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

Hever Castle – Days out for kids!

Hever Castle

We had the pleasure of visiting Hever Castle in Kent recently. We absolutely love cultural days out for kids. Eden really enjoys visiting castles even at 5 years old. There is so much to explore and there is always an exciting adventure to be had for a young and imaginative mind. Hever Castle did not disappoint, a fascinating and truly charming place to visit, we had a wonderful time.

Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn so a very interesting visit for any King Henry VIII fans out there. Plenty of interesting facts to discover and sights to see.

Front view of Hever Castle

The Grounds

Hever Castle is located just outside Edenbridge in Kent. It is set within 125 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens. There is a boating lake, a yew tree maze, a water maze and brand new children’s adventure park Tudor Towers with a new play area currently being developed for the under 5s.

The gardens are simply stunning and were so much fun to explore with surprises around each corner. There are waterfalls, hidden gardens, a Pompeiian wall dotted with statues, a lake walk, a Japanese Tea House and then there are the mazes. We had so much fun chasing Eden as she led the way around the Yew tree maze. It’s a good sized maze, it wasn’t too large to get lost in and was fairly simple to solve. The water maze was unfortunately closed during our visit but is opening at Easter. You can also hire a boat on the lake or try your hand at archery during your visit.

Pompeiian Wall Sculptures in the grounds at Hever Castle

Children’s Adventure Playground

The new addition of the Tudor Towers adventure park is fantastic for kids. A huge wooden castle to explore with slides, tunnels, firemen’s poles to slide down and stairs and nets to climb. We had great fun in the play area, with so much to discover and plenty to keep the kids amused. The zip wire and tyre swing were great fun.

There was also the added bonus of a coffee kiosk at the playground so adults could relax with a hot drink whilst the children could play and let off some steam. The play area was spacious and very well designed. Most of all it inspired kids to use their imaginations, even becoming rulers of their own castle!

Tudor Towers Adventure Playground at Hever CastleEden playing at the Adventure Playground at Hever Castle

The Castle

From the outside you wouldn’t believe how large Hever Castle is. It may not look like the largest of castles initially but once you step inside there are so many rooms to explore, it just keeps going we were pleasantly surprised. The walls are adorned with paintings and beautiful wood panelling and each room is filled with interesting things to see.

As we entered the castle Eden was given an explorer trail with a quest for things to look out for in each room. This was a great way to make the visit to the castle more interactive for children. Eden was excited exploring each room looking for items on her list but also taking interest in the displays and paintings. I think she particularly enjoyed looking for the hidden door in The Drawing Room and finding all the hidden faces within the woodwork in The Astor Suite.

The Castle is simply beautiful, from the detailed walnut panelling and columns in The Inner Hall to the impressively detailed fireplace in The Dining Room. You get to visit what was once Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, The Queens Chamber with its fine collection of portraits of Henry VIII and his six wives and King Henry VIII’s bedchamber where it is thought he stayed during his courtship with Anne Boleyn. There is also a permanent exhibition in The Long Gallery with costumed figures that help bring the story to life.

 

The drawing room at Hever CastleEden doing the explorer trail at Hever Castle in Anne boleyns bedroomKind Henry VIII’s bedroom at Hever Castle Costumes models at Hever Castle

Facilities

There are a selection of restaurants and shops at Hever Castle. Whether you want to treat yourself to an ice cream, a bbq, a spot of lunch or an Afternoon Tea, there are options for everyone. Within the Hever Shop you will find the Miniature Model House exhibition. The 1/12 scale model houses are amazing, they are decorated beautifully and the attention to detail is incredible. We really enjoyed our time looking around the model houses, peering inside at the beautiful contents. They were simply breathtaking and I think inspired Eden to once own her own dolls house.

Hever Castle hold many events throughout the year, please check their website for further details. They hold themed activities and craft workshops, so be sure not to miss those. We visited on Mother’s Day and enjoyed making a Mother’s Day keyring, decorated a cupcake and there was even face painting for a small extra charge.

We had such a wonderful time at Hever Castle, we can’t wait to visit again some time very soon!

A view across the moat at Hever Castle

Thank you for reading ‘Hever Castle – Days out for kids!’ If you have enjoyed this review, please see our reviews of other cultural days out,  Leeds Castle, Lullingstone Castle and Ingatestone Hall.

Written in collaboration with Hever Castle but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

CulturedKids
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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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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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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’.

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!

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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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Days Out, Holidays

Dont miss our Butlins Bognor highlights!

Butlins Bognor

Our visit to Butlins Bognor

We visited Butlins Bognor Regis for a 4 night stay during term time. Eden is absolutely mad on Butlins. For her it’s the mix of the shows and rides that makes it such a magical place. We have been a couple of times previously and have had such a great time. Whenever there’s a Butlins advert on the telly, she begs me to go again!

The thing that can put me off Butlins is staying in the usual room and apartment accommodation. I find it can often be noisy and the decor and facilities quite basic. Occasionally there are special offers available so we took advantage of this. We decided to treat ourselves to a stay in the Ocean Hotel. We opted for a non dining package.

Butlins Bognor view of resort
Our Arrival

On arrival we were greeted at the gates and directed to our hotel. We were able to park right outside. Anyone that has visited Butlins before would know that it can be quite a walk from the car park to your accommodation usually. So this was a really handy perk.

The hotel was modern and sleek in design, with the added benefit of a Spa! We checked in at reception with no queue. We went straight up to our rooms to dump off our bags before exploring the resort.

Butlins Bognor The Ocean Hotel
I was immediately impressed by the room, it was clean, modern and spacious. Decorated in gorgeously bright vivid colours. It had a separate room along the hallway with two twin beds. The main room had another set of twin beds. There was also a small vanity area, comfy chairs and a table. We had a balcony with brilliant views over the resort. The bathroom had a shower over the bath, was of a good size and clean. There was also the added bonus of air conditioning which you would be thankful for in the warmer months.

The other perk of staying in the hotel is that house keeping and wifi were included! It’s the little things that really make a difference to your holiday.

Butlins Bognor The ocean hotel roomButlins Bognor The Ocean Hotel room view
The Entertainment

One of the good thing about Butlins is all the entertainment and activities that are included in the price of your stay.

The fairground has a really good retro vibe with traditional fairground rides and playing hits from the 50’s and 60’s. There is plenty to keep the kids happy, from the Helter Skelter, Carousel, Trampolines and Dodgems to the fun fairground games and arcades.

Butlins Bognor Helter Skelter Fairground
There is a great swimming pool with flumes, rapids, waves and splash area for the little ones. It’s one of Eden’s favourite things to do on our visit to Butlins. It seems to be busier in the mornings so my advice would be to wait until later in the day.

There is plenty of outdoor activities too, adventure golf, football, volleyball, archery to name but a few.

Inside the Skyline Pavilion there is a whole host of things to do. With shops, soft play area, arcades, tots fairground, bear factory and bowling. There is so much to keep your little ones busy during your stay. It is no wonder that Eden loves her visits to Butlins.

The Shows

We always check the itinerary for show times at the start of the holiday. I then used the Butlins App to add the shows we didn’t want to miss, to the calendar on my phone.

Eden is the biggest Skyline Gang fan, for those not in the ‘know’, they are well known Butlins characters! A fun and colourful group that sing and dance and just make the kids so happy…adults too!

Butlins Bognor Skyline Gang

There is often a main show that plays once or twice throughout the week, like a pantomime. This time round it was Whittington Rocks, it was  brilliant, the comedy was so funny and it had great music throughout. The shows are always of such a high standard, they rival any pantomime we seen locally.
There are also lots of other shows during the week, many repeated so you don’t miss any. The Skyline Gang have 3 shows, along with Billie & Bonnie Bear (popular Butlins Characters). There were Teletubbies, Mr Men and Dangermouse as the character shows and various puppet shows on. There are photo opportunities so kids get to meet some of their favourite characters in real life!

We went along to the Playdoh Show which was very clever, a black light show with glow in the dark Playdoh characters. Eden was amazed by it.

The entertainment crew at Butlins literally work their socks off all week. The Redcoats are so good with the children, playing games and dancing with the kids while they wait for shows to start throughout the day.

Butlins Bognor Puppet showButlins Bognor Teletubbies showButlins Bognor whittington rocks pantomime

Dining

Our first morning we struggled to find somewhere for breakfast. There didn’t seem to be many options available. It was either the dining plan buffets or a coffee shop that only had cakes. One of the pubs did offer a full English cooked breakfast but we just wanted something simple. Finally after asking around the resort we found the best little coffee shop in the Wave Hotel reception. It was lovely and quiet in there and had great breakfast and lunch options. Every morning we went along for our sausage sandwich and latte! It was a little bit of heaven. A perfect little pit stop away from the main hustle and bustle of Butlins. This was Eden’s favourite place to eat, sausages with toast each morning, she was one happy lady!

During the course of the day we found we weren’t too hungry so would stop for just a snack, ice cream or pancake. We had our main meal around 5pm when there was a break from shows.

If you’re not on a dining plan then there are some really good restaurants to choose from.

Our favourite was Turner’s, excellent service and the food is of a really high standard but still good value for money. Good options for the kids too. It was delicious!

We also ate at The Diner and Papa Johns, but Turners was our favourite so we visited there twice. Bognor has also added a new Traditional Fish and Chips restaurant too. There are pub and fast food options also available.

Location

Butlins Bognor is situated right next to a beautiful stony beach. We took a stroll along the seafront, bought ice creams and sat and watched the world go by. If you follow the seafront further along it leads into town which is handy if you need a pharmacy or need to stock up on any forgotten toiletries.

Butlins Bognor beach

Extras

As a special treat, Eden got a fairy makeover whilst at Butlins in the ‘Cute as Candi’ beauty salon. She was made to feel extra special and was transformed into a fairy princess for the day! You can read more about it here. It was fantastic and absolutely worth the money.

Butlins Bognor fairy makeoverButlins Bognor Fairy Makeover Cute as Candi
Thank you for reading ‘Our Butlins Bognor Highlights’

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

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