Top Outdoor Summer Activities In Surrey

With the summer holidays now upon us I’m sure you will all be planning what to do to keep your little once occupied.

With the weather holding out for us at the moment I wanted to give you a few of my favourite days out in the great outdoors in Surrey.

Mayfield Lavender Fields

 

The Mayfield Lavender Fields are truly a sight to behold and I would question anybody that is not stunned by its beauty.

They can be found just outside Banstead, Surrey and are well worth a visit.

This year the car parking is only £1 but be warned it gets extremely busy and there is not a great deal of parking.

There is a lovely little cafe where you can stop to get refreshments while taking in the sights.  And new this year they have also included a tractor ride.

Mine are more than happy running in between the flowers and searching for bugs whilst I try and capture the beauty on my camera.

Godstone Farm

For me Godstone Farm is great as it covers a variety of ages.

They have massive fields that you can walk around whilst looking at the larger animals such as cows, pigs and donkeys.

The children have a chance to get hands on with the smaller animals of the farm in the petting area.  Mine all love this as they can stroke and hold the rabbits and chickens.

There are set times during the day where you can watch the animals being fed which is always great fun.

The play activities here are endless.  There is a huge adventure playground at the top of the field with everything you could imagine.

There is a section with ride on toys for the younger children as well as several sandpits.

Mine all love the large soft play area that also homes a small cafe so you can relax whist the children play.

As far as eating goes there is a good cafe that serves reasonably priced hot and cold food.  Or there is the option of picnicking with ample picnic areas.

Priory Park

This is our all time favourite park.  It has everything you could expect to get from a local park and more.

They have a beautifully designed playground with the usual swings and slides with the added extras of a large sandpit and water features that are perfect for the summer.
The grounds are vast and have a wonderful fountain, surrounded by pretty gardens we often picnic by.


At the opposite end of the park there is a beautiful lake where you can feed the ducks and take a leisurely walk around.


 Numbers two’s favourite park is the large skatepark which is perfect for older children.

During the holiday there are always lots free activities put on for the children, and in the past we have taken part in bug hunting, den building and a great sports activity day.


Lastly in the centre of the park is a great cafe Pistachios In The Park offering great food and snacks that really adds to the whole day.

Chessington World Of Adventures

We are lucky enough to have annual passes for this great theme park and visit many times a year.

It gets bigger and better each time we visit and covers all of my children’s ages from 1-18.

I tend to let the oldest two wander off by themselves and go on all the thrill seeking rides that CWOA has to offer.


    

I can then take the younger ones to explore the Sealife centre, petting farm, massive zoo full of wonderful animals and to ride on the fabulous rides that are more suitable for their age.


We don’t normally take food with us as its a lot to carry around and there are plenty of great restaurants to chose from.

All of mine love to watch the exuberant Madagascar show that is put on a couple of times a day and the sea lion and penguin shows always go down a treat.


  

It really is a fun packed day and I would advice to get there early to ensure you get a go on the biggest and most popular rides without to much of a queue.

Priory Farm

This is a garden centre with a difference!

There is a large garden centre with all the usual things on offer which also houses a great coffee shop with wonderful hot and cold food, and the most wonderful cakes.


Attached to this is a newly refurbished play area that we have yet to visit this year.  Across from here is a huge pirate ship that mine all love to play on and a picnic area directly next to it which is fantastic to sit and watch them play.

Our favourite part of the farm is the discovery walk.  You pick up your quiz sheet at the start which takes you around all the different parts of the trail answering questions as you go.  At the top we usually stop for a rest and take in the views.  Near the end there is a chance to feed the fish which is my favourite part!!


Our day normally finishes with a walk around the well stock farm shop to pick something nice for our tea.

Chartwell House

If you are a reader of my blog you will know that National Trust venues are my favourite.

Chartwell House is one of the best for my family as it has such a lot to occupy tiny minds.

The gardens are exquisite and there is something different everywhere you turn.


  

I love the tiny playhouse that would have been used by the house owners for so many years before.


You can really educate the children in a fun way here as they are taking in information and not knowing it!

  
Keep an eye on their website as there are always some great cheap or free activities going on that mine all love.


We are yet to venture into the house as in not sure my nerves could take that until the small ones are a little older.

Flower Farm

Fruit picking is a brilliant activity for all the family.  It teaches children where the fruit originally comes from, gives them some exercise and they get a yummy, healthy treat at the end.


At flower farm there is always a good variety of different fruit and vegetable to pick at good prices.



They also have a lovely farm shop and a small tea room that is unfortunately closed for refurbishment at the moment.

I hope you have found some inspiration for days out here and I will be posting another list very soon so keep your eyes peeled.

  

  

  

Celebrating National Picnic Week

As I’m sure many of you will know I am a massive fan of picnics.  It means you can get out in the fresh air, take in your surrounding and enjoy some time together with good food.  Our favourite place to picnic is Priory Park in Reigate, Surrey.  It is a beautiful park with lovely surroundings and lots to do.

Towards the end of last summer I had lost my mojo a bit and our picnics became very samey, and consisted of the usual sweaty sandwich, packet of crisps and a boring cereal bar.

I have made it my mission this year to create fun, interesting and memorable picnics that we will all enjoy and hopefully remember in years to come.

My first picnic of the year was made for a festival a few weeks ago which went down a treat with everyone.

To celebrate the start of national picnic week this week I put my thinking cap on and can up with some ideas hopefully you will be inspired to give a try.

The first couple of ideas were made up simply because I picked up the wrong tumblers whist shopping in Tesco.  Once I had opened them I realised they were infact a normal plastic tumbler with a raised section inside to pour a shot!!


These infact came in really handy as I made some vegetable crudités and added some salsa to one and sour cream dip to the other.


Next up for the fab tumblers was a mozzarella, avocado and tomato salad.  I sliced each of the ingredients up and placed around the edge of the tumbler and the added some balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the little well in the centre.


Simple sandwiches for my little allergy buddy were made with his wheat free bread and filled with ham and salad.  I then I  took a toast press that I had bought for Valentine’s Day to create an “I Love You” message on the top to make it a little more interesting.

I came across some mini bagels in Tesco that I filled with hummous and spring onion and cheddar and onion apple chutney.


My sister was coming with us and she is a massive fan of hallumi.  I sliced it into bite size chunks and wrapped each piece in a slice of streaky bacon.  I placed them on a greased baking tray and cooked them for about 10mins on 200C fan/180C or Gas Mark 6.


My boys adore olives and a few years ago I made an olive spider for Halloween.  They are just a black plum that you attach eight cocktail sticks to to made the legs and them thread on black olives.  For the eyes I just used a couple of sugar beads that you decorate cakes with and stuck them on with a little bit of icing.


The last of the savoury snacks was a mini corn in the cob. These were just cooked in boiling water for 10mins then once they were ready I placed a wooden skewer into the bottom of each of them and placed theminto individual  sandwich bags with a knob of butter and secured the end.  Just little you get in fried chicken shops!

Next up I got the tumblers out again to create a multicoloured jelly.  I picked three different coloured jellies that I mixed according to the instructions  and poured the first colour into the small well.  I placed them in the fridge to set which took about 10mins.  Then I filled the tumbler half way with the next colour and put them back into the fridge to set again for another 10mins.  I then added the final colour and placed into the fridge until we were ready to use them.  These are best done the night before.


We all love marshmallows in our house so I made some super easy skewers by alternating strawberries, marshmallows and grapes.  These would have been lovely with a chocolate dip!


Our last little treat were melon lollipops.  You can use any melon and cut it into any shape you like.  I used a gala melon and cut it into slices which I then halved.  I put a small hole into the bottom of a cake case and then inserted a lolly sick into the bottom of the melon then slip on the cake cases. These looked great but didn’t travel that well.


There was minimal cooking in all of these ideas and they were loved by everyone.  Even if you added on or two of these ideas I’m sure it would really cheer up any picnic.


        
Try and dedicate a little time this week to get out with your family and celebrate national picnic week.


Exploring Reigate Hill

  

In my opinion National Trust sites offer the perfect day out, and our family have covered most of the local ones but until this weekend Reigate Hill had eluded us.

My sister had recently moved to the area and suggested we took a picnic up there to explore.

We took a short drive to the top of Reigate Hill where we found a small car park which also homed a nice little coffee hut run by Urban Kitchen that serves some great drinks and snacks but remember to take some money with you as they only except cash.

We didn’t sample anything but the boys loved trying out the deck chairs!

  
We set ourselves up at a fantastic view point and ate our picnic whilst the kids ran around with their pots of bubbles.

   
       

Once fed and watered we started our walk across Reigate Footbridge to Reigate Fort. 

The Fort was built in 1898 and was storage for tools and ammunition for the soilders; and was a fascinating site for the children to look around.

   
       

As you climb to the top there is a large area of open space where we stopped to climb hills that reminded me of something out of the Teletubbies!!  

   
 

From here I dragged my sister another ten minutes along the path to find the stunning Inglis Memorial.

She was really pleased I did as when we got there the views were absolutely  breathtaking.

   
   

The memorial itself was donated in 1909 as a drinking fountain for horses.  I myself think it is far to beautiful for anything like that.

   
     

We could have walked on further and taken in some more historic sights but for us this was perfect.

National Trust you have once again supplied my family with a beautiful and informative day out that we will always remember.

  

  

A Trip To The Majestic Penshurst Place

We had a trip to Groomsbridge Place the other day and on the journey there we drove past the eye catchingly beautiful Penshurst Place in Tonbridge.  I took a mental note and added it to our list of holiday activities. With half term upon us my holiday buddy and I gather our massive brood of children and set off to explore Penshurst Place.  It took us under an hour to get there and it was very well signposted.  Both the children and I were taken back by the splendid sight as we pulled into the grounds to nab our parking place under the shade of the trees.    We were greeted at reception by welcoming and knowledgeable staff that took our very reasonable entrance fee and passed the children the woodland trail map for us to complete. Once outside the children made a beeline for the splendid adventure playground where we plotted up with our picnic for a good while.  There was loads of open space to picnic and run around, a small sandpit, swings, slides, lots to climb and balance on and a added bonus of some hungry chickens to feed.    Once lunch was devoured we made our way into the woodland to complete our trail sheet.  The children loved answering questions on their surroundings whist climbing trees, hiding in the undergrowth and looking for wildlife.  We were lucky enough to see a couple of Canadian geese with their newly hatched babies that were super cute!          The next port of call was the craft barn where we created some fabulous paper swords, princess veils, shields, masks and hats.  This was all done in the perfect setting of the beautiful courtyard so the children could then come out and commence their battles.  There was also a toy museum just across from the craft shed, but ours were far to busy playing with their creations so we moved straight onto the magnificent gardens.        I have been to many stately homes in my time but these gardens topped any I have seen before.  We had a quick ice-cream stop whilst taking in the views and the children happily ran in and out of the ornamental hedges playing catch and hide and seek for well over an hour.          The gardens were separated by walls and walkways and there was a different surprise around every corner. One of the children’s favourites was the wild gardens where they could run in and out of the long grass.  It reminded me of the story ‘Were Going On A Bear Hunt’. I was in my element with photo opportunities although one nearly ended badly when my over exited number four tried to push his friend right into the pond!!  Luckliy he managed to save himself and number four was very sheepish for a good while afterwards.  Well for the next ten minutes which if you know him is a long time for him!    We didn’t attempt to go inside the house as we had nine children between two of us and I think that would have been tempting fate.  My Mum would love it here so I think I will save the house for a quieter visit with her one day. This was a really lovely day out with plenty to entertain the kids and lots of beautiful grounds and history for the adults to take in.  There is a maize maze that will be ready for the summer so we will be making a return visit in the summer holidays to give that a try.     

Our First Family Festival

  

For years I have dreamed about taking the kids to a festival.  Sleeping under the stars, kids running freely, great music and beautiful food.  Then panic always sets in and I think more along the lines of rain, mud everywhere and wet miserable children getting lost in massive crowds!!

When we won tickets to this years Elderflower Fields festival I was over the moon that we would get to experience the festival scene for a day, without the commitment of having to camp.

As usual I was more exited than the kids and went out to get flowery hair bands and hair chalk to get us into the spirit of it all .  We packed a massive picnic and set off on or short drive to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex exited at what we were going to experience ahead of us.

The journey was traffic free and very well signposted.  We were greated by super friendly volunteers that told us exactly where we need to go and what to do.

We had a bumpy walk across the fields to collect our wristbands and map then made out way down to the main fields where all the magic was taking place.

 

If the walk was to much for you there was plenty of complementary shuttles to take you to and from the carpark and campsites.

As usual my brood were starving as soon as we got there so we pitched up and had a bite to eat before going off to explore.

   
     

We had pre booked the older children onto the art and sports camp.  the camps lasted an hour, were staffed with really friendly and I had no worries about leaving them to get creative and try out new things.  Whilst they were busy we took the younger two to the under 5’s zone where they could help to paint a playhouse, create models from things you would find in the woodland and get dirty in the muddy water play.

   
     

This was number fours favourite area of the day and he could if happily stayed there for hours. 

There was so much on offer there for the children that we simply couldn’t fit it all in!!  They helped to build mud huts, swung in huge hammocks in the trees, swung through the woodland park, tried their hand at disc golf which we all loved, shot down the zip wire, listened to the fantastic story telling and magic show, the list just goes on and on.

   
           

  

  

 

What I loved most was how relaxed everything was.  There were no huge crowds so I was quite happy for the kids to wonder and I could keep them in sight.  The beautiful setting meant that as well as doing the set activities we could just take ourselves of to explore the stunning Ashdown Forset and all it has to offer.

   
         

Later into the afternoon number three and four got their faces painted by some very talented ladies and I took this opportunity to head over to the cocktail area where they had some great props hanging from the trees that were a great photo point, whilst having a sneeky boogie to the cool music from the DJ stand.  Much to the embarrassment of my older children!! 

               

We spent our final few hours taking in the fantastic music that was being performed by some extremely talented bands and grabbing a bite to eat which proved hard as there was so much choice on offer.  Mine opted for a freshly prepared burger from Big Eats which was delicious; but there were so many other options to choose from.  Curry, Thai, pizza, veggie options and lots of sweet treats to name a few.  All were super helpful when it came to number four and his allergies.

   
           

I really couldn’t do this event justice in this post.  It was everything I wanted from a festival and more.  Number four even asked if we could camp on the grass when it was home time as he didn’t want to leave.

We will be making a return next year, and this time to have our first camping experience.  The great outdoors, talented musicians, delicious food and drink, well run activities and the chance for children to really be children are all my favourites rolled into one.

Thank you Elderflower Fields for creating this fabulous  experience to store in our memory banks for many years to come.

   
          

   

  

  

  

Making Your Picnic A Little Special

  One of my favourite parts of summer is being able to eat alfresco.  Just pack yourself up lots of tasty goodies and head off to some open space and take in the beautiful weather whilst having your own outdoor feast. Another reason why I love picnicing so much is the fact that there is no washing up and clearing the floor of all the mess the children have created. Last year we probably had a picnic two or three times a week and towards the end of the summer I had got really bored of the usual sandwich, crisps and a biscuit combo.  So with our first festival planned I decided to make a bit more effort and start the picnicing season with something a little special. My sister had a traditional hamper that I borrowed and I popped into my local Tiger store and picked up some fantastic picnic ware.  I had a bit of a green and blue theme going on with a new blanket for £7, some very pretty paper plates and snack trays for £2 a packet and my favourite item were some fab jam jars with straws for a bargain of £2 each.  The kids absolutely loved them! Now was time to get the food ready.  Having to cater for seven people I wanted things that were quick, easy, transportable but most of all tasty. First up were your traditional rolls.  I made salmon and cucumber and grated mozerella with onion chutney.  Instead of them sweating in a sandwich bag I wrapped them in brown paper and tied them with string.    Number three loves to get involved so I let her prepare some skewers that she placed alternate ham, mozerella balls, olives and sundried tomatoes on.  So easy but taste lovely.          I make some chicken skewers that a simply marinated in some jerk seasoning with a little oil and then grilled for around 15 mins turning occasionally.    Number three also prepared a tasty summer fruit salad of chopped strawberries, grapes, blueberries and raspberries.  This was then drizzled with the juice of one lime and a squeeze of honey plus a few mint leaves.            My favourite part is the naughty sweet part!! I found a fantastic idea on Instagram that capturebylucy had posted.  She took a Barney bear that can be bought at any supermarket and just inserted a lolly stick into the bottom.  Number five thought they were great.   So that number four was not left out due to his allergies I made some super easy Rice Krispie lolly pops.  That I had adapted off of a recipe on the packet I had seen a while ago.            Finally our favourite on the house is a Malteser cake that I have been making for years; but we only had that a couple of weeks ago so I found a bit of a twist on what I normally make on Bake.Play.Smile.  Here I found the biscuity base of this Malteser traybake similar but they had added a layer of white chocolate with whole Maltesers to decorate.    To finish off the basket we added a couple of bottles of fizzy, flavoured water and some vegetable crisps and headed off to enjoy our feast while taking on the festival atmosphere.  It was a hit all round.  

Alice In Wonderland At Groomsbridge Place

Aswell as having a huge family myself, so do the majority of my friends.  So days like today create many a look as my friend and I were rounding up our troops at Groomsbridge Place.

This was my first visit here and luckily for us the had a fantastic free Easter event that  was based on the old English Classic Alice In Wonderland.  The Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Alice herself and many other characters were scattered around the vast gardens entertaining the children and staying in character really well throughout the whole day.

        

The trail was accompanied by several other activites that the children could join in with.  Storytelling sessions, birds of prey displays and a fabulous show put on by the characters.

This was all just an added bonus to all that Groomsbridge Place has to offer.  The extensive woodlands and gardens hide away giant swings, wooden fortresses, a gigantic wooden walkway and several other places to stop and play.

            

There is a lot of walking involved over a vast hilly area so sensible shoes are a must.

If you fancy a little rest then you can take a short boat trip which is a lovely addition to your trip.

      

The only complaint I would have is when we stopped for a well earned ice cream there were no options that catered for number fours allergies.  The addition of some ice lollies would have made a fabulous trip perfect.

      

Photography Courses And Discovery Walks At Priory Farm

  

Today was a super early start as I had an over exited number three jumping onto the bed ready to start some more birthday celebrations.  The early start along with number four jumping fully clothed into the bath was not the best start to the day.  

We finally arrived at Priory Farm in Nutfield by the skin of our teeth to get number three signed into her photography course.  Since I started  this blog she has taken a real interest in photography and I may be biased but she seems to have a real eye for it.

    

The course is run by Lillian Spibey Photography and is an informative couple of hours teaching the children how to perfect their skills in taking pictures of the landscape and wildlife along with a photographic Easter egg hunt and a fun filled jeep ride around the farms beautiful grounds.

She came back full of beans, super proud of what she had achieved and itching to get signed up for the next course.

Whist number three was busy doing her thing we passed the time taking part in the discovery walk that the farm offers.  Once we had grabbed our quiz sheets and fish food we set off to answer all the questions whilst exploring all the other things the trail has to offer.

   

           

Number two is hitting that awkward age where activities with Mum are really not cool anymore, but I didn’t get a moan out of him today.  He was more than happy to help his brother answer the questions, climb the balance beams and explore every little area there was to be found.

   

  

Near the end of the walk is my children’s favourite part; feeding the mass of fish in the beautiful pond.  No matter how many times we visit they are always astonished at the hundreds of hungry mouths that come up to greet you and gobble up the food.

   

   

   

Quizzes ‘almost’ completed we collected our prize and stopped for a little picnic and play on the splendid wooden pirate ship.  There are plenty of great picnicking spots all over the farm, but this is our favourite spot as the children can play whist you can relax and still keep them in sight.

  

Our last port of call was to get a warm drink from the recently refurbished coffee shop.  There is plenty of space in there to fit your buggy without being in the way, and lots of large tables to accommodate my extra large family.

   

 

You really can make a whole day of it at this farm.  Aswell as everything we got up to today there is a well stocked garden centre with everything you could need, a beautiful farm shop with lots of fabulous fresh food on offer and a playground that is currently undergoing an exiting refurb.  This is the first of many trips this year.

 

Spring Has Sprung – Craft Fairs And Sand Ice-creams



I’ve been following The Milk List on Facebook for a while now, they  sell beautiful vintage furniture and toys for children’s bedrooms and  I noticed this week that she was holding a stall at a craft fair in Caterham so I decided to take a trip down there before our usual Saturday routine.





I was not disappointed when I arrived.  I was greeted with a smile at the beautifully presented stall which had many fabulous items.  We chose two wooden cars and a retro Bambi that are going to look great in number four’s room.  We would have browsed for longer but he had taken a liking to a set of pool balls that I was concerned were going to be launched through the opposite stall!  There is an online store in the pipeline so I will be keeping my eye out for that.





With such beautiful weather today I was looking forward to our Saturday trip to the park.  We had a picnic packed which the boys were very excited to be able to eat on the grass for the first time this year.  Once we had eaten and taken in the sun for a while we headed to the sandpit with our new sand toys which I’d managed to buy in between the screaming and crying on our IKEA trip yesterday.  I have to admit they’d been thrown in the bag yesterday with all the stress and I had not paid much attention to them.  Once opened I realised they were actually a little set of ice-cream cones and pots that can be filled with sand.  It was a great purchase as number four is normally happier to launch sand over me and any unsuspecting passerby but these keep his attention for a good hour.









This superb weather has got us all excited for the predicted scorcher of a Spring and Summer.  What plans have you all got in the pipeline?

Our Regular Saturday At Priory Park

With so many children interested in different things I am ‘Mum’s Taxi’ all day on a Saturday.

Number two has massive passion for scooting so he is dropped off first thing to our local indoor skatepark Skaterham where he spends the whole day trying to perfect his tricks.

We then have a short drive to drop our drama queen number three off to Italia Conti in Reigate to hone her skills in singing, dancing and acting.

I have found that as they grow they try out a variety of different activities which I actively encourage.  Some of them they love and others they quickly lose interest in.  It is just good for them to get as many life experiences in to turn them into well rounded confident adults.

After my last drop this leaves me a couple of hours to occupy number four and five.  Our favourite port of call come rain or shine is Priory Park in Reigate.  This beautiful park in Reigate town centre has a plethora of activities to occupy all ages.



Some of the benefits are the large lake which is perfect to take a stroll around and feed the ducks or stop for a picnic, beautiful formal gardens with a grand fountain as a centre piece, tennis and ball courts, a croquet lawn, football pitches, an outstanding skatepark, a children’s play area with water features in the summer and lastly a superb cafe that has recently been taken over by Pistachio’s In The Park.



We popped in there today for a spot of lunch and were overwhelmed by the attentiveness of the new owner.  As you know we have to be picky where we eat out due to number fours allergies, but he made a consertive effort to come over and make sure all our needs were catered for and even asked how he could make future visits a good experience.

We a had a great experience at the cafe.  Friendly, attentive staff, plenty of room to manoeuvre the buggy, vast menu with a variety of freshly prepared food and my top requirement which is a great cup of coffee.

From there we wondered down to feed the very hungry ducks and had a wet and windy walk around the lake.  Then finally topped off our trip with run around the playground and a spot of sandcastle building.