Browsing Tag

essex

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’.

Linking up with

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

A German Christmas Market in Essex

German Christmas Market in Essex

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

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

On arrival

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

 

Christmas German Market in Essex - elves

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

 German Market in Essex - dried orange gifts

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

Christmas German Market in Essex - Brightly lit up candle holders

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

Treat yourself

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

 

Christmas German Market in Essex Food stall

Christmas German Market in Essex - Trays of chocolate treats

Christmas German Market in Essex - German beer bottle lined up

Gift Shop

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

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

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

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

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

Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Spooky nights at barleylands blog

Spooky nights at Barleylands

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

On arrival

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

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Eden trick or treating

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

 

Halloween Hoopla with skull heads Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Inside the Farm

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

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

 

Spooky Nights at Barleylands Terror hotel

Terror Hotel Outside Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Close up of a witch Spooky Nights at Barleylands

The Ghost Train Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

Eden meeting a snake Spooky Nights at Barleylands

 

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

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

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

Three witches Spooky Nights at Barleylands

Thank you for reading ‘Spooky Nights at Barleylands’.

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

Days Out, Farms, Halloween, Outdoors, Unusual

Pumpkin Picking in Essex at Cammas Hall Farm

Pumpkin picking in Essex

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

Pumpkin Picking In Essex spooky fields forever at cammas hall

Our visit

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

 

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

 

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

Halloween at Cammas Hall

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Pumpkin Picking In Essex

 

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

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

 

Pumpkin Picking In Essex Cammas Hall wheelbarrow

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
Food

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

Outdoors

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
Thank you for reading ‘Farms in Essex – White Elm Petting Farm’

Pin it for later

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Eating Out, Food, Lifestyle

My Favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

My favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

Anyone that knows me, knows I adore a good afternoon tea! Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, Mother’s Day or baby shower, it seems to always fit the bill. It’s the combination of delicious neat little sandwiches, freshly baked scones smothered in clotted cream and dollops of jam, the dainty patterned china and all served in gorgeously pretty surroundings! I am always looking for new Afternoon Teas in Essex to try and am often asked to recommend one. So here are just a few of my favs!

The Chichester Hotel

The Chichester Hotel one gets my vote for the food itself, absolutely tonnes of it. It’s such good value for money. We paid £14.95 per head.

The Chichester Hotel ‘a charming and historic boutique venue’ is a renovated 13th century farmhouse in Wickford, Essex. The afternoon tea is served in their restaurant.

Afternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester
The Afternoon Tea

We were pleasantly surprised by the sandwiches, we received a huge tray (for 4 persons) which was followed by a second tray shortly after. That’s often my complaint at afternoon teas, never enough sandwiches, but not in this case. Sandwiches were plentiful, fresh and a good varied selection of fillings.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Sandwiches at The ChichesterAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester SconesAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester cakes
We were really impressed with all the cakes and scones, there were so many we had to take some home with us. We found the staff really polite and very helpful.
I honestly couldn’t fault our afternoon tea at The Chichester. It’s up there with the best of them and I always recommend it to friends and family. We are looking forward to trying one of their Sunday Roasts very soon.

Orsett Hall Hotel

The Orsett Hall Hotel gets my vote for its beautiful surroundings and decor. The Garden Brasserie is a gorgeously decorated restaurant with floral wallpaper, matching curtains and multicoloured chandeliers to die for!

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden BrasserieAfternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden Brasserie

The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was £19.95 per head at the time and was very nice. The menu does vary but you often get a sausage roll or another savoury treat along with the sandwiches which is a nice touch. I would say I do need extra sandwiches when I attend Orsett Hall. I think an extra round should be offered as standard. It comes beautifully presented on a traditional 3 tier cake stand. The cakes often have a quirky edge to them, whether it’s a pipette of caramel sauce to squeeze into your cake or a cake on a stick, it’s something to look forward to.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Afternoon Tea Orsett hall

Rowhill Grange Hotel

Ok so just over the border from Essex in Kent is Rowhill Grange Hotel. A silver star luxury boutique hotel that gets my vote as they treat you like royalty. The 19th century Manor House is set in impressive grounds, nice to wander through and burn off some of that cake afterwards.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange
The Afternoon Tea

This was actually booked as a gift, but on checking their website, the afternoon tea is £21.95 to £23.95. We were able to add on a children’s Afternoon Tea for Eden for just £10.

The service at the Rowhill Grange Hotel was impeccable. We were made to feel like royalty and it made it feel like a really special occasion.

The Afternoon Tea itself was delicious and Eden had her own cake stand all to herself. We were really impressed and would definitely go back.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange afternoon tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Close up of cakes Rowhill cakes
Camelia Hotel

The Camelia Hotel is a Boutique Hotel situated on the seafront just outside of Southend. If you can get the window table in their restaurant, it is a real treat. It gets my vote for their relaxed and welcoming environment. It is £16.95 per head.

The Afternoon Tea

Their afternoon tea comes with a delicious selection of sandwiches and wraps. The cake stand is filled with cakes, scones, sweets and chocolate dipped strawberries. A real treat, especially for the little ones.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Camelia Hotel SandwichesAfternoon Teas in Essex Scones camelia hotelAfternoon Teas in Essex camelia hotel cakes
Temperleys

Temperleys gets my vote for its historic charm. It is an ‘oasis of calm’ in the bustling town of Colchester. Set in a courtyard within a large walled garden, the historic building is very quaint.  You would just walk right by if you didn’t know it was there. The afternoon tea is £20 per person.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys colchesterAfternoon Teas in Essex Eden standing in front of wooden door at TemperleysAfternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys walled garden
The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was served on a traditional 3 tier cake stand with the addition of blue macaroons. They matched them to our blue baby shower theme. They were very accommodating.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys afternoon tea
These are just a few of my favourite afternoon teas in Essex (and surrounding areas). There are so many more I have on my bucket list to try very soon. I will be shortly blogging about my favourite little tearooms in Essex where I love to pop in for a cake and coffee!

Thank you for reading ‘My Favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex’.

Pin for later

Afternoon teas in essex