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East Riddlesden Hall – A National Trust Day Out

East Riddlesden Hall – A National Trust Day Out

Before Christmas Wifey and I decided we wanted to make sure we got out of the house at weekends as PG loves the outdoors and it’s important she gets her exercise, so we signed up for National Trust membership. If you would have asked me when I was 12 about National Trust I would have probably said it was rubbish as old houses didn’t (and to be honest still don’t) interest me particularly. There’s LOTS of outdoor stuff to do though, so we thought it was worth a bash.

East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley

We signed up for a joint membership as PG is free until she’s five which costs us around nine quid a month – we also got some free binoculars, which we’ve promptly put somewhere safe lost. So far we haven’t, admittedly, done much but now the weather is brightening up we’re going places more and more.

This weekend we went to East Riddlesden Hall, a 400 year old house from the 17th century. With it’s gardens and lake complete with ducks we knew before we set off there would be plenty to do outside and the sun was shining. It’s only around 30 minutes from home so a good choice when we don’t want to spend ages travelling.

When we arrived it was more or less lunchtime so rather than let PG get to the point of super hungry we went in the little café – which was really rather quaint (and had a ludicrously low beam, watch your heads folks) – and had a bite to eat. It didn’t feel like the cheapest café but that might just be me being a cheapskate. We spent around £17 on two paninis, a half jacket spud for beasty and some bottles of water. The food though was really nice, so I won’t grumble too much.

Most of our time was spent outside, which was just as well because when we tried to go in the house itself PG took an instant dislike to it (that or she didn’t like the jolly chap who was the volunteer guide in the first room we went in!). Due to the low ceilings and traditional lighting it could have just been that it was too dark.

Outside there is lots to see, smell and hear. We fed the ducks first, which was PG’s first time she’d ever fed them and something I’ve been looking forward to. I remember as a young handsome boy enjoying feeding the ducks on lots of occasions – apparently you’re not supposed to give them bread, which I always did (sorry ducks). Duck food was 50p from the gift shop at East Riddlesden Hall and you get plenty.

I’m sure we aren’t the only parents who have had to stop their daughter from jumping in with the ducks. Reigns are a must, otherwise your kid will sink like the titanic unless they’ve got REALLY good self control. PG just runs towards water like she’ll be able to walk on it.

After shrieking at and feeding the ducks, we hit the adventure playground. This is for bigger kids but PG had a go on the wobbly bridge and rather impressively the bloody steep slide which even freaked me out. This girl has no fear. There’s a good view from the playground so let your kids run wild and enjoy the scenery.

East Riddlesden Hall - Adventure Playground
The adventure playground was a big hit

Next we moved onto the gardens and this in my view was where the fun for PG really started. There are lots of things to look at from flowers to wildlife (birds, insects etc), smells from the different plants and herbs. There is plenty open space to run around in. It was safe enough to just let her roam and explore as she wished. We only needed to step in to manage the odd step or gap in between the lawn and path.

I had two personal favourite outdoor spaces. The first was the Butterfly and Bee Garden, an isolate, almost secret enclosed space which was a real sun trap. A tree sits in the middle with a bench around. The National Trust run an activity for kids called “50 things to do before you’re 11,” with different activities at various different locations. There’s an app and book to get kids engaged and let them track their progress.

On our visit PG was encouraged to ‘Take off those shoes and socks, wiggle your toes and go for a barefoot walk’, something which we weren’t sure she’d want to do. We gave it a go and she LOVED it

It was so cute watching her run round the garden barefoot, feeling the grass on her feet. She wasn’t even bothered by the non-grassy areas which were probably a bit more uncomfortable. She’s a real gem when it comes to trying new things, always happy to have a go – it’s something we both hope continues as she grows up.

Barefoot Walk at National Trust East Riddlesden Hall
Barefoot Walk at East Riddlesden Hall

We moved onto the Discovery Garden. Another awesome little place. Here kids can make mud pies in the mud kitchen, chill out in the wooden hut or even sit in a teepee built from tree branches. PG made a little friend and it was nice to watch them play so well together. She was more than happy for us to shut her in the little hut and let her play independently.

Anyone who knows my mum will have heard at some point that I was an absolute wimp as a child. I apparently clung to her like a limpet until I was about 16 5. I’m rather pleased that PG takes after her mum instead of me in that regard!

After a good play we meandered back through the gardens and stopped off at the activity room. Here PG could make a ‘nature crown’ – a paper crown decorated with leaves etc. She’s at the age now where she enjoys being creative, be that sticking or colouring, so she was pretty happy to be doing this. Kids can also dress up here, should they wish.

We spent about three hours here and as PG gets older she’ll be able to spend more time in the playground and playing in the gardens. She was sleepy by this point so we headed home, finishing off the duck food on the way back to the car.

Feeding ducks at East Riddlesden Hall
Feeding ducks is fun (as long as you don’t fall in!)

All in all a really pleasant place to visit. I’d definitely recommend seeing if the National Trust is for you. It’s another good way to guarantee good days out without having to spend a fortune.


Beamish Open Air Museum Review

Beamish Open Air Museum Review

This weekend was a surprise trip to Beamish Open Air Museum in Durham for PG’s Grandad’s birthday. I say this weekend, it was actually two weekends ago now I’m just as slow as a snail at writing these posts it seems (sorry). Having been planned for a while we had been excited about this trip for quite some time. Me and Wifey went as kids but haven’t been for a long time. PG was sure to get a lot out of the trip, and we were looking forward to watching her enjoy her trip round the museum.

Beamish is a world famous open air museum, telling the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s & 1940s.

Getting There

It’s a two hour drive for us to get there so we set off, car laden with stuff as we were staying overnight at Park Farm Hotel. Whenever we go on a long road trip we make extra effort to make sure we are travelling over PG’s nap time. This (usually) means she is in the land of nod for most of it, and the rest can be filled watching Monsters Inc (again) or Toy Story (again) which she absolutely loves.

If you’ve been following recent posts, I’m still not allowed to drive on medical grounds so I had to endure yet another long journey as a passenger. Nothing against your driving Wifey, just get me back in the driver’s seat!!

The journey to Beamish was largely uneventful, give or take the usual few nutters on Britain’s roads, and the fact I was so desperate for a pee that I genuinely had to stop listening to Wifey in case she said anything that made me laugh. It was a very close call and in hindsight I should have found a bush as once we got there the queue, naturally, was very long so I had to wait for even longer! Gah!

Getting In

We had prepaid tickets but there was still a ridiculous queue. It was a bank holiday so we expected it to be busier than normal, but it was BUSY. Thankfully toilets were not too far from the entrance. Sweet relief.

Beamish is another of those attractions who are giving their tickets as 12-month validity period. This is great as even though it’s a couple of hours away, we can go back. We are building up our collection of 12-month passes to various places. It means you can have subsequent fun days out without breaking the bank, and places like this are ideal for PG as she grows up. Even at 16 months she loved this place. Year passes start at £11 for kiddies (5+) and £19 for adults. Family tickets can also be purchased and under 5s go free (hurray!). For us it was cheaper to join Friends of Beamish as you’ll also get a free guide book (worth £5) when you get there, so check this out before you go.

Enjoying Your Stay

Beamish is a big old place, and each section is away from the last and accessed via a host of open top vintage buses and trams, which PG was thrilled with. It’s that big we didn’t even see it all, so it’s good that we can go back. I think trying to cram the whole place into a single day would be a bit of a rush.

You will journey through time from the 1820s Pockerley town, where you can see Pockerly Old Hall, dating back to the 1440s, and take a ride on the Waggonway to learn all about early British railways, through to a 1900 town, colliery and pit village, then steam ahead to the 1940s farm. There really is loads to see.

Beamish Open Top Bus
Getting around by open top vintage bus. PG loved this!

PG enjoyed running around the 1900s town, looking at all the old shops and houses, visiting Barclays Bank, and buying some traditional sweets from the sweet shop. Watching the trams and buses go by was a firm favorite. Seeing her excitement as she grows up and takes things in that are going on around her is so rewarding for any parent.

It was very busy here in the 1900s town, but that didn’t stop her barging passed the old ladies who were walking way too slowly for her!

Danger in the Garage at Beamish
PG checking out the danger in the 1900s garage

There’s also a bakery which oddly had run out of bread (yes really) so a couple of us had some sweet stuff. It was a busy day so perhaps we can let them off this time. We didn’t really knead any bread as we had sweets from the sweet shop (ba dum tschhh) so we stayed happy. We paid a visit to the tearoom for lunch which is fairly reasonably priced, but HEAVING. Go early to avoid a queue, particularly on typically busy bank holiday weekends. After lunch it was time for the traditional funfair. This isn’t huge (nor is it cheap) but PG enjoyed a ride on the merry-go-round train, played on the ‘beach’ and sat in a mini deck chair, before trying her hand at Beat the Buzzer (yes, she was sh*t at it but you’ve got to give the little ‘uns a turn!!)

Trying to Beat the Buzzer

A fun day was had which was topped of with a visit to the coal fired chippy. Epic chips consumed here after encountering the longest queue for a chip shop you’ve ever had to stand in, but well worth it. After munching chips we had time for a quick trip inside the old school, where PG spent a good half hour trundling hoops, a traditional Victorian playground game. This, friends, is incredibly noisy when there’s a billion kids running round doing exactly the same thing.

Trundling Hoops at Beamish

We didn’t see all of the museum, but we’ll definitely go back in a month or so to see more. Each time we visit PG will experience new things and she just loves being outside, so somewhere like this is absolutely perfect. Definitely worth a visit.

I’ll leave you with some pictures from our day!


Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate

Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate

Easter is the time of year the sun always seems to shine and this year is no exception (so far). Glorious sunshine for two days, and we planned to go to do the Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey Estate in Skipton. Having been planned for a while today was the day.

The Journey

Bolton Abbey Estate is about an hour from our house so of course this has to be meticulously planned. PG usually has her long nap in a morning and today was no exception. We set off around 9.15 which gave her almost an hour to nap. Little did we know at this point this would be the only sleep she had all day. The excitement of everything meant there was no way she was shutting her peepers for fear of missing something! When we got there we frequented the shop and bought a football (and a tacky bracelet which PG chose herself; then decided she didn’t want it after we’d paid – waste of a quid right there). We had planned to meet some friends but timing issues meant it didn’t really happen and we only crossed paths on our way back doing the egg hunt (whoops!)

Easter Egg Hunt

The hunt is a trail which is a couple of miles walk – a mile each way – which is a nice stroll alongside the river Strid.

You can collect your free Easter Egg Hunt sheet from the car parking kiosk on your way in, or the shop by the Riverside Cafe. It’s a lovely little trail and dead easy to follow, with giant glittery eggs hanging from trees leading the way. The aim of the game is to be on the lookup for bunnies, stationed along the way. Each bunny is looking after a seasonally decorated tree (think eggs, carrots or Easter baskets!) and the idea is that the children count the items in the tree and add it to their entry trail sheet. There are ten bunnies to spot, and eleven glittery eggs hanging from the trees which make up another secret anagram for you to work out when you get to the other end.

The halfway point is a good place to take a picnic and you can eat it by the river when you get half way. There’s plenty rocks to sit on – just keep the little ones close at hand as the river up there is very powerful so you don’t want the curious ones falling in. There’s plenty places to sit away from the river too, for something a bit safer!

The only real blunder was when I lost the damn trail sheet. I’d been left in charge of it for 2 bloody minutes and it managed to blow away never to be seen again. It wasn’t even flippin’ windy!

Once the trail is complete, crack the secret code then hand in your sheet for a chance to win a years pass to Bolton Abbey.


Bolton Abbey Estate

A bit about the place itself, Bolton Abbey is a popular spot and so arriving early is a must. The queue to get parked on a nice day later on in the morning/afternoon can get quite ridiculous. There were easily a hundred cars waiting to get into just one of the car parks as we left. Car parking is £10 per car which may seem expensive, however you can easily spend all day here. There’s plenty to do, from walking to splashing in the (bloody freezing) river Strid. The money goes into the upkeep of the incredibly well kept estate, keeping it a treasure of the Yorkshire Dales.

On arrival you will be given a leaflet of information which includes a nice map so you can’t get lost. It also points out the easy footpaths, and the not so easy footpaths. You will see lots of nature as you meander through the picturesque scenery. There are lots of different walks around the estate, plenty of which are family friendly, and some more geared towards the more ambitious walkers. You can even take a BBQ and have your tea in the designated areas – it goes without saying that a lot of work goes into keeping this place so neat and tidy so please don’t litter!!

The facilities dotted around the place deserve a little mention at this point. We found the prices of items in the gift shop, that we looked at at least, very reasonable. The cafe that we saw was very clean and tidy. Unfortunately this weekend the toilet situation was a bit of a problem. The main loos were being refurbished so porta-loos were provided. Everyone hates porta-loos but I don’t think this can be held against Bolton Abbey. Refits have to be done at some point and not matter when they choose it would be inconvenient so may as well just get on with it! Make sure you pay a visit to the stepping stones which are great fun, and go all the way across the river.


All in all, a bloody marvelous day. Wifey and I think this will become an annual tradition. I’m sure PG will only love it more as she gets older! I’d definitely recommend a trip to Bolton Abbey, particular on a sunny day. The scenery is truly stunning and if you’re into Geocaching, there’s plenty of that too!

Have a lovely Easter.


A trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park

A trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Disclaimer: Please note this might be my worst post to date. I started writing it on 5th September (yes, I know) and it’s now 11th October and I’ve decided enough is enough and just to hit publish. Apparently when you move house it’s impossible to push out blog posts. Here goes…

As part of Great Granny’s birthday present we’d said we would take her on a day out to Yorkshire Wildlife Park (with PG in tow, of course!). She loves giraffes and they’ve got four, it’s only about 50 minutes away from where we live so happy days!

We’d had a date in the diary for a while given everyone seems so damn busy these days (mainly us) and finding free Saturday’s is a bit of a nightmare. Saturday came (that’s a few Saturday’s ago now!) and we’d checked the weather on the Friday and decided we needed to get there for opening to miss most of the typical British summery weather (ie rain).

The park, located just south of Doncaster off the M18, opens at 10am in Summer. Google reckons it takes 2.5 to 3 hours to get round and with rain forecast from about 12 noon, we either needed to walk quickly (difficult with an 8 month old, and 88 year old with a knackered knee), or take our coats – which we did. We arrived just after 10 and were pretty surprised at the size of the place. The road to the free large car park seems to last forever which gives a clue as to how big the park itself is once inside.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park isn’t the cheapest day out (I’m not saying it’s too expensive either, just for the record), so you need to make sure you’re going to get plenty out of it. You can save a few pounds booking your tickets online, but you need to prebook them in advance as you can’t book them on the day you want to visit online. As I write this, adults are £16.50 on the gate or £15.50 online, kids aged 3-15 are £13.50 on the gate or £12.50 online, and kids under 2 are free (hurray!) .There’s also various prices for disabled visitors, and senior citizens/students etc. Great Granny took great delight in telling the girl at the gate how old she was, and that she could still trot round at 88. If you’re likely to make a habit of visiting the park, it might make more sense to get an annual pass, so be sure to check this option out.

I drew the “carry the baby in the carrier” straw so after the hassle attaching her to me so she couldn’t fall out (nearly resulting in me being chopped in half it was that tight), off we trotted (the Park Map was semi useful here. I ended up in charge but couldn’t really be arsed navigating so we just walked round). First impressions are always important and me and Wifey both commented on how well kept the park is. It’s very tidy, no litter, and obviously well cared for by their dedicated team.

First stop, Baboons! PG’s little face lit up instantly. She loves animals, even ones with big red butts. Even the two that started bonking each other right in front of us (yeh thanks Boris Baboon, just what we wanted to see). Great Granny, avert your eyes!

Through a short pleasant woodland trail we ended up at Lemur Woods. This is a cool place, a caged enclosure you can walk around in amongst the lemurs, fascinating creatures of incredible agility and speed, jumping high in the tree tops. I was glad there were a couple on the ground to look at as PG’s eyes aren’t quite up to looking 10 feet up.

Lemur Woods
Lemur Woods

At this point, typically it started to rain. Great, I thought. We’re going to get p*ss wet through and can’t walk too fast with hop a long an 88 year old. It turned out not to be that bad, although some of the animals weren’t very forthcoming in saying hello so we’ll definitely be back on a nicer day. I won’t bore you with the details of every animal we saw, I’m sure most of you reading have seen a tiger, giraffe, ostrich, zebra etc before. All in all we spent just under three hours at the park and did enjoy ourselves despite the weather. We’d taken a picnic and there’s a massive open tee-pee style tent thing that’s got picnic benches in which is great if you don’t want to have to buy food while you’re out.

Terry the Tiger
Terry(?) the Tiger! Rawr!

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is definitely worth a visit and is a decent day out.

To end, no grannies were harmed during this day out.





Bank Holiday – The Sun Is Shining!

Bank Holiday – The Sun Is Shining!

August bank holiday 2016 and the sun is shining. There. I said it. Written in black and white we had some decent weather in a British summer, and boy did we make the most of it!

I’m trying to scribble this as fast as possible as PG is a bit TOO tired so keeps having a bit of a meltdown, so if there’s any typos it’s tough nuts (for once I don’t care).

Me and the missus umm’d and ahh’d for a while this morning wondering what to do. As we are shortly moving house the tight budget (set by me) is currently even tighter, so we soon binned off any extravagant visits to zoos etc, especially seeing as though we are off to Yorkshire Wildlife Park next weekend – woohoo! More to follow on that after we’ve been.

The first activity of the day was a trip to the local park, as there’s plenty to do – loads of space to run around (though we aren’t at walking stage yet, so not quite there), a lake with ducks and swans, a park suitable for kids of all ages, and a train that runs on various days throughout the week. Heck we even saw Granny walking the dog! The park is notorious for causing traffic jams on sunny days as it’s so popular, so we went early and beat the rush. Parking is only a quid all day, so no big deal there. First stop, the train (actually it was the car boot to change a nappy explosion but I’ll bypass that bit)! We went on a tractor ride at Cannon Hall Farm but this was PG’s first train ride, and she lurrrrved it! We even managed not to lose her over the side as the train rattled round it’s tracks. At £1.40 a pop (under 1s free) it’s worth a few quid, and the money goes straight back into the miniature railway run by volunteers. Without the paying public it wouldn’t run and kids wouldn’t get to enjoy it.

Checking out the scenery on the train ride!
Checking out the scenery on the train ride!

Five minutes or so and a toot toot later we were back at the platform ready for a stroll round the lake. We aren’t quite at the duck feeding age – I can’t wait until we are – but she enjoyed looking at them all the same.

After the park we headed into town to get some lunch. We had a bite to eat, Phoebe did her usual trick of throwing food everywhere, and then we got a call to say a swing we had ordered for the garden had arrived so we had to go fetch it immediately so we could build it and get some use out of it before the rain came, which I’m sure won’t be far away given we are in England.

Note to anyone out there thinking about purchasing a Wilko 2-in-1 swing (at £25 it’s actually a really good deal) – the instructions are horrific. They seem sensible until you get to about half way through and are told to screw the top in, which if not lined up precisely right through the other steps is impossible without taking half of what you’ve just build apart again – unless we just got a dodgy one – but there’s a warning! After an hour of arsing about with screws which cover your hands in some kind of silver stuff, presumably some lacquer to make them weatherproof, the swing was finally built, before the sun went in and before PG had decided she didn’t really care about it anymore after watching intently for an hour whilst I nearly bust a gut building the damn thing. In she went and she loved it! We’ve used swings at the park before, but now we’ve got one at home the garden is even more fun!

Enjoying her new swing!
Enjoying her new swing!

Once she’s older the baby seat comes off and is replaced with a “big girl” swing, and a few more poles are added to the legs to make it the usual height, so it’s actually a versatile product, just a nightmare to build. Hopefully after my efforts no-one will nick it out of the garden.

A wicked day which properly wore her out. Back to the grindstone tomorrow!

What did you do this bank holiday? Be sure to share your fun with us!



Cannon Hall Farm

Cannon Hall Farm

Since the little beauty that is Phoebe was born, weekends have become even more precious than they were before. Weekends are for family time, to forget about the stresses of Monday to Friday and enjoy ourselves in the family bubble. On Sunday we took a trip to Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley and had a wail of a time! Here’s how we got on.

First things first, it’s dead easy to get to, only a few minutes off the M1, so travel is stress free unless you’ve got a screamer in the back. Phoebe loves being in the car so no issues there. Off to a good start!

I’ve apparently been here before as a child myself, but couldn’t remember a thing about it so it was as much a new experience for me as it was for anyone else. The first green tick goes to the staff on the car park. This was incredibly organised and despite being pretty busy, parking was a breeze thanks to the stewards directing traffic, even if I did nearly mow one of them down. Parking is £3 which is fine, but you can also redeem your parking fee back in the restaurant if you spend £10 or more, which is even better.

The entrance is a short walk from the parking areas, along safe walkways. Before you get to the farm itself you’ll pass a lovely restaurant which is great for a bite to eat or a drink out in the sun. If you time your visit right you can eat either before or after you’ve visited the park. The Farm Shop is round here too, selling produce made on the farm.

As you go in and buy your tickets (a bargain at £7.95, if you ask me, more-so if you’ve enough people to get a family ticket which saves a few quid), be sure to get an events list. There’s loads going on at various times during the day. We managed to check out the ferret racing, sheep racing (yes, really) and cow milking sessions. None of the sessions clash so be sure to have a team talk before you get stuck in then you’ve got at least half a plan.

Getting ready for the ferret race
Getting ready for the ferret race

In among the various activities that are going on, you’ll want to make sure you see the animals, after all you’ve come to a farm. The farm is really well laid out and flows nicely. You start out at the petting area where there’s rabbits and guinea pigs to look at, stroke etc. The majority will be in their appropriate pens but the friendly staff swap them over so they’re not all subjected to poky kiddy fingers all day every day. Phoebe LOVED the rabbit. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching animals!

Phoebe loved the rabbit at Cannon Hall Farm
Phoebe LOVED the rabbit!

Once you’ve had a good look here you move onto various barns following the tidy pathway between each barn. Here you’ll see pigs and piglets in the farrowing houses, rare breed animals such as Llamas and Alpacas (the latter looking really quite amusing following a shave, but still looking like they were wearing Ugg boots!!), you’ll see cows in the milking parlour (be sure to check out the milking demonstration, it’s really fun to watch!), goats and other farmyard cattle. If your child is old enough, they can feed the animals through a series of feeding chutes (50p a bag, and there’s various places throughout the park you can pick up food, including the entrance when you buy your tickets). Once you’re through the barns, there’s a bit of an uphill stroll back to the top of the park where you can visit the Roundhouse, full of sheep, which Phoebe enjoyed copying. “Baaaa” said the sheep, “Maaaaa” said Phoebe (for quite some time actually, you get the picture). There’s also some reindeer up there too, recuperating in time for their duties at Christmastime. Whilst up at the Roundhouse be sure to take a tractor ride round the perimiter of the farm.

The first thing we heard as we walked into one of the farrowing houses wasn’t “Oink oink”, as you might expect, but a child behind us telling their parents that they’d found the sausages!! Kids say the funniest things, and I’m sure Phoebe G will be no different once she starts talking. Wifey was in her element as we went through into the milking parlour. For some bizarre reason she’s always wanted a pet cow, and spent a few minutes picking out which one she wanted. The answer is always the same, we don’t have room for a pet cow, and can you imagine the mess? Mean husband or what?

I can’t comment too much on the play areas as Phoebe isn’t old enough for that sort of thing but it’s a pretty epic setup just looking in from the outside. Some seriously cool looking slides etc and I’m sure when PG grows up we’ll be able to spend happy hours there. There’s also a tube maze, which I wanted to go in, but again, need a slightly older child!!

The loos by the play gym and Hungry Llama restaurant also deserve a special mention. These loos were better than our bathroom at home! Really tidy, clean and well looked after.

I’ve read some really quite unfair reviews of Cannon Hall Farm on Tripadvisor, and I think most people had the wrong expectation when they visited. One reviewer was very arrogant when commenting about the fact you can’t feed animals out of your hands. Whilst this is obviously good fun, do bear in mind this is a farm, and with the recent E-Coli outbreaks I think Cannon Hall Farm’s attitude to hygiene is spot on, so don’t take any of the negative reviews too seriously. Various people also complained about the parking charges. As I mention above, you can get this back when eating in the restaurant which most families will do, so this should be disregarded too.

A big well done to everyone at Cannon Hall Farm. Thanks for a super day out. We’ll definitely visit again!