A Delightful Visit to the Magnificent Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells, Somerset

A Delightful Visit to the Magnificent Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells, Somerset

During an August bank holiday trip to Somerset, I visited the wonderful Bishop’s Palace and Gardens. The stunning medieval palace and mesmerising gardens are located in the heart of the city of Wells and took only 20 minutes by car from our glamping accommodation at Petruth Paddocks Campsite. I had the best day wandering around the gardens, learning about the history of the palace and enjoying some scrumptious food in the Bishop’s Table, the onsite café. I can only apologise in advance for the masses of beautiful photos that are included in this post – this isn’t even all of the ones I took – it was all just too gorgeous not to photograph!

The Bishop’s Palace and Chapel

To reach the entrance to the moated palace you have to walk through the heart of Wells. The entrance is literally at the end of the high-street / market area and every Saturday there is a local market directly outside. Given its location, there is no parking available on site and so I recommend planning ahead and finding a suitable car park. The day I visited the town was super busy and so do allow additional time to park and arrive.

On arrival at the Palace, picking up my complimentary ticket and guidebook was easy; and the staff were friendly and welcoming. Tickets can be brought in the shop which is attached the café – The Bishop’s Table. This area is free to enter and people can have the pleasure of sitting outside enjoying the views of the Palace and Palace Green.

The Palace has been home to the vast number of different Bishop’s of Bath and Wells for over 800 years so as you can imagine there is a huge amount of history here. The architecture is just sublime – so intricate and interesting to look at.

I decided to take one of the free guided Palace and Chapel tours that are provided twice daily (at 11am and 2pm). Nick, the tour guide, was super friendly, chatty and very knowledgeable. He introduced a group of 15, including me, to the city of Wells and provided an overview of the area before taking us to the Bishop’s Private Chapel.

Here he told us about the Chapel’s history and how it had been built by Bishop Burnell between the dates of 1275 and 1292 – can you even again what life would have looked like back then?!  It was nice to see the pretty stained glass windows and there was a place to light candles for loved ones too.

Next, Nick took us through to the Palace and showed us around its grandeur. The Palace’s exterior is very opulent and given it dates back to the early thirteenth century it’s looking pretty good! Nick’s detailed commentary and clear passion for the Palace and its history shone through as we wandered around admiring the Palace’s décor. You can wander around the vaulted undercroft area before heading upstairs to see the rooms that the original Bishop Jocelin would have used.

In the long gallery, you are able to admire portraits and a timeline of all the previous Bishop’s which was really interesting. I love seeing the changes in what the Bishop’s wore and how they looked through the ages – I can never imagine posing for such a formal picture – we just snap a quick selfie now and then and upload it to Instagram nowadays don’t we! Nick was sure to point out particular Bishops of interest and told us stories of the portraits and the Bishops’ legacies. Apparently, you can have your wedding reception at the Palace – how magical and posh would that feel?! After 30 minutes Nick leaves you to admire the rest of the Palace at your own leisure.

The Palace is surrounded by a moat which was put in place by Ralph of Shrewsbury, who was Bishop from 1329 to 1363. The gatehouse to the moat remains the main entrance which gives it such an imposing and grand impression. Apparently once a year there is a moat race for people to take part in – given there hasn’t been much rain this summer I’d be intrigued to see how that went!

The Well Pools and Gardens

After admiring the Palace I joined Nick for the next tour of the well pools and gardens. This was a 45 minute tour and was a little smaller than the Palace and Chapel tour with their only being 5 of us in total. This meant it felt like a nice intimate tour and we were able to ask more questions as we were guided around the lush gardens. This tour again runs twice a day with its start times being 12pm and 3pm.

We started the tour by examining the ruins of the Great Hall. The Great Hall was apparently built by Bishop Burnell in the early 1200’s, however despite its grand opulence and finery, in the 1550s Bishop Barlow gave up the Palace for a mere sum to the Earl of Somerset. History has it that shortly after this sale the lead from the roof of the Great Hall was sold and the building soon began to crumble. Today, you can gaze at the old walls and see where the tall windows would have been. There are trees and plants growing up and around the walls which I thought was truly beautiful. There is loads more history of the great hall and the surrounding gardens which can be found on the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens website.

The gardens at the Palace actually outdate the Palace itself. Some of the gardens date back to the early 1200s and are still well maintained and looked after today. The current head gardener of the gardens, James Cross, actually lives at the palace which apparently many of the bishop’s staff have done over the many years it’s been standing.

The gardens stretch for 14 acres so there’s lots to explore and some lovely walks to be taken. There’s the quiet garden, allotments, community garden and the arboretum to enjoy. If that’s not enough then there are also the outer gardens too, where you will find the Dragon’s Lair – a place to stop for an ice cream or drink.

There were just so many lovely flowers and trees to admire and I really appreciated all the different colours that were on display. Nick had a folder which included some pictures of various trees and flowers that bloom at different times of the year. This really made me want to come back and explore the gardens in a different season and come to see the meadows full of snowdrops.

Nick took us to see the wellsprings which historically gave the city of Wells its name. He told us all about how the water from the well pools flows into the Palace moat, down along the high-street and onto the moors of Somerset. They were simply gorgeous and a great place for a photo opportunity of Wells Cathedral. I loved how the water in the pools reflected all the plush green trees  – I could have sat on one of those benches for a good while if time had allowed.

The Palace Swans

So another tradition from Bishop’s Palace is the Bishop’s swans. Apparently, if visitors are lucky and patient enough they can see swans ringing a bell at the gatehouse entrance for food. Tradition has it that back in the 1870s, one of Lord Arthur Hervey’s daughters taught some swans to ring a bell at the gatehouse in return for food – I would be so intrigued to see if this still happened so many decades later! If any of you guys have visited and seen this happen then please let me know!

 Bowlore Medieval

The Bishop’s Palace and Garden’s frequently host special events and for the bank holiday weekend were running a Bowlore Medieval re-enactment event. This was included in the admission price and added something a little bit different and extra to the day. The event included archery displays and a sword and weapons show which was fun to watch and had me entertained!

There was the option for visitors to have a go at trying archery and sword fighting which looked fun. All of the re-enactors were dressed up in period costumes which helped to bring some of the Palace’s history alive. You can check out the upcoming events at the Palace on their website and Facebook page.

The Bishop’s Table

I spent most of the day at Bishop’s Palace and Gardens and so was able to visit the café twice! I had a lovely cheddar cheese ploughman’s for lunch which was accompanied with bread, chutneys, pickles, grapes and apple – it was scrumptious! I was able to sit outside on the palace green and take in the atmosphere of the palace.

In the afternoon, after all that walking on the tours, I decided to treat myself to a cream tea – this included a scone with jam and cream and a pot of tea – it was delicious! Unfortunately, given the time of year, there were a lot of wasps around, but this was no fault of the café whose staff tried quickly to clear empty plates and glasses.

I really recommend the food at the Bishop’s Table, it was pretty affordable, tasty and had generous portions. There are ample places to sit both inside and outside and a range of hot and cold food options, as well as a host of tempting looking cakes!

I ended my visit by taking a trip to the well-stocked gift shop and treating myself to a few bits including some fudge and postcards.

Entrance Costs and Additional Information

Entrance to The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens costs £8.05 for adults, £7.15 for concessions and students and £3.55 for children aged 5-18 years. A family ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £21.60. I think these prices are really reasonable considering how much is on offer and especially given they included the two tours and the bowlore medieval experience. Memberships for The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens are also available and seem like a good idea to me, especially for locals. Dogs are allowed in the garden if on a short lead and all accessibility information can be found on their website.

Final Thoughts

I really had such a wonderful day exploring The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens – it was the perfect mix of history, beautiful gardens and tasty food! I enjoyed the added extras of the bowlore medieval re-enactment and the two guided tours of the Palace and Chapel and the gardens. The tour guide Nick really stole the show and is a real asset to the Palace’s team.

All the staff I spoke to were friendly and welcoming and the views of the cathedral were incredible. The Palace was full of history and medieval charm, but the gardens were the true selling point for me – the mix of flowers, trees and well pools were magnificent and so photo worthy! I loved how there were places of peace and calm in the gardens and I was able to take some time out to relax and reflect on life. I genuinely hope to return again soon!

***Entry to The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens and the inclusion of a guidebook was provided to me on a complimentary basis; however, all thoughts, pictures and opinions are entirely my own.***

 

Witches, caves, handmade paper demonstrations, dinosaurs, pirate golf and more at Wookey Hole in Wells, Somerset.

Witches, caves, handmade paper demonstrations, dinosaurs, pirate golf and more at Wookey Hole in Wells, Somerset.

For the August bank holiday Nathan and I were staying at Petruth Paddocks Campsite in Cheddar Somerset. We were lucky enough to visit nearby Wookey Hole which has got to be one of the top attractions and places to visit in Somerset – it seems everyone I’ve talked to since our visit has either heard of it or been!

Wookey Hole gave us a day consisting of fun, facts and fascination! There is so much to see and something for all members of the family to enjoy. Read on to hear about our tour of the caves, up close encounter with a giant gorilla, paper mill demonstrations and to find out who won the game of pirate island adventure golf!

Arriving at Wookey Hole!

We arrived at the infamous Wookey Hole at about midday and were directed to an overflow car park. We parked up and walked past the Wookey Hole Hotel (how cool would it be to stay here) to the entrance. We queued for about five minutes to get our tickets and were given a map with information detailing what was on offer to see and do. We were advised to visit the caves first so that’s where we headed!

The Famous Somerset Caves!

We joined the queue for the caves and waited approximately 30 minutes before reaching the front of the queue and meeting our tour guide. We were led into the caves and the tour began! The tour was great – we loved seeing all the caves fantastically lit up and enjoyed the detailed and interesting commentary provided by our guide. We passed through lots of different caves including the Witches Kitchen, Cathedral Chamber and Great Hall – you are transported into a different underground world full of mystery and magic!

You pass through passageways, wander over bridges and duck down through some low cave formations  – all whilst listening to the interesting and funny stories from the guide. Different coloured lights and projections really add to the atmosphere of the caves and enhance the visitor experience. Stories of famous divers keep the adults captivated and talk of the Wookey Hole Witch kept the children entertained!

 

As if that isn’t enough there’s you even catch a glimpse of the cave-aged cheese – yes real cheddar cheese that’s being stored, refrigerated and aged within the caves!

The tour lasts about 45 minutes and I think there were about 40 people per tour – it didn’t feel overcrowded though and you had the opportunity to ask questions to the guide should you wish. You can find out lots more information about the caves on the Wookey Hole website – there’s even the opportunity for people to try out the unique Wild Wookey Experience – a three-hour caving, climbing and abseiling experience – rather them than me!

Dinosaurs, Fairies and the Ice age!

After enjoying our tour we stopped to have some lunch – just a small picnic we had brought with us. We then made our way through the mystic fairy garden – a cute garden area complete with dragons, elves and fairies! Unfortunately, it was raining quite a bit, so I didn’t get any pictures, but you can spot some mystical creatures as well as plenty of other pictures on the Wookey Hole Instagram page.

After wandering around the world of fairies we entered Valley of the Dinosaurs! Here you can step back in time to explore all things pre-historic and even have a go at digging for fossils in the Dino Dig Tent! I enjoyed looking at the huge dinosaur models and reading the accompanying information boards full of dinosaur facts. As well as the display of life-size dinosaur models, there’s also the more recent addition of an animatronic dinosaur which children around us appeared to be really entertained by!

It was in the Valley of Dinosaur that we came across the giant model of King Kong. It stands towering above you and is a great photo opportunity! I kept thinking about how scared I would be if it happened to come alive and start chasing me – quite an irrational thought I know but still, just imagine…!

To escape the rain we decided to head to the next showing of Ice Age – Dawn of the Dinosaurs. This is shown every half an hour and is super fun! First, you enter through the Witches Laboratory where you are presented with 4D glasses and listen to a spooky story told by a talking and moving bat! Next, you enter the cinema area and experience the adventure of the immersive 4D experience. The chairs move in time with the film’s action and even puff out air to make you jump – it’s really quite the experience and the film is pretty engaging too. The cinema ride requires visitors to be aged 3 and above and excludes those who are pregnant or those who have heart conditions for safety reasons – let that be warning enough!  We thought this was a really cool attraction, however, didn’t think the Ice Age film followed on from the introductory section in the witch’s laboratory – I can only assume this is because they change the films every so often so they might not always fit with the spooky watch theme.

Cave Diving, Paper Making and Penny Arcades

There’s so much to see at Wookey Hole and our day touring the attractions continued as we entered the cave diving museum. This was a small yet interesting exhibit on cave divers and also housed a video displaying history and work of the paper mill which was really interesting.

Inside the monster mill, you can visit the papermaking museum which features the old-fashioned hand-made paper making machinery and information to match. There was even a papermaking demonstration going on which was really cool to watch. Children were invited to have a good too which looked fun! Shame I’m too old!

The cave museum houses lots of interesting information, artefacts from cave excavations and a display of the caves through the ages. There are even some human skeletal remains too!

We explored the Victorian penny arcade next – it was pretty busy, likely because it was pouring with rain by this time! There were loads of old-fashioned arcade games, many of which you played with using old-fashioned pennies which added to the nostalgia. There’s an indoor children’s play area and mirror maze too which were busy and looked fun. 

Time for Some Competition!

To top of our action-packed day at Wookey Hole we partook in a game of golf at Pirate Island Adventure Golf. A round of golf is included in the admission ticket to Wookey Hole, although if you aren’t visiting the whole attraction the golf can be paid for separately.

As the name suggests the golf course was pirate themed with many of the holes being adjourned by swashbuckler figures and all things pirate related. There was a bit of a queue to get our clubs, but this soon eased once people got playing. The course was really good with long, challenging holes which kept Nathan and I in competition right until the last hole – where at the last minute Nathan took the lead and won the game by one point!! I was not best pleased as this meant the ice creams were on me! Again!

 

Final Thoughts!

We finished our adventure by having a look around the well-stocked gift shop and left feeling like we had experienced a real family fun day out. Wookey Hole is so much more than just caves – whilst the caves for me are the main star attraction, the added extras of the paper mill, museums, 4D cinemas, penny arcade and more means there’s plenty to entertain the family for a full day and makes the relatively high entrance price a lot more understandable.

There were unique attractions that appeared to suit all ages and interests. The site encompasses both inside and outside elements making it a suitable attraction for both sunny summer days and those not so sunny summer days! The added bonus of a round of golf is great and was fully enjoyed by us as we love competing against each other! I would recommend Wookey Hole for a family-friendly day out for all ages – there’s a real range of interesting attractions and the spectacular caves are a must!

***Whilst our tickets were provided to us on a complimentary basis, all thoughts, pictures and opinions are my own.***

 

A Super Stay in “Mr Yurt” at Petruth Paddocks Campsite in Cheddar, Somerset

A Super Stay in “Mr Yurt” at Petruth Paddocks Campsite in Cheddar, Somerset

A sunny bank holiday in the UK could only mean one thing for Nathan and I this year – more glamping! This glorious glamping trip took us to Cheddar in Somerset (yes it’s famous for the cheese!) where we stayed at the brilliant Petruth Paddocks Campsite. It was time for us to experience some “free range camping” and experience a slide of Somerset life.

A warm welcome awaited us when we arrived at Petruth Paddocks, with owner Jules and his team introducing themselves and telling us about the site and all it offers. Jules runs the site with his wife Sandra and two grown-up children Kelly and Steve. We had the pleasure of meeting them all over the weekend and liked how friendly and welcoming they were.

After getting our guidebook and car sticker, Jules led the way to ‘Mr Yurt’ – our home for the next three nights.

Mr Yurt

‘Mr Yurt’ is a traditional Mongolian yurt made locally by a guy called Tom. It looks small and cute from the outside but is deceivingly much bigger inside. We were pleased to see a double bed which included a proper mattress, all made up with covers and pillows ready for us. Being almost 4 metres wide the yurt has enough space for all your bags, a table, bedside drawers and compliments tray table. We were even more pleased when we Jules showed us the electric sockets and kettle! It’s always good when you are staying somewhere to be guaranteed to be able to make a good old cup of tea! Nice little touches included some complimentary tea, coffee, milk and hot chocolate sachets- which we enjoyed with marshmallows on our first night!

There’s a bedside lamp too which is always very useful when glamping, so you can actually see at night! I loved the wooden lattices holding the yurt up and the pretty pastel bunting wrapped around it – it’s always the simple arty touches that impress me. The yurt even has room for children on air beds that could fit either side of the bed – so there would be plenty of space for some family glamping!

The yurt was super cosy and the bed really comfy, however, it did get cold at night, even with the duvet and blanket so I’d advise taking some extra blankets and packing your bed socks! The site insists on no music and quiet after 10pm and we didn’t find there was too much noise after dark at all, especially given how busy the sight was over the weekend. You can go and view a video Jules took of the site over the bank holiday weekend on their Facebook page – it gives you an insight into the layout of the site and you can see if you can spot happy campers Nathan and I!

Mr Yurt is the newest addition to the glamping accommodation at Petruth Paddocks with this year being the first year it has been available to book (lucky us getting to stay eh!). As well as the yurt on offer, guests can choose to stay in funky rainbow bell tents or cute wooden Shepherds huts. I loved the look of the huts which can sleep 8 people on beds spread over two levels.

The bell tents are colourful and inviting too, however, they don’t have beds in them so if you’re booking those you will need to bring your own, or you might be in for an uncomfortable night on the floor! We saw lots of groups and families enjoying the glamping accommodation and would happily book them in the future to see what they are like. If glamping isn’t your thing and you prefer more traditional camping, or you have a caravan or RV, then you’re welcome at Petruth Paddocks too – there are three big fields available to pitch up on!

Quad Bike Deliveries and Campsite Facilities

On our first night, we were sitting outside with the BBQ going when we heard the sounds of a quad bike going around the site offering campfires. I don’t really know why but it was quite a funny sight-seeing a quad bike with a trailer full of fire pits and bags full of logs. For the full outdoor camping experience, I really recommend the extra cost of hiring one of the fires – it was fun to build fire, toast marshmallows and it helped keep us warm whilst enjoying dinner al fresco too. The fires cost £2 per night to hire and you can buy bags of logs, kindling and firelighter to get going  – we thought the costs were reasonable and seeing all the fires dotted around the campsite told us they were really popular. Apparently, in the summer when the sun is shining, yummy ice-creams are delivered to your door on an old-school bicycle set up complete with parasol – we were out each day so missed this – gutted! The site offers some craft activities for kids too including friendship bracelet making and tye dye t-shirts – sounds right up my street!

The site has some basic showering, toilet and washing up facilities, however, they are of quite limited supply. Whilst they were cleaned regularly and well stocked with plenty of toilet paper and soap, there simply wasn’t enough of them with campers having to queue at peak times. Whilst this didn’t bother us much I can imagine if you were staying for a week and wanted a shower each day it might get a bit frustrating! Jules told us how he always contacts people who have booked to stay on the site to tell them how busy the shower/toilet facilities can get and warns them that there could be queues – I think this is good as it’s honest and gives people the option to change their minds if it’s not for them. The washing up facilities are as expected for a campsite and there’s plenty of bins with the site being very keen on recycling and sorting out your rubbish.

The campground has a good reception area where staff are friendly and welcoming; you can buy BBQ essentials such as firelighters and marshmallows too. There’s also an information area and space to store ice packs for cool boxes. A guidebook for the site is given to guests on arrival. This tells you the rules of the site, provides you with local information on places to visit and eat, and even tells you the wifi code for the free internet access available on site. We found the guidebook to be really useful for getting to know about the owners and the site a bit more and for the local pub recommendations! To find out more about the site and all the goings on then be sure to check out the Petruth Paddocks Twitter page too.

If people don’t fancy cooking their own food then there are always the food vans available onsite. Whilst we were there we saw a food van that served breakfast in the mornings and a changing menu in the evenings and a coffee van which opened until 10am each day. On our last day, we treated ourselves to a breakfast bap each which went down very well whilst we sat in the yurt listening to the typical bank holiday pouring rain! On the Saturday night there was a pizza van run by Barefoot Stonebaked Pizza Company offering freshly baked wood-fired pizzas. Of course, we couldn’t resist this temptation and we enjoyed a meat feast pizza by the fire. It took quite a long time to order and get the pizza, but I guess when they are prepared in front of you and then cooked one by one in the small pizza oven it’s understandable. Plus it was worth the wait and super scrummy!

A Slice of Cheddar

The site is in a really enviable location. It’s just a ten-minute walk to the village of Cheddar where you can find Cheddar Gorge Caves, Cheddar Crazy Golf and plenty of cheese and ice cream shops! We explored Wookey Hole Caves and Bishops Palace and Gardens over the weekend which were both only a 20-minute drive from the campsite.

If you fancy staying in Mr Yurt and enjoying some “free range camping” or glamping then make sure you check out the pricing and booking information on the Petruth Paddocks website. Prices are £80 a night to stay in the Yurt, with a two-night minimum stay. For more pictures of the site have a peek at the Petruth Paddocks Instagram page where you’ll spot a lovely picture of the family team.

Final Thoughts

For a quirky and memorable stay, I would really recommend a glamping getaway in Mr Yurt. We had a really good weekend and enjoyed our Somerset yurt experience. Petruth Paddocks is a friendly and welcoming site and is in a fab location for visiting Cheddar and exploring Somerset.

***Our three-night stay at Petruth Paddocks was provided to us on a complimentary basis in exchange for this review. All thoughts, pictures and opinions are my own***

Visiting BBC’s Broadchurch, or should I Say West Bay, Dorset

Visiting BBC’s Broadchurch, or should I Say West Bay, Dorset

I visited the home of BBC’s hit drama series West Bay in Bridport, Dorset back in June. I met up with my friends Jess, Frances and Steph, who I went to Bournemouth University with. We had a good old explore of the town and a girly catch up.

The drive from home to West Bay was easy and full of sunshine, however, upon arrival at the car park where we had arranged to meet, the skies clouded over and the sun disappeared! It was a like the weather suddenly made a dramatic change and I was initially disappointed that when we reached the harbour we couldn’t see much because of the sea fog!

We decided to go for a spot of lunch and sat outside enjoying our food – I had scampi and chips which always seems like a good idea when you are by the sea! We had a good old natter and admired  Jess’ new dog – what an absolute cutie!

After filling our bellies we went to do some more exploring and came across many places we recognised from having watched Broadchurch. I am a bit of a telly addict and a big Broadchurch fan, so I found it rather exciting to see all some of the filming locations!

We spent some time on the beach and finally, the sun started to come out which was nice! All beaches look better in the sunshine rather than the cloud and fog, don’t they! Steph is getting married soon and so we talked about all things wedding related!

We wandered around the harbour again and found some Purbeck ice cream. There were so many flavours to choose from that I couldn’t decide! In the end, I went for something a bit different that I felt had a local twist and went for Dorset marmalade flavour. It was, well, different! We sat and did some people watching, observing all the tourists and locals milling about enjoying their weekends before it was time for us to depart and head home.

From what I saw of it, I really liked West Bay. It had a nice harbour and beach, and there were plenty of food and drink options. I really liked seeing the links to Broadchurch, which I can’t help but think must bring a lot of tourists like me to the area!

Have you ever been to West Bay? Are you a fan of Broadchurch? Let me know in the comments below!

Home-made Pizza Making at Forde Abbey & Gardens, Somerset

Home-made Pizza Making at Forde Abbey & Gardens, Somerset

On a sunny Tuesday in the May half-term, Nathan and I took a trip to Chard in Somerset to visit the beautiful Forde Abbey and Gardens. We were lucky enough to be attending a special half-term pizza making workshop and enjoyed being able to explore the Abbey and gardens whilst we were there.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

The Abbey

Forde Abbey is home to a ridiculous amount of history and walking around it visitors can find out about the various previous occupants and learn how it was monastery for 400 years! The Abbey was built over 900 years ago and is really grand. The walls are adorned with stunning tapestries and visitors can explore the many bedrooms and living quarters. The Abbey has been owned by the Kennard family since 2009 and the family continue to live on site. Photography wasn’t allowed within the Abbey, hence the lack of photos – you will just have to visit to see for yourself what it all looked like inside!

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

The outside of the Abbey is just as beautiful as the inside – the building’s architecture and brickwork are stunning.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

There’s a lovely chapel that you can look around and spend time imagining all the monks hundreds of years ago going about their religious duties.

forde abbey and gardens chapel

forde abbey and gardens chapel

A pretty and interesting talking point is the beautiful wisteria that appears to grow on the building housing the men’s toilets!

forde abbey and gardens

The Gardens

The gardens at Forde Abbey are a delight to wander around and explore. They are really old too having been created in 1141! There are several different gardens including the bog garden, walled garden, rock garden and various lawns and ponds to discover. I particularly enjoyed walking through the bog garden as the flowers here were just beautiful! I loved all the colours and how everything was so well planted and maintained.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

Whilst there were quite a few people visiting the abbey on this day, the gardens are so vast that you can find yourself your own private piece of garden to explore on your own in the peace and quiet! There are lots of benches situated around the gardens allowing for plenty of places to stop to rest and take in the beauty of the gardens.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

One of the main features to admire in the gardens is the centenary fountain. The fountain celebrates 100 years of the Roper family at the abbey. The fountain is quite the sight with water shooting perfectly vertically 160 feet into the air. It runs three times a day and certainly isn’t to be missed! Be careful to watch the wind direction though, because as Nathan learnt, you can get caught but the surface spray and end up quite wet!

forde abbey and gardens fountain

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens fountain

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens fountain

Pizza Workshop

As it was half term, there were two special events offering pizza-making workshops. The workshop was £10 per person and was situated just outside the gardens in a marquee. We arrived and were warmly greeted by the chef who had built the pizza stove. After being joined by a couple of children we started the workshop, beginning with an introduction to how the pizza dough had been made.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens pizza making

forde abbey and gardens pizza

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

We were each given some dough and a rolling pin and told how to roll the dough to create our pizza base. We then added tomato sauce, cheese and some fresh herbs which smelled lovely! Next, our pizzas were put into the homemade wood-burning pizza oven.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens pizza

forde abbey and gardens pizza making

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

The pizzas didn’t take too long to cook and within a few minutes, we were tucking into our delicious margaritas. The pizzas were super tasty and tasted even better knowing we had handmade them and they had been cooked in the special pizza oven. The chef was super friendly and answered all our questions about how he made the oven. You can check out what events are coming up on the Forde Abbey website.

forde abbey and gardens pizza

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens pizza making

forde abbey and gardens

The Tearoom

In case you don’t fancy making your own pizza then there’s always the option to grab something to eat at the Tearoom. There’s plenty of space too sit both inside and outside and lots of yummy drinks and food on offer. Nathan and I treated ourselves to a late afternoon hot chocolate and cake each which were very tasty, if a little on the pricey side.

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

Be sure to check out the well-stocked gift and plant shop on the way out too!

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens

forde abbey and gardens gift shop

Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed our trip to Forde Abbey and enjoyed the tasty pizza-making workshop. I really enjoyed exploring the beautiful gardens and taking all the photos of the flowers on display. The fountain was pretty cool too! Entry prices to the abbey and gardens are £13 for an adult and £5 for children. It was £10 each for the pizza making workshop which I think was possibly a little on the pricey side given the length of the workshop – it’s probably best aimed at children but was a unique experience to make and cook pizza in a woodfired pizza oven.

***Entry to the Abbey and pizza making workshop was provided to us on a complimentary basis in return for this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.***

 

Sister time at Enchanted Village Adventure Golf – West Wickham, Kent

Sister time at Enchanted Village Adventure Golf – West Wickham, Kent

I was back home at my parents house in Kent for some time over the Easter break. After munching lots of easter eggs my littlest sister Emily and I decided it would be fun to try out the new local crazy golf course.

Sparrows Den

Enchanted Village is situated in Sparrows Den, which is a big outdoor park area with rugby pitches and a cafe. The fields of  Sparrows Den back onto some woods which are great to explore with the family dog Rolo. Sparrows Den is located only a short walk away from my parents house so was super quick and easy for us to get to.

A Spot of Golf

As well as having the newly opened Enchanted Village adventure golf course, Sparrows Den is home to a pitch n putt golf course. I played the pitch n putt course many times as a teenager with my school friends – I dont ever remember being very good though!

Emily and I collected our golf balls and clubs from the cafe’s kiosk and made our way round the course. The weather took a little turn for the worse and it rained lightly for the majority of our game. This didn’t dampen our spirits though or Emily’s skills with her getting a hole in one on the first and second hole! I should have known then I was doomed!

 

There were a few other groups on the course and we enjoyed chatting with a dad and his young son who were deep in a competitive game! It was so cute to watch them!

Winner Takes All

Unfortunately for me, after Emily’s amazing start to the game I couldn’t make a come back and she won! Beaten by my little sister – the cheek of it!

Despite loosing the game I had a good time. The course is fun and I like the enchanted, magical theme, especially all the toadstools. The 18 different holes are engaging and not too challenging. It’s suitable for whole family!

The owners of the golf course and cafe gave us 2 free passes for another game of golf as the weather had been so wet. They told us it would be more fun in the sun than in the rain and hoped we would return. I think this shows good customer service and means we will return again soon for a rematch – so watch out Em!!

Check out my other golfing misfortunes from Swanpool Beach, Cornwall and Poole Park, Dorset!

Do you like adventure golf? Been to any cool courses that you can recommend? Let me know below!