Standen House and Gardens – Christmas 2022

I took a slight detour today as I had a meeting in Tunbridge Wells, and I was travelling from Sussex. Standen House Christmas display had been brought to our attention last week and I am so glad I had time to make a visit.

The house and gardens created in the 1890’s by the Beale family has one of the most beautiful displays of Morris and Co work I have seen. Still today it has a cosy family feel to it and with the Christmas trees and decorations even more homely.

Each Christmas tree has a theme including the wishing tree, cup tree and a display of beautiful paper baubles inspired by William Morris.

As a part of the Christmas events there is a family pantomime trail through the garden, on those crisp autumn days this would be a great way to get outside and explore with the family. And you can enjoy the twilight openings to see the lights twinkle in the dark on the 10, 11,17, 18, 22 & 23 December, 3.30pm–6pm (last entry to the house is at 5pm).

Standen House and Gardens is a National Trust Property, memberships are great value and there are so many beautiful places across England, Wales and Northern Island that you can visit.

Monopoly Lifesized – London

As a part of a family weekend, we visited Monopoly Lifesized, and this is what we thought.

We had good fun and played on the city board but…

Price for six was £307 and we discussed at the end and decided it was expensive for what it was. In total there were four teams of six so 24 people in the room with four staff for the entire game. If you were a group of less than six you may be put with another group. Each team had a playing piece, our playing piece was great throughout the game. Some rooms were small and tight for 6 adults standing. The game lasted 90 minutes and we were kept busy the entire time. We did really well (we won) but some families with young children didn’t do so well with winning properties by completing the activities set. Some of the tasks would have been too high up for smaller children to read and complete.

The decor was great, and the game could be absolutely amazing if some adjustments were made.

The prize for winning was £5 to spend on pictures only, they take the pictures and are £20+, this seems a little pathetic and tight considering the cost and we didn’t use it.

Staff on entry and in the shop were ok but I felt like just a number to them and that they just wanted us in and out, a real shame as the characters were brilliant.

I booked a table at the Top Hat the restaurant and bar and I spent £57 for, 3 Pepsi, 2 cocktails, a glass of champagne and a red bull.

It was good fun we just felt it was expensive for what it was, and I was then sent a link to get 25% off my next visit the day after we visited!

Become a ranger for the day

So it’s nearly time to head to Kenya with The Big Cat Sanctuary.
So to celebrate I am running a competition to for one of you and a guest to become a ranger for the day.

To win this fantastic prize all you have to do is make a donation to my just giving page by 24th September 2022, all proceeds go straight to The Big Cat Sanctuary. For every £1 donated one entry will be entered, a random winner will be selected and announced online whilst I am in Kenya. Please note the winner will be announced online with details of how to claim, please do not accept any emails or messages contact me directly if you have any questions. Please ensure you leave your name in the comments section of your donation so I ensure you are entered.

The voucher will give you and one guest the opportunity to work alongside one of the keepers and help them tend to their beautiful cats. You will possibly assist with the cat feeding routines, possibly help providing enrichment items and hopefully leave with some fabulous photos of the day spent with some of the most awesome cats on the planet.
A light buffet lunch will be included. Your day will finish with the opportunity to hand feed one of the big cats.
No travel or accommodation is provided in this prize.

Please share with friends and family so that we can raise as much money as we can.

Important things when travelling

When travelling it’s very important to do and have some basic things, these include but are not limited to:
✅ have travel insurance
✅ research your destination so that you have a basic understanding of culture and things to be aware of whilst visiting
✅ check health requirements such as recommended or required vaccinations

If I hadn’t had travel insurance when Martin (my husband) passed away whilst we were abroad l don’t know what I would have done. They helped and guided me through the process of returning Martin back to the UK and paying for everything that was needed to do this. At that time the last thing I needed was more worry. I am also very lucky to have had such amazing friends that were travelling with us and supporting me.

You never think it’s going to be you but you just don’t know and if you’re happy to travel then you should make sure and be prepared to take on everything that comes with that.

Founders Hall – The Covid Bell

Made during the pandemic, between 2020 and 2021, Grayson Perry’s elaborately decorated bronze bell marks this unprecedented period whilst celebrating London’s great bells and their long history in marking time, mourning death and celebrating life.

You can visit Founders Hall to see the Covid Bell and more during this years open house including Sunday 11th September, Wednesday 14th September, Thursday 15th September and Friday 16th September.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Later this month I am off to work with The Big Cat Sanctuary’s conservation partners at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where I will learn more about the work that they undertake and support them in completing daily tasks.

Follow me to keep updated with the trip, win some fabulous prizes and take part in Q&A sessions.

Check out my fundraising page here.

Reconnect with Nature with Out to the Woods

With our fast-paced world where we are at the end of the phone or email in an instant connecting with nature is something that we should give time to.

Sunita and the team at Out to the Woods are based in Bicknor Kent and have created just that a woodland school in ancient woodland that is offering experiences to all ages.

What is Out to the Woods?

Out to the Woods is a Community Interest Company (CIC); they are a social enterprise, and their aim is to promote well-being and resilience by reconnecting the local community with nature.

What is Forest School?

“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland or natural environment with trees.”

Forest School is a specialized approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland learning.

-Forest School Association-

Experience the Outdoors

Yesterday I was invited to experience some of the experiences that they offer, and I learnt how to make and cook chapatis and dahl; I also got to try the spiced potatoes which were delicious.

I was also lucky enough to make flower crowns with Avril and it was great fun playing and learning how to create my very own flower crown.

Woodfired Chapatis Experience – If you’re looking to book this experience, you get to choose to make Indian flat bread (chapatis) and lentils (dahl) OR you can choose to make stuffed Indian breads (parathas) from spiced cauliflower or spiced potatoes. Next date Sunday 10th July.

Flower Crowns – please contact the team at Out to the Woods to discuss having this added to an experience or if you would like to visit them to enjoy the woodland and just make flower crowns.

Friday Woodland Tots – enjoy some time with your little ones with these sessions each being themed around a well-loved toddler book. You will get the chance to build dens, cook on the fire, make crafts, play in the messy kitchen and more. Next term starts 9th September.

So why not take a bit of time out to enjoy nature and the tranquility of one of the woodlands of Kent and enjoy one of the Out to the Woods experiences.

Canoe Wild

With many rivers and lakes in the UK exploring them safely whilst having fun is key. The excellent Canoe Wild in Grove Ferry Kent is a must if you are in the area. You can explore the River Stour using one of their canoes, SUPs or kayaks. Running from Grove Ferry and Fordwich or you could even take a trip down river to Plucks Gutter. They also do a raft building session at the Fordwich site so if there is a group of you this would be great fun activity.

They also have collaborated with ‘Euro cycle Adventures’ and ‘Cols Kent Bike Tours’ for a ‘Pedal and Paddle’ adventure break and day trips.

The River Stour

The second longest river in Kent originates as the Great Stour in Lenham and flows towards and through Canterbury where it becomes tidal and then finally enters the sea at Pegwell Bay.

The river drains many of the marshland areas with Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve being one. Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve hosts the largest reed bed in the Southeast making it an ideal place to bird watch. So, if you love nature your sure to be happy here.

Whitstable Castle and Castle Gardens 

Whitstable Castle and Gardens are nestled to the side of the main town and are a fantastic free to visit morning or afternoon out.

The Castle Gardens had a renovation completed in September 2010 when extensive work was undertaken on the grounds to achieve a stunning tranquil setting. The gardens have won numerous Green Flag awards with the latest in 2020 and I’m sure they will be awarded another one soon. 

The Orangery Tearoom is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm with a great selection of food and drinks. They also offer afternoon tea, but you will need to book at least 24 hours before you visit. 

There is a lovely pirate ship play area and the paths in the gardens are easy for pushchairs and wheelchairs to use. A great place to visit all year around with the scenery constantly changing as the plants and trees change with the seasons. The castle gardens and play area is open 8am until 6pm daily, there is a car park but note the gate is locked at 6pm.

They have a calendar packed with events on all year round, some highlights coming up in August include nature detective week and mummy mania. The castle can be hired for weddings, business events and more.

Monday, the 1st of August to Friday, the 5th of August 11:00 – 15:00

Mummy Mania – Wednesday, the 10th of August 10:30 till 12:00

Mercedes Benz World

We have been to Mercedes Benz World located in Surrey a few times over the years it’s free and there is no need to book, unless you want a guaranteed driving experience. You can pre-book a driving experience or take a chance on the day and see if they’ve got anything available, but be aware things do get booked up quickly.

Based at the Brooklands Race Circuit Mercedes Benz World has Displays of F1 cars, classic cars and modern cars. They showcase the history of Brooklands Race Circuit and house an AMG performance centre. And if you want to get more involved you can try out the race simulator which accommodates many ages or as mentioned previously take on one of the experiences they offer (these will incur a cost).

There is a cafe with a great selection of cakes and sandwiches or alternatively you could visit the bistro where you can sit and have a meal with views of the race circuit.

No matter your budget it’s a great place to visit, as if you want you don’t have to spend a penny and can have a fabulous time.

We visited this time as we had an event not too far away and decided to use the Brooklands Hotel as a base. I often use Booking.com as I find them excellent for finding local places to stay wherever you are looking to visit or if preferred you can book directly with The Brooklands Hotel.

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