Photographer, blogger and mum-of-twins Bex Maini writes in her monthly column on Uckfield News about family trips out and about in Sussex.
This month adventures include Sunday lunch at The Ringles Cross pub, fun at Buxted playpark, fire-breathing excitement at a medieval festival at Herstmonceux Castle, and the chance to get back to nature at Into the Trees at Pippingford Park on the Ashdown Forest.
I can’t believe it’s time for my column again already! I would say we’ve had a quieter month as we’ve managed to have a few relaxing days at home hiding from the rain lately but we’ve still had plenty of fun out and about in East Sussex enjoying the last days of summer.
I’ve also been busy getting ready to launch Bexphoto as a business. I’m starting off with some photo sessions for friends but soon I hope to be offering my services as a family lifestyle photographer in and around Uckfield. You can see my first client session here if you’re interested and I’ll let you know when I’m up and running properly.
I’ve also started my new Sunday Roast review series, Local Roasts, on Olive Dragonfly blog so hopefully you’ll be seeing a new local review every month or so and a few of them will be featured here. The first of which was at Ringles Cross pub …
We love going out for Sunday lunch because it means no time spent prepping and no clearing up. Perfect lazy Sunday territory.
We went along to The Ringles Cross a couple of weeks ago and had a lovely meal and the twins enjoyed playing in the play area at the back of the car park.
The best thing is kids eat free on the weekends so it’s amazing value. We all had the Ringles Roast. The twins and I had beef and Nik had gammon.
Our food was served quickly and I was delighted to find a huge fresh Yorkshire pudding on top, crispy edges and soggy on the bottom, just how I like them.
Portion sizes were good, not too much but we had decent slices of meat and plenty of gravy and veg which was all well cooked and tasty.
It was a really good, no frills roast and great value for money with the kids’ eating free. (We’ve also since been back to try their burgers and loved them.)
The Ringles Cross pub is clearly child friendly with an awesome enclosed play area which is far away from the main pub area so we were less concerned about the kids disturbing other diners.
Despite being at the back of the car park, they had no problem bringing our desserts out to us which made life much easier with the twins desperate to get back to the swings.
Service was friendly and efficient and the atmosphere was pleasant with the place being fairly busy.
The Ringles is somewhere we’d happily spend an afternoon chilling out. The kids loved the climbing frame so we managed to eat our dessert in peace. We could sit back and relax knowing they couldn’t get out into the car park.
You can read more about the whole experience, the Olive Dragonfly Rating and see more of the Ringles’ amazing play area on Bex’s blog here.
England’s Medieval Festival
I would have never thought of going to a Medieval Festival as we’re not really into battle re-enactments, etc. Or so I thought.
We were invited along to review England’s Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle and had an amazing time.
There’s so much more going on than you might expect and it was perfect for a weekend with kids, the twins loved it.
It was also our first experience camping with toddlers and I have to say, they really enjoyed it and slept really well, even through the epic fireworks celebrating the 25 year anniversary of the festival.
There was loads going on with plenty of entertainment for little ones. We actually really enjoyed the twice daily parades and battle re-enactments at the castle with big bangs and arrows flying.
My favourites were the amazing horse shows – the jousting and fire show were awesome and the kids were clapping and cheering everything.
There was a comedy mud show, loads of things could have a go at yourself – archery, axe-throwing, jousting, blacksmithing, making chain-mail, felt making and basket weaving to name just a few.
Lots of these activities did require an extra payment but there was plenty of free entertainment too, including some exclusively for the campers like the outdoor cinema showing medieval themed films such as Tangled.
There was plenty of medieval themed shopping on offer to tempt you. We bought the twins their own wooden swords and Priya rocked her flower crown for all of two minutes so I commandeered it.
The food on offer was amazing with plenty of choice and very good quality. We were really impressed with the whole event and would definitely return next year. Family weekend camping tickets cost £250 for four nights’ camping and entry to the festival.
Read more about our time at England’s Medieval Festival here.
Into the Trees Festival
This was a smaller festival and focused on kids enjoying nature and the amazing location of Ashdown Forest.
The September event is two days of fun at the same venue, Pippingford Park, arranged on a smaller scale and with even more focus on being in the woods.
A family ticket for both days was just £22 and under fives went free, such a bargain with so many free activities included.
As soon as we arrived we discovered the thick oozy mud and in true Bear Hunt style, we had to go through it. The twins loved it.
The woods were adorned with the most beautiful decorations and dotted along were various activities such as string art, making dream catchers, decorating sticks, modelling clay and mud monsters.
There was so much going on with lots of interactive things to do, some of which are included in the ticket price and others you pay extra for, usually around £2.
One of our favourite free activities was pond dipping with Sussex Wildlife Trust. It was a great way to get the kids learning to identify creatures as well as being gentle with them, the twins were desperate to have a go!
We also did some DIY practice with Woodland Tribe, it’s great that they don’t shy away from giving toddlers real tools and nails (supervised by parents of course).
They also had story-telling in one of the tents, where we sheltered with our lunch. There was plenty to choose from with delicious things on offer including wood-fired pizzas.
There was crafting in a pretty bell tent with Freckles & Fire and proper messy play with mud kitchens by Holmes Wood Play.
This seemed to be the best activity for getting them sharing and playing really nicely together, working as a team, even with other kids.
So as you can see, we had a great day out with mud galore from beginning to end. The SO Sussex events at Pippingford Park are so well organised, we were given a map on arrival and informed of the paid activities in case we wanted to buy any tokens.
The layout is easy to navigate and there’s plenty to do for all ages. We definitely recommend them.
You can read more about Bex and the twins’ adventures at this and other local festivals here.
Buxted playpark is one of the smaller parks around but it’s quite handy for us, especially if we need to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy.
Parking can be a bit of an issue but we usually manage to squeeze in somewhere.
The park itself has the usual culprits, baby swings, normal swings, small and large slides and climbing frames but it also has some little obstacle course style sections too and a spinning cup and rocking horse.
I believe there is also an area further up on the green with a zip line and adult exercise machines too but we usually stick to the enclosed park for the younger kids.
I’ve noticed before that it does get quite boggy in the winter, the grass turns to mud, so it wouldn’t be our first choice on a wet day but generally we have a wonderful time there. Read more about our park visit on my Olive Dragonfly blog here.
The only event planned so far next month - other than a few birthday parties – is a fancy dress, crafts, and disco morning at Ridgewood. We’re looking forward to it and I’ll let you know how we get on there.
Other than that it will be nice to play it by ear for a while and see what we fancy getting up to on the weekends, I’m sure we’ll find plenty going on. I’m already planning ahead for Halloween and the twins’ third birthday.