I’m A… a home educating mum of two girls – E, who is nearly 8 and little I, who has just turned one.
At the end of May we were given the opportunity to be ‘Guest Adventurers’ for TPK which was so exciting for me and my elder child – who immediately set to work helping me think of the perfect adventure for us and her little sister! The guest spot was at the end of July which tied in perfectly with little I’s first birthday and with this in mind we decided that we would centre the choice on what we thought she would like, something sensory and colourful? With animals maybe? Mostly indoors because I definitely wasn’t relying on the great British summer (thank goodness!) In a nice part of the country with the possibility of exploring beyond the planned activity. So perhaps against my better judgment (after discovering that it was a 4 hour drive…) we decided on the The Butterfly Farm in Stratford Upon Avon with an overnight stay in the Waterways Premier Inn.
We set off at around lunchtime, with my mum in tow (due to working in agriculture my hubby, the girls daddy, was unable to join us) So…. with all electronic devices charged and snacks aplenty… we were ready to hit the road… and entertain a nearly 8 year old who is an ‘are we there yet??’ fiend!
4 very long hours later we finally arrived at our hotel and discovered that it was set right on the bank of the Stratford Upon Avon canal which was a lovely surprise.
We checked in and got settled in our family room which was clean and comfortable and spacious enough to not feel like we were sardines in a tin, the girls played for a while in the room before we went out to find somewhere for dinner. At E’s request we headed for Pizza Hut which was conveniently located across the road at the Maybird Shopping Park. After a long day driving and another long day expected tomorrow we ate and went straight back to our room. When both girls finally fell asleep, my mum and I weren’t long behind them!!
The morning arrived far quicker than I would have liked and despite having way less sleep than they should have had both girls were bouncing off the walls! After a quick shower we headed down for breakfast which was a buffet of pretty much anything you could possibly ask for in a breakfast, E’s eyes were bigger than her belly and she probably ate enough for 10 but little I was just happy with her croissant.
We ate our fill and got ready to leave however the skies had opened and it was well and truly chucking it down in true ‘Great British Summer’ style! After careful consultation with my mum who was wearing sandals we decided to still make the 15/20 minute walk to the butterfly farm rather than drive and as luck may have had it I had two large umbrellas in the boot of my car. So with umbrellas to hand we set off along the canal which the receptionist at the Premier Inn had told us would lead right to the centre of Stratford and within throwing distance of where we wanted to be.
Despite the intermittent rain it was a beautiful walk with lots of questions from E about the canal locks and how they worked and why they were there, we were lucky enough to see one being used which E thought was very cool.
We arrived at the butterfly farm at around 11:30 and decided that we would just skip lunch altogether and have a late afternoon tea instead as we were all still so full from breakfast! On arrival it was still raining so we bypassed the outdoor wild garden
– though it certainly looked beautiful
We queued very briefly but everything seemed to run pretty smoothly and we were in and getting our tickets within 5 minutes. The lovely lady behind the desk knew who I was as soon as I said my name and retrieved our tickets immediately.
We took a few minutes to get ourselves organised as I knew that it would be very warm and humid in the butterfly enclosure… the ladies on the desk said they would keep hold of our umbrellas which was really handy as it meant I had one less thing to carry.
We made our way through the doors and walked into….
….a full tropical garden in the middle of Shakespeare country! It was fabulous! No words are type able to accurately describe stepping into this little butterfly haven, little I didn’t know what to do with her eyes or hands for that matter which I had to keep a very close eye on as a one year olds grabby hands can apparently move faster than a striking viper! And E completely forgot that she was with us and wandered off following butterflies and had to be retrieved and reminded that we should probably stick together as it was fairly busy.
We stood still for a few minutes just letting the girls soak it all in.
After the initial entrance it led pretty much straight into a separate area which was a butterfly/moth breeding room, we spent a good while in there as E was totally fascinated and was lucky enough to catch what I think was an African Swallowtail laying her eggs. !!
E also found a very interesting looking caterpillar
on one of the plant pots and, after spotting it on the info sheet,realised that it was one that can cause irritation to the skin… so went and found a staff member to let them know. The staff member was super helpful and an absolute fountain of information… he told E that they escape all the time and it’s nothing to worry about, but nonetheless scooped it up with some paper so that big E could get a closer look. He answered lots of her questions and seemed to have a lot of time for us which I thought was great.
We moved through the breeding room stopping briefly at the hatching station to see some newly hatched butterflies drying their wings before being released, then we passed through another door which took us into another part of the main butterfly room. We spent ages in this particular part as the butterflies here took a liking to us and were landing on the girls heads,
E took a little while to get used to this and little I’s grabby hands had to be monitored at all times!!!!
By this point we were all VERY hot and little I’s hair was stuck firmly to her head so we decided to take a break and went back through to the entrance area to cool off, little I needed a feed and a nap but E was kept well occupied by the activity area and the gift shop, she spent ages picking out what she was going to spend her money on which, of course, all came to far more than what she actually had to spend!!!
Once we had all cooled down and little I had had her power nap we headed back in, we continued through the butterfly room which also contained an actual full size pond with Koi Carp that you could feed, it was quite impressive!
The next stop was the bug room which contained a giant leaf cutter ant colony that marched over your head on rope bridges between their tanks
(which I must admit I wasn’t absolutely thrilled with as it made me all itchy thinking they might fall on me!) E, however, thought it was awesome, especially the main tank with the ant colony in as you could see all the chambers and eggs.
There were also various spiders, snakes and mini beasts to see and E got to hold a giant millipede…
I got offered this too but politely declined! We followed the path back through to the butterfly room and ended our time there by just letting the girls kneel together on a bench while the butterflies flitted around and occasionally settled on their heads and arms and in little I’s case her nose but she batted it away before I got a photo.
Both girls were totally mesmerised by the whole visit as were my mum and I and on leaving we had already decided we would be returning with the girls daddy. It was still raining when we left but we didn’t really care and we made our way up through Stratford town centre and found a lovely little cafe called ‘Hobsons’
which we stopped at for tea and cake before heading back towards the hotel car park, by this point the sun had finally come out so the umbrellas were down and we walked up Henley Street in the sunshine stopping briefly to take in the little bit of history that is Shakespeare’s birth place. Reflecting on the day I can truly say we all had an absolutely amazing time and we would highly recommend The Butterfly Farm to everyone… no matter what your age or whether you have children or not it’s definitely worth a visit.
Stratford Upon Avon is a beautiful town and it was totally worth the 4 hour drive.
Thank you Karen for allowing us to be one of your Guest Adventurers. Love A, E and I and Nanny J x