This afternoon, the Little Lady and I headed over to Harehatch Sheeplands Garden Centre to join in the launch party for their new ice skating area.
For those of you that haven't yet been to Harehatch, I should warn you that 'Garden Centre' is probably not the right word to use, its more of an emporium, with an eclectic mix of plants, a mini farm (including goats and rabbits), an indoor play area and a large assortment of stone animals, christmas decorations... and pretty much anything else you can think of. It's utterly random, but we love it.
So when I saw their Facebook post advertising a mini party I thought we'd go and have a look. And to be fair, I was curious to see if the Little Lady (She's two and a half) would like to have a go at ice skating.
Here's how we got on....
|We started off by watching... I had a feeling she would be shy.|
|There were people of all ages skating, but as we were there early it wasn't too busy.|
|She was fascinated watching everyone... but wouldn't go on|
|They have skates in every size...|
|...and there was lots of help on hand to help you find the right size.|
|But I was intrigued by the toddler skates.|
|They have blunt blades and slip on over the shoes.|
|Despite the fact that the Little Lady was shy, one little boy loved it!|
|Jacob was super cute and happily skated/shuffled around on his own.|
|Looking quite the little dude at two years of age on ice!|
Check Jacob out in action:
|There he goes again! Proof that toddlers can ice skate! |
(Left, right, left, right!)
After watching the skating we checked out the 'Walking on Water' which I knew would fascinate the Little Lady as she has a slight obsession with footballs (more so than dolls, wonder how long this will last!). You can choose to pay £3 for skating, or £5 for both, which seems pretty reasonable. Plus you get access to the usual indoor play area which is normally £2
|Forget 'Walking on the Sunhiiiiine, Woah-oh', walking on the water is where its at!|
|I think its harder than it looks - all about great balance once you're in there.|
Despite the party music and the new winter activities, I still couldn't convince her to have a go at ice skating, even though there were friendly Harehatch staff on the ice to help lure her on. So at her insistence we went inside to check out the animals and the Christmas bits and pieces. Revisiting her regular haunts.
|This captured the little lady's imagination!|
|She was thrilled to see the goats.|
|They're indoors for the winter/Nativity! |
After waving to the goats and the rabbits we ventured inside in the hope of getting her hands a bit warmer. Note to anyone going ice skating with the little ones; it gets cold outside! Inside, it was a magically random world of stone animals, doggy door stops, full size polar bears and lots and lots of Christmas lights. Words can't really do it justice...
|Just like the farm in the summer, the 'Living Nativity' runs off donations. |
|It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...|
|Meer Cat Bond? What do you mean it's not on your Amazon wishlist?!|
|The Christmas range is extensive.|
|And for a Little Lady obsessed with animals, there's a lot to look at!|
|Plenty of Christmas Tree decoration inspiration.|
|And then we hit the lights!|
|Presenting the Harehatch Illuminations!|
|Covering everything from illuminated snowmen to illuminated bunches of flowers. |
After perusing the lights and the Christmas displays we decided to head back outside (via the Giant Polar Bear, obviously). You'll spot that she's carrying a little white bear with her and his nickname is Polar Bear, so I think she had a bit of a moment....
|Looking for the snowman's nose... I told her to be gentle! |
|Back for another hug! |
|I think its true love!|
This time, to go outside we went via the cafe area, which was starting to get busy as people stopped for tea. Walking through their extended seating area it was also clear to see that Harehatch is 'Christmas Ready'! From Santa and his reindeer, to a purpose-built grotto, there was lots to look at.
|The cafe does a great Americano and Bacon Sarnie on a Sunday.|
|Some more people getting ready to 'hit the ice'.|
The ice rink was getting busier with people skating (well, being honest, it's more of a shuffle than a Torville & Dean glide) Here's a video... Watch carefully to see what my little lady is doing instead of skating, it tickled me.
|Plenty of room to skate/shuffle. |
Yes... she wanted to milk the cow! I'm assuming that at some point the animal obsession will end and the Disney Princess dresses will take over, but for now, it's lovely this way!
|The BBQ was proving popular.|
|Sausages and Burgers... Om Nom.|
|Saying Good Bye to the Guinea Pigs.|
|And the Penguins.|
|And a final stroll under the lights.|
We bumped into Andy who works at Harehatch on the way out. He'd been around to help us in case we wanted to skate earlier. I'd told Anya it was 'Andy's party' that we were going to so it was nice to say goodbye to him in person. She immediately went shy, and coy, and shy again and wouldn't say very much. But as we walked towards the car she kept saying 'Bye Bye man!', 'Bye Bye'. As we drove away this had turned into 'Bye Bye Grandad!!' (take it as a compliment Andy?!)
|I hate being in a Selfie, but here's me and the little lady!|
Thanks to Harehatch Sheeplands for having us along, and to the other Mums I spoke to for letting me use photographs of their kids on the ice.
Let me know if any of the rest of you head down to Harehatch over the next few weeks, there's LOADS on! I love the fact that you can pop there for an hour or so without having to pay for a whole day out. With a toddler, that's really handy as we can squeeze in trips in between nap times and I don't get frustrated by having to pay for a hefty admission fee for me and then skulk home if she has a toddler meltdown! (One day I'll be able to talk about our day at Odds Farm, but not yet!) And no, I haven't been paid to write any of this, I was just really keen to support a great local business and genuinely pleased to see so much going on just ten minutes down the road!
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Labels: Berkshire, Christmas, Harehatch, Kids activities, Local Companies, Winter activities