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Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food, Home

A Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex

The Cardamon Tea Lounge

A couple of years ago we found The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester, Essex. We happened to be walking by and spotted this quaint little tea room and decided to give it a try. Since then it has been one of our firm favourite tea rooms. We aren’t the only ones that like it, it won the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards 2017 for Best Coffee/Tea Shop. Now its quickly becoming a popular spot for wonderful and imaginative Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex.

My daughter fell in love with this place right away and refers to it as the ‘Alice Cafe’. As you step inside there are so many wonderful trinkets and handmade crafts, many Alice in Wonderland themed and available to buy. There are teapots and cups as lampshades hanging from the ceiling and spoons as door handles. Every time I visit I see something new. My daughters favourite part is the little cupboard under the stairs, a cosy spot for the little ones to play.

Shop front of The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester. Themed Afternoon Tea in EssexSome Alice in wonderland crafts and decorations Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex.

A Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex

The Cardamon Tea Lounge create wonderful and imaginative food and children’s platters, each with your chosen theme. Everything is made on the premises with such attention to detail. I particularly love their Alice in wonderland creations. It’s so much fun having your salad served in a giant teacup!

More recently The Cardamon Tea Lounge have been creating other themed afternoon teas. Introducing for any true Harry Potter fan ‘a Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea’. Both Eden and I are huge Harry Potter fans so as soon as I saw this, I couldn’t wait to try it. Any Witch or Wizard would be delighted with this magical wizard’s themed afternoon tea in Essex.

The Food

Before our visit we picked 4 sandwich choices from the menu. There were some really interesting and tempting flavours available. We chose ham, brie and apple, it was simply delicious, we also went for egg mayo, cream cheese and cucumber and salmon. We opted for mixed bread and when our sandwiches arrived one side was white and the other brown! What a great idea! The sandwiches were freshly made and simply delicious. They came served in a wooden chest! Our Wizard’s themed afternoon tea was filled with so many magical and exciting delights. We were treated to our very own multicoloured potions (which tasted amazing), popcorn served in a cauldron, and we even had our own mandrake cake! The scones were pumpkin spiced and the white chocolate and almond cake was light as air. Alongside the Wizards afternoon tea you can choose from over 50 variations of tea. We opted for the Dragonfruit tea and it was fruity and refreshing, it complemented the Afternoon Tea perfectly.

Wizards themed afternoon tea in EssexSandwiches in chest Harry Potter afternoon teaWizards themed afternoon tea, potions and mandrake chocolate cakeAfternoon tea cakes Harry Potter Wizard themed Tea cup in front of the Wizards Themed Afternoon Tea

Children’s Afternoon Tea Platter

The Cardamon Tea Lounge offers lots of wonderfully themed platters for children and the Wizard’s platter is no exception. The sandwiches were accompanied by many magical treats, a pretzel broomstick, a cauldron of popcorn, veggie sticks, a cupcake, sweets and a drink. Great value for £6.50 and Eden was so excited when it arrived, I think she enjoyed every bite!

Any witch or wizard would have a truly magical and enchanting time working their way through this Wizards feast!


Children’s Wizards platter Eden wearing Harry Potter glasses Wizards themed afternoon tea in Essex

Each month The Cardamon Tea Lounge will be changing their themed afternoon tea… next up ‘A Tale as Old as Time. There are so many exciting afternoon themed afternoon teas to come.  All afternoon tea’s should be prebooked, please get in touch with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, 44 St John’s Street, Colchester, Essex CO2 7AD. Telephone number: 01206 504180.

To read more about our favourite afternoon teas in Essex click here.

Wizards themed afternoon tea in Essex Harry Potter

Thank you for reading ‘A Wizard’s Afternoon Tea’.

Written in collaboration with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, we were invited along to review their afternoon tea, please note that all views and opinions are my own.

Days Out, Museums, Outdoors, Parks

February Half Term Days Out in Essex

Hanningfield reservior woods

Half term days out in Essex

So February half term is almost upon us and its another week to entertain the kids. So here are a few ideas for February half term days out in Essex.

Thames Chase Forest Centre

Tues 13th & Wed 14th February 2018 – Make your very own nest box to take home, plant wildflowers and design a poster.

Thurs 15th February 2018 – Follow a compass trail around the forest.

Drop in for as long as you like, no need to book. Why not also explore our natural play trail or collect a brilliant Highway Rat activity pack!

£3 donation per child.

For more info visit their website. Address: Broadfields,  Pike Lane, Upminster, RM14 3NS.

Hanningfield Reservoir

Hanningfield Reservoir in Downham, Billericay has the Wind in the Willows sculptures in the forest. 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. They are holding several activities during half term week:

Crazy Clay Creations – Tue, 13/02/2018 – 10:00am – 1:00pm. Make crafty creations to take home using clay. £3 per child. No need to book.

Brilliant Bugs Trail – Sun, 11/02/2018 – 10:00am – 4:00pm. Test your creepy crawly knowledge on our brilliant bugs nature trail. £2 per trail sheet. No need to book
For more information visit their website. Address: Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre, Hawkswood Road, Downham, CM11 1WT,

Half term days out in Essex

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.

Some of the events they are holding are:

Plant labels for Mr McGregor – Thu, 15/02/2018 – 1:00pm – 4:00pm. Follow Peter Rabbit Trail and visit the garden areas. Go inside to make some animal plant labels for you to take home. Drop in event but places may be limited at busy times. Accompanied children only.

Bug Craft – Fri, 16/02/2018 – 11:00am – 3:30pm. Get creative and design your own bugs in the indoor classroom.

For more information visit their website. Address: Langdon Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve, Third Avenue, Lower Dunton Road.Basildon SS16 6EB.

Half term days out in Essex

Belfairs Woodland Centre

Valentine’s Crafts Drop In Day – Sun, 11/02/2018 – 10:00am – 3:00pm. Drop In Craft Day for Valentine’s themes crafts for children of all ages! No need to book.

There is a small charge per craft and children must be accompanied.

For more information visit their website.

Essex Wildlife Trust are holding lots of fun events at the other centres, but many of them you need to book in advance so I would advise visiting their website first. They range from Button Crafts, building bird boxes to Space Days and Fairytale Fun.

Museum of Power

The Museum includes numerous power-related exhibits that will interest all ages, many working examples of various power sources, machinery, equipment and tools. In addition, in the former workshop, the Steam Pump Tea Rooms offer a selection of refreshments. Outside in the grounds more attractions can be found including a model village, picnic area and the miniature railway.

Rock Painting for Kids – Take your youngsters along to the Museum of Power during the February Half Term Holiday and have fun painting and finding rocks around the museum grounds. This is a popular activity with children and adults alike. Note that the museum is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays but open from Weds 14th to Sunday 18th February. Normal entry fee applies. Adults: £5.00; Concessions: Senior citizens and students: £4.50; Children 5 to 15 incl £2:00; Children 4 and under: FREE.

Please visit their facebook page or website for further details.  Museum of Power, Hatfield Road, Langford, Maldon, Essex CM9 6QA. Tel: +44 (0)1621 843183.

Essex Police Museum

An absolutely fascinating place, small but packed full of interesting facts and information and has an area aimed at children.

Fingerprint Art – Sat 10th Feb, Weds 14th Feb and Sat 17th Feb. How many different pictures can you make with your fingerprints? Can you make a fingerprint story? All crafts and resources are provided along with examples and staff on hand if needed. The museum is also open for browsing 10am – 4pm. The activity is suitable for all ages with varying levels of parental support. £2 per participant. All monies raised go directly to the Essex Police Museum to help fund it.

Visit their website for further information. Essex Police Museum, Chelmsford CM2 6DN.

Essex police museum - Half term days out in EssexEssex police museum fingerprinting

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

Here’s an excuse to have some fun and get your hands dirty with a range of themed activities whatever the weather. The line-up includes a garden trail, splash puddles, vintage tractors, art & craft workshops (Mon-Fri only), storytelling (Tue only) and the Great British Mud Pie Off (Fri only).
Normal garden admission applies. For further information visit their website.

Havering Museum

Dinosaur Family Fun day. 15th Feb – Drop in with the family anytime between 11:00am and 3:00pm. Have fun exploring Britain’s dinosaur heritage through crafts, quizzes and other fun. Suitable for 4 – 10 year olds. No booking in advance required.

Admission: One adult admission of £3.00 admits up to four children FREE. Address: 19-21 High Street, Romford, Essex RM1 1JU.

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 a large 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.

Weds14th Feb – Scrapbook Safari – Is your little one ready for the adventure of a lifetime, Scrapbook Safari is the perfect day out! After the children immerse themselves on an expedition around Hylands Estate, learning about the plants wildlife that surround them, the fun moves inside where they assemble their own scrapbook. Scrapbook Safari is aimed at primary school aged children and their parents. Booking is essential and can be made on their website.

Please check their website for opening dates and times of the house and cafe. For more information please visit their website.

Hylands houseWooden Castle olay area at Hylands House

Barleylands Farm Park

Lambing Live. All week 10am to 4pm. This February half term, join Barleylands for Lambing Live. Farmers will be on hand to answer all your questions regarding the adorable newborns plus there will be interactive talks about shepherding and much more. You’ll also be able to get up close with the newborn animals.

You can buy tickets on their website.  Barleylands, Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD.

Hadleigh Park

Hadleigh Park are hosting Warrior Week, you need to book online in advance here.  Ages 6 years and older. Take part in a variety of activities including Archery, Slingshots, Spears and Target Games. They are also hosting a Teddy Bear Warriors for under 5’s on Tuesday 12th February.

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.
They are holding several events through half term week, like Button crafts and plate decorating but you do need to book in advance.
For more information please visit their website.

The Gruffalos child sculpture in Thorndon Country Park Woods

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Thank you for reading ‘February Half Term Days Out in Essex’. For more of our favourite local free days out, see here.

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Books, Crafts, Family Life, Food, Home, My weekly round up

My little loves December

My Little Loves for December

So it’s mid December and things are about to get crazy! It’s time to reflect on all my favourite parts of the month so far!


We were kindly send a copy of Binx the Jinx to review. A rhyming story about Binx, an incredibly cute black cat looking for friendship! At first Binx struggles to make new friends and gets bullied by the other cats because he is different. Then he meets Gin who proves that Binx isn’t a Jinx at all but in fact the luckiest cat around! The book is written and illustrated by Michelle Hird, it is beautiful, bright and colourful. Eden really enjoyed the pictures and it was enjoyable to read. We have loved reading this book and have read it several times already!

My little loves December Binx the Jinx

Binx the Jinx by michelle Hird


We have watched just about every Christmas film this month. Our favourite Christmas films have to be:

Elf, The Polar Express, The Snowman and the Snowdog, The Elf Story & Arthur Christmas.


Eden told me the sweetest thing, she told me ‘Mummy do you know you’re my best friend? You are my BFF’.

Sometimes that girl is just too cute for words!


This week I finally made time to make my Christmas rag wreath! Using a wire wreath frame and lots of torn pieces of fabric (about 1 inch x 5 inch in size). You simply tie each piece on to the frame. It didn’t take very long, was very simple to make and I think you’ll agree looks very festive.

My little loves Christmas rag wreath handmade


Well this week we got lots of snow! This was Eden’s first proper snow that she can remember. The last time we had heavy snowfall was back in 2012 and Eden was just a few months old. So we wore… lots of layers! Unfortunately all of the gloves I’ve bought Eden are knitted and woolly, she doesn’t actually own a waterproof pair. I improvised, popping in one pair of gloves, a plastic bag to stop her hands getting wet and another pair of gloves on top! Sadly they slipped off her hand every time she threw a snowball so a bit of epic fail, lol!My little loves December Eden in the snowjEden making snow angels in the snowEden and I in the snowEden hugging her first ever snowman


This week, I discovered a delightful little tea room in Brentwood Essex called Merrymeade Tea Room situated in Merrymeade House. We enjoyed a scrumptious afternoon tea and because we’re in December it had featured some yummy festive treats. It was brilliant value at £11.99 a head and Eden even had a kids one all to herself. One of my favourite parts of an afternoon tea has to be the sandwiches. The bread was so soft and fresh and had a good selection of fillings. The carrot cake and mini brownie Christmas puddings really were delicious. We can’t wait to visit again soon, we definitely recommend!

Visit their Facebook page for further details here.

My little loves December Merrymeade Tea RoomAfternoon tea at Merrymeade Tea RoomsMerrymeade Tea Rooms picture from outside

And lastly

I have been busy every day coming up with new elf on the shelf ideas. I’ve been trying to use new ideas as Eden would remember if I repeated many of them from last year so the pressure has been on. Here are some of my favourites I’ve used for 2017 so far. They certainly are cheeky elves, Eden is so excited each morning to see what they have been up too!

Elf on the shelf ideas wrapped in Christmas paperElf on the shelf ideas mini gingerbread house Elf’s knitting Elves playing snowball target practiceThe elves leaving the elf story movie to watch

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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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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

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’.

Days Out, Farms, Indoor Play, Outdoors, Parks

Farm in Essex – White Elm Petting Farm

Farm in essex white elm petting farm

White Elm Petting Farm

I am always looking for new days out. As Eden is such an animal lover, we particularly love finding a new farm in Essex to visit. One of our favourite all rounders is White Elm Petting Farm in Bicknacre, Essex. The farm is still relatively new and they are continually improving and working on it.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm entrance
The farm is based within the grounds of White Elm Garden Centre. It’s not just a garden centre offering the usual plants and shrubs on sale. It’s more than that, there is also a selection of log cabin shops with a whole host of individual businesses selling Baby clothes to Soaps. There is also a Deli, Florist and antique furniture shop.

The Farm

White Elm Petting Farm is a family run farm with over a 100 animals including Pygmy Goats, Alpacas, Sheep, Rheas, Pigs, Goats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ducks, Minature Pony, Chickens, Geese & Wallabies. Our favourites are a Breed of sheep that are so sweet and their faces look just like teddy bears!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm teddy bear sheep
Entrance fees are reasonable £4.95 adults, £3.95 kids and under 2’s free. This also includes access to the Play Barn, Outdoor Playground, Digger Pit and Tractor Track..

You have the option of buying a bucket of feed when you enter. Eden absolutely loves getting hands on and feeding the animals. You can feed pretty much all the animals there, apart from a couple that have signs up to say otherwise. It’s a lovely relaxed farm and they encourage you to interact with the animals and pet them if you wish. There are plenty of hand washing stations as you walk round to clean up afterwards.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm animals

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding goats

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding animals Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

White Elm Garden centre has a lovely tearoom. There is always a huge selection of delicious handmade cakes on offer to tempt you. There is also an extensive menu, from panini’s to fully cooked meals. They also offer a great roast dinner on a Sunday! Be warned don’t get there too late as they have been known to sell out!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm tea room

There is also a snack bar in the Play Barn.

Play Barn

There is a great indoor Play Barn which is included in the cost of entry to the farm. A large spacious area with seating and a snack bar. It’s a great play area for the kids with a small separate area for younger ones.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm play Barn


Outside they have a children’s playground, tractor track and digger pit to keep the kids entertained. This area is gated off.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm playgroundFarms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm outdoor play area
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Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm