With two children of different ages I’m always hopeful to find something, other than soft play, that will keep them both amused. Not an easy thing to do when you have an almost four-year old and a practically ‘I must walk everywhere one year old’. So when Skylark Events gave us the opportunity to have the day with them I was quick to agree (easy as it was on my ‘places to go’ list)
For those that haven’t heard of Skylark itself is a garden centre that has events that take place throughout the year. There are lots of activities available to you…… from bouncy castles to den building to the main attraction; the Maize Maze. There is a lot on offer.
Arriving At Skylark
We arrived without drama. The SatNav took us straight to the car park. There seemed to be plenty of parking. The day we had gone was quiet and so we had the pick of parking.
I had read on the website that the only toilets are in the garden centre and so this was our first stop. Unfortunately this is still the case, there are no other toilets and whilst the garden centre is only a short distance away it does mean leaving the events, not great when you have distracted children. Also not great when it means you have to go through the gift shop each time……
This leads me onto actually arriving.
So when you get there you obviously have to pay to get in, not unreasonable at £32 for a family ticket. (prices correct at time of writing) However, you start at the gift shop. Most places this is at the end, and for good reason. I understand that there isn’t enough space for the entry to be separate to the exit but product placement played a big factor in our day. We have always (rightly or wrongly) said gifts are for the end of trips. We arrived and was waiting to go in, at the till to pay was a stand of superhero masks. Needless to say Reuben spotted them, wanted one and then spent the rest of the day asking if it was time to go home…..Anyway perfect strategy for sales, horrendous for parents. Never mind.
Activities at Skylark that we tried;
We had paid for two tubs of farm food (50p each correct at time of writing). Whilst I wasn’t expecting a full-blown farm I think I was expecting a few more farm animals.
There was a pen of pigs, another pen which had some goats, geese and a strange plastic zebra in, and the final pen had a donkey. Not really a ‘farm’ but still a selection of wildlife. Our food seemed to last a longer than Reuben’s patience and so we moved on.
Reuben wanted to get on the bouncy castle the moment he saw it. It was the first one he had been on which is probably really rare for a three-year old. Anyway, it is a giant green bouncy castle with dinosaurs in the middle. Reuben had great fun jumping onto the parts that were sticking up in the air. The bouncy castle is a good size and can fit a lot of children on.
Star Wars Parade
This year Skylark’s theme is Star Wars (they have a different one each year) so just after we arrived the Star Wars music ‘kicked in’. Well it started, I didn’t hear it but Sam did. The two characters, Darth Vadar and a Storm Trooper, then walked around the main area for photo opportunities.
Den Building & Happy Hands
This is in the same area. You walk under the cover of trees. There are areas already set up to get you started on den building. Depending on your level of skill I guess would depend where you ‘start’ your building. With having a baby, and not being great at building things, we started at one that had good foundations. This was after all, the first time that Reuben had tried to do this. He came alive. He forgot superheroes, he forgot I was mean for making him wait for toys and he just played. We pulled over branches to build with, leaves to hide with and he just had fun. He pretended to climb trees that had no branches and he played peek-a-boo. It was lovely.
On the way round the area there were also pots of chalk to dip your finger into. We did this, one for each finger and then at the end you had to match it with a board. The colour pattern revealed a phrase, although I got a question…… a random one about soaps on the TV I think. It was odd.
There were some pedal Go Karts on site. There seemed to be two types. One type had a traditional steering wheel and the other had two handles that steered the karts. There were about six karts in total. All of the ones with steering wheels were being used and so Sam tried to help Reuben on the red ones, the ones with the handles. It didn’t work well and so he came off of them. These were quite difficult for a three-year old and the older kids weren’t coming off of the other ones anytime soon.
There is a section were you can fire tennis balls at scarecrows to get your high score. Reuben really wanted to have a go at this until he saw it and he panicked a little. It was the fact that it was noisy, even though you are given ear defenders. I decided to give it a go and see if I could encourage him to have a go. Once I fired one ball he became upset, it was too loud for him, so we moved on. I personally found it quite fun and would have liked to keep firing them.
There are five pigs that race. You can decide who you want to ‘bet’ on by buying badges, if your pig wins you win a medal which you can collect from the podium. The badges cost 50p a go and so we bought two. There was some cheesy chanting of Piggy Piggy Piggy, Oi Oi Oi, but it got everyone in the spirit and the race started. If you’ve not done pig racing before it is literally pigs chasing someone who is running with a bucket of food, quite entertaining. Jessica really seemed to enjoy this. Reuben wasn’t interested until we told him his pig won.
There are two mazes.
The BIG ONE which is a twelve acre maze. The maze is also Star Wars themed and you have to work your way through the maze finding the clues and work out where the emperor is hiding.
The second one is the kids version where you walk round looking for droids.
When you go you check in with your team name and postcode and say which maze you are doing. They note it down and then you have to check out when you are finished.
We (I) said we were doing the big one. We were handed our instructions and a ’emergency number’ in case we got lost, yes it is that big! Sam had heard people say they should have done the small one so we turned around and changed to the small maze. Had it have been just Sam and I, or the kids were older we would have done the big maze. However we did not fancy getting lost in the afternoon sun, in a maize maze with a three and one year old, can you imagine!
The maze was excellent fun. Reuben was running around (in circles) looking for stamps. Jessica was laughing at him being silly. We had a great time in there.
Other Activities at Skylark
There are other things that you can do that we just didn’t get the chance to try such as an inflatable pillow, zip lines, Pesky Pigeons and foot golf. There is plenty of choice for things to do.
Eating at Skylark
We bought food there. There is a cafe connected to the garden centre or there is a place on site that sells burgers, chips and kids boxes.
We got Jessica a kids box which had a sandwich, mini cheddar crisps, chocolate bar, raisins and a drink.
The rest of us had chicken burgers and one plate of chips to share. In total it came to about £20 which I think is quite expensive. When we return we will take a packed lunch as there is plenty of space either on tables, or to lay a blanket.
There is a lot to do here and your day can go so quickly. We spent about 4 hours there and we didn’t do everything there. If you want to do everything you will have to get there early. Even more so if you want to do the big maze which (apparently) takes 45 minutes.
We had a great day, although there wasn’t much that Jessica could get involved in, she was happy enough just looking at new things and taking it all in. Three was a good age for Reuben to be able to take part in most things, except the Go Karts. I think that the best ages would be five to ten years old.
The maze is seasonal running from mid July to 1st October when the crop is harvested. I was disappointed to learn that it is not harvested for food, apparently the crop isn’t any good.* I don’t know if this is because people are walking around the maze or not but if this is a factor it would be a shame that so much crop is wasted……
(*Update from Skylark:
This variety is chosen for it’s resistance to disease, the speed of it’s growth and size as after we close it is harvested for the nearest bio-digester. We don’t want visitors to take the cobs as it would spoil the maze so we tell visitors it is inedible. I’ve been told even when cooked it is very hard and tasteless. )
At other points in the year Skylark host other events such as Pumpkin picking, Fireworks and Santa’s Grotto, you can find out more here.
It is a good day and something that I am sure we will be doing again.
We were given free entry in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own.
Other days out here.