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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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast shows

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. 


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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
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Fruit picking in Essex at lathcoats Farm

Days Out, Holidays, Unusual

A Fairy Princess Makeover

fairy princess makeover

A Fairy Princess Makeover

During our last visit to Butlins at Bognor, which you can read our review here, Eden enjoyed a Fairy Princess Makeover at ‘Cute Like Candi’ Salon. This is actually situated within the Butlins resort.

fairy princess makeover cute as candi salon

What’s included?

It was such good value! Each Makeover included, the child’s hair braided, nails painted, face painting, tiara, wand and tutu (which you get to keep!) all for £20. It too around 20-30 minutes in total and we were able to do it right away without prebooking. Although I would probably advise prebooking to avoid disappointment.

The makeover

What a magical experience! Eden was truly treated like a princess by the lovely Fairy Godmother that did her transformation. To begin with Eden got seated in front of a mirror at a pretty pink station in the salon. The Fairy Godmother introduced herself and Eden happily chatted away to her. First off Eden’s hair was braided into two Dutch braids, they were so neat and were finished off with some glitter hairspray. The plaits stayed in so well she kept them for the following day even after sleeping in them!fairy princess makeover eden hair brushed

fairy princess makeover waiting for makeover

fairy princess makeover Hair braided

fairy princess makeover hair braided
Next up Eden chose from a selection of nail varnishes, she chose a pink glittery one and had her nails painted. She sat very still for the Fairy Godmother and kept her hands on the table to dry whilst she had her face painted. The face painting was finished off with more sparkly glitter and then Eden was ready to choose her tiara, wand and tutu.fairy princess makeover edens makeover

fairy princess makeover nails painted

fairy princess makeover edens nail painted

fairy princess makeover hair reveal
fairy princess makeover Eden's face painted

fairy princess makeover glitter facepaint

fairy princess makeover Eden's face painted

fairy princess makeover testing her wings
Eden selected a white sparkly tutu and a pretty tiara and wand. She then tested her magic and her fairy wings and was awarded her very own certificate! Eden was so pleased, afterwards she skipped round the resort casting spells on everything! She truly felt like a magical fairy princess and she looked simply adorable.

fairy princess makeover finished makeover

fairy princess makeover eden with certificate
It was such a lovely experience both for Eden and I. I would totally recommend booking in if you are visiting Butlins in the near future. Absolutely worth the £20!!!

Thank you for reading ‘A Fairy Princess Makeover’.

Days Out, Eating Out, Farms, Food, Outdoors, Parks, Unusual

Strawberry Picking in Essex

Strawberry Picking In Essex

What a glorious sunny day spent strawberry picking in Essex. We visited Cammas Hall Farm. Set in the Essex countryside, just outside Bishops Stortford.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm
I haven’t been strawberry picking since I were a young girl. I can remember spending sunny days picking strawberries with my family. Crouched  in a field filling my basket with just as many strawberries as I ate! I’ve been meaning to take Eden for some time now and thought Cammas Hall Farm looked like fun.

The venue

There was plenty of parking, a well stocked farm shop, fruit picking, tea barn, play area and a nature trail onsite. It was free entry too which was brilliant and makes this a cheap day out!

We visited on a Saturday lunch time and although it was busy, it was big enough that it wasn’t a problem.

We enjoyed a ploughmans in the tea barn before setting off to pick our strawberries.

There were plenty of ripe strawberries for picking. A huge field full of rows and rows of raised planters full of strawberry plants. No back breaking bending over here, the plants are brought to you! They also have gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc throughout the year.  Just check their website first.

Strawberry picking in Essex rows strawberry plants

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberries

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking
Eden loved searching through all the strawberries to find the bright red shiny ripe ones. We filled a punnet quite quickly and were very surprised it only cost around £3.50! We thought this was a bargain. The strawberries were delicious and so sweet.

Play Area

We popped to the play area afterwards so Eden could blow off some steam. There were plenty of picnic benches outside over looking the play area. They also had a separate gated play area for the little ones under 3.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm play area
Nature Trail

After Eden had made herself dizzy spinning on the tyre swing, we took a walk along the nature trail. It was a short walk that went through a small forest and along the edge of their crop fields. A nice walk that wasn’t too long. It was even fairly buggy friendly.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm

Strawberry picking in Essex nature trail

Strawberry picking in Essex field crops
The Tea Barn & Shop

After the nature trail, we treated ourselves to strawberries and cream in the Tea Barn. Eden had an ice cream! Perfect! The tea barn is quite small inside but has plenty of extra seating outside and in a covered marquee.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm shop

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberry latte

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberries and cream
Eden had one last play in the park and we bought some goodies in the farm shop before returning home. They had a really good selection of pickles and sauces, unusual flavour crisps, jams and other treats. The most important purchase was the ‘Extra Thick Jersey Double Cream’ for our strawberries.

We were there for about 4 hours and Eden had a fabulous time. From picking the strawberries to playing in the park and exploring the nature trail. Lots of fun was had.

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberry fields forever
I would definitely recommend a visit there. It’s best to check their website or Facebook page first before going to find out whether they have strawberries ready for picking.’

We will be trying other ‘pick your own’ venues for Strawberry Picking in Essex and will reporting our findings soon!

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking strawberries

Thank you for reading ‘Strawberry Picking in Essex’. Please enjoy our short film of our trip!

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Strawberry picking in Essex

Real Mum Reviews
Days Out, Home, Unusual

Alice in Wonderland – Nevendon Manor Events

Unusual themed day out for Alice fans

Sometimes it’s nice to disappear down the rabbit hole and away from reality. What better way than getting away from it all by having a morning with Alice in wonderland. Nevendon Manor Events in Wickford, Essex organise really amazing events. They normally have them running during the school holidays and are themed. You can purchase time slot tickets several months in advance. Tickets cost on this occasion £14.30 per person.

This was actually my third time attending one of their events. We have previously attended both Willy Wonka and the Wizard of Oz themed events. Both were so good that I knew the Alice In Wonderland themed ‘Hatter’s Wonderland’ wouldn’t disappoint!

I can only describe the events as emersing yourself in a live action theatre production. For Eden, being 4 years old, this is truly a magical experience. Like the most amazing role play game where everyone is dressed up and playing along with her. During the 1 hour duration it takes to walk round the grounds, Eden is transported into a fantasy world that she really believes is real.

Morning in Wonderland Alice in wonderland
The Characters

The grounds are always decorated so beautifully, truly theming it to the event. Today the garden was dotted with toadstools and flowers as you walked between the areas. We were lead around the grounds by Alice as we followed her on her adventure through Wonderland. Each area had a new character to meet from the story, the white rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter and my personal favourite, the Red Queen! She accused me of eating her jam tarts and ordered the executioner to chop off my head, luckily Alice and the children saved me. It was all so much fun!

Morning in Wonderland with Alice
Morning in Wonderland walking with Alice
Morning in Wonderland Tweedle Dee and Tweedle DumMorning in Wonderland Caterpillar Morning in Wonderland red queenMorning in Wonderland mad hatter
The actors and actresses are all really professional, never breaking character and interacting so well with the children. Many of them children themselves.

Morning in Wonderland mad hatter close upMorning in Wonderland Mad Hatters Tea PartyMorning in Wonderland Eden as Alice
It was such a magical experience. We look forward to going to more events with them! Would recommend popping it on your list of things to do, especially if you’re a fan of Alice!

Morning in Wonderland Door KnobMorning in Wonderland
Morning in Wonderland Eden as Alice
Thank you for reading A Morning in Wonderland, for more information pop over to Nevendon Manor Events!

Pin for later, Emma x

Pinable image of Alice in wonderland event at Nevendon Manor