You have to love facebook for throwing up some good ideas for days out. The ‘Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin’ event at Wynyard Hall Gardens came up on my timeline and it seemed like a good way to fill in a Thursday afternoon of half term. The cost of the event was £15 per child for 3 hours of entertainment (accompanying adults free) with the blurb reading
“Send your little devils to The Glasshouse for a fantastic pumpkin experience, with pumpkin scarving, a themed story, arts and crafts and they will love our delicious pumpkin soup and crusty bread“.
As Mr Hoops was at work, my Mam, Elizabeth, came along for the road trip and I was hopeful my craft obsessed lass Imogen would enjoy the activities. For once my house wouldn’t be the one getting covered in glitter!
Wynyard wasn’t somewhere I was particular familiar with. I knew Sir John Hall (builder of the Metro Centre fame) owned the estate and that there was a posh housing estate where another local entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne lived but that was the extent of my knowledge. Popping Wynyard into the sat nav after picking my Mam up in South Shields, the trip took an hour straight down the A19.
On arrival of the estate we did a good bit of oohing and ahhing of the swanky houses that lined the drive as we were sign posted to the Gardens. The estate is huge and is really pretty with lots of open spaces and trees, and immaculately kept, we veered to the right and found a separate modern outbuilding from the hall which hosted the shop, cafe and gardens.
We pulled up in the car park of the gardens around 15 minutes before the event started which was time to use the loo and have a look around the shop, which was an Instagrammers dream – all muted greys and creams and a gorgeous perfume smell wafting through. The shop stocked some local produce, crockery and ornaments, posh candles True Grace and some garden bits. The cafe served the usual quiche, soup and sandwiches but we only sampled the coffee which was good and strong.
I think in the summer there are more plants and it’s speciality is roses but as you would expect in Autumn the selection was pretty sparse.
Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin
Just before 1pm we headed through the gardens to find the Glasshouse where the session would be taking place. There is usually a charge to look at the gardens, but no one seemed to be taking admission this day and I guess this was included in our price, as we had to pass them to get to the Glasshouse. The gardens were stunning, packed full of gorgeous plants and roses (3,000 to be exact) with ornamental ponds made from slate. it was lovely to wander through them. The ground keepers were preparing for the Halloween ball the next night, so they were busy putting up witches and other scary bits out in the gardens which made for some good photo opportunities.
The Glasshouse was a large conservatory at the bottom of the edible gardens another section of the walled garden and was very impressive. The glasshouse was split into two sections – one was the shop (selling indoor plants, pots and more smelly candles) and the other was the workshop where the bulk of the session would be taking place. We were greeted by a lady dressed as a witch who told us to find a seat. Colouring sheets and little colour in puppets were put out already, so the girls cracked on with the first task while the rest of the guests assembled.
Some of the kids had really made the Halloween effort and I wished I’d got my two to dress up but never mind will know next time!
The first part of the afternoon involved the kids going outside to listen to a Halloween Winnie the Witch story (one of Abigail’s favourite books) then going around the garden looking for clues to scramble to make a word. Imogen loves any kind of treasure hunt activity so was in her element sorting the letters and devising the strategy.
We were then given a stick, some elastic bands and feathers and told to go wild in the edible garden picking up pretty leaves, petals and lavender to create an all natural wand. It was such a simple idea but really effective and one I’ll definitely be stealing for a future guiding activity.
Back in the glasshouse, we got cracking with our next craft activity – making a sock monster. I was impressed with the creativity of the task and that all of the crafts took quite a bit of time – no one could really speed craft here. The girls had fun filling him up with rice and newspaper and sticking on various spooky items on.
Just as Mr sock monster was finished, we were given the next activity a pumpkin head puppet. First we had to cover the pumpkin head with tissue paper then decorate and assemble the body parts. My girls were very engaged with both of these crafts and the time did fly. You definitely did need one adult to one child though as they all involved some tricky bits.
Time was ticking on and the witch running the events said we were running a little behind, which didn’t matter too much to us. At this point she said to have a 10 minute break before the soup would be served and the pumpkin carving part of the session. The only negative part of the Glasshouse is the lack of toilet and a coffee machine would have been a great addition too. The main garden centre was a little trek which was fine on a lovely bright day, but if it had have been raining heavily or you had small children with an emergency weeing situation this may have been a bit of a bind.
Back at the Glasshouse the soup was served and was really nice – we had definitely worked up an appetite during our crafting marathon. We have tried to make it before at home with little success but I think the addition of cinnamon and a jug load of cream (which this one had) made it much nicer.
Last part of the day was the pumpkin carving. This is usually Alan’s domain (which he takes very seriously!) so I actually think this is the first one I’ve ever carved. Pumpkin’s are a lot easier to work with than when i used to do a turnip one in my childhood. Abigail’s request was simple – she wanted one with square eyes and a wonky mouth and I think I got away with it ..just! By the time the pumpkin was finished it was heading up to 4.30 (so around 30 minutes over) great value for money.
We really were massively impressed with our afternoon at Wynyard Hall – the staff were fantastic, the craft ideas and resources were all well executed and for 3.5 hours the £15 seemed like a bargain. I picked up the programme of Workshops and Events and could definitely fancy some of the adult ones like Christmas wreath and candle making (£45 pp) and Children’s festive cupcake masterclass for £10 looks like a good one too!
As we are nosy by nature we decided to pop our heads into the hotel to grab an afternoon tea menu for a future visit. Again I was blown away by the building and the friendliness of the staff who were happy to show us around and show us the menus. We will be back!!
With so much on offer at Wynyard, visit there website for all the details. http://www.wynyardhall.co.uk/