Happy in Hampshire: A weekend away

Happy in Hampshire: A weekend away

Having time away from the continuing normality of home is fundamentally crucial to my style of family life.  Removing myself from the churn of the washing machine, the cry of the dishwasher, and the shout of the Hoover – allows me to be a better mother to my children.

When we are away from home I wrap myself in a blanket of calm and thrive on spending time with the kids.

This weekend, our travels took us to the county of Hampshire. A place where you can find wild beauty across the sprawling setting of the New Forest,  home to the now famous Peppa Pig World of Paultons Park, and a land where if you hunt, you can find some giraffes and rhinos.

As guests of Hampshire Top Attractions (a site designed to guide to get the best out of your visit to the areas.)  We planned our mini break to the area meticulously, maximizing every second.

The Beginning

We started our trip returning to the New Forest Activity Centre, where we had had so much fun during the Easter break.

It didn’t disappoint.

Myself and my three children piled into canoes with our instructor Jake and battled the waters of Beaulieu river.  We cruised down still waters, rescued plastic owls, and some of us completed the trip by diving into the murky waters fully clothed…

canoe new forest

The more sensible ones amongst us remained dry.

The one who had chosen to wear a beautiful new frock sent by River Island that morning decided to ignore spontaneity.  Remove life vest, and the dress, then put back on life vest with knickers and slowly wander into the water…

The sun shone down on us, our paddling skills clearly better than the last time we visited.  Our faces ached from smiling as we all agreed in unison that there was no better way to start the day.

And onto the farm…

No rest for the wicked, with a quick dry of a towel and a change of clothes (more stunning River Island kit).  We were on our way again.  Trundling through the beautiful countryside, pausing to wave at wild ponies who sauntered across our path.

The afternoon was spent at Longdown Activity Farm.  A treat for all three of my children, where we picnicked by feeding ducks, held the newest of chicks in our palms, and fed hungry baby goats.

animalsLongdown is a fantastic hands on working farm, where you can experience collecting recently laid eggs with riding daring go karts.

Libby-Sue delighted in the indoor play area and tried to adopt a goat. She had her face painted, Frozen style, and sang the words as she played.  The older pair had to be dragged away from both the trampolines and the go karts.


I found comfort in stroking the cows and horses and watching the kids play, surrounded by nature.

Blissful afternoon to follow an energetic morning.

Longdown Activity FarmWhere to sleep

In order for our day out to become a mini break we booked into the Chilworth Manor Great Western Hotel.

When we arrived at six pm to a grand room which slept the four of us with room to spare, I could have happily retired to bed then.  However the children forced me into a change of clothes and dragged me out for tea.

Southampton offered a variety of places to eat and drink, but we chose child friendly eatery ASK, and dined on pizza and olives, with a cheeky glass of vino.

Eventually bed called to us at nine pm and we all fell into a slumber of the exhausted.

We slept well, the Best Western offered comfort, and a blinding breakfast to wake up to.

Plus a quick dip in the beautiful pool before heading out for the day made the stay complete.

best westernThe next day: we are going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

Our jampacked weekend ended with tigers and leopards, squashed between penguins and play areas.  Marwell zoo, a favourite place of ours, welcomed us back with sunshine and splendid beasts.

The giraffes were magnificent.  The rhinos resplendent in their mud bath.  The kids raced from animal to dinosaur model howling with laughter.

Marwell zoo

We ate sandwiches by the monkeys, scoffed down ice cream next to the reptile house.  We didn’t leave enough time to fully explore, but relished every second.

We left, waving at lemurs, smiles still painted on our faces.

They all slept in the car.

It was a great weekend.

For more details on what to do in Hampshire check out Hampshire Attractions, you can also get details of discounts and itineraries on the site.

For the purpose of this review we were given complimentary tickets to Marwell Zoo, Longdown Activity Farm, and a free canoeing session at the New Forest Activity Centre.

We enjoyed a complimentary stay at the Best Western Chilworth Manor.

Full details of costings and opening hours can be found on the individual sites.



  1. August 11, 2014 / 10:05 pm

    wow, I’m exhausted just reading that!
    Love Owen’s shirt, it really suits him – is that River Island? Don’t think he had that on at Alton Towers or I may have nabbed him!

  2. August 12, 2014 / 6:41 am

    Ooooh, that looks great Jane. I really should spend more time exploring my own county. 🙂

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