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.

Halloween at BeWILDerwood

One of my favourite times of year at BeWILDerwood is, most definitely, Halloween.

This year we made the trip actually on 31 October and had a wonderful time. With magical pumpkins lighting up our arrival we were ready for a day full of fun.

The children loved the wonderful story-telling and as always the sky maze was a massive hit – even if I did get lost! Tales of Boggles and Twiggles never cease to capture their imaginations.bewilder6

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We spent ages making dens and even our youngest recruit, 20-month Charlotte, was keen to get in the action!

As the afternoon fell we began to gear up for the wonderful, magical lantern parade. We made lanterns and stood by the fires in anticipation. Soon the wonderful staff at BeWILDerwood came out with their cloaks and beautiful bat lanterns to announce the start of the lantern parade.
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It was very busy so it took a while to get through the pumpkin archway but once through there were Halloween delights around every corner. The Hairy Clod spider who wanted to steal our lantern lights, twinkling lights and pumpkins galore.

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It’s a wonderful event, it marks Halloween without being too spooky for the children, however young.

We went on one of the busiest days but there was still plenty of room in the carpark and, because of the layout, it never feels busy when you’re inside. It’s a place of adventure and exploration and a perfect Halloween was had by all.

The Real Halloween at Holt Hall

On a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon we heading off to Holt Hall for the Fairy Trust’s Real Halloween event.

Even in the carpark I’d already fallen in love with the magical oaks and golden carpet of Autumn leaves…and then the fun began.

An authentic Halloween experience which weaved the beauty of nature through mystical moments and good old fashioned fun. We kicked off with egg and spoon inspired conker races – daddy vs Arthur. I was Arthur’s ‘Halloween helper’ but we did go a little off piste!

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Next Arthur chose a beautiful spider and web to be painted by the lovely ladies in one of the many tents. Arthur was keen to boogie along to the bands playing on the grass – they were fantastic and we stood and watched for ages against the backdrop of the beautiful Holt Hall.

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After a pit stop at the Elf Tavern for mulled apple juice we wandered around the other stall and tents and watched the fantastically dresses witches and elves and slightly scary ogres!halloween6

Then it was into the woods for wizard training where Arthur learned about wizards and how they work their magic through a love and understanding of nature. We learned about Ravens and the powers of the Beech tree – wonderful memories apparently. We collected feathers, leaves and made our own wizard’s pouch.

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It was great fun and a wonderful way of introducing the power of nature and the importance of looking after the countryside.

The whole day culminated in a magnificent lantern parade where huge owls, bats and foxes were lit up and carried through the woods accompanied by drums and punctuated by amazing fire artists swirling through the dark.halloween8

We’d already stopped off in the lantern making tent so Arthur was all ready and he absolutely loved it.

 

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Every time we passed another lantern placed on the floor he shouted:”look mummy the fairies left another one!’.

The whole day was magical and full mystical charm. It brought home the beauty of the places we have around us and had the right level of spookiness to get me in the mood for Halloween fun.

I would highly recommend the Real Halloween as a family day out. Great parking, easy to wander round plenty of loos and even a baby changing tent. Quite a feat to make a well- organised event seem effortlessly untouched but they managed it. I’ll definitely be back.

If you’ve not heard of The Fairy Trust check out the fantastic work they do to protect our meadows and woodlands and how you can help

Pensthorpe Nature Reserve – a fab family day out

On Monday we packed up a picnic, our wellies and said a little pray to the sun gods, and headed off to Pensthorpe nature reserve.

Pensthorpe is a beautiful place, tucked in the Norfolk countryside just outside the town of Fakenham and it’s well worth a visit with the children. It’s so much more than a nature reserve.

We spent the day with some of our friends and their little ones, all aged three, apart from little Charlotte who’s 16 months. Thankfully those pesky sun gods had listened and it stayed dry and sunny all day.The carparking is large and not too far away and there are loos near the entrance, which is always handy with small children.

The children absolutely loved exploring the wonderful gardens, around every corner there were ducks to feed, strange new birds to admire and even some red squirrels – although I think they ran away when they heard a herd of toddlers approaching!

 I was particularly taken with the Grey Crowned Cranes, when I say taken I mean, I was literally afraid I would be. Those things were big and I expected one to suddenly appear next to me at any moment.

It’s so beautifully kept and the flower gardens not only looks amazing but the scents as we wandered around were just wonderful.PENDAISIES2

We walked up to the conservation area to see the flamingoes and feed some more geese – one decided to take a peck or two at Arthur so he was a little less enamoured with them after that!

There’s so much to explore and while we didn’t have time this visit, I remember how lovely the wooded area was and Arthur spent a long time exploring bugs and den building too.

Even the field of daisies looked stunning and there was yet more exploring for the children with a huge wooden spider and net to climb. We also found the most adorable flower topped hut with tiny wooden seats inside. Perfect for small people and anyone who likes to believe in fairies and hobbits.

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Next it was time for a picnic lunch and the epic playground that is WildRootz. It’s just the best place for children. With a little stream around the outside, the tunnels and wood carvings it’s just one of my favourite places. It gives children enough yet urges them to use their imaginations and create their own wonderful worlds.

Arthur and his friends spent ages splashing in the water – that would be my number one tip, bring spare clothes! They danced on musical playgrounds and explored the tunnels and sand.

Each piece is so well thought out and even the benches are carved into creatures. The slides are fantastic and huge! There are zip wires, a huge wooden building to climb and even a huge see saw which whole families can stand on and endless things to climb.

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We spent most of our time in WildRootz, there are loads of benches and grass around the area for picnics and there is also a stand selling drinks and sandwiches and snacks. Although I would recommend a picnic as the selection wasn’t great.

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Pensthorpe is beautiful, both as an adult strolling through the stunningly beautiful grounds and appreciating the effort that has gone into making this reservation. And as a child, running free discovering new birds and animals and enjoying one of the best adventure playgrounds I’ve ever seen.

On a sunny day it’s become one of my favourite places to go and I would definitely recommend it as a great family day out.

BeWILDerwood – fathers Day Free-bee Bonanza!

It’s Father’s Day on June 15 and to celebrate, at the enchanting and totally amazing BeWILDerwood – dads get in free that day!

Dad's_DayIf you’ve not been then check it out. It’s one of my favourite places in Norfolk. Perfect for all ages, magical, adventurous and the perfect place for a family day out

BeWILDerdad’s Free-Bee Bonanza
We love dads at BeWILDerwood and we think they deserve a little present this Father’s Day. So bring Dad for  FREE on Sunday the 15th June.

Come along and enjoy a day of outdoor play and adventure – challenge dad on the Slippery Slopes and watch him get befuddled in the Muddle Maze. If you come along dressed in black and yellow (just like a bumble bee), you can collect an extra special treat for your dad at storytelling time.

Have you heard of the Slitherigrubs from the BeWILDerwood story book? Their glowing lights and silvery threads helped save little Sticklenose, (a teeny tiny Twiggle) when he got stuck up a tree. Bees are just as useful as Slitherigrubs, very important and they love flowers almost as much as Mildred loves the colour pink!

When you head off home, we will give you a little bag of flower seeds to take with you for your garden, your school or perhaps for a window box outside your home. The bees will just love them! Dads can also get a FREE-bee stencil at the face painting pavilion!

Keep an eye on my blog as I’ll be giving away a family ticket to BeWILDerwood in a couple of weeks – that’s at least one day of the summer holidays sorted!

BeWILDerwood – a magical family day out

There are some places that hold special memories in your heart. For me BeWILDerwood is definitely one of those.
I started going when Arthur was tiny and not even a fully fledged Twiggle! So when I was lucky enough to review this lovely place again I jumped at the chance.

All together we were a group of four families all with children around three, with one nearly five and a one-year old.we had picnics and buggies and children with a lot of energy to burn!

From the lovely man on the entrance to the magical new Boggle Houses ( you’ll know what I mean when you go!), the whole place is about sparking little people’s imaginations. Encouraging them to play and explore and enter a world of make believe in which they can be main characters.

Magical Twiggle houses

Magical Twiggle houses

We took the boat into the BeWILDerwood and Arthur and his friends loved hearing about the Twiggles in the trees and the Boggles down in the marshes. Everyone, including the adults got a big surprise when Mildred the vegetarian crocodile sprayed everyone with water!

It was relatively quiet and the sun was beautiful when we arrived so everything was looking good. We spent ages on the slides and I managed to sustain a slight slide-related injury. My own fault I might add, should have kept my feet in the bag!

            Sliding around!

Sliding around!

The children loved the wooden rope bridges, witches house and wonderful zip wires especially for children. Every time you look up you can spy tiny houses painted in bright colours and I even saw some tiny Twiggles socks hung out to dry – it’s this attention to detail which makes it extra special too.

Zip wire fun!

Zip wire fun!

The story telling is also a favourite and the children loved dressing up as Boggles and Twiggles and listening to how you make real marshy marshmallows! BeWILDerwood was borne out of the books by local author, Tom Blofeld and you can feel this wonderful world spilling out of the pages and into your child’s world.

There is also a fantastic free play area for den making and Arthur and his friends built a magical house complete with seating and a barbecue outside. It’s so lovely to see the world through their eyes and places like this really bring this home.

There’s a great Toddlewood area too, for some gentler play for tiny ones where they can build sand castles and explore their own little houses which are not quite so high in the trees.

We stopped to have our picnic and could see a fire being lit. I went to have a look and to my utter joy realised it was a special wishing fire where children could find a pine cone on the floor – of which there are an abundance. Then make a wish before throwing the pine cone down the magic shoot and into the fire. Oh god, as a little girl I would have completely exploded with excitement!

               Make a wish

Make a wish

There are loads of places to sit and eat, whether you buy stuff or want to picnic. There’s even a lovely nursing area which offers feeding mums somewhere discreet to go should they want to.

We had an amazing day, it was relaxed, and full of wonderful play in one of my favourite places in Norfolk. I really can’t recommend it enough. Obviously it’s man made but it feels as though it’s just grown out of the trees. There were children of all ages there when we went and it seems to appeal to everyone -including the adults!

BeWILDerwood competition!

Bewilderwood is one of my absolute favourite family days out in Norfolk. It’s magical, marvellous and utterly enchanting. Not to mention it wears out even the most hardened small person. I’ve never made it home without the sound of contented snoring from the back of the car!
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We went at Halloween and had an amazing time and I’m looking forward to going again during February half term when even more Boggle magic will be sprinkled on BeWILDerwood. If you don’t know about the magical world of Boggles and Twiggles then you’re really missing out!

Competition time
I can’t recommend it enough so if you fancy giving it a try you could win a family ticket to enjoy all the fun at half term. Just leave me a comment telling me what would be your ultimate family adventure.
The competition closed 5pm on 7 February and the prize is a family ticket as described on their website.

So what’s happening at BeWILDerwood over half term?

The Boggles are sprinkling a little Boggle magic on BeWILDerwood this February half term and can’t wait for you to arrive! Join us as we re- light the warming bonfires and re-commence the party at the Curious Treehouse Adventure Park. The ‘Boggle Wish Bonfire’ is the first weeklong event of the season – head ‘this way’ to the ‘Big Hat’, which you’ll find brimming with pinecones and twigs, card and tissue paper; pots and pans (borrowed from Swampy’s mum’s kitchen), and gallons and gallons of glittery glue! Get busy on your wish-making potion, (don’t forget to add a dollop of dreams) and join together at the fire pit to make all your wishes come true!

Even though you will be busy there will still be time to explore and engage in the wild Norfolk landscape. Walk the Wobbly Wires, brave the Tricky Tunnels and take a lazy boat ride across Scaaaary Lake. Cross jungle bridges and visit treehouses and take time to enjoy the enchanting storytelling sessions and listen to the tales and adventures of Mildred, Swampy and the characters of the BeWILDerwood stories.

You can also claim their three for two offer by signing up to Twiggles Times. You’ll get your voucher before the February half term.