28th June, 2013 - Posted by Drboo - 1 Comment
Family Days Out – BeWILDerwood
We recently had a family day out. Midweek, always the best if you can swing it as it means you miss the crowds that weekend trips bring. We hauled ourselves a pretty long way up to Norfolk and went to BeWILDerwood (is the emphasis on wild, or do you emphasise the bewilder bit? We are still unsure).
Firstly, food. We risked it and ate at the cafe, and were pleasantly surprised by the healthy choices for kiddy meals – the usual fayre from the point of view of little take away boxes with a small cheese or ham sandwich, crisps (but good quality ones), a teeny muffin (nice change from chocolate), juice box etc etc, but carrot sticks and cucumber sticks in little bags were available, and lots of gluten free goodies for X's coeliac Daddy.
To the unimaginative, BeWILDerwood may just be a very big playground in the woods. To the rest of us, it is a magical land of Boggles, Twiggles, Crocklebogs, and spiders that can't spin webs so wear a different kind of shoe on each foot. There were huge, steep and fast slides, doors in trees, teeny tiny washing hanging on lines by the lake, high and exciting bridges to run across, storytelling, and…. zipwires ….. Everywhere you turned there were lovely touches, the witches hat shaped tent, another little house in a tree, teeny ropebridges connecting doors aloft the trees – someone had a lot of fun designing this place.
The storytelling session (2 were run during the day and a twiggle twirling session in the witches hat which looked like a lot of fun) did not, sadly, hold the little guy's attention – he wanted to do more running, crawling and scrambling about – but the idea was sweet, including getting the kids involved and dressed up (we did get him to do that though, see the photo later).
The staff at BeWILDerwood were fantastic. Both those in role – the man who steered our boat across the swampy lake and told us all about the creatures who lived here as if it was the first time he had done this, but in a relaxed and chatty style just captivated our son – and those who were not “in character” – the woman at the food kiosk who went out of her way to make sure my husband's dietary needs were catered for, and did so with a smile – nothing was too much effort.
There were occasional small queues, for the slides, zipwires and food. I imagine on a lovely bank holiday weekend they may grow to intolerable lengths, but we never waited for more than 5 minutes for anything.
We arrived at 1145 and left around 330 when X began to fade and get tired. The gift shop on the way out was a good
bribe positive conditioning moment to help him leave. And yes, we bought Mildred the Crocklebog puppet, complete with tiara.
There are books available, and I would really suggest reading them with your children first, before going, so that they have somewhere to hang their experience on – X was fine without this and happily embraced the stories and ideas we gleaned and made up as we went along. It isn't a complicated concept – basically something along the lines of the Borrowers meets the Hobbit – but a lovely and sweet story, which is beautifully recreated in the forest. Here is one of the books, in case you are interested -they are all available on Amazon:
Would we recommend it? Yes
Take your own food? No need, but you can if you want
Tickets? Buy at the door or online
Fair weather or foul? Fair. In the rain I imagine the magical edge may be slightly worn off by slippery wooden surfaces and boggy woodland floors. In the sunshine the trees give a lovely shade and the picnic areas are large and protected by awnings.
How long would you go for? Depends on the age of the child. For us 3 hours was plenty. For an older child I imagine you could be there all day.
BeWILDerwood – we will be back.