Essex - Trays of chocolate treats

Christmas German Market in Essex - German beer bottle lined up

Gift Shop

Aswell as the German market, there is a lovely gift shopped stocked with lots of gorgeous Christmas decorations and gifts. There is also a really nice cafe there, we enjoyed a delicious cream tea after our Bratwurst!

The Christmas German Market in Essex is FREE OF CHARGE to enter. It is open from 10th November to Christmas Eve, during the garden centre opening hours:-

09:30 – 17:30 Monday to Saturday and 10:00 – 17:00 on Sundays.

I would definitely recommend a visit to get you in the festive mood! Thank you for reading ‘A German Christmas Market in Essex’.

Days Out, Farms, Halloween, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Spooky nights at barleylands blog

Spooky nights at Barleylands

We had such a fantastic Halloween half term this year. We picked pumpkins, made scary cupcakes, rode the spooky train and went out trick or treating. One of our highlights of Halloween was the Spooky Nights at Barleylands Farm Park in Essex.  I wasn’t too sure what to expect on the night, but they had promised a ghost train so I knew that Eden would be so excited to try that out!

On arrival

On arrival we were shown where to park the car, popped on our wrist bands, given a map and then shown into Barleylands Village. I had no idea that the whole village would be part of the Halloween fun. On the reverse of our map was a list of shops with a special code word to visit for trick or treating. Say the code word and receive a sweet treat! It was such a brilliant idea, safe trick or treating around the shopping village. Eden was so excited to get the code word and whisper it to the shopkeeper to get her reward. The shops were decorated and shopkeepers dressed up, it all added to the brilliant atmosphere!

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Eden trick or treating

In the barn was a Halloween disco, carnival games and a Zombie Maze. Eden went into the maze with her daddy. She clung to him and was a little frightened of the zombies. This was perfect for the braver kids… the zombies just wandered around the maze but were not threatening in anyway. Eden still wasn’t too keen though, lol!

 

Halloween Hoopla with skull heads Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Inside the Farm

Inside the farm, the play barn was buzzing, there were zombies roaming around, fairground rides and witches! So much to see and do. After visiting the Witchy Walk and walking through the scary barn we visited the Terror Hotel. This was perfect for bigger kids, a creepy walk through experience that I wimped out of! Eden and her daddy braved it though! There was also a brilliant 3 tier ghost train, which was very popular, it was so much fun and worth the wait.

We also met some creepy critters, in the Creepy Crawly Cave. Eden got to stroke a snake and see some bugs and spiders!

 

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Terror hotel

Terror Hotel Outside Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Close up of a witch Spooky Nights at Barleylands

The Ghost Train Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

Eden meeting a snake Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

Aerial view of the farm and fairground rides Spooky Nights at Barleylands

We had such a fabulous time, the evening flew by so quickly, we didn’t want it to end. I think they could benefit by maybe staying open another hour. We were sad to go but that was because we literally had the best family Halloween fun. The evening really appealed to both little ones, bigger kids… and adults too! Absolutely worth a visit next Halloween! One for the list, Spooky Nights at Barleylands, you will not be disappointed!

For more info on Barleylands events, please see their website. For more ideas for Halloween in Essex, please take a look here.

Three witches Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Thank you for reading ‘Spooky Nights at Barleylands’.

Written in collaboration with Barleylands Farm Park but all views and opinions are my own.

Days Out, Farms, Halloween, Outdoors, Unusual

Pumpkin Picking in Essex at Cammas Hall Farm

Pumpkin picking in Essex

We visited Cammas Hall Farm earlier in the year for Strawberry Picking and had such a wonderful time. We truly fell in love with the place, you can read our review from our last visit here.  Now Autumn is upon us we thought it was the perfect time to visit Cammas Hall once again for some pumpkin Picking in Essex.

Pumpkin Picking In Essex spooky fields forever at cammas hall

Our visit

Upon arrival the tea barn and restaurant were decorated in a fun and spooky theme, with lots of fun Halloween themed gifts and treats to buy. You can even buy your pumpkin carving set if you don’t have one already. You can also colour your own pumpkin mask or get your child’s face painted for a small extra fee. I have to say the face painting was of a really good standard too!

 

Pumpkin Picking In Essex tea barnPumpkin Picking In Essex halloween goodies in shop

 

The tea barn sells sandwiches, light lunches and cakes. It can get pretty busy at peak times but the tables extend outside to the play area so there are plenty of places to sit. Whether it’s for a spot of lunch or my personal favourite a delicious scone with clotted cream and jam. (Now I eat a lot of scones and can personally recommend Cammas Hall scones, they were some of the best I’ve had!).

Halloween at Cammas Hall

During Pumpkin Picking season, you can ride the tractor trailer to the pumpkin field to pick your very own pumpkin. The staff are on hand if you have any trouble picking one. Once you’ve chosen your pumpkin, you hop back on the tractor trailer to return to the farm shop to make payment. If you don’t fancy going all the way to the pumpkin field there are plenty of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes available just outside the shop! They had some very unusual nobbly looking ones too!

 

Pumpkin Picking In Essex tractorPumpkin Picking In Essex at Cammas Hall Farm

During your visit you can get lost in the Maize Maze. For a small fee you can purchase an treasure hunt sheet from the shop. You then walk around the maze, finding the pictures and the hidden letters. If you are lucky enough to find them all and solve the mystery word, kids get a sweet treat as a reward back at the shop. In the centre of the maze is an open area with space hoppers to stop for some playtime half way round! Eden loved leading us around the maze and looking for clues!

Pumpkin Picking In Essex i the maize mazePumpkin Picking In Essex centre of the maize maze

After all that excitement, we relaxed on a picnic bench with a coffee while the children played happily in the outdoor play area. There is also a smaller gated play area which is handy for littler kids.We had a truly fantastic time pumpkin picking at Cammas Hall Farm and would recommend popping along during Half term for a visit.

A cheap and fun day out that the kids absolutely loved!

Pumpkin Picking In Essex

 

If you’re looking for other fun Halloween days out this half term, check out some of our favourites here.

Thank you for reading ‘Pumpkin Picking in Essex at Cammas Hall Farm’.

 

Pumpkin Picking In Essex Cammas Hall wheelbarrow

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

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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.

 

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