Hylands Park – A great place to play and eat

15 Jun

For us lunch in the park is always a picnic, my wicker hamper is my pride and joy and I’ve lost count of the amount of must have picnic blankets I have picked up over the years.  I just feel that there is something so quintessentially English about a ‘proper’ picnic, ripping off a piece of bread, covering it in Brie, picking a few cherry tomatoes out the pot, pouring a glass of red wine and chatting for hours under the trees while the children run around needing only mother nature as their enjoyment is for me quite honestly my idea of heaven.   All that could make it better would be travelling there in the vintage split screen VW camper I have had my eye on – maybe next year!

Today however there was no picnic for mini-chef and me – with us going on holiday at the weekend I have been running down the food in my house for a couple weeks, meaning when I went to the kitchen this morning the cupboards were bare!

So off we went with a friend and her little boy to Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex to try out their playground and grab a bite to eat in the cafe.  The Adventure Castle Play Area is the best play park we have been to in the local area, catering for toddlers right through to teenagers, with equipment that can be used by all ages at the same time which I think is great for families with multi aged children.  It was nice and quite today (midweek, term-time) so Mini-Chef got lots of time to run around and play on everything – however I have been told weekends can get quite busy so arrive early for a few hours of playing before the masses turn up.

Once the little ones had burn off steam it was time to fill our bellies.  A short walk across the fields led us to Hylands House, an 18th century country house open to the public with a visitor centre, gift/craft shop and Huttons Courtyard Cafe.  The cafe was very busy on arrival and all outside tables were full – we opted for a nice inside table and were pleasantly surprised with how child friendly the place was.  There were many highchairs available along with booster seats for older children.  We found a box of goodies;  toys, colouring books and crayons to keep the children amused which was also a very friendly touch.  The menu was quite standard however I must say that the options for children were very good, quick bites for lunch like toast with toppers and a range of sandwiches right up to main meals such up to scampi and chips or sausage, mash and yorkshire pudding.  The meals were priced from £2.20 – £5 for children; they were served promptly, hot and with child sized cutlery (which I always appreciate) so that was wonderful. Mini-Chef had a Sausage sandwich which was seved with salad and carrot battons, it was eaten with a big smile and the mouthful I had was very tasty.  It was a large size childs meal the would suit toddlers to teenagers, if I were to go back again with two little ones they could share a meal and still be well fed.

We left the cafe with two full, happy and worn out children and headed back the car – I hadn’t even left the car park before Mini-Chef was snoring her head off and she went to bed for a further hour when we got home – so a fresh air bonus for Mummy too as I got half hour of housework done and half hour to catch up with Sky+, well 10 mins housework and 50 mins catching up on Sky+ but lets not tell the man of the house about that one!

I would thoroughly recommend a day out at Hylands Park, there is so much to do and the best bit it most of it is totally free.  I  will be heading back there in a couple of weeks with Mini-Chef and her Daddy, this time packing a picnic as I think my hamper is feeling left out, so watch this space for picnic recipes and outdoor activity ideas.


Hylands House and Park, Chelmsford, Essex – http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6155



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