As J is my first child I cannot speak for all children or all parents. However, taking J out is hard work. I have to think about whether the place will be too crowded for J, whether it’s too noisy and will upset him with sensory overload, can he play safely where I don’t always have to say ‘no’ (because obviously toddlers are allergic to this word).
I also have to think about whether there’s too many doors or vehicles to distract him (once he sees these they become his main focus). There also needs to be somewhere enclosed for J when he feels too overloaded…otherwise we use the buggy as this is his ‘safe space’ for when things get too much.
I then have to think about cost. How much petrol will it be? How much to get in? Any other costs (parking, animal feed etc). Children are expensive! Luckily J hasn’t had many appointments lately so I haven’t had car park fees, petrol costs or losing wages through taking time off work. J pecs book has everything he needs at the moment so no pecs based money spent for now.
So we treated ourselves to going out somewhere a bit more expensive than usual. We went to see J’s Grandparents and Great Grandparents, and visited Ickworth House, in Suffolk. This is a National Trust property so I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap. Luckily it was the last day of the winter price so for J it was free and for me it was £4.50 (they put it all through without telling me I had option not to pay the charitable donation so could have been cheaper…didn’t realise this till I looked on website).
We went for a lovely walk in the woods. We were looking for flowers, climbing on logs and tree stumps and jumping in muddy puddles.
It was a beautiful place and J was happy as it was all enclosed when in the woodlands. He could run around and be free. I didn’t have to say ‘don’t touch that’, ‘leave it alone’, ‘come away’ etc which would all lead to giant meltdowns and Mummy having her hair pulled out or scratched so hard she bleeds. It was open enough to be able to see him so I didn’t have to be so on top of him.
We then went to the play park. It was a nice wooden play area which include large tree trunks to climb on as well as play equipment. The equipment is split into age based areas which was great. It meant J wasn’t as tempted by the higher equipment that he can’t go on. He loves climbing and running and sliding. He hid in the wooden play houses. At one point the play houses were used to help calm him down when he wasn’t allowed to go near the big swings. Being in enclosed spaces always calms him down and then distracts him.
The play area is fenced in which is really helpful. The only problem is J found the gate (he was in such a rush for slide he didn’t realise the entrance was an opened gate) so soon he didn’t want to play on anything else, haha.
We then went to get a drink and some lunch. It was very busy and crowded but luckily there was a table for all the family near the back so J wasn’t so ‘closed in’. The adult food was lovely. I had a cheese scone and drink which was actually quite a fair price. I got J a kids lunch box. You get to pick 5 items…not really much choice though. Basically the choice you get is:
- Freddo chocolate bar,
- Pack of raisins,
- Finger of cheese (which we didn’t choose for J due to his allergies)
- Half a sandwich (ham or cheese so again had to have ham which he doesn’t like so was donated to family)
- Kiwi (no other fresh fruit available-J reacts to kiwi so a no again).
- pack of crisps (only one type/one flavour-cheese and onion…more bloody cheese…luckily J is at the stage in the milk reintroduction ladder where he can tolerate cheese flavour crisps).
- Apple or orange juice.
For somewhere family orientated, I did expect better. On future visits I will take a packed lunch for J.
We then wandered back to the car to get home for a nap (J and the Great Grandparents, haha). Everything is so beautiful that even just walking to the car is a lovely experience. The grounds are very well maintained. There’s signs about the place that keep you updated on what’s happening around the grounds which is really useful.
It’s a lovely place to visit but to be honest I could have taken a walk through local woodlands and playground for £1 (one hours parking). Ickworth House was beautiful but is definately a ‘special occasion’ place to visit rather than a regular trip out.
*I would like to add that the staff were friendly. They would give reassuring smiles and laughs as J did circuits around the payment lodge. They didn’t get bored of ‘re-greeting’ him as he came around and round. It took a lot of distraction to break that cycle, haha.