Cats and rabbits Would reside in fancy little houses And be dressed in shoes and hats and trousers In a world of my own
Oh how we love Alice in Wonderland - and we totally LOVE Groombridge Place!
This was a big treat for us all. Groombridge really do put on fantastic themed events - We have been to a "Mooch with the Fairies" day and last year visited the Alice in Wonderland event which is taking place again this year over Easter.
Here's a little bit about what you can see.
Groombridge lies on the Kent and East Sussex border in Tunbridge Wells, Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice was filmed here and the delightful 17th century manor masqueraded as Longbourn (home of the Bennets) for the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley.
Our day started off with rain! Typical huh?! It takes around 40 minutes for us to arrive at Groombridge. Today we were also joined by Anarchy Photography (a.k.a Uncle Paul). The first thing we saw was a beautiful peacock nestled in the hedges.
A lot of people bill Groombridge as being quite a pricey day out - but honestly, when you go on one of their themed days it is SO worth it, there are many activities going on and you can usually save 10% when you book online. The first place we headed to (to escape the rain) was the storytelling in a little Arthur Conan Doyle hut including puppets and accordian playing. Everything was beautifully decorated.
After this had finished, the rain stopped, and the clouds moved bringing blue skies and sunshine - hooray! We headed onto the lawn where we were greeted by the rather eccentric Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Alice! The gardens are stunning, there was a marquee, all decked out for the tea party, croquet, a hula hoop to play with - and by the moat a giant chess set. The characters are fabulous, and at 11am we watched them perform their tea party show.
There is a cafe on site, but also plenty of picnic benches throughout the gardens. Next we headed into the Enchanted Forest, you walk past the Raptor Birds of Prey centre, through the Vinyard and enter the forest where you can climb the boardwalks, there are zip wires, ropes, bridges and the amazing giant tree swings. Here you can also see the Zeedonk, half zebra, half donkey!
Our next stop was to watch the Birds of Prey display at the Raptor Centre, which is run by Eddie Hare and his wife. Eddie flies his birds up close to the audience, first we met Pickles the Barn Owl and next Morgana the Harris's Hawk! It was amazing having them swooping directly over our heads, Eddie also gives a great talk about the birds. The centre is run on donations.
Time for our picnic - trust me, my son is like a Hobbit, always hungry! Next on the list was the canal boat. The boat runs every 15 minutes, adults cost £1.50, children £1 each which takes you further into the forest to Crusoes World adventure playground, where we were met by Alice and the Cheshire Cat. The kids can play on the huge wooden equipment before following the signs and ribbons through the forest to collect eggs.
The kids collected four colourful eggs each and followed the trail passing many cool things on the way. Until we reached the beautiful old gypsy wagons and met Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee who exchanged the eggs for some sweets.
Throughout the forest there is plenty to see, The Blue Lagoon and the Serpent's Lair, the tipis, wood carvings, totem pole and prehistoric plants. I could so live here!
After another go on the giant tree swings we headed back to the Raptor Centre for the last display of the day including Polkadot and Inkie the owls, and Jack the Jackal Buzzard. I cannot begin to explain what a magical day we all had, and we are hoping to go back in the summer for more adventures.
This particular event runs over the Easter holiday so do go if you can, we will be saving up for our next trip!
Photographs are copyright of the fantastic Anarchy Photography (and some are mine).