On Wednesday of last week we tried desperately hard to get into town for some events in central London but we were foiled at every turn. We’d rushed out very early to get there on time but when we got to the tube the central line was down and all around us people were flooding out of the station like ants on a mission. We tried to get a bus to no avail. We asked in taxi ranks how long the wait would be and were told not until the afternoon and then, when we realised it was hopeless, we emailed the people we were meeting to make our excuses and headed back to the flat.
We’d had a frantic few days prior as we rushed around London doing various things and it suddenly felt good to be forced into pramture relaxation. We were due to head off to Norfolk in the evening but with our plans awry we packed up the car and headed back to my Mum’s much earlier than we’d expected. We took a long leisurely drive stopping in various places and just as we arrived close to Norwich, we took a small detour to see the outside of the house we are buying in the village of Mulbarton.
I suddenly felt a lot more ready for the move than I thought I was and with the stresses of London far behind me on the M11 I felt the pace of life change in the people around me and I liked it. I reckon, perhaps, I’m finally feeling happy to say farewell to London. Rushing for trains that don’t come or are too packed to move on while people tut because you have a buggy, breathing in smog and never quite managing to stay still enough to have anyone smile at you as they walk past are not things I will miss about the capital and seeing wide open green space around me every day will certainly be welcome. I’ll miss London for sure but it’ll always be down the road to visit and instead, my children get to grow up in the county of Norfolk where everything looks much greener and leafier than it does here in E11.
I do know that I have Epping Forest on my doorstep but actually, there’s nothing quite like fields and fields, country lanes and walks, villages and fresh air. People actually do stop and smile in Norfolk because they have the time. It is a world away. It is different. It will take some getting used to but if the last part of our half term is anything to go by then it’s a used to I am moe than ready to open my arms to.
We still spent our days being busy. We absolutely did! But it was a different kind of busy. I’d already decided to buy two or three annual passes to Norfolk attractions because we will miss all the things on our doorstep in London. Whereas things in the capital are often free or heavily subsidised they are not in Norfolk so annual passes seem to be the most economical way of doing things to me. We spent three days trying out some of what the county has to offer and first up was a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.
Our Day At Pensthorpe!
We’ve been to Pensthorpe a few times in the past. When Florence was very tiny it wasn’t specifically geared up for tiny tots and although the walk around the reserve was still rather lovely, I’m not sure I’d have put it in a spot for an annual pass we would have chosen. They cost £50 per person (£45 for a senior) so it’s quite an investment as we would need four but over the years they have recognised how to entertain children once the walking is exhausted. There were always modest play areas for little ones and a few things along the way to capture their attention like feeding the ducks but today the park is wholly differet and more exciting than it used to be.
Last year they had invested in a massive outdoor playing area which saw a beautiful water walk way for the children to splash in and many wonderful slides, obstacle courses and climbing frames. The children thought it was fabulous and so did we but it was, when we visited then and like now, very cold so there was a limit to the time they could spend playing. They were, however, building an indoor play centre called Hootz House and we were very excited to visit again to see it and have a play. It didn’t disappoint!
The children had masses of fun both on the trail which they had made extra special for Halloween with an extra spooky element meaning they would get a goody bag donated by Aldi at the end of it and they loved seeing the wildlife. We fed the ducks, saw lots of birds and livestock in the fields and then at the end we marvelled at the falingo (sic- Jimmy speak) area before getting stuck into that massive outdoor play area.
When we were suitably cold we ventured into the new and above mentioned Hootz House which is included in the entry price (as it was busy a time slot of an hour and a half was booked when we entered). Inside we enjoyed the peaceful seating area as the children played on slides, climbing and soft play for the smaller ones. It wasn’t like a regular indoor play centre because it was as clean as a whistle and instead of smelly feet (the usualy soft play aroma) we could only smell the wood it was made from. We unfortunately had wet socks from the water play outside but brand new good quality socks in lots of colours can be bought for a pound and while my Mum and I had a cup of tea the children thoroughly wore themselves out playing.
The downside to Hootz House, for us, was the tea which wasn’t up to much but then it didn’t cost the earth either. They also serve food which is inexpensive and if anything like the main cafe I’m sure it’s delicious but we’d had a picnic on our walk around the reserve so didn’t try anything this visit.
The day was amazing, full of outdoor wonder and indoor fun. They’ve worked very hard at Pensthrope to make it an experience with something for everyone and it absolutely works. We can’t wait to go back and we will almost certainly be buying an annual pass. I loved it there and a special note has to be given to the beautiful gift shop where I bought gorgeous Christmas decorations for our tree and the staff who were very polite and courteous despite bieng spoken to rather badly by an exceptionally moody man in front of me. The park is open daily except Christmas and Boxing Day and it’s an absolutely terrific day out of exploring, Pooh stick playing, splashing, fun and laughter whatever the weather. If I hadn’t already been starting to waiver on my sadness at leaving my beloved London then this park would have made me start!
Here are some of my favourite photos from this visit!