Grand Days Out

I’ve been a fan of Roald Dahl’s books since I was a little girl. I used to spend hours getting lost in the adventures of Charlie, Matilda and James. This year marks 100 years since the birth of Roald and there have been celebrations all over the country. So when I found out that Tatton Park in Cheshire was holding events throughout the year, I couldn’t wait to visit.
For a start we couldn’t have been luckier with the weather. Mid-September and we had a gloriously warm and sunny day. Tatton Park is a National Trust property, so we had our annual passes at the ready and we were good to go (although we did have to pay £6 for parking which I thought was a bit steep).
I always like to keep my expectations low when it comes to visiting places. I’ve been burnt a few times by thinking something was going to be fantastic, only for it to be more like a wet weekend in Margate. Case in point, a Stick Man Trail with no sign of Stick Man! But as soon as we arrived at Tatton there were hints of what was to come… a huge chocolate bar, a giant pencil and the entrance to a chocolate factory.
Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures Map. Credit: Tatton Park website The first area we entered was the Stableyard. This seemed to be the centre of activity with a nice buzz about it as people ate outside, visited the garden, tuck and gift shops and had a ride on the giant carousel. Tutti is only 15 months old so we knew most of the activities wouldn’t be suitable for him, but he absolutely loves people-watching and getting involved when he can. Straight away we spotted the BFG and Sophie. I couldn’t resist popping him on the little chair… he looked so tiny.
Next we visited the Ideas Hut, which was based on the shed that Roald Dahl used to write his books in. Kids could write down their story ideas and post them in a letterbox. Tutti had a good walk around inspecting others’ work! He is still finding his feet and spends more time falling over than walking, but he had fun doing his little drunk man impression as we visited different areas of the Stableyard. We finished with a pic as Danny.
In a bid to avoid nap-time niggles, we then headed for the gardens, where a few different Roald Dahl-themed areas were set-up. Having never visited before I asked the girl at the entrance if the path looped around and her answer was, “No, it’s a bit of a free-for-all.” She wasn’t joking! We had a map but did get a bit confused as to what was where and how we got to it. Some activities require you to walk across the grass rather than follow a path. As we had limited time before Tutti would need something to eat we didn’t want to go trekking too far, so we did miss a couple of things.
However, we walked through the orchard which was lovely, as the trees were over-flowing with juicy apples. We then discovered a beautiful wildflower area, where we stumbled upon the peach stone from James and the Giant Peach. You could also look through telescopes to see different illustrations from the book.
Not quite knowing where we were going, we landed up at the back of the mansion house. This looked very stately on such a sunny day. Inside, Tatton had created “Matilda in the Mansion”, but as it was such a lovely day we decided to stay outside.
The view from the house, across the Italian Gardens is gorgeous. If we’d been on our own, I’m sure we would have stopped awhile to admire it, but all those steps aren’t conducive with a pram, so we made our way back to a main path.
It was Hubster who spotted the top of a tower hidden behind the trees, so we popped our heads around the corner and found The Twits in the Tower! There were a few different activities for older children and of course, The Twits were in there too.
We then enjoyed a stroll through the gardens and Tutti loved being able to walk for a change. He was very proud of himself and seems to have got to grips with his new shoes.
Tummies rumbling, we made our way back to the Stableyard. We were hoping to eat outside, but the abundance of wasps put us off. So we headed into the restaurant where I was a bit disappointed to find it felt more like a school canteen noisy, busy and hot. The food was basic but it filled a hole and we were soon off again. We headed for the adventure playground which had a brilliant range of play equipment, particularly for older children. There were also a few fairground rides, so Hubster took Tutti on the cars. By the time they got off our little man could barely keep his eyes open, so we made our way back to the car.
There really was a lot to see and we only saw about half. On our way out we saw signs for The Enormous Crocodile in the Parkland and Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Farm. Tatton Park have done a great job of bringing Roald Dahl’s stories to life. We had a really fun family day out and it was wonderful seeing Tutti so active.
“Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures” finishes on the 2nd October 2016, with a couple of further seasonal events until the end of the year.