30th Birthday Challenges – Gliding

30th Birthday Challenges – Gliding

If you read my previous post about doing some amazing daredevil stuff for my 30th birthday, you’ll know that I planned on going gliding.

Well, at the start of the month I did it and it was amazing! I went up in a vintage open cockpit glider and even had a little go of flying it myself.

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Watch me being launched here.

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Check me out looking like Biggles!

I absolutely loved every second of the flight. We were lucky enough to have good weather and managed to get a fairly long glide. I even got to glide over the top of my house!

It’s definitely made me realise I want to fly but that I don’t have the time to do it right now. I guess it’ll have to be another thing that I put on hold until the kids are older. Maybe one of them would want to learn with me!

So, one challenge down and one to go. I’m hoping I can do my wing walk before my next birthday. Just a small case of a little bit of weight still to lose.

The Twinkle Diaries
Stopping at two
Heritage Day – Ramsey, Cambridgeshire

Heritage Day – Ramsey, Cambridgeshire

This weekend has been Heritage Day and our local town has been participating. It gave us an opportunity to wander around our local area, discover some of the history and visit some sites that aren’t usually open.

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We started our adventure at this beautiful church which just happens to be where we were married and all our children have been christened. I love the fact that we have so many happy memories here.

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We then headed on to the beautiful Abbey Gatehouse. It’s a surviving part of a Benedictine Abbey and shows the wealth the local area used to have. We got to have a look inside and when the boys were asked by the National Trust volunteer if they liked it they responded with “boring”!

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The Gatehouse is now an entrance to the secondary school so we carried on through the school grounds to the main part of the Abbey and the ‘Lady Chapel’. Accordingly to the boys this was like a Wacky Warehouse! Not too sure which Wacky Warehouse they’ve been visiting!

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The boys loved the apple tunnels in the Walled Garden. They make amazing jams from the fruit grown here.

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We had a wander around the Rural Museum with all the farm equipment which fascinated the children. We never really knew what they had here but will be visiting again as the boys loved it You know you live in the sticks when there’s a Rural Museum!

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We also did quick visits to the 1940s camp and the cemetery as we were running out of time and the boys were desperate to get to the final site.

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After jumping in the car we headed out to the Fenland Light Railway. We love it here and it’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The walk around town was about 3 miles and we had a great time. There was something for everyone and it was very pushchair friendly. We will definitely be visiting again next year.

Days Out In Cambridgeshire

Days Out In Cambridgeshire

The summer holidays are upon us and with it, 6 long weeks of entertaining bored kids! Although I’m now back at work, I still have more than 50% of the week to find some way of avoiding boredom.

Cambridgeshire has so many amazing places to visit (some of which are free which is an added bonus) and this is how we are intending to spend our summer (providing the rain goes away!)

Here’s my list of local places that are great to visit with under 5’s.

1. Sacrewell Farm
With tractors to climb all over and have rides on, animals to feed and an amazing soft play area, this makes a great day out. It’s not too expensive and has indoor options should the heavens open. They also have additional activities on during school holidays.

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2. Hinchingbrooke Park
Apart from a small car parking charge, it’s free to visit. There are miles of lovely walks, plenty of open space for running around and lots of play equipment for children. Also, if the kids stay quiet enough, there’s lots of wildlife to be seen. They usually have additional activities such as pond dipping in the school holidays.

3. Johnsons Farm
This is about 5 minutes in the car from us a definitely a great way to kill a morning. The kids love visiting the animals. They have all sorts there but their favourites are always the alligators. Although it’s free to visit, I always get stung for the amazing food in their cafe and farm shop!

4. Anglesey Abbey
A beautiful National Trust house and gardens. Lots of outdoor space for the kids to run around and amazing for a game of hide and seek! We all learn something new here as well look at the array of flowers and find out what they are.

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5. Sedgwick Museum
There are plenty of museums in Cambridge to choose from but this is my favourite. I love all things earth science related and with dinosaurs involved the boys tolerate it too! Always plenty of activities going on to amuse all ages. There’s also a great geology trail that takes you on a walk around Cambridge centre after you’ve finished in the museum. Totally geeky but we love it!

The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

The Gruffalo And A Day Out In London

Myself and my biggest boy had a little Mummy/son bonding time on Sunday. I love spending time with him on his own as it’s something we rarely do these days and with him heading off to school in September, it’s going to happen less often.

I saw The Gruffalo in the West End advertised on Groupon months back. B loves the theatre and he loves The Gruffalo so I knew I was onto a winner booking tickets.

I was a bit nervous about going it alone with him in London as he can be a bit of a handful especially when tired! But, we got Daddy to drop us at the station and headed into London from the in-laws which made the journey considerably shorter.

We arrived at Picadilly Circus nice and early. Our aim was to have a wander through the shops but I forgot the shops don’t open until 12 on a Sunday. It was lovely and quiet though so we had a wander around, watched some street acts and enjoyed the fact the streets were closed to traffic for a 10k race.

The Gruffalo is currently on at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue until the end of the summer holidays. It’s currently sharing the theatre with Thriller and B was quite taken by the huge sparkly sign above the theatre!

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We arrived just as they were letting people into the theatre and it was packed! Although they recommend ages 3+, it was nice to see children of all ages there and even a few adults without children!

We loitered outside for as long as we could before we went inside to find our seats. The show is only an hour long but I thought B might start to get a bit fidgety.

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We had great seats, really close to the stage but with no tiered seats B found it difficult to see when a lady sat in front of him. We did swap seats but maybe I should have gone for circle seats instead.

The show is performed by a cast of 3 actors and they were fantastic. One actress played the mouse for the entire show while the other 2 actors played numerous roles between them.

B was so engrossed in the show that he was shouting along with the characters and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stay still for that length of time! He loved it.

I don’t mind taking the kids to these shows as long as I’m entertained as well and The Gruffalo really did that. With fantastic story telling, brilliant songs that the audience could join in with and the most over the top and flamboyant snake you ever did see, we both had a great time. I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil it but, I highly recommend going to see this. I enjoyed it so much I’m considering going back and taking O with me.

After the show we headed off to M&M World in Leicester Square. I promised B we would pop in here afterwards so he could get some chocolate.

The smell of chocolate as you walk in the door is just overwhelming! It makes you so hungry. Obviously a fab marketing tool! We had a wander around and B wanted to have a go on the huge London bus in the entrance. We did buy a few M&Ms from the pick and mix machines which were pretty pricey but don’t tell Daddy!

We had lunch in Leicester Square. Bad Mummy alert but, we had a Burger King! It was absolutely ram packed so we headed outside to the grassed square area. They have pavement fountains and we were enjoying watching other children play in them while we ate.

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As soon as we finished though, B wanted in on the action. It was all going so well until he lost his timing and ended up standing on a fountain as it sprayed up. I could hear everyone gasp as he got his soaking.

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I had to walk around for the next hour with a child who looked like he’d wet himself! We both found it pretty funny though. If you can’t do things like this as a kid, when can you!

After lunch I asked B where he’d like to go and his response kind of surprised me. He wanted to go see the Queen. So, we headed off towards Trafalgar Square where I showed him Nelsons Column and more fountains (although we stayed well clear this time).

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We continued our walk towards The Mall. I lived on the outskirts of London for the first 21 years of my life and I have spent so much time in the capital. But, I have never once walked up The Mall!

The road closure was still in place so we took the opportunity to walk right up the centre of The Mall so he could see Buckingham Palace getting closer.

He was pretty impressed when we arrived that somebody actually lived in the ‘castle’. We sat on the fountain for a while (notice a theme yet!) watching the world go by before going over to the gates to watch the guards and wave at a few policemen!

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By now, B was starting to complain he was tired and his leg was hurting. He fractured his femur about 18 months ago and if we do a lot of walking he still complains about it so we started to head home. We had a stroll back through Green Park to the Tube station.

We sat on the train eating our chocolate then B curled up on my lap! I forget he’s only 4 years old at times and I think I broke him today!

”Twinkly
Babywearing Through London

Babywearing Through London

We were brave and took the plunge taking 4 small people on public transport into London for the day.

Hubby thought it would be easy. Strap the 2 babies into the pushchair with the older 2 walking and off we go. What he didn’t factor in was 1. our double pushchair is massive so couldn’t really be kept up on the tube and 2. our destination (Oxford Circus) had no step free access. We could have planned our journey using only step free stations but at just 2 years old, O struggles with walking long distances.

The only answer to this dilemma was to use my baby carriers. This was no problem for me as I love carrying my babies but hubby has always been reluctant. He still brings up the cost of my double pushchair everytime I mention I’ve used the carrier!

I have 2 baby carriers. I bought a stretchy Calin Bleu wrap when the girls were first born. It was fab and I even mastered putting both girls in it. Eventually though, I got bored of time consuming wrapping and I decided I needed buckles. A Rose and Rebellion soon arrived and I was in love. It was so much easier to put on and the kids didn’t get bored waiting!

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We kitted up on the train just before we arrived into Finsbury Park Station. I took the wrap with our smaller twin. It wasn’t going to be ideal as she’s probably too heavy (16lb 7ozs) but to be honest, now she’s bigger, I found she fitted better. I felt like it was tighter on her but that was probably just my poor, beginner wrapping skills! To be fair, my wrapping skills haven’t improved to much!

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Finsbury Park station is all steps down onto the underground and this would have been our first major challenge. Instead, we managed to get all 6 of us down onto the underground platform fairly quickly. The only drawback hubby mentioned was not being able to see the stairs as we went down with a baby strapped to his front and guiding a toddler.

We got on and off the tube with ease and, to my shock, people even offered us seats on the train!

We arrived at our destination probably more sweaty than if we had the pushchair but a hell of a lot less stressed! It made the whole day out so much easier and the boys were superstars.

The biggest drawback was not being able to run through Kings Cross station. It was touch and go but, after dragging 2 very tired boys across the station, we made our train home with about 10 seconds to spare.

This little trip has thrown up some revelations. My wrapping can’t be too bad as I was really comfy all day and Daddy has discovered that he loves carrying as well. I fell asleep on her Daddy almost as soon as she went in the carrier and he loved having sleepy snuggles. He loved it so much that he’s wanted to carry her since and has even agreed I can buy another buckle carrier.

Now to decide which buckles I want next. I love my R&R but willing to try anything. Any suggestions?

Mami 2 Five
Mummascribbles
Father’s Day

Father’s Day

It’s Fathers day today and time to spoil Daddy and show him how much we all love him. We do this every day of the week anyway but, convention dictates that you must buy a card on this one day of the year!

We’re taking Daddy on a surprise day out as chosen by the boys. They are going through an obsession with steam trains and love the local narrow gauge railway so of course have chosen that as their destination. I’ve written about it before here as we go quite frequently.

The boys have been working hard and have made their own cards for Daddy. They are so proud of their cards that the eldest asked if I could “show the world” his card on my blog!

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An alien family from B.

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Inspector Gadget from O

The girls are far too small to be doing crafts and I quite honestly can’t deal with the mess so they had to make do with a shop bought card.

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It’s very true though and sums up how we all feel about him. He really is our superhero!

Alton Towers

Alton Towers

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am a massive rollercoaster junkie. My husband knew he was onto a winner with a trip there for my 30th birthday.

The day started early with a buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading over to the monorail station to get to the park entrance. The monorail station is less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel so very easily accessible.

We already had our tickets courtesy of The Sun offer (£1.50 bargain) but we had the option to purchase them as part of our hotel package at a reduced cost of £30 per person for 2 days entry.

Hotel guests are entitled to enter the park an hour before normal guests to ride certain rides. We were never challenged and asked if we were hotel guests so anybody who had prebooked tickets could get into the park an hour early. Today’s choice was Nemesis, Air, The Runaway Mine Train and the whole of Cbeebies Land. We know that both Nemesis and Air can build up quite long queues so headed straight over there.

Nemesis is an oldie but goodie. Given it’s 20 years old, it’s still going strong and also still considered one of the best rollercoasters in the world. There was no queue at all and we walked straight on to seats in the back row. I love riding in the back row as you get pulled along rather than driven which I think gives a better thrill.

Alton Towers are currently running the Big 6 competition. The idea is to ride the Big 6 coasters (Nemesis, Air, Rita, Thirteen, The Smiler and Oblivion) once each and scan a barcode on their app to receive free entry to the park on 4th November.

We gave this a go and scanned every time we went on one of those rides. It turns out that by the end of the day, we had travelled quite a distance by coaster! We weren’t even trying that hard as our old people brains can’t take it any more!

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We rode Nemesis and Air several times and decided to head on over to The Smiler for park opening time. I love The Smiler! I think I actually cried a little bit when we last visited Alton Towers as I couldn’t go on this and everybody else could! It had been raining pretty hard by this point and we had to wade (literally) our way through the enormous queue line almost straight to the front. We waited 15 minutes and this was the longest queue all day. While on the ride it started to hail. That stings at 60mph!

We followed The Smiler with a go on Oblivion thankfully just as the rain and hail finished. We then headed on over to complete the Big 6 challenge with Rita and Thirteen.

Big 6 challenge under our belt, we decided to try something we’ve never done before – Ice Age 4D. We waited outside in the rain for ages and it was unfortunately really disappointing. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the new 4D film being released the following week but the effects we completely out of sync.

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While over in the area we had a quick go on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I haven’t done this since it opened and it lacked excitement for me as a teenager but, having just read this story to my kids, I have a new love of it. The boat ride takes you through the story and then the glass elevator simulator takes you up and out!

We had a quick burger and chips in the now Alton Towers owned burger restaurant which was really nice. There was a good vegetarian option which the Mr said he was a bit jealous of when he saw it. The chain restaurants have been kicked out the park in the past few years and now Alton Towers have their own versions of them instead.

We hopped on the Skyride back over to the rear of the park again. The Skyride takes you over all the beautiful gardens which nobody (except my mother) has ever had the time to visit.

We rode Nemesis and Air again then started to head back towards the front of the park. We skipped Nemesis Sub-Terra as I pooped my pants the one and only time I’ve ever done it. I have honestly never been so scared!

We popped in for a good old husband and wife battle in Dual then back over to The Smiler for two last goes. The queue was even shorter this time but no less flooded! Not a great time to discover a hole in your shoe!

Our final stop of the day was Sonic Spinball. The queue was so short that they were only loading cars on 1 side meaning we were getting some serious spin!

Exhausted and all coastered out, we headed to the monorail and back to the hotel to collect the car. If staying in the hotel, make sure you keep your hotel card handy when leaving the resort. We were asked to show it to get out the car park and it was buried in our bag in the boot!

We had a great couple of days and I think Alton Towers still ranks as my favourite UK theme park. I loved spending quality time with the Mr as it’s something we very rarely do these days. It’s spending time together like this that reminds me why I married him. He’s a keeper!

Just as an extra, this is my Fitbit report from my day at Alton Towers. I guess I earnt my burger and chips at lunchtime! Neither of us guessed we’d walk anywhere near this distance.

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Linked to Twinkly Tuesday

5 Great Things About My June

5 Great Things About My June

I can’t believe it’s June already! May has been a very busy and exciting month. We had lots of time with Daddy at home and we all had a holiday. The kids went off to their grandparents and we took a trip to Alton Towers.

June is looking much, much quieter thankfully.

1. Trip To London
We have family coming to visit from Italy and the only way to get everyone together is to meet in Central London. Not ideal with 4 small children but with my parents help and 2 slings we can hopefully do it without pushchairs and without losing any children!

2. Parents Evening
It’s introduction evening at B’s new school. We’ll get the opportunity to meet his teacher and the new headteacher plus order his uniform. I’ve been warned to take my tissues as they show a tearjerker of a video!

3. First School Visit
Following on from parents evening, B has his first visit to his new school to meet his new classmates. He’s very excited!

4. A Catch Up With My Bestie
We’ve known each other since we were 2 and used to live just 10 doors apart but since I moved from London and we both had kids, we don’t get to spend as much time together. Our catch ups usually involve lots of wine and chatting (plus the odd husband moan). I miss her so much but I know she’s always on the end of the phone if I need her.

5. Tour Of Cambridgeshire Cycle Race
Although a massive inconvenience to us if we want to travel anywhere, the cycle race is coming through our village. We thought the boys would like to go and watch all the cyclists coming through and see what’s going on. It’s not very often something like this comes to our sleepy village.

Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings

Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings

A few of you may have heard that I had a big birthday recently (I haven’t been banging on about it at all!). To celebrate the fact that I was turning 30, the Mr decided to treat me to an overnighter at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

I am a rollercoaster junkie. I could go on them over and over again and I would just not get bored. This was part of the reason he chose Alton Towers and also due to the fact that last time we went, I was 5 weeks post c-section and joyriding Postman Pats van was about as extreme as I got!

The drive from Cambridgeshire takes about 2 and a half hours so we decided to stay over and try out the Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings Water Park while we were there.

We had an incredibly wet drive and arrived at the hotel just after lunch. We quickly checked in, got our water park tickets and dropped our bags with the porter before heading over to the Splash Landing Hotel where the water park is located.

Thankfully, both hotels are linked by a covered walkway otherwise we would have been soaked before even getting close to a swimming pool!

On first sight, the water park was smaller than we thought it would be. With several children’s areas plus 7 water slides, a water coaster, both an indoor and outdoor pool plus heated jacuzzi type pools, a lot gets packed into a tight space.

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I took a few photos of the water park after it had closed as it didn’t seem right to be taking them while the pool was open.

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The outside pool which was being enjoyed by a cheeky duck after closing!

After scanning our tickets at the turnstiles you go directly into the changing rooms. They have a selection of different sized cubicles for singles, doubles or families. There are plenty of lockers, which take a 20p piece, and were more than big enough for both our belongings.

The water park is a very short walk from the changing rooms and upon entering you are immediately hit by the heat! On such a chilly day outside, we could have been forgiven for thinking we were in the Caribbean!

The pool water was also amazingly warm. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to getting in swimming pools and will try my hardest to keep my body parts out for as long as possible! Here, I was able to enter the water straight away without the sharp intake of breath!

We spent several hours trying out the various slides (all in the interest of research). The Mr is a huge water slide fan and spent much longer doing them than me. I much preferred cooking myself in the outside hot tub!

The slides were certainly extreme enough for me. As I mentioned in a previous post (One Lovely Blog Award), I am terrified of water so don’t go expecting anything along the lines of a Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon water park.

We are definitely getting old as mid afternoon we had a break from the water while we had tea and a cake!

The choice of food here is fairly limited and definitely priced accordingly! Our 2 hot drinks and 2 muffins came to £7. If you were looking for something more substantial, they had sandwiches, pies and paninis on offer with an ice cream parlour next door.

We spent a few more hours in the pool before deciding to retreat to our hotel and check out our room.

We had room 263 which was just being the reception desk and along the busy main corridor.

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It was a really good size with a double bed, a single and a pull out second single. We thought we could easily get all 6 of us in here while the twins are still in a cot!

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The bathroom was compact with a shower hiding just behind the door. The sink, as you can see, had its uses! That’s my birthday drinks waiting to be consumed. The Mr contacted the hotel to ask if they could do anything to help make our stay more special. They offered him a birthday package of 6 Bud beers, a birthday cake and a few balloons for the amazing price of just £35! Needless to say, we took our own!

After the exertion of the water park we were starving so headed on over to Flambos buffet restaurant in Splash Landings for dinner. Thankfully, we had reserved a table when we checked in as they were turning people away.

There’s a good choice of restaurants across the 3 hotels with buffets, a la carte and a pizzeria available. We chose the buffet restaurant as for £19.95 per person all you can eat, we thought it was quite good value. We certainly got our money’s worth! The food was really tasty and I was impressed that they had an entire section for vegetarian food.

All hotels have evening entertainment ranging from discos to pub quizzes. We were going to give the quiz a go (we love a good pub quiz) but could hardly keep ourselves awake! Knowing we had a busy day tomorrow, we admitted defeat and headed off to bed!

Given where our room was located, we were worried it might be quite noisy but we both managed to get a great nights sleep. Even though we had no children with us, we were still up and raring to go by 7! It’s true what they say about never sleeping the same once you’ve had children!

The cost of our room also included a buffet breakfast. We headed down to the Secret Garden restaurant on the bottom floor of the hotel. It was the first chance we’d had to look round the hotel and it’s pretty cool.

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The breakfast was good and certainly set us up for the day. There was plenty of choice from hot to cold food. There’s nothing quite like a full cooked breakfast before you get hurled around on rollercoasters.

This is a great hotel and was definitely worth the money we paid for it. I’m not sure I’d have been so happy if we’d paid full price for the room though. I’m hoping we can bring the kids back one day but with the biggest boy starting school in September, I’m not sure we’ll be able to afford it or have the patience for the school holiday queues!

Mummascribbles
My Travel Monkey
Mami 2 Five
A Sunny Afternoon – Van Hage, Amwell

A Sunny Afternoon – Van Hage, Amwell

Our boys are having a mini holiday at their Grandparents while we go away to celebrate my 30th birthday. This meant we had to take the kids to the in-laws to deliver them safely into their care.

Usually, we get to their house and don’t really do too much but, as the weather was so lovely, we decided to head off to the local garden centre. Van Hages is not your average garden centre (although they do sell some really amazing stuff). They have a fantastic pets corner and a miniature railway.

The boys loved looking at the animals and trying to convince Daddy that we need a pet. I need no convincing (as if 4 children isn’t enough!).

They have a huge array of animals including goats, sheep, rabbits, birds and some strange exotic named creatures!

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After a visit to the animals we headed over to the miniature railway. Run by the East Herts Miniature Railway, this ride on train goes on a journey around a small section of the garden centre. A ride is £1 for anybody over 2 years old which I thought was really good value for money.

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The boys had a ride with their Grumps who didn’t complain when we suggested he take the kids on! The boys were so excited about their train ride.

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We were only there just over an hour but could quite easily have spent much longer. It’s definitely a great place to go to pass a few hours without spending huge amounts of money.