Phoebe had a friend to play last week and rather than just let them amuse themselves at home I decided to take them on a magical fairy adventure! I had seen the Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth advertised in a magazine that Phoebe brought home from school and thought it would be a fun thing to do and definitely more exciting for her with a friend as I’m not sure 13 year old Archie would really have been that interested in searching for fairies!
Shuttleworth is situated near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, about a 50 minute drive from us in Northampton. We arrived at 11am and were really excited to see the vintage planes and buses on display as we drove in. I hadn’t appreciated that Shuttleworth was also an air field and museum – definitely ignorance on my part! As it cost extra to see the planes and vintage motorbikes, and the girls really weren’t that interested, we decided to just stick to the Swiss Gardens and the magical fairy trail. It cost £8.50 for me to enter and the children were free – so a pretty cheap day out if you’ve got lots of children to entertain!
When we got our tickets we were given a map of the gardens and two activity sheets – one for the fairy trail and one for the Discover Art trail. We decided to get lunch out of the way and, as this was a special treat day out we bought our lunch in the restaurant. There are plenty of places to eat picnics if you decide to take your own food, but the restaurant food was great value. The girls each got a big plate of pizza, chips and beans for £4.50.
Once we had full bellies we ventured into the Swiss Garden. The gardens were really beautiful and so well looked after. There were lots of paths to follow and lakes with bridges across to little islands. Even without the fairies it was very magical! Some of the lakes did have a lot of green weed sitting on the top which made them look like grass and I did have to grab both girls and point out that it most definitely wasn’t grass and that they should keep away!
We set off with our activity sheet in search of the fairies and the girls were so excited to find the little doors hidden all over the garden with the fairies close by. Each of the fairies had a little bit of information written about them on the activity sheet telling us their name and the things they enjoyed doing. In the middle of the garden was the Swiss Cottage where we sheltered when it rained for 10 minutes and the girls sat and had a little tea party!
My favourite part of the garden was the grotto – it was so unusual and unexpected! There were two fairies hidden in there but we only managed to find one. Once we had finished the fairy trail we went back around the garden to do the Discover Art trail. Unfortunately we didn’t quite manage to finish this one as our activity sheet was blown into the lake whilst we were busy posing for photos!
After a little trip to the shop (as if we would have been able to bypass that!) we went to the children’s playground which was amazing! Like the garden, it was set in little secluded areas with paths leading to each separate bit of the park. There were loads of different pieces of play equipment and obstacle courses suitable for all ages. The best bit was that the park was all enclosed and then just outside was a van selling cakes, cold drinks, teas and coffees! The girls went off for a play and I got myself a coffee and put my feet up for an hour! The girls would have happily played there for the rest of the afternoon but unfortunately we had to leave to take Phoebe’s friend home.
I am so glad we visited the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth – it was a really magical and enjoyable day and we would all thoroughly recommend it. I suspect we might go back again with the boys next time and see the aeroplanes and motorbikes as well!