Easter at Chatsworth

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Easter at Chatsworth

8 April 2017 –  23 April 2017

Last week we were kindly invited to attend Easter at Chatsworth.

We arrived on the impressive grounds of Chatsworth at around 11.00am and it was a stunning, sunny morning. We were all super excited and didn’t know what to do first. Our pass allowed us to visit the farmyard, house and gardens – so we were spoilt for choice. We knew there was going to be huge Easter Egg hunts, Eggspress Trailer rides, and hands-on spring activities for those who visit Chatsworth this Easter.

We asked the kids what they wanted to do first so they sprinted towards the farmyard and adventure playground area. They loved seeing the chickens and ducks roaming freely through the park and spotting the names of the animals, such as this lovely lady, Jasmine.

There was also an area in which the kids could meet some of the animals, which included learning how to milk a cow, meeting some baby chicks and the opportunity to brush the guinea pigs – which the kids loved (and which prompted, “Mummy, can we buy a guinea pig?”).

Whenever we visit Chatsworth playground, my son always has to stop first to ride on the mini tractors and see the chickens – I’m guessing he was having a whale of a time from this photo! ha ha.
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So off they sprinted towards the park to let off some steam in the adventure playground. I cannot tell you how magical this playground is! There are areas where the children can play in the sand and also fetch water from the nearby stream. There is also super speedy slide together with lots of rope bridges for the kids to run along. This area has something for children (and adults) of all ages.
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There are also lots of areas where you can sit and eat and share your lunch with the local ducks wondering around the park, so we had a little picnic before setting off on our next adventure.
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We decided to head off to the gardens as we had heard that there were some extra special Easter Eggs to find ….and the kids were SO egg-cited! Of course we had to collect an ice-cream on our way there too.
When we reached the garden entrance, the kids were given a map of the gardens so they knew what places to point out, such as the maze and the water fountain.
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We had never visited the gardens before, as the children are usually too tired after running around the adventure playground or the house, so this was a massive surprise to us. I hadn’t realised just how enormous the gardens were and how utterly breath-taking they are. There was lots to see and explore, including the water fountain which the kids loved as it kept spraying them.
Along our route there were lots of interesting things for the kids to spot, such as the ‘wonky bushes’ as the kids called them, the waterfall and this elephant statue.
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The most exciting part was that there were loads of gorgeous, sparkly Easter Eggs hidden amongst the gardens and they couldn’t get enough of them. Although, kids being kids, they want to try and get the egg and smash it open and my friend and I had to explain that they weren’t Kinder eggs and we can’t break them!
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This egg was the most precious egg to them as they had to climb a little to get to it. It was hidden really well so they were delighted when they were able to tick this off their list.
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 After all the egg hunting we were about to head off to the house to explore further, but realise that the children were exhausted. We had been on the grounds for 4 hours so their little legs were tired and, to be quite honest, my feet were aching too.
We had an amazing day and the weather was very kind to us too. Fortunately we remembered the sun cream as the kids were outdoors for pretty much the whole day.
As I always say when I visit Chatsworth, it is simply stunning and takes my breath away every time. We always manage to find new places to explore and, as usual, we didn’t get to do everything we wanted as all that fun and sun wiped us all out.
If you have the time and you want to see Derbyshire at its best, then you must make sure your visit Chatsworth House and Gardens during the Easter holidays.

For ticket details, please visit Easter at Chatsworth or for more information, visit www.chatsworth.org

*Please note, we were sent tickets to visit the house and gardens for purpose of this review but all views are my own.

Easter at Chatsworth – Ticket Giveaway

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Easter at Chatsworth

8 April 2017 –  23 April 2017

Huge Easter Egg hunts, Eggspress Trailer rides, and hands-on spring activities are just some of the treats in store for those who visit Chatsworth this Easter.

 
Spread across the house, garden and farmyard, there’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy at Chatsworth this Easter holiday. As well as the hugely popular Easter Egg hunts taking place several times a day in the fields adjoining the farmyard, visitors can also take a ride on the Easter Eggspress trailer ride through the park.
There will be animal sessions in the farmyard where visitors can see newborn lambs and chicks, before letting off steam in the adventure playground.

 

For ticket information please visit – Easter at Chatsworth 

CLICK HERE for your chance to a win a family pass (2 adults, 3 children ) to attend Easter at Chatsworth

Closing date for the giveaway is 31th March 2017.

For more information, visit www.chatsworth.org

 

Christmas at Chatsworth – The Nutcracker

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Christmas at Chatsworth – The Nutcracker

5 November 2016 – 3 January 2017

 Last week, my family and I were kindly invited to attend Christmas at Chatsworth – The Nutcracker.

It was a cold, crisp morning, the grounds were stunning and we were able to see all the animals freely roaming the fields on our approach to the house. We arrived around 10.00am which meant we were able to avoid queues in the grounds and in the car park. This also gave us to chance to explore the Chatsworth estate, gift shop and grab a coffee – before heading off to the house to see The Nutcracker.

My son was very excited as we told him to keep his eyes peeled for the Nutcrackers around the house. The staff were also dressed accordingly for the Nutcracker theme, including some beautiful Ballerinas. We were advised by the Chatsworth staff to keep an eye out for the toy mice which were hiding around the house (we had to count the number of them hidden in each room, which my son loved).

As soon as we entered the house, we were in awe of the amazing decorations. There were SO many Christmas trees around the route of the Nutcracker tour, simply breathtaking.

 

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Whilst on the look out for the toy mice, we came across this stunning room which was gingerbread themed. There was a sweet train that went all around the gingerbread house and there were stunning Christmas trees that were decorated with gingerbread men and candy canes.


The tour took us around the house, up the stairs and to a dressing-up room, and then onto ‘the Ballerina bath’. I can’t tell you just how incredible the house is, it absolutely took our breath away. From the stunning artwork on the ceilings to the amazing windows and statues around the house.

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Once we had counted the mice, we arrived at the end of the tour where children could write a wish on a tag and place it on the wishing tree, which was really quite sweet. This is where you could see the ballerinas projected onto the walls and, my son’s favourite part, where he got to hold hands with one of the actual ballerinas.

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On your way out of the tour you enter the Orangery where the gift shop is. The gift shop gives you the opportunity to buy some Nutcracker goodies (which we did, we bought the book and of course a toy mouse ) along with Chatsworth Farm merchandise and some lovely jewellery, books etc. Some great gifts for all ages.

It was still a little cold outside so we had a short wander around the gardens and then headed for some lunch in the restaurant. After lunch we had a short walk up to the farmyard and play area. This place is amazing, there is lots of fun to be had for all ages. The farm was brilliant as it gave us all an opportunity to stroke a sheep, see the piglets feeding from their mother and we play on the small tractor track, which my son thoroughly enjoyed – along with excitedly pointing out all the chickens on the park.

In summary, we had an amazing day out, in particular the tour of the house and the Nutcracker experience. The farmyard and playground are SO much fun too. Everyone needs to experience the house tour at Christmas, when it is at its most magical.

For ticket information please visit – Christmas at Chatsworth 

For more information, visit www.chatsworth.org

Full Events Calendar

 

*Please note my family and I were sent tickets to visit the house for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own*

An audience with Father Christmas – Bolsover Castle

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         Christmas Arrives at Bolsover Castle

As winter takes hold and the colder weather sets in, for the first time ever, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire are putting on Christmas events to keep the whole family entertained this festive season. We were kindly invited along to be involved in the activities and of course meet the big guy. Yes my son was given the chance to be part of an audience with Father Christmas.

This brand new experience for children takes place every Saturday and Sunday until (Sunday) 18th December. Little ones join in with the seasonal fun and crafts before meeting the main man himself as he recounts some magical tales of Christmas past, and hands out festive treats.

We arrived at the castle around 10am and our allotted time to meet Father Christmas was at 11.30am. With it being such a beautiful morning, we decided to go off and explore the grounds – to say my son was excited was understatement!

The castle and grounds are simply stunning! My son had a blast running up and down all the stairs and scuttling off into all the ‘secret rooms’ (as he called them), and his school mascot, ‘Zoomy’, had to come along for this exciting adventure too!

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Counting the stairs on each level of the castle was the first game my son had in mind! We also found a room in the house, (I think it may have been the old kitchen), where we found that our voices travelled (echoed) amazingly; so of course we spent the next 15 minutes shouting ‘SANTA!’ and listening to the echo bounce of the walls and ceiling. Amazing what fun a 4 year old can find in an empty kitchen 🙂

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And as you can see from my next pictures, the views are simply amazing. I have never visited Bolsover Castle before so it was such as surprise to see it in all its – and to think its only 20 minutes drive from where I live. I did find myself wondering why I had never visited this beautiful, historical site before?!


So it was 11.30am and we were asked to wait in a foyer whilst Father Christmas’ helper explained a little about what we had in store, and asked the children what they had on their Christmas list. There was only a small group of us which was great as it meant both adults and children could either sit of the floor close to Father Christmas or on the regal chairs in the grand room.

Father Christmas proceeded to recount some old tales to the children and involved them in the story with actions and questions (and parents had to do their bit too!)

After the stories had been told, Santa invited each child up to have a little chat with him (and a high five, which my son found hilarious) and he then gave them a little gift to come away with. The present was a cute Santa beanie that also had a little tie on, so you are able to hang this in your house or on your tree as a decoration. My son has been playing hide and seek with this every day since our visit.

As you can see from this next picture, Father Christmas also had a great sense of humour! It was brilliant that we were able to take our own pictures with the main man as some events will only allow their own photographer to take images – and then charge you for them – so we were definitely able to capture the day here!

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It was lunchtime and we were all very hungry, so we headed to the café for a spot of lunch, which was very affordable and extremely tasty. In particular, my roast turkey and stuffing roll with all the trimmings (roast parsnip, pigs in blankets and cranberry) was yummy, but there was also a great selection for the children too, including a cute lunchbox selection or hot meal.


I would definitely recommend popping in the café, even if it’s just to warm up with a hot chocolate. You could also bring your own food to eat on the picnic benches near the park. My son had a great time on said park after lunchtime and we played on the swings and slide, and of course his friend, ‘Zoomy’ had to join in on the fun.


We had a great day, lots of fun for everyone to enjoy – so please do let me know if you decide to visit.

Bolsover Castle will also be hosting its first ever Carol Concert on Saturday 10th December at 6.30pm. Visitors can wrap up warm as they get into the festive spirit, listening to carols sung by the Fishpond Choir in the unique surroundings of the Riding House.

For ticket information please visit – An audience with Father Christmas 

For more information, visit: www.english-heritage.org.uk/

 

*Please note I was sent tickets for ‘An Audience with Father Christmas’ for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own*

 

Christmas at Chatsworth, The Nutcracker – Ticket Giveaway

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The Stage is Set for A Magical Christmas at

Chatsworth: The Nutcracker

5 November 2016 – 3 January 2017

 Christmas at Chatsworth: The Nutcracker will see the house transformed to present the festive tale complete with lavish costumes, beautiful decorations, wonderful stage sets and a few fantastic surprises in store sure to captivate all who visit.

Christmas at Chatsworth will transport everyone to a fairy tale world populated by Nutcracker soldiers; elegant ballerinas and dancing snowflakes. All the cast will be on view – from the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Nutcracker and Clara – to depict the story in a series of stunning tableau scenes throughout the house.

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In the tale, a box of performing toys charms the children and adults alike, but it is the Nutcracker doll that enchants Clara the most. As the curtain rises on Christmas Eve, visitors will be able to share in Clara’s adventures as she is swept away by her Nutcracker Prince to a wonderful place where the magic really begins.

Along the way, the beautifully dressed rooms will tell the story of The Nutcracker with all the classic scenes from Clara’s dream; from the waltz of the snowflakes to the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Land of Sweets in the Great Dining Room will be a huge highlight – the only light will be from the chandelier, like a moon above the city with its twinkling lights through the windows, and the glow from the huge Christmas trees in each corner will be magical.

You will be able to experience the story as though you are in the audience at the theatre and stepping backstage at the ballet. Guides will become stage managers and wardrobe mistresses.

For a special added thrill, visitors of all ages will be invited to enter into the magic of the story with many costumes to try on.

As well as the main event in the house, there is a whole host of festive themed activity. From truly magical nativity performances in the farmyard starring the farm animals, to gourmet evenings, floral workshops and wreath making demonstrations, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Or get Christmas shopping off to an early start with a visit to the Christmas market with over 100 stalls of gifts for the whole family – there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

For ticket information please visit – Christmas at Chatsworth 

CLICK HERE for your chance to a win a family pass (2 adults, 3 children ) to attend Christmas at Chatsworth.

Closing date for the giveaway is 30th November 2016.

For more information, visit www.chatsworth.org

 

Chatsworth Country Fair 2016  

chatsworthChatsworth Country Fair

Dates: Friday 2, Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September 2016

I was fortunate enough to attend the Chatsworth Country Fair on both Saturday and Sunday (3rd and 4th September) which meant I was able to see not only Mary Berry, the celebrity chef demonstrating in the Aga Rangemaster Cookery Theatre on Saturday – but also Valentine Warner (amongst others) on the Sunday.

As many of my readers know, I am a huge foodie, so given the opportunity to see both Mary and Valentine and sample the delights Derbyshire had to offer pleased me immensely!

 I was also very excited about the other advertised events over the weekend, which included  the hugely popular household cavalry musical ride and a parachute display from Jump4Heroes. Also appearing in the Grand Ring was the Imps Motorcycle Display Team.

My friend and I arrived at around 9.30am on Saturday and started the day with a bacon roll from the food village before we went off to explore. It was a little overcast whilst we walked round and we, like everyone else, were praying for the sun to come out.

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  We had a lovely walk around the fairground whilst it was still quiet. The old fashioned helter skelter was amazing and my son loved it – this time he was brave enough to slide down it (unlike last year) but because it had started to rain, his decent was speedier than expected and he almost took my legs from under me when he appeared – ha ha.

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We purchased a program on site to ensure we knew what time the shows and demonstrations were on, and also to scope where we could escape for a cheeky glass of bubbly and a spot of lunch. We definitely needed the program as the site is huge and, as always, I was worried I was going to miss out on something!

   There were over 200 trade stands to peruse. The food village (my favourite area) was packed with delicious locally sourced produce, lots of yummy samples to try and a tipple or two of your favourite drinks; such as speciality ciders, slow gin, wines and champagnes. I was in heaven!

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with this lovely lady and taste some amazing vintage champagnes. Oh, and also an amazing range of prosecco’s and champagne liqueurs.

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All your gastronomic needs are catered for in the food village, whether it be a paella you are after, a tikka masala or you want to taste a huge range of wines and cheeses – then you will not be disappointed!

 My friend and I sampled everything from chilli cheese, to curried sausages to giant meringues  and artisan breads. I literally wanted to eat/buy everything.

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And so did my son but he’s more partial to a ginger bread man or some cheesy bread.

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The heavens then decided to open up and, as we weren’t wearing wellies (big mistake) the muddy ground got a little treacherous, so we decided to scope out the rest of the stalls/craft tents to take cover. There was everything you could want and more in these craft tents. Whilst on the grounds, you were also able to view new cars, antique cars, clothing, childrens toys, outdoor wear and luxury garden furniture – to name but a few.

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“I’m having a tea party in my new garden, Mummy!”

There are so many things to see and do at Chatsworth, that’s why I visited over two days, that and my little boys legs were too tired to carry him after a while.

My friend and I decided to have a mini pamper with a hand massage and some newly shaped eyebrows….oooh, check us out!

The event is packed with everything for the whole family. Whether you’re a bike or car fanatic, a keen gardener or an art collector, the whole site had everything for you to admire (and indeed purchase) should you wish.

The Chef demonstrations were scheduled at set times throughout the day and the tent was very busy, with fans of Mary Berry (on the Saturday) and Valentine Warner (on the Sunday) waiting to get some expert tips. You were then able to meet either Mary or Valentine at their book signings, in a queue just a short walk away from the tent.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anywhere near the tent to see Mary, particularly as the rain was coming down really heavily and the queue for her book signing was so big. With the recent news about GBBO moving to C4 (and losing Mel and Sue), I’m not sure whether Mary and (Paul) will be moving on too – so this could have been her last hurrah as the queen of baking.

I was able to get a little picture (albeit a little blurred) with her friend, Alan Titchmarsh, who was there for the vintage car exhibit.

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On the Sunday I was able to pop into the tent to see Valetine Warner and listen to his demonstration. I am a big fan of Valentine and he was equally as engaging and charistmatic in person as he appears on the TV. The audience also thoroughly enjoyed a few of his anecdotes. As I had my little boy with me I couldn’t stay for the whole demonstration or the booking signing, but it was great to listen to some fab tips!

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 After i’d eaten myself stupid, had a little pamper and introduced myself to some celebrity chefs, I headed off to the Grand Ring.

My son and I sat and watched the most amazing performance, which he was fascinated with. He told me he wanted to be like them when he grows up. He was waving at all the men and horses as they galloped by us, completing some amazing routines and tricks. 

Next up were the spectacular Imps Motorcycle Display Team who performed some very daring jumps and displays – and which included riders at just 5 years old! They were so professional, and even when one of the little ones did fall off, he got straight back up and on his bike again to finish the routine like a pro. Both the audience and my son looked on in amazement and immediately applauded them. 

Now my son has decided he wants to leave home and join the Imps Motorcycle Display Team….thanks Imps ha ha

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There was so much to do at the Chatsworth Country Fair , and even though we were there over the two days we still felt as though we hadn’t seen everything. We wanted to try zorbing, archery and witness the Red Arrows as I did the previous year (who were spectacular might I add!), but some of this proved difficult with a tired 4 year old in tow.

Should you wish to attend the show next year (I most definitely will) then the dates have already been announced for:

September 1st  – September 3rd 2017

… so go ahead and mark it down in your diary!

Because we had such an amazing time at the Chatsworth Country Fair, we thought we’d check out what’s happening at the house over the coming months. Here’s my pick of the best events that I will most definitely be attending.

Beyond Limits – Sotherby’s Exhibition at Chatsworth House – September/October 2016

Chatsworth House – Bonfire and Fireworks – 5, 6th November 2016

Christmas at Chatsworth – November/December/January 2016

Full Events Calendar

*Please note I was sent tickets for the fair for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own*

Chatsworth Country Fair – 2nd, 3rd, 4th September 2016

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Chatworth Country Fair takes place from Friday 2, Saturday 3, Sunday 4 September 2016

Thrills Galore in Store as Youth Motorbike Stunt Team

Returns to Chatsworth Country Fair

Split second timing, breathtaking fire jumps and pyramids on wheels are just some of the stunning tricks crowds can expect from the world famous youth motorcycle team returning to Chatsworth Country Fair for the first time in a decade.

The Imps Motorcycle Display Team forms part of the action-packed schedule of family friendly entertainment at the hugely popular annual Chatsworth Country Fair taking place from 2 to 4 September 2016.

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The three-day event, staged in the stunning Chatsworth parkland, will once again be jam packed with fun and entertainment for all the family across a number of areas in the grounds with tickets now on sale.

The Imps Motorcycle Display Team – whose youngest member is just five years old – will be returning with a spectacular show of revving engines, billowing fire jumps and multiple motorcycle routines to bring visitors an unmissable display of discipline and skill.

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The Grand Ring will also be the site for thrilling landings from the Jump4Heroes human flight team, made up of serving and former members of the military. Continuing with the aerial attractions, once again visitors to the fair will be treated to an awe-inspiring aerobatic display by the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force team famous for their trademark combinations of close formation flying, dynamic loops and rolls appearing on Friday and Sunday.

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The popular Household Cavalry Musical Ride will be back performing cavalry drill movements set to music showcasing the courage, skill, precision and discipline required by the riders. As part of the display, Stablemen, or “Rough Riders” lie on the ground with their horses, a skill which can take up to four months of training to teach and is a throwback to when horses went into battle and would need to take cover.

Birds and animals once again feature prominently over the three days. Always popular is CJ’s Birds of Prey, a unique father and daughter act lead by Charlotte Hill who has trained in the art of falconry in various countries across the world. The duo’s bubbling enthusiasm and skill has led to them becoming one of the most popular Birds of Prey display teams in the UK.

Other animal attractions in the Grand Ring include the Dog and Duck Show featuring untrained dogs herding ducks; Allcomers’s Dog Racing where dogs and owners race across the arena and the Hound Parade. Kicking off each day are the Mounted Games where teams of riders show their amazing skills in relay and obstacle races all performed at blistering speed.

Food lovers will be spoilt for choice with the Cookery Theatre hosting some of the country’s finest chefs across the weekend, including Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood – making his debut at the fair this year on Friday – followed by fellow GBBO star Mary Berry who will be whipping up some culinary delights in the cookery demonstration tent on Saturday. The trio is completed by Valentine Warner – fellow chef and food writer – appearing on Sunday. All the chefs will be available for book signings each day following their food demonstrations.

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Paul Hollywood

With other activities on offer ranging from clay pigeon shooting and archery, to vintage vehicle displays, trade and craft stands and a fun-packed fairground, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

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Tickets for Chatsworth Country Fair are £25 for adults per day and free for children under 14 years old. Fantastic discounts are available for tickets purchased in advance online.

CLICK HERE for your chance to win two adult tickets for entry to the fair on Saturday 3rd September 2016 and with free entry for children under 14, it makes the perfect day out for the whole family.

Closing date for the giveaway is Sunday 7th August 2016

For more information visit: www.chatsworthcountryfair.co.uk

Chatsworth Country Fair Facebook
Chatsworth Country Fair Twitter

 

 

 

Soft Play Survival

I am not a huge fan of soft play centres, they are often a breeding ground for germs (which Luca always seems to pick up) but the same could be said for his nursery, and he loves them both equally, so who I am to ruin the boy’s fun??

However, it seems as though people have cottoned on to my irrational fear of soft play centres and decided that every child’s birthday, parents’ coffee morning and wherever all the fun seems to happen is now at these brightly-coloured, padded centres of chaos.

So after attending a party, pretty much every week, it seems that ‘soft play’ often translates to ‘hard and fast Hell on earth’ with the occasional glimpse of ‘cute, quiet toddler area’.

The Hell part being a load of sugar-filled, lippy, pre-teen lunatics throwing everything they can find into the toddler area, leaving the little ones terrified and crying. Some of whom are probably sat in a patch of their own vomit that hasn’t been noticed/cleaned up. That does happen, trust me!

Or, if you are lucky enough, you’re left babysitting two toddlers that are bawling their eyes out as their parents have gone AWOL/outside for a cig. Or worse still, you lose sight of your own child for a second and panic sets in. Are they hurt? Have they p*ssed themselves? That sort of thing, when actually they are probably stood right beside you.

Do you have a visual?

 

  But of course there is always the cute in everything involving toddlers. The cute being, your child and his/her best friend are playing nicely, holding hands down the slide and jumping into a little ball pit (that is monitored properly by staff members who are helpful). This then allows you to take that adorable pic of your child to post to Instagram (cue hashtag #toocute). Yes, I know, I use that a lot!

So how do I otherwise survive this hell that my son seems to find so magical and exciting? Here are my tips:

No 1. Tag team – ensure you have someone with you, (a partner, a mum you are friends with) to ensure you always ‘have a visual’.

No 2. Make sure your phone has plenty of data and a full battery. You may need to look busy and pretend to work or something, rather than making small talk if you’re having one of those days. That and if your kid is going mental or wants to cry as it’s time to leave, so a blast of Paw Patrol on your phone and instant calm.

No 3. Always have a small bribe to hand, you never know when you may need to lure your child out of the maze of Hell or calm them down when they have smashed their face into a slide/post/mat/another child.

No 4. Feed yourself before you go. Both you and your child will be too hyper to eat. You, because of the caffeine you’ll be downing whilst you’re trapped for 2 hours. Your child, because they will be tearing around like a crazed maniac, fuelled by Haribos and some other kids’ Ribena they’ve swiped from a nearby table.

No 5. Dress your child in bright/distinctive clothing, that way if they go into the ‘crazy alien maze’ you have half a chance of finding them!

No 6. Take a spare pair of your kids’ socks. They always seem to lose a sock or two in the ball pit. Sometimes, with all the excitement, they may also p*ss themselves… so yeah, take a spare set of clothes too.

No 7. Don’t wear heels. Totally frowned upon by other mums and useless when you have to chase a toddler across a room when they’ve spotted a packet of Quavers that they’ve claimed as their own.

No 8. ..and as an extension of number 6, wear nice socks yourself. There is always a chance you may have to go in for a rescue op.

No 9. Antibacterial hand gel is your best friend. For some reason, the soft play centres I have recently visited have toilets akin to a medieval dungeon, which don’t seem to have hot water.

No 10. Always take cash. Always. The majority of these places don’t accept cards. Any attempts at using your plastic as payment will have staff recoil in horror at your futuristic ways and cause a rip in the space-time continuum, bringing down the entire universe as we know it. Oh, unless you want to spend over £10. Which is fine.

#toocute

 

Christmas at Chatsworth with Mr Toad

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Christmas with Mr Toad at Chatsworth House

7 November 2015 – 3 January 2016 (closed 24, 25, 26 December & 1 January)

 My family and I were kindly invited to attend Christmas with Mr Toad at Chatsworth House last month, which meant we were also fortunate enough to be there whilst the Christmas Market was taking place too!

  It was a cold, crisp morning and a beautiful rainbow appeared over the grounds of Chatsworth upon our arrival. The grounds were stunning and we were able to see all the animals freely roaming the estate.

  We arrived around 9.45am which meant we were able to avoid queues in the grounds and in the car park. This also gave us to chance to explore the Christmas Market and so we perused a few of the stalls, grabbed a coffee and then headed off to the house to meet Mr Toad.
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My son was very excited as we told him to keep his eyes peeled for Mr Toad and his friends. We were also advised by the Chatsworth staff to keep an eye out for toy badgers which were hiding around the house (we had to count the number of them hidden in each room, which my son loved).

As soon as we entered the house, we were in awe of the amazing decorations. There were SO many Christmas trees around the route of the Mr Toad tour.

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As previously mentioned, we were also on the look out for the hidden badgers, but we actually stumbled upon THE Mr Badger -whom my son immediately ran up to and chatted away with.  

 The tour took us around the house, up the stairs and to a dressing-up room, on to Mr Toad sleeping (snoring in bed) and Mr Mole taking a bath. I can’t tell you how stunning the house is, we have never visited it before and it absolutely took our breath away. From the incredible artwork on the ceilings to the amazing windows and statues around the house.


Once we had counted the badgers, we arrived at the end of the tour where children could write a wish on a tag and place it on the wishing tree, which was really quite sweet.

On your way out of the tour you enter the Orangery where the gift shop is. The gift shop gives you the opportunity to buy some Wind in Willows goodies (which we did, we bought the book and CD) along with Chatsworth farm merchandise and some lovely jewellery, books etc. Some great gifts for ages.

It was a little cold outside so we had a short wander around the gardens and then some lunch in the restaurant. After lunch we headed up to the farmyard and play area. This place is amazing, there is lots of fun to be had for all ages. The farm was brilliant as it gave us all an opportunity to stroke a sheep, see the piglets feeding from their mother and we played on the small tractor track, which my son thoroughly enjoyed with pointing out all the chickens on the park.

In summary, we had an amazing day out, in particular the tour of the house and the Mr Toad experience. The farmyard and playground was a huge surprise, I didn’t even know it was there at the back of the house, it was SO much fun. Everyone needs to experience the house tour at Christmas, when it is at its most magical.

We also returned to the house and the Christmas market the week after and it was very busy, too busy to actually get round to see anything and the car park was very difficult to get out of. The restaurant queuing system is the only other negative as, when you have a toddler and pensioner in tow, it’s a little bit difficult to stand and wait for so long – so I am glad we visited when we did.

Book tickets and prices

Christmas at Chatsworth – November/December/January 2015-2016

Full Events Calendar

*Please note my family and I were sent tickets to visit the house for the purpose of this review, but all views are my own*

Mister Maker and The Shapes Live – UK Tour

My son is a huge CBeebies fan, in particular, Mister Maker. So when we saw the Mister Maker Tour popping up all over social media it was only a matter of time before we booked to go see him and the shapes. During our deliberation we were lucky enough to be sent some tickets for the show at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield so I had one excited little boy, and Daddy of course!

Before the event I thought it would be fun to show my son the Mister Maker promotional trailer – he absolutely loved it! He was dancing and clapping along to the songs so I knew we were about to have a great time.

So we arrived at the amazing Crucible Theatre just in time to grab a little lunch and buy some lovely merchandise from the Mister Maker shop. We were prepped with toys, goodies and ready to party. We were also handed a piece of paper by the Mister Maker team and advised to hold on to this as we would use it later in the show.


So we headed off into the theatre, there were lots of excited children (and parents) waiting in the aisles for a glimpse of Mister Maker and the shapes. Before Mister Maker arrived on stage, his team of helpers warmed up the crowd with a few songs and a dance or two, which was great fun.

When Mister Maker appeared, the kids (and parents) clapped and cheered and my son was over the moon that he could see Mister Maker in the flesh. I don’t think he could quite believe that the funny man with the colourful suit was live on stage and, to top it all, so were the shapes!

We then found out that the paper we were given before the show was to be used in a picture that we would all create. Mister Maker’s helpers collected the paper and this was then added to a frame which created the shapes below in the pic, which looked fab!

Mister Maker and his team then got the crowd on their feet, we were all singing, clapping and dancing. I found the whole production very engaging (and his team very funny), and he often asked for audience participation when it came to his songs, such as ‘Mister Maker had a farm, ee-eye-ee-eye-oh….’, and the parents on stage had to recreate animal noises – and boy did they make us and the whole theatre laugh.

Children were also asked to help out with a, ‘minute make’ live on stage and those children on stage got a little prize in return too. There was an interval halfway through the show so we could grab a snack, take the little one to the toilet etc and then more dancing proceeded.

#iamashape Mister Maker and The Shapes Live at The Crucible

I must apologise for the quality of the next set of photos; it was dark, much fun was had and lots of shapes were thrown.


Again I can only apologise for the poor quality of photos, but the lighting in the auditorium was quite low (and yes, I was jumping up and down like a giddy toddler).

I must say, I didn’t really know what to expect from the show, but Mister Maker and his team were extremely entertaining. There was fantastic audience-engagement and we found ourselves laughing out loud to some of his jokes and interactions with the shapes (and with the crowd).

My son enjoyed it but in all honesty I think the hubby and I enjoyed it a little more! My son is only 3 years old so he was getting a little tired towards the end and more interested in his sweets than the show, but my hubby and I were still jigging around as the lights came on!

All I can say is that if your child is a Mister Maker fan, or even a Mini Maker, then you must pop along to one of his shows. It was lots of fun and venue (Crucible Theatre) was superb. I would say it would be more suited to an age range of 5+ plus though, but all in all a fabulous day out.

Adult ticket prices vary from between £14-£16 and childrens tickets between £10-£12 (this depends on which theatre you attend).

Mister Maker tour dates and tickets prices for 2016
*Please note my family and I were sent tickets to the show for purpose of this review but all views are my own*