You wait all winter for a Bank Holiday, and then four come along at once… With the clocks newly sprung forward the year is gaining pace: lighter evenings and more chance of sunshine than even a month ago, and plenty of opportunities for getting out and about. Here’s four great ideas for making the most of the school holidays and the Bank Holiday bonanza.
It isn’t always easy getting the balance right between family fun and downtime, but if you’re stuck for activities for your youngsters this Easter the answer could be CAYDA Day Camps, running for both weeks of the Easter holiday and set in the idyllic grounds of Bentley Wood High School, Bridge Road, Stanmore. Your child can enjoy a range of activities including Archery; Den Building; BMX and Wood Games. The camp has been running for three years, is OFSTED registered and all staff are CRB checked. There’s a strong emphasis placed on team work, co-operation, creativity and, of course, having fun. It’s an ideal way to ensure that you never have to hear the words ‘I’m bored…’ again!
It’s a perfect time of year to indulge in a little pony love, too, at Coltspring School of Riding, which has been established since 1965. This a family run business and the Triggs have been teaching all ages and levels from novice to advanced ever since. Set in Chandlers Cross, Rickmansworth, Coltspring has 70 acres of land in which you can enjoy spring/summer riding including flat work, show jumping and cross country. Over the Easter holidays there will be pony days, long rides out and competitions run daily.
For a day out that will go down in family legend as ‘Do you remember when…’, head over to the new 25 acre traditional breeds farm at Hatfield House, which opens to the public on 16 April. The Farm’s sheep, cattle, pigs and ducks are settled into their new home and the first spring lambs have been born.
A fantastic new adventure playground adjoins the farm and entry to the play area is included in farm admission. Ticket prices are £8.50 for adults and £6.50 for children (3-15 years). Entry to the Moore at Hatfield sculpture exhibition in the West Garden and Hatfield House with its exhibition celebrating the 400th Anniversary is extra.
There is plenty of free car parking, and no admission charge to visit the exclusive shops in Stable Yard for some retail therapy. There are lovely plants, fine and costume jewellery, antiques and collectables, home interiors, sweets and vintage treats. The Restaurant in Stable Yard has a new look, and an exciting new menu, on which local produce is used when possible. Enjoy morning coffee, lunches and delicious afternoon teas with homemade cakes.
For more details see www.hatfield-house.co.uk where you can also book tickets, or call 01707 287010 for details – or simply head over there: Hatfield House, Hatfield AL9 5NG (sat nav users enter: AL9 5HX)
Another house of great historical interest is Chenies Manor, now the home of the MacLeod Matthews family, and the original home of the Earls of Bedford. It was visited by both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the latter being a frequent visitor, who came first as an infant in 1534 and then as a Queen, holding court in the oak floored parlour, which is furnished with 16th century tapestries and furniture. The House also contains several hiding places and secret passages, including Cellars and a Priest Hole.
The Manor is surrounded by five acres of enchanting gardens, famed for the spring display of many tulips, and for a succession of colour throughout the gardens from early June. The Physic Garden contains a wide selection of medicinal and culinary herbs, The Parterre has an ancient Oak and a complicated Yew Maze, while the Kitchen Garden is in Victorian style with unusual vegetables and fruit. The place is widely acclaimed, and was the winner of the Historic Houses Association & Christie’s Garden of the Year 2009 Award.
The House is open every Wednesday and Thursday and on Bank Holiday Mondays from 2 to 5pm. There will be beautiful displays of Bloms Tulips throughout the House on Bank Holiday Monday 2 May as an extra spring treat, and looking ahead, the famous Plant & Garden Fair will take place on Sunday 17 July (10am-5pm).
Delicious homemade teas are available when the house open.
See www.cheniesmanorhouse.co.uk for more information or call 01494 762888.