Days out, Travel

A weekend in Somerset

Our third trip away in the camper van was to Somerset, near Cheddar, staying at Bucklegrove Holiday Park (at the end of November!). It had been quite difficult to find a campsite/ caravan site that was open and had availability for this weekend. It seems a lot of sites close late November. It was the coldest (though lovely and sunny) weekend we’d had so far so I was determined to take as many snuggly clothes and sleeping gear as possible, knowing that I hate getting cold. In the weeks before our trip I’d bought thermals for myself, fleecy onesies for the children, a snugly throw and some hot water bottles. We might be saving some money by not staying in hotels but the amount we’ve spent kitting out our camper van…….. well!

Somerset weekend

We were pretty organised and left not long after the school pick up amazingly, stopping on the way for a takeaway McDonald’s. Also amazingly the children stayed awake for the majority of the trip, and only falling asleep about half an hour away from the site. We found the campsite really easily but unfortunately the owners were not around to let us in but another caravanner was. We picked our place (correctly), not far from the toilet & shower block and set up for the night with both the children very dozy and sleepy.

We got the top of the camper set up with sleeping bags, duvets, throws all ready to go. Charley woke a little so at least she got changed into her pyjamas whilst Bodhi remained asleep. It’s a bit of a mission as we have to move the car seats onto the front seats out-of-the-way. Once we’ve (actually my husband) has worked out how to put the awning up it should be a lot easier as we can put car seats etc into that, creating a bit more space in the van.

Once Charley and I were up the top and Bodhi had been put onto the front seat asleep Tim could set up the downstairs into sleep mode. We had the heater on most of the night and whilst it was pretty fresh upstairs we all had a pretty good sleep, only being woken by the children about 6.30am.

Somerset Charley 1

Somerset chilly morn

We had breakfast in the van, fruit and yoghurt for the grown ups so we could enjoy bad food for the rest of the day and variety boxes of cereal for the children.

After showering and dressing (shower block was clean and spacious with plenty of hot water – something I’m still getting used to!) we headed for a day out at Wookey Hole, not realising that the Winter Wonderland was on. We had a lovely chat with Father Christmas in the grotto, where Charley and Bodhi were both happy to have their photos taken and receive a present. A big change from a few years ago.

Wookey Father Christmas

Lunch was great and all the hot food looked really tempting, but I sensibly stuck to some soup whilst Tim had an amazing macaroni cheese & chips!!

It would have been a really quiet day for visitors at Wookey Hole if the whole of the district of Bristol area cubs hadn’t descended there too, which did make the soft play areas a bit of squash at times, though Charley and Bodhi were obviously very happy, Charley taking on the big sisterly role and looking after Bodhi, though I’m not sure that he needs it.

After lunch we went on the guided tour of the caves which lasted nearly an hour. It’s a casual tour, and we had a very funny guide called Brian who knew the caves really well. They are absolutely amazing and are so worth visiting. There are a few places where you have to duck down and a few steps up and down, a couple of narrower walk ways but they are just amazing to see, my photos really don’t do them justice.

Wookey Hole cave 1WH Caves 2WH Outside

I’m terrible at listening to things like this, even though I found it really interesting it just doesn’t stay in my head! I do remember him saying though that Blue Peter and Doctor Who had used one of the chambers for filming, and that the caves stay a moderate 11 degrees all year round so a bit warmer than it was outside.

Once out of the caves there are some dinosaurs and a massive King Kong statue. There was also an area to uncover some dinosaur bones which kept the children amused for a little bit.

WH King Kong

We managed to coax the children back inside for a walk around the mirror maze which is very bizarre but funny and then the children wanted to go on the softplay which was great for us as it meant we got to sit down with a hot drink. It was a bit chaotic here because of all the cubs around, but we didn’t manage to lose the children and they had a great time.

WH mirrors

At three o’clock there was another showing of their Christmas themed circus show. Local children trained three times a night preparing for the shows and they were just brilliant. Juggling, skating, hula hoops, high bars, magic tricks and some of the children really didn’t look much older than Charley but they were all so confident and obviously loved doing it. At the end of the show a massive inflatable Father Christmas popped up and children could go and have their photo taken with it. Charley also got her hair covered in  spray snow (though we’re not sure where it came from!!).

IMG_7230

We had a last look around a model village and it was pretty much time for the site to close and us to head back to the campsite.

However, once we arrived back at the campsite we thought we might go into Wells for dinner rather than get comfy in the camper, so off we drove.

We found a lovely pub and managed to get a table just under the TV playing a rugby game but the atmosphere, menu and wine were just right so we stayed in there for a meal. Bodhi was happy to play with his little train set he’d been given from Santa and Charley was happy to do some drawing and I was very happy to have a few glasses of wine. Win, win all round. Tim had the rugby to watch!

IMG_7239

The children fell asleep again in the van on the way home so we again got all the bedding out and then pretty much put them to sleep in what they were wearing and they had a great nights sleep. It was so toasty that night in the camper that I didn’t need to wear my fluffy socks and I took my beanie hat off too!

We woke up about 7ish, I can’t remember who but someone needed the toilet – that sort of means the whole van has to wake up!

After our breakfast I took the children swimming in the site pool. There is a code to get in which I’d fortunately remembered to take with me. There was a toddler pool as well as a deeper pool, which were both lovely and warm compared to the air outside of the pool. I had to persuade the children to get out of the pool when Bodhi started going a bit blue! We warmed up with a shower and headed back to do the last tidying up of the camper van before going to the local pub up the road. We had a really tasty Sunday lunch, fuelling us for the journey home.

Considering it was one of the chilliest weekends of Autumn so far I think we did pretty well in the van. I am looking forward though to using the van in the warmer months when we can spend more time outside.

 

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A November day out at RHS Wisley
Days out

A November day out at Wisley

RHS Wisley is one of my favourite places to go with the children on a day out. We’ve been members since they were little and always have a lovely day there.

A November day out at RHS Wisley

As the weather was looking dry on Wednesday we decided to go there for some lunch and a little walk. It happened to be an extremely windy day so we ended up spending a lot more time inside than out!

As soon we get inside the gardens it makes me feel chilled and relaxed. There is just a lovely atmosphere there, with the children free to run about with no cares.

RHS Gardens Wisley

There are hills to climb, walls to walk on, grass to run through and flowers to smell and gaze at, amongst many other things.

It is kept so well and there is always something amazing to see. The changing leaves in Autumn, the butterflies in the greenhouse in the new year months, flowers throughout the year. There are fruit and vegetables to see, and herbs to smell. There are fountains, waterfalls and ponds. Fish, ducks and birds to watch.

First stop was lunch as usual. There is always a great choice of food for adults and children. It seemed most other people had ventured inside too, out of the extreme wind!

With full tums we headed off in the direction of the greenhouse, stopping to look at the pond and taking some snaps along the way. Charley enjoying walking along the bendy benches.

One of the bigger ponds at Wisley

Inside the Greenhouse it was warm and barmy, a welcome warm up from the gusts outside. A bright display of chrysanthemums, bypassed by Charley as she could hear the waterfall. We had a quick look before Charley was pulling my mums hand to go up the slope to see the waterfall from above. We quickly gazed at the colours of the tropical plants as we walked along.

Flowers at Wisley

Up to the top and into the even warmer climate, where my mum was quickly pulled back down the stairs.

A few more photos and a walk around the plants inside and we had to go back out again. Fortunately Charley had heard me talking about the soft play area and was certain that was where she wanted to go.

So me and my mum grudgingly headed off to soft play (who am I kidding – did I mention the wind?). Hot drinks for the adults and fun for the little ones in the wind battered soft play area!

Wisley soft play

Bodhi was very excited to see a number of tractors going back and forth passed the windows.

A bit more energy used up and it was time to head back to the car before the rain came.

We headed back along the scenic path, with tiered gardens to the right, above the numerous ponds. The gardens were being tidied and cut back over the winter.

Wisley tiered gardens and pond

There were advertisements of Christmas lights and walks in the next few weeks so I’m hoping there will be some dry days to come back for a visit.

 

Have you been to Wisley Gardens before? What did you think?

Do you have any Rhs Gardens near you? Have you visited them?

Monkey and Mouse

 

Run Jump Scrap!

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Days out, Gardening

5 fab things this week – summer 9

Half way through August already and I’ve not done half the things I wanted to. Its been a bit of an up and down week. A few more steps from Bodhi, too much medical stuff but some great days out so not a bad one all in all.

5 fab things this week - summer 9

 

Eye appointment all good

One of the routine checks that Charley has to have due to arthritis is regular eye checks. This is to make sure she doesn’t have a condition called Uveitis (inflammation of the uvea). So far she has been clear of this but its always a little worrying when she goes for these tests that something will show up as there aren’t always any symptoms to show for it. This time she was due an eye-sight test – looking at pictures up close and far away. Much more interesting than the test we get as adults. Then she had an eye appointment to check the cells of her eyes with a slit lamp. Her eyes were absolutely fine – its always a relief to get this one over and done with.

Dancing at the hospital
Dancing in the fan air at the hospital

He’s up, he’s up, he’s up oh no he’s down

Yay, Bodhi is doing a lot more walking by himself and he is so excited about it (and me too!). Things are about to change again.

First footsteps

A trip to Hobbledown

We had a trip to Hobbledown on Monday of this week. If you missed it click here. It was a great day out. There were plenty of animals for the children to see, sand pit areas, a soft play area, jumping pillows and more. This was definitely one of our highlights of the summer.Crystallite mine bucket

A family day

We had a lovely day on Saturday. Everyone was asleep when my alarm went off so I decided we’d have a morning off swimming to catch up on some sleep, it’s so refreshing to have an uninterrupted sleep! Much needed. Anyway, we had a nice lunch in our local Bills and then went to the park where they were having a celebration for the end of WW2 with singing, food stalls, face painting, rides for children etc. Charley had to have her face painted again with some very pretty flowers. The day was finished off by the children doing some watering in the garden when we got home. Watering in the garden

A visit to Rural Life Centre

Our week was finished off by a trip to the Rural Life Centre as they were having a family day for the end of WW2 as well. It was another lovely day out with lots of things to do for the children including children’s races, a street party, apple bobbing, hat making and rides on the light railway. Even my husband got to have a go at wood-turning on a foot powered lathe.

Wood turning at Rural Life Centre

TWTWC
A trip to Hobbledown
Days out

A trip to Hobbledown

On Monday we had a great day out at Hobbledown in Epsom with a friend and her children.

(Children under 2 are free, children over 2 are £13.50 before 3pm and over 18’s are cheaper (yep that’s right) at £12.50.)

Hobbledown describes itself as “a unique farm park adventure”. That describes it perfectly.

We started off by looking at some of the animals. Firstly the deer, then the otters (hiding to start with), a Hobbledown character and then the meerkats.

Hobbledown character
Do I have to stand here mummy?

Then around the next corner was a massive sand play area, the “Crystallite mine”, with buckets on mini zip wires, big slides, tunnels, water squirters and probably more that I didn’t get to see. The slide was a big attraction to our little ones, and even I got to have a go with Bodhi on my lap.

Slide

Crystallite mine bucket

Crystallite mine filling shoe with sand

They also had a go on the jumping pillows, although not for long, before they were back on the slide.

We managed to get them out of the sand to have a picnic lunch before they lost interest and wandered off to look at the Crystallite mine rock and then back into the sand.

When we’d bought the tickets we’d booked into the Hobblings Play Barn for the 13.30 to 15.00 slot. This is the great big indoor soft play area. The little ones took off as soon we were allowed in and soon disappeared into the maze of tubes and stairs, as did a lot of other little ones. I think we’d booked a busy time slot. Charley came out crying as she couldn’t find her little friend (Charley has never been very good at soft play) and it seemed to take an age (worryingly for her mum) to locate her. She’d done a good job of climbing to the top and going through a tunnel to the other side of the soft play! At this point we decided that we’d go and wander round the rest of the animals.

On the way to the animals Charley saw the face painting tent and decided she wanted to have her face painted. She asked the fairies to do a butterfly and she was very pleased to have some glitter too.

Face painting

After the face painting we went round the rest of the park.

The children were so happy to see the sheep, ponies and piggies to which there was lots of singing “Baa baa black sheep”.

Piggy

 We were then at the older children’s areas where there was zorbing, an aerial adventure course (minimum height 1.3m) and climbing towers.

There was also a large swinging hanging wicker basket that Charley took a big liking too. I think she would have been happy to stay in there for the rest of the day chatting to anyone else that popped in.

Hobbledown Farm9

We decided to stay there for dinner, as its open to 7pm, rather than get stuck in traffic and bought dinner from the Hobnosh Kitchen.

The choices for children were fairly healthy, Charley having fish fingers, rice and peas and Bodhi having a cheesy pesto pasta. Polished off with a not so healthy, but very tasty muffin. There was then time for a last play in another sand area before we got in the car for home.

It must have been a good day out as both fell asleep on the way home and were put straight into bed when we got home.

Hobbledown character

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