On Saturday, after camping over for the night just outside of Bakewell in the Peak District, we enjoyed a wonderful family day out at Chatsworth House. I have wanted to visit for such a long time (since first seeing Pride and Prejudice) and have known since then that if I went to Chatsworth house, I would simply love it (and I did)! This post however, isn’t about how much I loved it – that’s a given as I have such a fondness for stately homes! No, this post is a review on how much I loved it as a location for a family day out and how it was to visit with kids. And, in that regard I can already tell you that it was great –  we had a lovely day!

The house 

Chatsworth house has an incredible history. It is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house is open to the public, but you only walk around a portion of it – which is enough to appreciate its history and grandeur. It took us about 90 mins or maybe more to take a tour, which led us through the main hall, gallery’s, bedrooms, Library, dining room, hallways and staircase.

It is impressive as soon as you enter the gates and the kids loved the architecture and majesty of the house. They noticed the statues and small carvings in the stone, were interested in how it was made, and then once inside loved looking around at the grand ceilings, staircase and rooms. I love visiting places like this with the kids because they always notice and find fascination in things we tend to overlook. And it was these small things that made the visit more enjoyable, interesting and exciting for them too.

For Ethan it was the grandfather clock in the corner of a hallways that people rushed passed, and a small set of cutlery in a case in front of the piano, that contained so much detail that he said it “was so fancy”!

Megan on the other hand took great interest in the key art and stood for ages looking at the intricate details of the various keys. She also enjoyed walking the stairs like a queen and seeing the thrones that were given to the family from the monarchy.

We all loved the ceiling paintings which adorned most rooms, and hearing the amazing stories from those who worked there – like the one about the bed that Charles II was placed in after his death (would you stay there?!), and the one about how they found all of the signatures of the people that worked in the house on the walls when they started renovating ( 2 of many that make it such an exciting place to spend some time)!

The kids also spent a lot of time in the courtyard where they also have a fun foam building activity that helps them recreate some of the pottery they have seen in the house. They liked this part, and we enjoyed sitting out by the fountain and observing!

The House caters really well for kids – the staff are lovely and were eager to chat to them and help history come alive. Our kids enjoyed these little nuggets of information, as well as looking at the information cards in each room and going around to find out what they needed to know about the different people from history (that had some kind of influence), in order to collect all of the pocket cards that they have which is part of the experience for kids!

It is a beautiful, extremely interesting and exciting place to visit as a family!

* Please note that Chatsworth do not allow prams, pushchairs or rucksack style baby carriers in the house!

Gardens

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the gardens/park itself – it was a very hot day and the kids were eager to get up to the farm and have lunch. I am a little disappointed as they have very beautiful landscaping and statues that would be wonderful for any kid (or adult) to explore.

Later on though, Ethan and I returned to explore the green houses, a place he was eager to see! He is a budding gardener with his Grandma and enjoys looking at plants and how things work and the green houses were most impressive and certainly a little piece of adventure for him. I enjoyed exploring this tranquil part of the estate with my biggest boy and we both were impressed!

Farm/Playground

The farm was lovely and all of the animals were well cared for and happy. They have goats, pigs, horses and donkeys, sheep, cows, rabbits and guinea pigs and chickens. Whilst we were there they also had some newly born chicks and piglets; both of which were absolutely adorable and very exciting for the kids!

The farm really caters for little visitors, with a vintage tractor to climb on, to a tractor land for under 6’s and tractor tours for a couple of pounds! They have regular petting sessions in the Oak barn (like every 20-30 mins) and an opportunity to go into Guinea pig town and sit with the guinea pigs! It is a small farm but very happening!

You have to pay entry to the farm to access the playground and a family ticket for both of these costs £23, which is for 2 adults and 3 kids (thank you Chatsworth for being aware that some families have more than 2 kids!). Having had visited and seen all they have, I find this a really reasonable price for a family day out. Obviously if you choose to do the house and gardens, as well as the farm and playground, then you are looking at £65 for a family ticket (again 2 adults and 3 kids). Either way the farm and playground alone would make for a fantastic day out with a picnic.

The playground was definitely a favourite and was very welcomed by the kids after a morning around the house. It is unbelievable and was fantastic for them to run, jump and climb on after being so sensible! I was impressed by the size of it and how well planned out it was. It easily caters for tiny tots right up to young teens and has so many amazing things to it – you have to see it to believe it!

They have ropes and rope bridges, they have courses through the woods, multilevel frames that are mega high and teeny frames for the little ones. There is a trampoline and lots of slides.

We loved the sand and water area and the kids spent a chunk of time in there building with the sand and drawing water from the stream. The weather was lush and it was a beautiful part of the grounds that catered so well for younger visitors. I thinks its great that you can go to Chatsworth for the day and take the kids just to the farm and playground and that in itself would fill a whole day too!

Food!

There is a great array of food available at Chatsworth (and some rather classy dishes too!). They have a snack bar in the grounds of the house, 2 restaurants near the gift shop, and a cafe in the farm. They have a wide range on offer (including lots of local produce) and a kids lunch bag is £5 (you can choose 4 items – A sandwich, Drink, Crisps, Fruit or Yogurt). They also sell Ice creams in all of these places, as well as in the gift shops too.

I personally would stick to taking a picnic. They have several lovely assigned areas where you can eat it and as we were so busy with so much to see, it would have been cheaper and way more convenient to just nibble as we went or set up at a table in the playground so they could graze all afternoon whilst they play!

I think sometimes as parents we may look at the grandeur of a place like Chatsworth House and feel like taking our wild little ones wouldn’t be the best place or more stress than its worth to give them a cultural and historical experience. But having been with my 3 this last weekend, I cannot tell you enough what a great location it is for a family day out. It is full of wide open spaces, a house that becomes a treasure trove for kids – building imagination and takesing them into a different world. The whole place helps them appreciate history and offers a fun family adventure in the farm, gardens and playground.

If you are looking for somewhere special to take the kids this Summer then this would be first on my list! If you would like to plan a visit this Summer, then click here to see what they have on!

I really want to take them back again – perhaps when they are slightly older and don’t tire so easily in the heat! We didn’t see all we wanted to and even then we were there for the whole day!

I also want to go back to Chatsworth for the house and Gardens at Christmas time for myself. I have seen pictures and heard about it from friends and it looks incredible. I want to go without kids so that I can stroll round the Christmas market they have and do some shopping, as well as taking my time in the house to notice all of the festive details. But yes, we will definitely go back again as a family. If you are looking for an exciting adventure filled with outdoor fun and animals, a bit of history and imagination, then you should totally check it out this Summer. Its popular and a little busy but it was also totally fine. We spent 6 hours there and only left because we were so tired! But it gets 2 thumbs up from us all!

*We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review! Our visit was fantastic and all images and thoughts are our own! Thanks to Chatsworth for a wonderful family day out. 

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This week has been incredibly busy, very adventurous and ultimately very blessed! We have seen and done loads together and on some days this has been pretty nuts, although mostly enjoyable too! We have been all over from Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg to museums in Leeds, and even down to the Peak District on Friday night for our very first family camping trip! We have made many lovely memories in and amongst all of the craziness and have also being able to tick off lots from our Summer bucket list too. I am hoping that the rest of the Summer holidays is set to be just as fun and happening as this week has been.

The highlight for me was certainly being able to go to Chatsworth house yesterday. I have wanted to go for such a long time and it didn’t disappoint!

Grateful For 

On Tuesday the youth I work with at church had their annual girls camp. I remember them well from my own teenage years, and as a leader, it meant that I too had the opportunity to go! I only went for one day as anything more wouldn’t have worked with the kids, but as anticipated it was jam packed and a lot of fun! We hiked 9.5 miles and then cooked dinner on a fire. In the evening we gathered round a fire and sung songs, read a few bible passages and shared our faith. It was incredibly peaceful and uplifting and since that special moment in the evening sun and around the fire, I have been even more grateful to be LDS/Mormon as I have felt really uplifted and just thankful for my faith!

I am also grateful for our first family camping trip – It was a lot of fun. And I am grateful for the positive effects I am feeling from my NLP therapy already!

Succeeded At 

This week has actually felt really successful and I have accomplished a lot of little (and some big) things that I have needed to. On Monday (before we went rockpooling) I succeed at attending an interview for Uni (more on this later as it unfolds) which has made me feel really excited. I successfully completed a 9.5 mile hike on Tuesday and I successfully found some new bargainous sandals to see me through the summer (which I love). I succeeded at putting up a tent and building a fire, and finally I succeeded at coming to a decision about my blog!

Ethan Succeeded at growing a nice stash of tomatoes, to which I felt incredibly proud of. He has been so dedicated in nurturing and watering his 2 tomato plants, that it was absolutely wonderful to see them. Homegrown tomatoes – how fab!

Found Beauty In 

There were so many beautiful and majestic moments in my week this week. From the scenery of the 9.5 mile hike I did on Tuesday on girls camp, to the beautiful calmness of the Bay and Filey Brigg on Monday, and Chatsworth House on Saturday. I have found beauty in people, beauty in family moments shared and beauty in nature and historical buildings!

It was beautiful to see the kids playing and looking for crabs with cousins, and it was beautiful to drive through the Peak District on Friday and Saturday. I found beauty in the sunsets and I found peace, stillness and beauty looking out of the tent doors early Saturday morning whilst we camped.

This week truly has been a beautiful one!

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As of today we are officially on the one week countdown to our Summer holidays from school and I could leap for joy! As you can imagine we are not only very tired and completely ready for this long break, but also super excited for 6 weeks of adventures and fun times together. We have been making plans with friends old and new, plans with their cousins and booked a huge family holiday to Scotland (in a castle!) towards the end of August! We have been talking about camping, beach trips, walks, museums, food and swimming. And with all of that chat, we just know that whilst it’s going to be a busy few weeks, it’s also going to be absolutely brilliant too!

I love the Summer holidays and I am especially looking forward to this years as we are now settled in our new home and lives. I have also been thinking of how we are already so very much in the Summer groove with this glorious weather we have been having. That in itself has meant that we have had lots of beach trips, country walks and adventures that have really put us in the mood for “the six weeks holidays” and helped us enjoy Summer right now in the moment! I find that Summer is such a joyful time of year and I do not fear the school holiday’s as I know some parents do – yes of course it will be tiring and nuts, but in a different way to what the school runs are and I love the freedom that time is ours!

Living where we do now, we have nature walks on our doorstep, friends in every other house (just about), and the beach a stone’s throw away. Whatever happens, or however tight money may feel some weeks, we are surrounded by potential free adventures and that fills me with more confidence than I have ever had in the lead up to the Summer Holidays and consequently makes me so happy!

With that in mind, this years Summer holiday plans are way more sporadic than how we have planned it in previous years. Last year and the year before in 2016 I wrote about how our plans for each week were very much structured and themed day by day. This year however we haven’t done that. We know what we want to do and we are going to go and do it – if not we will stay home and explore the fields or play with friends!

The only planning has been in a calendar to give an idea of when! There are lots of things we have chatted about what we want to do and lots of people we want to spend time with and so, we simply sat down together and brainstormed what everyone’s ideas were. From there we have made a spreadsheet calendar to track the possible days we can fit it all in, so that this way Mr Smith has an idea of what we plan to do (when and where) and can hopefully book some annual leave around it to join in the fun!

Last Summer was great – having a bucket list enabled us to do, see and experience so much. So yes, we now have 5 more days of school following this weekend, so whilst I sort out their worse for wear school uniforms and prepare to tackle one more week of school runs, I will leave you with our 2018 Summer Bucket list – perhaps it will inspire you?!

Summer Bucket List 2018

Go Camping (more than once)
Go to Flamingo Land
Go Swimming with Slides
Play Pirate Golf
Climb a Mountain
Swim in a river
Go to The Deep
Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg
Medical Museum in Leeds
Tropical World in Leeds
Chatsworth House
A boat ride
Fort Paull
Dalby Forest
Go to Scotland with the Family
Toast Marshmallows & make smores
Withernsea Lighthouse and Spurn Point
Williams Den
Play in the Water fountains in Hull
A countryside walk
Have a picnic in a field
Wharram Percy
Build Sandcastles
Eat a Waffle on the Harbour
Eat Ice cream sundaes at the seaside
Go on some seaside rides
Ride the Steam Train to Whitby
Play on Grandma’s water slide and make pizzas in her garden
Go to Scarborough

 

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When I think of Tuscany I cannot help but smile. It is such an idyllic place to holiday and I fell in love with it last year when we took the kids for a week for our Summer adventures. Rich in breathtaking views, stunning coastlines, quaint little streets, Iconic architecture and Cities you want to wander all day and get lost in – I couldn’t imagine a more culturally rich and splendid place to escape to! It is relaxing and yet so invigorating to all of your senses. It offers delicious foods, great weather, and I could quite happily return again and again!

When we visited last year, we stayed in a small village outside of Pisa known as Buti. Surrounded by olive groves and nestled in the mountains, it was the perfect spot to overlook impressive landscapes and yet be in easy reach of all that Tuscany has to offer. We enjoyed watching the sun set on an evening, listening to the crickets and seeing pomegranates, limes and olives growing in their natural environment. We watched the locals farm, ate plenty of pasta and dipped breads in oil. A short 10 minute walk, wandering up the hill we discovered a local 14th century church filled with stories and oozing with local history and culture. We loved everything about our stay as it was super dreamy, but next time I would love to stay in another part of Tuscany – perhaps with a pool, maybe coastal but charming and quiet all the same. To Tuscany have some enchanting and beautiful places to stay throughout Tuscany, that to look at would be the icing on the cake for a beautiful Tuscan trip!

So, if you too would like to escape to such a magnificent part of the world this Summer (or in a another season), then let me share with you our favourite places that invite you to really experience the well-preserved culture of Tuscany. Visit for the day or stay in and around any of them and you will not be disappointed – your heart will be full and I expect your bellies also!

Florence

Florence has always been a hotspot for artists, being home to so many famous masterpieces and oozing with Renaissance art and architecture. Whilst not my favourite Tuscan City, I still loved the day we spent there as it was both beautiful and impressive. The Cathedral was more incredible than I expected, with all of its grandeur and intricate sculpting and paintings. And I loved seeing the City squares, bridges and “posh shops.

Whilst not an artist I could appreciate what it has to offer it;s visitors and the amazing history that has been preserved. If you don’t mind spending to see things then you will really have an opportunity to get up close to famous arts and sculptures. Either way you can’t not visit and you can’t not be blown away by the many beautiful buildings and statues that line it’s streets.

If you choose to visit in September, you may have the opportunity to see their annual lantern festival, which sounds brilliant!

Pisa

Pisa is a fantastic little City that I simply loved exploring – so much so we had a couple of days there. The obvious attractions of Pisa are the iconic leaning tower, Pisa Cathedral and Piazza dei Miracoli. We decided not to go in the tower on this occasion as with 3 kids in tow it seemed risky, but we did go in the Cathedral. The Cathedral is free and most certainly worth a visit and setting aside time to explore. There was a little wait (obviously – it’s free and Pisa!) but I loved the scenes of the bible carved into the huge metal doors as we entered and the whole beauty of the building. The ceiling was breathtaking and we all (from oldest to almost youngest) enjoyed wandering around it.

When I first stepped foot in to the square where these famous landmarks are located, I had one of those moments of complete awe and it being such a surreal experience – I couldn’t believe i was actually there! We spent a little while exploring and snapping all of the “must take” pictures (who doesn’t want a snapshot of them holding up the leaning tower?) and it was such a joyful hour or 2! But for me Pisa was far more – Yes I loved all of that side of it, how could I not? But for me Pisa really captured my heart.

I loved wandering its little streets, crossing huge stone bridges over the river and strolling through its parks. I liked that around every corner there were new and equally charming sights to see (including buildings and a statue of Garibaldi) and we had some of the best Gelato here too! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing horses pulling carriages, little fountains and beautiful colourful buildings. Not far away from the City centre are lovely beaches and parks, but the City itself has so wonderful I simply enjoyed strolling round and feeling it’s spirit!

Yes Pisa truly is a splendid city.

Lake Bilancino

Beautiful, clear, turquoise warm waters; Lake Bilancino is a lovely spot to go for the day for water sports, and shopping at the local outlet. It is a man made lake not far from Florence and is a great place to see a different, less historic (but equally enriching) view of Tuscany. We enjoyed paddling and soaking up the outdoors, and of course the drive to and from was such a pleasurable experience also.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is quite possibly one my favourites in Tuscany and yet as we visited late at night, I have no decent images to show you (google it). It is a well preserved part of the coastline and is made up of quaint little fishing villages lined with colorful houses that cling to steep mountain sides. We wandered through Vernazza late one night and swam in the harbour whilst inhaling the rich smells of garlic and muscles – In that very moment my heart felt happy and full and we agreed we would return by train and spend at least a day and a night there to soak up more of its charm and beauty. I wanted to sit for hours on that harbour wall, admiring the little boats and dipping my toes in the med, it really is one of the most beautiful places I have been to! It is a spectacular part of Tuscany and all 5 little villages are worth exploring and will truly capture your heart!

Tuscany is an incredibly beautiful part of the world – The food, the coast line, the cities and views – there is more than enough to fill your schedule for a week or even 2! I can’t wait to return; this time to hopefully catch a glimpse of the miles of sunflower fields or beautiful Poppy fields, to visit Volterra and see where Twilight was filmed and immerse myself in the beauty of Vernazza once more!

Tuscany is a great place for couples, kids, best friends and lonesome travellers alike. Wander it’s streets, admire it’s views, fill up on its delights, and I dare you not to fall in love!

This post is written as an entry to a blogger competition hosted by To Tuscany. I have not been compensated for it and it is not sponsored. All images and thoughts are my own, and I am keeping my fingers and toes firmly crossed that I might have the opportunity to return to Tuscany with them and Mr Smith! 

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