On Bank Holiday Monday, we went to Morden Hall Park in the afternoon. It’s that time of year when I start to think we must visit some National Trust properties again, and it is our nearest one. After we had already planned to go there, we found out that there was a May Fayre on. So instead of a walk in the park, which is beautiful – and free, it became a rather more expensive outing. It cost £15 for our family to get in, so I was hoping to avoid spending too much more money at the fayre. There were some really good free stalls with plenty for the children to do, but unfortunately there were also some very expensive fairground rides and attractions which inevitably distracted the children from the free stuff. We started off in the National Trust area, where we picked up our 50 things to do booklets, and did our first two activities. One was to walk barefoot in the grass, which all the children did, and then they had to draw round one of their feet in the booklet. The second activity was to plant some seeds, which at this point only Rabbit wanted to do. She planted some radish seeds, and then we had to move on as the big boys were very keen to go on an enormous inflatable slide. It cost £3 for 5 minutes, and the big three all went on it. They all enjoyed it, but it was a very expensive 5 minutes. Tiddler was too young, so we paid £2.50 for him to go on a smaller inflatable slide, but he came straight off as it was a bit too scary. We couldn’t get our money back, but were offered a voucher for another ride.
Next we went to look at an army camp which had been set up as it would have been in 1815, with people dressed up as soldiers from the period. It was really interesting to talk to them, and there were lots of other historical stalls around the fair which I would have loved to explore more. However, it was difficult to get the children to look at them, because they just wanted to do all the stuff that cost money.
We met up with our friends from 3 kids and a gluestick, who had won an enormous cuddly dog on one of the fairground stalls. The children obviously thought it was wonderful, and wanted to do the same, but I didn’t want to spend money and risk winning something so big!
We managed to distract them for a while by looking at some of the animals. I am not sure exactly which ones the children saw, but there were ferrets, dogs, chickens, rabbits, horses, Shetland ponies and goats. We then sat down in the shade (it was a very hot day) to watch the dog races in the main arena. After a few races, the children were called up to see if they could run as fast as the dogs. Owl had a go, and did quite well, but it really did show how fast dogs can run as even the biggest children couldn’t quite keep up with the smallest dogs. After that the children started to get quite grumpy as it was very hot, we had nearly finished our shared bottle of water, and all they wanted to do was go on the fairground rides but we didn’t want to spend another ten pounds or more. We thought we might have to leave, until we discovered a great stall raising money for Great Ormond Street hospital. They had Knex kits for sale, but also an amazing display of models including a huge rollercoaster. They also had a very simple game in which you paid a pound for a jar and there was money wrapped up inside which you could keep. We had several goes and won lots of 1p coins, but I didn’t mind spending the money on a good cause, it kept the children entertained and was in a nice shady area.
We then found a small bouncy castle which Tiddler could go on with his voucher. He only went on for about 2 minutes, but he was quite happy. Next, we went into the Riverford tent to escape the heat and have a chat. We are huge fans of Riverford veg boxes and we always try to go and see them when they have stalls at local fairs. Next to the Riverford tent was a stall selling freshly squeezed lemonade, and I would rather spend money on that than on bottled water, so we bought two cups at £2 each. The children all really liked it, and daddy got very excited about the idea about buying a proper citrus juicer and setting up a stall at our church fair, outside our house and anywhere else he could think of. He has been happily occupied researching this idea all week so I’m expecting to see a business plan any time soon.
Before we left, we headed back to the National Trust area because Rabbit’s compost and seeds had been spilt, and luckily she was just in time to plant some more. This time Owl and Monkey decided they would have a go, and planted some rocket and courgette seeds. Owl and Rabbit also wrote and drew on paper leaves the things they liked most about Morden Hall Park. All four children also had a go at archery, which was right next to the National Trust area. It was quite expensive, but the kind of thing I don’t mind paying for. I know they really enjoy it so we try to do it whenever the opportunity arises, which isn’t very often. So although it had been a little difficult at times, we ended the afternoon on a high. It was by this time cool and pleasant, the crowds had diminished and it was hard to tear them away. We managed by telling them we would go and buy ice cream and cones at the Co-op on the way home, because the ice creams at the fair were £3 each. We spent less money and the children got two ice creams each instead of one, so they were happy!
I love Morden Hall Park and we will definitely go back soon, but I think it will probably be even more fun on a normal day when we can explore more and spend less. However, the children have of course asked to go back to the May Fayre next year! We probably will, but I will be warning them in advance about exactly what they can and can’t do. And if it is a hot day, I will take more water! It was a good event, with a lot of interesting stalls and activities, but it would be so much better without the fairground stuff. So how about it, lovely National Trust people? If you are reading this (and I will be tweeting you the link in a minute!) then please consider cutting out the commercial side of it and just leaving the good stuff in. If so, I would happily pay the £15 entrance fee, and have some money left to spend in the National Trust shop at the end of the day!