Family time, Life of a Mum

West Lodge Farm Park- post lockdown family day out

For our ‘first’ day out we decided to head to West Lodge- I’d been ‘watching from afar’ and concluded they had the whole ‘social distsncing’ thing well managed. I wanted our day to feel safe but fun.

It turns out I wasn’t far wrong. Although our ‘normal’ day out at west lodge would include indoor play, coffee and chats with friends- we all admit life is much different now. A degree of isolation and fresh air feels so safe- and that’s what west lodge offers.

We booked an afternoon session; it was expectedly busy on our arrival- no one in the busy queue seemed to be wearing masks or caring much about distancing; so (having been shielding for 16 weeks) I felt a little wary. But the staff managed the queue quickly, effectively and safely; with hand gel and advice leaflets given- and once inside the farm park felt incredible spacious and distancing from others was easy.

As we arrived at lunchtime we headed straight to the picnic/den building area- and enjoyed the space- no one was around (in fact 8 picnic benches around us) Dot enjoyed the pre built dens and cute toad stool seats.

We then headed over to the animals when Dot (and Nanna, to be fair) enjoyed feeding and petting the incredibly tame, cute and often bouncy goats. We also took our dog Woody; despite being a total plonker, he was incredibly well behaved and enjoyed watching the goats and pigs!

Dogs are surprisingly welcome at West Lodge Farm Park- a blessing to doggy families- of course they cannot cuddle the bunnies or try the swings (that would just be weird) but there’s a multitude of walks to wear them (and their chatty sidekicks) out.

Talking of walks- we then snuck off to an old memory of Mummy’s- the witches house (I remember bring my nephews here 18-20yrs ago- and not much has changed). Dot and Nanna loved spotting the super cute fairy doors, toadstools and the badgers crossing- making a 4km walk a breeze.

There’s a fairy trail and a dinosaur trail for those with older kids; you get a worksheet and a reward if you find them all.

Dot found the witches house, but she was out. A little girl we saw shortly before told us the witch had gone to mend a poorly deer with her magic potions! Dot liked this idea, and although her legs were tired, her imagination carried her up the many steps and back to the farm for an ice cream.

Visiting, what you think is going to a busy family attraction post lockdown was very anxiety inducing for me, but after a hour I felt incredible safe. West lodge have obviously got this all in hand; staff regularly spraying down areas of high use, very clear signage, great leaflets, hand washing facilities, one way paths marked out, and enough space to very safely distance.

Seeing your child’s face enter a play park for the first time in 16 ish weeks was pretty epic, Dot was so happy, so full of energy and she literally loved every minute. She’s keen to go back- so hopefully we can make it a weekly trip.

Dots favourite bits:

– the incredibly tame and friendly goats

– a beautiful walk to the witches house and spying all the fairy doors

– the maze; so impressed with herself that she found the way out

– her first whippy ice cream with flake

– being ‘king of the castle’ in the outdoor play area

Mums top tips:

– take a picnic; there’s so many great picnicking spots

– you have to book your visit online(don’t disappoint the the kids)

– pre book your tractor your online (we didn’t know this and missed out)

– buy some animal food on arrival so the little ones get a hands on experience

– a few quid for the shop is a good idea; they’re beautifully stocked including Lanka kade and cute wellies

– grandparents will also love the on-site garden centre (we left with a huge olive tree!)

– if you live local-ish then membership is a must have (costs 14p a day!)

West Lodge Farm Park is just outside Desborough in Northamptonshire

West Lodge Insta drop them a follow

Hand me the Gin

Farm Grown Gin

We were kindly invited by Warner’s Gin to spend the day on their farm celebrating inspirational women. Warner’s is based in Harrington in Northants; so a quick county hop for me and my wonderful plus one Raj. AD/gifted experience day from Warner’s Distillery

The day started sedately with a drive through the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire countryside and we were welcomed to the farm with coffee and breakfast pastries. We joined a wonderful bunch of inspirational ladies (it was blogger galore) and the wonderful Warner’s team.

We had a lush box of goodies; including joules scarves and hats and funky rainbow wellies from ever creatures. So we all donned our new gifts and we’re ready for the farm….

The Warner’s team are AMAZING; so knowledgable and full of passion for producing an epic product in epic surrounding. I love the fact that Tom says ‘fuck’ a lot, and this only strengthened his passion when talking about producing an epic gin- with no unnecessary (and nasty) colourings or flavourings. Warner’s were the first to create a rhubarb gin, and its colour and flavour come from beautiful, natural, British grown royal rhubarb!

Warner’s are truly on an Eco journey of trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Growing as much of their needed botanicals on the farm as they can, and importing as little as possible. They showed us their three stunning botanical gardens (they took part in Chelsea flower show) one down the Harrington valley giving us a chance for a brisk blowy walk!

We saw Angelica, juniper, lemon thyme, heathers, lavender, elderflower and more. A queen bee even landed for a surprise feature in our day; and Johnny (Warner’s botanical and bee keeper smarty pants) told us all about the importance of these creatures; and their shocking facts about bee copulation!!!

After that bracing walk we needed Gin- hoorah; so tasted some lemon balm gin in the glorious March sunshine. We then headed off to get our green fingered nails grubby; by ‘pricking out’ some Angelica seedlings, and potting some borage seeds to take home to grow. And then it was time for lunch!

And what a lunch it was; three courses of ‘Warner’s gin themed’ awesomeness in the epic local Gastronpub the Tollemarche arms. Tollemache Arms

Lemon balm infused salmon, a potato, Brie and mushroom Pithivier and yummy slow gin gravy; and the most awesome thing ever; rhubarb gin and Harrington honey trifle. I never knew a trifle could be so epic; and although we all had filling tummies we seemed to polish it off.

Obviously this was accompanied by some of Warner’s tasty gins; for me a rhubarb fizz to start and then a raspberry and soda. During the lengthy delicious lunch we were lead by the lovely Tina; to discuss our inspirational women.

The afternoon the full array of Warner’s gins; from the classic ‘Harrington dry Gin’ (yup sod off London, Harrington does it better), to the Joules collab Apple and Pear and the strawberry and rose (which I’d never heard of).

We then wax dipped and labelled our very own bottle; this day was truly epic, with so much attention to detail- making it such a special day for a wonderful group of ladies.

The day ended with imaginative Warner’s gin cocktails at their bar; my idea of heaven, and an epically stocked fridge. And then off we went into the Northamptonshire sunset.

I thought I’d finish with a few of my favourite Warner’s facts

  • There are 300 elderflower in each bottle of elderflower Gin
  • The distillers name is on each bottle
  • Toms mum Adele creates the idea of their Elderflower gin after picking some on the garden and adding to Gordon’s!
  • Warner’s does 350 distillations a year
  • 91% gin can actually taste amazing
  • Warner’s will be bringing out a spiced rum- using British grown botanicals!
  • Warner’s ask locals to pick Sloes to make their gin, and return the favour by giving gin.
  • Tom says ‘fuck’ A Lot

Obviously the idea of this day was to celebrate inspirational women; and March holds both inspirational women’s day and Mother’s Day- so this month I’m going to be posting about inspirational ladies, and hosting guest blogs from some wonderful ladies too.

Share your stories of the #inspowomen in your life on insta using this tag and @warnersgin too