Oh Sunday. What a glorious day it was for the clocks to have gone back. Not only were we treated to some absolutely gorgeous sunshine (very welcome after all this Beast from the East chilliness), but the beginning of British Summer Time meant we got to enjoy the glorious light for longer into the evening – meaning we had time for a stroll down to the lake and a play on the park before bed even after we’d gotten home from a very cute afternoon having tea with the Easter Bunny at a Wyevale Garden Centre.
We were invited to pop along to the Melbicks Wyevale Garden Centre for a very special treat: food for all three of us, some Easter biscuit decorating, a fun Easter hunt (complete with stickers – every toddler’s dream!) and a chance to hang out with the Easter Bunny himself. It all just sounds super cute, doesn’t it? And you know what? It was. This is exactly the kind of thing I imagined myself doing as a parent.
First things first: garden centres. They fall firmly into the category of ‘things-I-wrongly-assumed-were-for-retired-people-until-I-became-a-parent’, along with National Trust membership and dressing gowns. They’re a great destination for a trip out – a little bit of shopping, an excuse for a cup of tea and a slice of cake and so many have little soft play areas these days, including Melbicks. Sadly, we didn’t arrive early enough on this occasion to make use of the play area but it’s a great excuse to return back, especially as they had a really impressive array of fish on display too that we didn’t get chance to browse around.
We headed straight for the party room area of the cafe, where the tables were laid out with wonderfully Spring-like yellow tablecloths, dangling decorations from the ceiling and the most Easter bunting strings I’ve ever seen in one place. We were greeted warmly, and enthusiastically by Alice in Wonderland and her friend, a very friendly member of staff who really went above and beyond to take care of all the families taking part. The two of them were quite the impressive team – and I genuinely think they should go around all cafes and restaurants teaching others about customer service. They were absolutely brilliant and it totally made the event. They took extra care to make sure they not only looked after the adults, by letting us know exactly what was happening and when (including a warning that the hunt would go outside and to take our coats), but they also cared for all the children too: speaking to them directly, getting them excited about what they were doing and really giving them all star treatment.
We’d pre-ordered our food. A jacket potato with beans for Pickle, and an afternoon tea for LPD and I. During what was a pretty short wait for our food to arrive, Pickle went to town with the Easter Activity Sheet left for him on the table, using his crayons to have a good scribble after boinking us on the head repeatedly with his balloon on a stick. Standard.
When our food arrived, I was really impressed! I probably should have thought our order through though, as of course, as soon as Pickle saw our tower of lovely sandwiches, scones and cakes – he was not interested in his jacket potato in the slightest. He only had eyes for chocolate brownie, and seeing as this was a bit of a treat and not our normal Sunday afternoon, I let him share our cakes with us. I can hear my former self, pregnant and idealistic, tutting and rolling my eyes at my lack of discipline (of course he’s going to play up if he thinks you’ll just give in and let him have pudding!) but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Once our plates were cleared, all the children were given a little bag containing an egg-shaped biscuit and a handy tupperware box with little pots of chocolate drops, mini marshmallows, hundreds-and-thousands and an icing pen. Watching Pickle decorate his biscuit was ridiculously cute! He’s been doing lots of these kinds of activities at nursery (decorating chocolates, making pizzas, topping pancakes with yoghurt and fruit), so he knew what to do. The pen was a bit hard to squeeze, so I helped him with that by blobbing on dots of icing and then left the rest up to him. He stuck on a mixture of marshmallows and chocolate drops before ‘accidentally’ tasting one of the marshmallows and remembering that they’re really quite scrumptious. He then picked all the marshmallows off the biscuit and shoved them in his mouth in lightning speed! We couldn’t help but laugh.
As he scoffed the last remaining marshmallow, it was time to meet the Easter Bunny – who needed a little coaxing out of his hideout by the children all shouting his favourite word as loudly as they could: carrots! I wasn’t sure what Pickle would make of the bunny… he was a bit wary of Father Christmas in December and it could have gone either way. I knelt down close to him so that I was close by if the idea of a six foot bunny freaked him out, but, again, I needn’t have worried. As soon as he saw him, his face lit up! And he grinned and pointed with delight. Phew. And then it was time for the Easter hunt! (Note: LPD would like it known the bunny was closer to five foot in height. I’m still saying six).
Grabbing our Easter Hunt card, we joined the other families for a hunt around the Garden Centre to find the clues leading to where the Easter Bunny had run off to hide. Each clue was a poster sharing an interesting rabbit fact, and the children were each given a sticker at every stop as a reward for finding it. Whoever designed this event knows children really well – the stickers were an absolute hit! And I quite enjoyed having the chance to wander around the store, keeping an eye out for the areas and departments I wanted to have a closer look at during our next visit. The outdoor plant section was particularly beautiful, and I’d love to have a proper nose around there. I’d love a few more plants to bring the outdoors in to our home.
We were reuninted back with the Easter Bunny in the play area. I did wonder how on earth we’d manage to persuade Pickle to come back out of the playground once he’d seen it, but again… the staff at Wyevale pulled another corker, proving how well they’d thought the event through. We lured him back into the party room to see what special treat had been left for him at the table: a cuddly bunny rabbit! I just wanted to scoop Pickle up and give him the biggest of cuddles and kisses when he immediately offered his new teddy a piece of chocolate. I hope he never loses his natural kindness.
Before leaving, we got one last chance to chat with the Easter Bunny, and had our photo taken with him as a family. A very special photo to help us remember a very lovely afternoon. It was an absolute delight. I’d definitely recommend finding your nearest Wyevale Garden Centre and seeing if they have any spaces left to book for their Easter Bunny hunts – you can choose between Breakfast with the Easter Bunny or Afternoon Tea like we did. It costs £10.95 for a child’s ticket, which includes their meal, the Easter biscuit decoration activity, and the super cute cuddly toy to take home too which I think is pretty good value for money. The events are running until 15th April, so there’s plenty of chance to visit during the school holidays.
Disclaimer: we were invited to the event for the purposes of writing this review. All opinions remain my own, and as always, are 100% honest.