Capturing The Wonder Of Mayfield Lavender With Rachel Thornhill

For the past few years the Mayfield Lavender fields in Banstead have been my first glimpse that summer has arrived. The magnificent sea of purple that fills the landscape and the beautiful smell that engulfs the air is a sight to be seen and one that I never ever tire of.

Mayfield Lavender has really gone from strength to strength and not only does it offer you the chance to enjoy this natural wonder there is also the opportunity to enjoy a huge range of scrutipous food and drink from the cafe such as juicy hotdogs, delectable homemade cakes and even a lavender cream tea which is still on my wishlist to try.

The shop is also fully stocked with goodies from tolliteries to lavender flavour sweets and of course a change to take home some of your very own lavender.

My little ones love being able to just run free through the fields but if you want a little more adventure then hop onboard the tractor for a ride around the fields to get a completly different perspective.

I am always the one holding the camera on our trips which I absolutly love, but this year it was a little different as we went along to meet the lovely Rachel Thornhill who is an expert when it comes to photography…especially at Mayfield Lavender.

Rachel is in fact one of the photographers recommend by Brendan Maye – The owner of Mayfield lavender and the moment I meet her I could understand why.

Her friendly smile and calm, welcoming nature put us all at ease when we arrived and she chatted at length with the children about what our morning was going to entail and how to care for the fields and the nature living there during the shoot.

I am not a fan of posed images and much prefer a playful, natural style of picture and this is exactly what Rachel tries to create. Capturing the children at play or us all in deep conversation creates a much more natural image and one that tells a story allowing it to be a more memorable capture and something to treasure for years to come.

During our shoot that lasted a little over an hour we got the change to explore, play, chat and giggle and at no point did the children get bored or restless as Rachel worked her magic and kept them happy and engaged throughout, she even managed to keep shooting when Oscar bundled in for cuddles.

What really sets her apart from other photographers is that she creates bespoke museum quality wall art and framed prints personal to you and hand made by professional printers in both the UK and Italy that are designed to stand the test of time, and become a part of your family story. The products are not available to buy from anywhere other than professional photographers, so really quite special?

Mayfield Lavender is a truly magical place that is pretty hard to find in the UK. It is a place to make special memories to keep for a lifetime and with something like a photoshoot with Rachel these special moments can be captured and remembered for many years to come.

*collaborated post

Kiddie Free Evening At FEGO

A while ago now I went along to FEGO in Banstead with Frankie and Oscar to see what they had to offer in the way of family dining.

We were hugely impressed with everything they had to offer…so much so that when I was asked to come back and sample their evening menu I couldn’t wait.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who craves a little adult time away from the daily routine of taking care of the family, in fact I think it is important to take a break from it all, give yourself a little headspace and enjoy some adult conversation.

I hadn’t had a night out with my younger sister since Christmas so we were both really looking forward to some uninterrupted chit chat over dinner.

We arrived at FEGO and were taken to our table where our super friendly waitress guided me through the drinks menu and helped to pick out a cocktail she thought would take my fancy.

I went for a pornstar martini that I sipped on whilst we perused the menu.

It was a tough decision and I flitted from burgers to salads, pizzas and steaks until I finally settled on a succulent piece of salmon coated in lemon and olive oil served with a sweet potato side salad that was covered with a whole grain mustard dressing.

My sister went with the veggie curry that was a gorgeous combination of cauliflower, spinach, sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash in a mildly, creamy curry sauce served with fluffy basmati rice and a really different mango salsa that made a pleasant change from the usual chutney.

The desert menu was then shown to us and although every part of me wanted to opt for the fruit plater to save my waistline, my willpower was not strong enough to resist the sharing platter of mini puddings.


This was probably not the best choice for sisters who still have that childlike tendency to argue over who has had the biggest portion!

Each and every pudding was a taste sensation with something different with each mouthful.

The lemon posset gave you that bit of sharpness, the chocolate brownies and ice cream were there to satisfy the love for chocolate and the pasteis de nata filled the want for something creamy.

But my favourite had to be the peppermint crisp pudding that was a combination hard to describe so I will leave it down to you to try for yourself.

Pleasantly full we remained at the table and chatted for ages with another cheeky cocktail.


At no point did we feel pressured to leave and were more than happy taking in the great atmosphere, relaxing and making the most of some rare time out.

Never before have I visited a restaurant at serval different times of day and have been able to enjoy completly different yet equally as wonderful experiences.

FEGO really have covered every base and I have to say that evening dining has been my favourite experience and one that will be having me coming back time and time again.
*Collaborated Post

FEGO Banstead:A Eatery Perfect For All The Family

FEGO Banstead:A Eatery Perfect For All The Family

How often do you walk past a restaurant or cafe and immediately dismiss it for not being ‘child friendly’?

For me this is something I do regularly with my brood, as lets face it eating out with small children isn’t always the most enjoyable and stress free experience.

For a while now I have passed by FEGO in Banstead gazing in at their stunning decor and  scrumptious looking cakes longing for a few childfree hours to while away my time.


It looked far to pristine to take my motley crew into and the thought of them in there would bring me out in a cold sweat before my feet passed the threshold!

With these thoughts still firmly in my mind when I was asked along to visit FEGO I was more than a little apprehensive as to how they would cater for us.

We arrived at FEGO on a busy lunchtime during half term and were greeted with a smile and shown to our table near the back of the restaurant that was buzzing with a great atmosphere and full of a real eclectic group of people…including children!

The menus were brought over and I was happy to see there were a good range of different meals without the menu being large and over bearing. We were also welcome to chose from the breakfast menu even though we were there for a late lunch.

I love flexibility in restaurants as lets face it a stack of warm pancakes are welcome at anytime of day!

There is something to cater for all tastes from full english breakfasts to delicious salads, juicy burgers to pizzas and so much more.

The boys were kept amused with the colouring sheets while waiting for their burgers that they picked from a great selection that offers something a little different to the usual chip heavy childrens menu.


I opted for spicy scrambled eggs that were a tasty combination of eggs, cheese, avocado and tomatoes with a fiery kick of jalapeño and my obligatory soya latte.

Frankie’s allergies were catered for brilliantly and not a scrap of their burgers were left on either of their plates.

Crispy fresh chicken breasts served in soft rolls with plenty of salad and juicy, homemade beef burgers would be hard to resist.


It wouldn’t be a meal out without a sweet treat to finish it off. The boys went for a bowl of creamy blueberry ice cream and a sticky waffle covered in vanilla ice cream and sumptuous chocolate sauce.

All my preconceived ideas of this restaurant were quashed the minute I entered the restaurant.

The staff were all warm and welcoming, the food was beautifully presented and a delight to eat and the decor is simply stunning.



FEGO has something to offer the whole family from grabbing a quick pastry to a cosy date night with a cheeky cocktail or two.

There is so much more that I want to try such with their infamous ‘coffee in a cone’ being top of my list.

*collaborated post.

Beetle Collecting At Mayfield Lavender

For those of you that know me will know that from the start of June I’m on tender hooks awaiting the magnificent lavender at the Mayfield Lavender fields to raise its pretty purple head.

I never fail to get excited by the sight and can visit time and time again and never get bored.

We don’t normally visit as early in the year as this, but after seeing a Facebook post inlisting the help of ‘beetle busters’ I knew I had to get over there with the boys.

The lavender is being eaten away by the greedy rosemary beetles which are listed in the top ten plant pests.

All that is required is for you to pick up a jam jar from the shop and go out on the hunt.

We didn’t have much success as number four wasn’t in the best of moods and refused to go to far into the fields today, but number five had great fun trying to capture anything he could!

I was gutted that I didn’t take a camera along today as I underestimated how pretty the fields were already.

I have to say one of my highlights was this lonely poppy peaking its red head through a sea of purple.

We had another spectacular afternoon aside from the moaning from number four and would highly recommend coming over to do some beetle hunting yourselves.

Even though we didn’t have much success the boys still got a sweet for trying hard and I treated them to an ice cream so I could sit and take in the splendid sight for that little bit longer!

A Park Cafe Ready For Any Weather 

  

Today we thought we would make the most of the good weather and take a trip to Pistaschios In The Park, Banstead.

We have been regulars to this park for some time and love the spacious cafe with a great ajoining playground.

Today I meet with the lovely new manager Javid who showed me the fabulous new addition of a soft play area for toddlers which has made an extra bonus to an already great cafe.

  
   

They serve a selection of great hot and cold foods and fab coffee that I can vouch for.  

With the weather being so good today we couldn’t say no to a delicious ice cream and a yummy lolly that was perfect for number four’s allergies.

   
 

The only downside up until now has been the problem with water logging in the playground. I love getting out and about and covered in mud, but when it comes to puddles at the end of slides and under climbing frames it not so much fun! Thankfully this problem has now been resolved with a fabulous all weather surface covering the entire playground.

  
 
The children enjoyed climbing, swinging and slidding to their hearts content and it was only number five that managed to find and fall into the only puddle in the whole playground!

   
    

This Easter Monday they are having an Easter raffle which is being announced at 11 and some more Easter fun to join in with too!

So why not take a trip this weekend and try out the great new facilities.  As the title of this post suggests this cafe is no perfect no matter what weather is thrown at us.

I would love to know what you all think of it so please let me know.

        
 

Princes And Princesses At Monkey Bean 

  
 

Arts and crafts with the under fives can bring the best of us out in a cold sweat!

You spend ages setting up and prepping the much anticipated activity for the kids to dab a bit of paint or sprinkle a bit of glitter and walk off to find something else to do.

If you do manage to capture their imagination and they get really into their task this can then result in every spare inch of your home covered in every craft material you could think of.

I have mellowed a lot over the years and no longer worry about the mess.  Yes there is a lot of effort but as long as the children are enjoying themselves and learning something new it’s worth that bit of time.  This said to be able to go along to a session where all the prep and mess is taken care off it couldn’t be passed up.

I went along to try out Monkey Bean which is a craft based class for the under fives where the emphasis is on the children being allowed to make their master pieces in a relaxed environment where the parents can have as much or as little input as needed.

On arrival you are greated with a warm welcome by the bubbly Mum and daughter team who make the children feel at ease with a friendly song to introduce each child.  There is a cosy section with toys set up that the wanders amongst them are free to pop over and play with.

   
 

This weeks theme was princes and princesses so the boys had the choice of a Knight’s shield or a fairytale princess hat to decorate.  They opted for the shields and whist number four sat there intently decorating his shield number five was backwards and forwards like a yo yo!

   
    

There eyes lit up when a large tray of glitter was bought out to finish off their masterpieces.

   
 

To round off the session and to allow time for their artwork to dry off the children all come back to the matted area for some songs with musical instruments. 

   

Both boys had a fantastic time and will be going back next week to make some Mr Bloom themed goodies.

If you are looking for something a little different to the usual soft play type sessions that are the norm for this age group then this is the place to go.

There are sessions at both The Caterham Arms in Caterham and Pistachios In The Park in Banstead.  Both of which have good parking facilities and refreshments available. 

Give Monkey Bean a like on Facebook to see what great activities they have coming up and to have a nose at some of the creations that have already been made.

We visited Monkey Bean today to review the session and here are my own honest opinions.

The Captivating Lavender Fields 

  

I will apologise now for the photo spam in this post, but I took so many pictures it was hard to chose my favourites.

   
     

For the past few years I have dressed my brood up in white and taken the short trip to the stunning Mayfield Lavender fields to take in their splender whilst taking some great shots.

   
     

Even though I have driven past these fields countless times over the years I am still taken back by there beauty every year.

The children still get exited to run up and down the long pathways peeping over at each other as they go.

   
     

The fields are located just outside the town of Banstead in Surrey.  There is a small charge of a pound per person and there is ample parking; but be warned they are a real crowd puller and it gets very busy.

They have added a tractor ride this year which I should imagine is great but unfortunately we got there to early and couldn’t wait for the first trip out of the day.

  
We finished our trip off today by getting some freshly cut lavender that we are going to use in our lavender playdough making this week.

   
     

There is also a coffee shop serving a small range of hot and cold food.  Our relaxing coffee was cut short by poor number five getting a wasp sting to his face!!

   
  

We will be making a trip back soon to give the tractor ride a go!

  

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.