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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Since seeing “The Greatest Showman” a few weeks ago, my children have been slightly (insert very) obsessed with Circus’ and stunt people. They dance, attempt to do random stunts, and put on shows for us all of the time. Megan especially dreams of a life in the circus as a trapeze artist, and will often use this as the main reason she doesn’t need to go to school EVERY day! So, you can imagine the sheer excitement that ran through our home last week when we were invited to see The Paulos Circus in York on Saturday for a family afternoon of fun! Lets just say it was the ultimate dream for them, and a wonderful treat for us all.

We invited Grandma along with us as we thought she might enjoy it too, and all hopped in the car and headed to York with a picnic! It was easy to find, plenty of free parking, and thankfully traffic was minimal for a Saturday afternoon which was great. Once there, and after a short wait in line, we found some spare seats (its a free for all so get there early) which were nicely placed just on the second row back. The show was fantastic throughout, and we all had a laugh a minute as we sat there in the big top as spectators of the 2pm performance of “The Paulos Circus” and their #CreatingMemoriestour2018!

 Nothing beats the thrill of live entertainment, especially when it is something you are so passionate about, and involves a show that is filled with so much to see, and generally all round very talented individuals. They only have about 8 performers for the whole thing, which in itself is amazing. And together “The Paulos Circus” team put on an incredible 80 min show that is jam packed with ‘edge of your seat’ stunts, traditional circus tricks, catchy and well loved music, laugh out loud jokes and all round silly behaviour!

It opened on a complete high with stunts that took our breath away. And then, just when you become reasonably comfortable with what you are seeing, they would step up the shock factor and add in blindfolds to which you would here a subtle “nooooooooo” make its way across the audience! There were several moments (straight up and throughout) that had us torn between daring not to look, and needing to look at what they were about to do. It was such a fantastic opening (and all round performance) that had us captivated from the start.

Each of the stunts performed were amazing and we saw everything from “A Clown” (not in traditional clown attire), to a juggler… Trapeze…tightropes and knife throwing! We were completely wowed by the magic of the light show, and this was a truly spectacular part – it must have taken ages to coordinate! “Mr Laser” brought the mystery factor to the ring, and blew us all away as he moved and commanded the flow of light around us. I loved how though his performance he created the illusion of light being something more physical that you literally felt you could reach out and grab! Alice especially was fixated on this whole part, and loved it. It was something I suppose was extremely sensory for the younger members of the audience as well as being awesome for us all. (These pics don’t really do it justice)!

The show was great for the kids  – they loved the shock of the stunts and performers, the beauty of “the sparkly lady” on the Trapeze ring, and they laughed their socks off at the mimes, and antics of the lovable “Mr N”! They loved the experience of being in a circus tent as a spectator of live talent, and especially loved the fresh popcorn that grandma treated them to!

For us adults it was hilarious and breathtaking, and overall it had a good balance of being both exciting and a little silly. It was filled with laughter, amazement and just pure joy for all of the family, and from Alice at almost 2, up to Grandma who is a little older, we all very much loved it from start to finish and had a great Saturday afternoon as a family.

Circuses, I find are such a lovely thing to do as a family. They provide moments to laugh together, moments to be wowed together, and moments to be completely blown away together. I love that in places like this, we are all feeling the same emotions at the same time, and I love the excitement and adventure of being in a big top where extraordinary things occur! It makes lasting memories for all and is all such a fun and lovely family day out.

Isn’t it amazing what people do for jobs? It is inspiring (especially to our budding trapeze artist) to be in the presence of people with such wonderful talents, and it most certainly gets a thumbs up from us!

The Paulos Circus is touring Yorkshire right now, and For just £7 each, it is money well spent, and an absolute bargain for a family afternoon out! There is something for all ages (even little Alice loved it) and both kids and adults alike will have a jolly old time! It is currently at ROKO HEALTH CLUB, Stirling Road, York, YO30 4TU From Friday 6th of April until Sunday the 13th of May, and then I believe it will be coming to East Yorkshire! For all dates and times why not keep upto date by following them on Facebook or Twitter!

Please note there is knife throwing, and a scene with a plastic bottom… but thankfully not together!!!!

*Thanks so much to The Paulos Circus for inviting us along in return for a review. All thoughts and pictures are my own.
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On Saturday I had one of the best moments of the year so far, when Ethan and I travelled to London for the day. We had a date in the capital and it was a fab being there and hopping on and off the tube trying to find our way! The main focus of our visit was to go see Pinocchio at the National Theatre on the South bank, but we of course manged to squeeze in a few of the sights and some sushi too!

Pinocchio

Whats makes us real? And how often are we led by others ideas, and bound by the strings of their opinions and control?

Do we live our life in all of its pleasures instead of with some honesty, accountability, balance and thoughts for others?

The moral lessons of life, love and family run deep in the story of the puppet boy that desires to be real, without really understanding what that entails. Brought to life on a giant set, with magnificent life like giant puppets, song, magic and edge of your seat action, both Ethan and I were hugely impressed and loved the stage adaptation of Pinocchio!

Pinocchio is the spectacular new production brought to the stage by an extraordinary team including John Tiffany the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Dennis Kelly the writer of Matilda the Musical. It features unforgettable music and songs from the Walt Disney film including I’ve Got No StringsGive a Little Whistle and When You Wish upon a Star in dazzling new arrangements.

From the moment the lights went down it was filled with magic, wonderment, adventure, illusions, familiar songs and to me – great symbolism and life lessons. Ethan’s jaw dropped and he was fixated on the set…the lights and the giant puppets. He marvelled at it all and told me afterwards how magical and amazing it was and how he loved it so much. He even had the opportunity on the way out ro chat to the light and sound guy who truly inspired him for a career in technical theatre!

It is a fantastic musical to take children to, truly enchanting, and the way it was created for stage was spectacular.

The adults and set were all done on a giant scale to help you feel the smallness of Pinocchio in his character as a little puppet. And each scene was captivating as we followed his new life which he has magically entered, the choices he has before him and the paths life takes him on, often influenced by the deceit of others.

It rather similar to the film and yet full of surprises too. I found it really interesting to see that the main human characters of the show were all played by giant puppets, and yet the only “real puppet” was actually played by a “real boy”!

Each of the puppets were so impressive and breathtaking and so fabulously made. They were very life like and had amazing stage presence. It all felt so life like and drew us in, and certainly helped put Pinocchio into proportion.

I really loved it all, but especially the depth and lessons that ooze out of the story through song, dance and general performance. It left me afterwards pondering on many of the lessons in life that it explores, and I suppose generally evaluating my own choices. I always love shows that leave an impact!

One of my favourite scene’s (aside from the ones with high energy singing and dancing), would have to be how they created the whale and underwater part of the story. You may remember from the film that Gepetto is swallowed by a whale and Pinocchio goes into the sea to find him. This part of the show absolutely fascinated both of us as to how the lighting and effects so perfectly gave the illusions of being under water. Jamie Harrison (who also worked on Harry potter and the cursed child in London’s West end), certainly knows how to amaze and enchant audiences of all ages!

Being in a London theatre on a date with my biggest of kiddies was an adventure in itself, but seeing a musical of such depth and amusement, with wonderful magic and mind blowing artistry was just amazing. Everyone involved did a brilliant job and as a result we have been on a high all weekend. It was an outstanding day, filled with several extraordinary moments, and I keep doing little jigs around the kitchen whilst singing “I got no strings”…

The Lyttelton theatre and all on stage, gave a magnificent show, and it was lovely to enjoy a day together that made us truly feel alive and joyful!

Pinocchio run at the Lyttelton Theatre at National Theatre London until 10th April! I would highly recommend it as it is so amazing. If like us you have a family railcard, then trains to London can be Mega cheap even from Yorkshire for a quick day trip of fun and some theatre adventures!

*Thanks to National Theatre for inviting us to review this spectacular show! 

 

Family Fever
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Sometimes it is the spontaneous, and very ordinary outings we have, that become the ones that hold the moments we most treasure. And this was certainly true of our little adventure on Saturday.

We had various plans and things to do on Saturday, and yet at 1pm we found ourselves doing none of them, and instead heading up to Sewerby Park (over in Bridlington) for a nice walk and some family time. We decided with the weather being nice, that they could see the animals there, play on the park, and generally just enjoy a little wander together.


Up on the cliff tops and overlooking the bay, it is a place we have visited numerous times and love….An ordinary part of my childhood and now an ordinary part of theirs. A place full of lovely memories and ordinary moments, nature and beauty, and something for us all. Of course when they realised where we were they burst with excitement to be there!

 Alice however is a bit of newbie to Sewerby Park, and whilst she probably came with us as little baby on previous visits, she certainly wouldn’t have remembered or gotten much out of it. I found that this time it meant we had an opportunity to see it all with new eyes and see it from her perspective. The kids enjoyed pointing things out and coaxing her to see things they thought she would love! It started when I decided to let her out of the buggy to explore with her siblings, we were in no rush and I wanted to let her wander to see what she did – She wandered around, not after them, but on her own, and loved her new found freedom. It was so lovely to watch her, and then to watch them all together; Ethan and Megan trying so hard to coax her in to following them! It provided several moments I wanted to bottle up and treasure forever.

She wandered to the animals and shouted as if we’d never seen them before, and wandered with eyes wide, in awe at the sounds, the sky and the world around her. She wandered from pen to pen on a mission, with her little finger pointing as she went, and then so expressive as she peered in at the animals behind each fence…. “oooing” and “Ahhhhhing”!

She wandered her own way and at her own pace and I had no choice but to follow and allows her her independence.

 There is always something lovely about going to familiar places filled with wonderful memories, and these are made more when you can see and appreciate them with fresh eyes. It’s crazy to think how quickly time is going and how fast Alice is growing and changing. I feel we are now in this wandering stage… exploring all we can and taking in the sights and sounds of the world. It takes a little longer, but I love these moments when we can slow down and remember how great the ordinary stages and moments are. This little wanderer certainly brings so much to our lives and our family with each step she takes in a new direction, and with each new thing she points out to us.

The Ordinary Moments
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