Easter at Be WILDerwood

A school holiday would not be complete without a visit to our favourite Norfolk hangout – the wonderful and magical BeWILDerwood.

I’ve written many times about the mesmerising Boggles and teriffic Twiggles. But we’ve never actually been along at Easter. In true BeWILDerwood style it was an adventure to remember.

As always we took the boat across the spooky lake and waited for Mildred the croc to blast us with her watery welcome, always great fun! The staff are brilliant and give you a wonderful introduction while your on the boat. You hear about the Boggles in the bogs and the Twiggles who live in the trees And you can peer across the lake into their tiny tree top homes complete with little front doors, tiny brooms and a little rowing boat.

We made bunny headdresses in the craft tent, we wandered in the sunshine ( yes even the sun came out) and crossed the rickety bridge, slide down the slides and lost ourselves while feeding our imagination in the Sky Maze.

There are lots of places to sit and eat, you can pack up a picnic anod sit at one of the many tables, or buy something from one of the food shacks – they try to keep things local and you can pick up some hot options or a quick sandwich.

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What made the trip this time was the wonderful Cedric the Easter bunny. Set in his own Easter garden the children were able to walk through a little Easter magic before meeting lovely Cedric for a chat. Then off to the Easter garden for a few chocolate eggs – prefect!

It’s the story telling that BeWILDerwood does so well. From the birth of this magical place in Tom Blofeld’s books, to the wonderful story times they run all day with characters from across BeWILDerwood.

It’s the perfect place for children to run free and explore their world. We built dens, slide down slides, climbed amazing tree houses and basically had, as always, a totally brilliant time.

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if you haven’t been then you’re missing one of the best days out for families – give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

An amazing day on The Norfolk Broads

Last weekend we decided to go messing about on the water.

The Norfolk Broads are some of the most beautiful waterways in the country and I’ve always wanted to hire a boat and take Arthur out and about. So when Herbert Woods gave us the opportunity to come along and review one of their picnic boats –  I said a very quick and excited Yes!

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I wasn’t holding out much hope for the weather so when the sun peeked enticingly out from the clouds on Saturday morning it was the icing on the cake.

boat1   We arrived about 9.30am and after a quick tour of the boat and a rundown of dos and don’t from the lovely staff we set sail – well, actually we started the engine but you get the point. Jonathan had already assigned himself as captain so my friend and I happily let him take the helm while we organised the boat and four children.

It was genuinely one of the loveliest days I’ve had in a long time. The boat had everything we needed, including a small fridge, gas hob, hot and cold running water – even cutlery, plates and glasses. There was something rather enjoyable about boiling the old-fashioned whistling kettle while bobbing along the broads – a little home from home.

The boat is designed to take 10 people but I found three adults and four very active children was plenty. The children had a fantastic time, the sun dancing on the water, the windmills they’d only really seen from the roads and the sailing boats passing swiftly and silently by which, in our imagination, we turned into pirate ships.boat3

There are so many wonderful places to stop and we chose first to stop at Thurne, a little village which took just under an hour to get to. We had a wander around and the children found a playgroud to run off some steam. They bought postcards in the village shop and we wandered back to our boat. The relaxed sense of freedom and discovery was just perfect.

I loved watching the riverside cabins and houses and deciding which one I’d like to stay in – you really do get a difference perspective on the water and it was a chance to take in sights I’d never seen, or only seen from afar. There were a few boats out and about but with a five-mile-an-our speed limit, it never felt frantic or rushed.

Next we headed to Ranworth Broad where we stopped for a picnic and had another lovely walk. The children played in the grass, collected sticks and basically reverted back to the kind of childhood moments straight from the pages of Swallows and Amazons.  It was busy on the Broad and we spent a long time just watching the boats and enjoying the atmosphere. I went to the local shop to buy some drinks and found out the new princess had been born – it was all happening that day!boat4

On board Arthur and his buddy Leo loved sitting with Jonathan and helping him drive while the girls where happy to draw and play and watch the watery world from the windows. They also loved taking it in turns to sit on the back of the boat where the sun was warm and we could get close to the water. There was also endless fun waving at passing boats and everyone waved back too – now you wouldn’t get that in a car!

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We didn’t need it but the boat also had heating and the windows opened fully and closed easily if you felt the chill.

We headed up to Horning where it was very busy as there was a boat show on, we trundled along taking in the atmosphere then turned around to see what else we could discover. Our last stop was Benet Abbey ruins which I’d never even heard of before. More adventures and discoveries as the children all ran around, climbing hills and discovering new places to hide. We even came across a hen party hauled up in part of the old ruins – The Norfolk Broads really do appeal to everyone!

We got back just before 5 (you get the boat 9-5) and after a quick check by staff we were back at the car. Herbert Woods also give you parking permits for the carpark which is literally next door to the boats. It really was a glorious day, relaxing, interesting, exciting and something I’d do again in a heartbeat. The children loved the adventure and, while it’s not cheap, I would whole-heartedly recommend this for a special family day out.

BeWILDerwood, Boggles and amazing mazes!

We never get bored of BeWILDerwood.

A magical adventure playground of epic proportions tucked away in the North Norfolk countryside – it’s the very best place to let your children’s imaginations run wild.

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a href=”http://www.workitmamma.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/image3.jpg”>Creator, Tom Blofeld, in the Sky Maze. Creator, Tom Blofeld, in the Sky Maze.

This time we went when the new Sky Maze had opened and what a wonderful addition! Set high in the treetops, this massive and hugely impressive wooden design reaches over 8 metres high and weaves through the natural landscape. It’s a puzzle in a puzzle and Arthur and his daddy spent ages getting lost and found and discovering new ways of getting across the walkways and canopies.

We went in August, during the height of the summer holidays and despite there being plenty of cars it still managed to never feel full or over crowded, such is the lay out of this wonderful place.

We had the wonderful boat trip from the entrance in one of the lovely coloured boats and met Mildred the Croc, who spurts water at unsuspecting, or in our case suspecting and excited, guests.

Arthur and his friend Isabel loved the story telling and we listened to all three. The staff, all quite young, do an amazing job of bringing the children into this magical world, with dancing and costumes and instruments. This time we all took part in Pippy’s Peculiar Costume Cavalcade – What a fab idea! We all marched around the new path which weaves up neat the Sy Maze, and met the Parasquawk.
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Just a glorious day filled with stories, imagination, fun and crazy creatures – who doesn’t want to peer through the trees and fing a Twiggle house?!

It’s not just somewhere for summer either. Some of my best BeWILDerwood adventures have been at Halloween and their wonderful bonfire themes fun. Just go, take the children and let the magic take over!

Amazona Zoo – a great day out!

On Saturday we packed up the car, popped on our wellies and began our adventure in exotic South America…

It’s amazing what you can find on your doorstep and we were lucky enough to be invited to a VIP day out at Amazona Zoo, Cromer – it has to be one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets. As a fully paid up Norfolkian I thought I knew all the places to go for a family day out but this one passed me by.

Set in a beautiful wooded area just as you drive into Cromer it really was a fantastic day. The zoo is relatively small and focusses on species from South America. So no giraffes or tigers but plenty of weird and wonderful animals to spark the children’s interest. They do have some big cats too, including the very beautiful Jaguar.zoojag

It’s all set around a buggy-friendly walkway and around every corner there are sights and sounds to behold. I went wth a friend and her two children on a day when it wasn’t just the animals making us feel like we were in the jungle. It was humid with torrential downpours but it really didn’t dampen our enjoyment and by early afternoon the sun was out.

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The children loved the Macaws and spent ages shouting ‘hello’ as the birds answered back – although they were a bit miffed when they didn’t answer the question: ‘what’s your name?!’

Arthur spent ages with the Caiman crocs and it was a great enclosure where you could get really close. The staff were on hand and happy to answer loads of questions.

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As we wandered through to the yurt, which houses some educational boards telling you all about the people and places, a very strange creature caught our eye…

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A Patagonian Mara was wandering (or maybe hoping, I wasn’t completely sure) free on the grass. It was a real treat to see it watching us all, not scared in the slightest. The children all tiptoed up for a closer look before he scurried off for lunch.

I’d never seen a Mara before and he reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland creature popping up  – it wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d sat down for afternoon tea! As we turned another corner the Flamigoes were a wonderfully colourful surpise and the children tried to copy them by standing on one leg – very cute.

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We watched the otter being fed, the catfish enjoying their fruit and veg and the very cute Geoffrey Spider monkies jumping through their branches. We had coffee and icecream sitting outside the cafe and the view really did make you feel a little sub tropical – I guess the weather helped!

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Amazona Zoo is really geared up for families with loads of toilets as you enter, a lovely outdoor play area and Tumble Tots, the new indoor softplay. Our children had a lovely time in Tumble Tots and it was a great way to round off the visit. There was a toddler area and a great area for slightly older children too.

 

I would definitely go back, a really lovely family day out. It may not have the conventional zoo animals but that’s part of its charm – where else would I see a Mara, a Ocelot and a Tapir?

 

*Amazona also does a huge amount of conversation work with South American species and is the main sponsor in a programme of research into the life of the Titicaca River Frog.