Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

July was the month we were all waiting for. Lockdown restrictions easing meant the travel & leisure industry could start to pick things up again. The pro of that being us avid travellers could start making plans to fill our weekends – within reason and following the Government guidelines. This led to me wanting to return to a place I haven’t been to since 2011. Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

If you are based down South, especially within the Hampshire/Dorset area, you may be aware of Beaulieu. Known for being the home of the Montagu family and houses a very impressive collection of cars, both old and new. Some people may not feel like Beaulieu is on their list of places to visit because they have a lack of interest in cars. I concur as it’s more than just the motor museum.

Note: You don’t need to wear a mask when visiting Beaulieu. All staff had face coverings and kept their distance from guests. Honestly, with the capped capacity, it almost felt a bit like normal despite the social distancing measures in place.

So what else is there to see and do?

Beaulieu Palace House

One of the standout attractions at Beaulieu is the beautiful Beaulieu Palace House, home to the Montague family. Anybody who loves stately homes will adore this. The building itself has some stunning gothic architecture, overlooking the Beaulieu river millpond and vast Garden area. With the new Government guidelines, they have implemented a new one-way system which worked really well. Certain rooms with public access were restricted to one household (due to entry and exit being via the same door).

The staff were happy to help answer questions about the home and provide some interesting facts. Most of the artwork, paintings and needlework on display in the house has been created by Lord Montagu’s mother, Belinda. I do enjoy walking around a stately home and seeing history unfold as you walk through the different rooms. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in such a grand place as your home.

Beaulieu Abbey Ruins

Am I the only person that loves wandering around some ruins? Not only is it the perfect way to take some creative photographs but discovering the history surrounding them makes it more fascinating. The 800-year-old Abbey has an interesting history behind it including being the home to monks, a falconry, destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538 and so much more.

Not only do you have the Abbey ruins, there is a working Parish Church (closed during our visit) and one of the buildings decked out as an entertainment venue for weddings etc. I can see why many people would want to get married here – the setting is just too perfect! So make sure to walk down towards the Abbey ruins and explore this area.

Beaulieu Gardens

As you make your way towards the bottom end of the grounds, there are some beautifully stunning gardens to enjoy. Photographers will enjoy spending time taking photos here – especially when playing around with manual mode like myself. A nice feature in the gardens which I haven’t seen before was a topiary set-up to Alice in Wonderland, based off the original book by Lewis Carroll. It’s a nice way to break up the day as you take in the flowers, fauna and see the monorail going past above you.

Lots of Vroom from the past and present…

Motor Museum

Most people will know Beaulieu for its extensive collection of classic cars, motorbikes and more – there’s at least 280 different models. Most cars within the motor museum are part of the main Montagu collection however there have been many donations over the years. Once again there was a one-way system in place so guests can maintain social distancing. The museum is fairly sizeable therefore you won’t feel concerned about getting close to other households. Before you enter the museum, you are also given the option to use the hand sanitizer provided.

Once inside, you can follow the whole museum round, exploring the many different types of cars on show. My main focus and fascination here has always been with F1, Le Mans etc. since my brother and dad are into their motorsports! There were some new additions for this year including The Bear motorbike that’s been ridden around the world. A great way to spend a couple of hours seeing the different cars throughout history – it’s amazing how much cars have changed.

World of Top Gear

Top Gear is well known amongst motor enthusiasts. At Beaulieu, you have the opportunity to see some of the most notable creations from the show from both the old series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and the new series with Matt LeBlanc, Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris etc. I may not be a die hard fan of the show but it’s actually cool seeing the cars featured here – some are the actual cars from the TV series. You’ll also have the chance to see The Stig too. As per the new rules and regulations at the moment, select ‘selfie spots’ are closed off to the public.

On Screen Cars

Famous cars from some of your favourite movies and TV shows are also featured here at Beaulieu. This include Mr. Beans, Only Fools & Horses Van, the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets plus many more. It’s nice to have this feature here as it provides a nice bit of nostalgia. Whilst this is only a small area next to the World of Top Gear, it’s worth having a little wander inside. Again, as per Government guidelines, this is also a one-way system.

Other attractions that I haven’t mentioned above include:

Monorail

The monorail that takes you from the entrance area near World of Top Gear down towards the Gardens/Palace House. There are normally 2 monorail stations so you have the opportunity to get off at each stop however due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, they’ve closed off one station therefore you take one lap around the grounds. A quick 10 minute journey that is perfect for the whole family.

Little Beaulieu

New for 2020, this play area has been created for the whole family to let off steam. What is great is that the architecture has been inspired by the real history of the Beaulieu area, including a nod to the Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. The whole area looks great and features a perfect sitting area for adults to keep an eye on their little ones. Unfortunately the site was closed during our visit but Beaulieu are making plans to get the area ready to re-open under the new Government guidelines. Keep updated on the Beaulieu website.

Have you visited Beaulieu?

What is your favourite attraction here?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Hogwarts In The Snow 2019 | Review

Hogwarts In The Snow 2019 | Review

warner bros studio tour the making of harry potter entrance

It’s been about 4 years since I was last at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I must say, there’s been a lot of changes since my last visit! Every year I’ve always said to myself I will go during to the Hogwarts in the Snow event. And each time, I’ve either left it too late or just never found a suitable time to go. Until now…

Winter does tend to mean hibernating inside the warmth of my own house with a hot cuppa, wearing cosy clothes because it is too cold to travel anywhere outside. This year I’ve been more proactive in visiting some different winter/Christmas events. I’ve learnt not to let the cold bother me, just layer up and be on my merry way. So it was finally time to go to Hogwarts in the Snow.

I was in awe of the new areas (for me) including the Forbidden Forest & Gringotts. That’s the thing I love about this place. It takes your breath away at how grand all the sets are for the films. Not only that but everything is covered in Winter/Christmas decorations including The Great Hall being dressed up for the Yule ball in Goblet of Fire. Plus we were taught by the team on how Harry’s footprints were made in the snow when he’s wearing the invisibility cloak in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Of course, the main event is seeing the model of Hogwarts Castle covered in a dusting of snow – all done by hand from members of the crew! Did you know it takes 4 DAYS for them to transform the castle into a snowy masterpiece? It looks absolutely stunning in person, even if I’ve seen so many photos of it online. A true highlight and a perfect end to the tour in my opinion – except maybe the gift shop with too many gifts I want to buy.

dragon overlooking crowd of peoplehogwarts in the snowslytherin crest and school uniformyule ball ice sculpture yule ball costumes harry potterhogwarts in the snowgryffindor common roomhogwarts ticking clockweasley's kitchenhogwarts in the snowhogwarts expresshogwarts letters flying all over the placehogwarts in the snowgringotts bank auditoriumgringotts bank vault of bellatrix lestrangehogwarts in the snowdiagon alley harry potterfootprints in the snowhogwarts in the snowhogwarts in the snowThanks to Jared/James for taking some of the photos above.

I had a great time at the Studio Tour on Saturday. And with it being James’ first time visiting, it was also great to see his reaction to everything. I can’t explain how incredible the tour is. From all the animatronics to the photo opportunities around every corner. You need to allocate at least 3 hours to really explore the tour in depth. Especially if you want to take part in the interactive elements like flying a broomstick through London! Hogwarts in the Snow runs till January 26th 2020 – tickets are selling fast so get in quick. You can find out more info and book tickets online on the official website.

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Festival of Light Review | Longleat Safari Park

Festival of Light Review | Longleat Safari Park

On Saturday 16th November, I finally visited Longleat’s Festival of Light event. After many years of wanting to go, I planned ahead this year & tickets were booked for my birthday weekend. I couldn’t wait. If you’re a theme park geek like myself, this is a perfect closed season trip to undertake. Longleat Safari Park is located just outside Warminster in Wiltshire. Right opposite Longleat Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest. There’s a lot to see and do at the park. And with the Festival of Light event, it’s clear to see why it’s so popular among guests. Of course any event has its high and low points. So let’s crack on with my full review of Longleat Festival of Light.

the uk's largest hedge maze sign at longleat safari parkhedge maze at longleat safari parkkoala eating in the treebat hanging upside down on treecrocodile floating in the waterpizza piazza restaurant signcadbury hot chocolate with bbq chicken pizzafestival of light review

Highlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…

Beautiful Lanterns

I was in awe at the number of lanterns they had. Considering there were probably around 100 different lanterns in total! I thought they had a dedicated area for all the lanterns. Nope, they were dotted everywhere. This actually made it into an all-encompassing event where you truly felt immersed in the park. Nothing impacted the areas near any animal enclosures which was great. You can tell they’ve worked hard to ensure this event flowed as well as it could. From 4.30pm, the lanterns were turned on and it truly felt like a winter’s event. The theme for 2019 was Myths and Legends. Regardless of whether a theme is your favourite or not, you will still have a fantastic time regardless.

Safari Park & Animal Encounters

The Safari Park is an expansive area with a wide range of animals to see from the comfort of your car (or from a VIP truck – there is an extra charge for this). It’s best to allocate at least 3 hours for the Safari. Not only does it cover a vast area of land, but there’s also a stop-off point in the African Village featuring a shop, toilets, cafe and Lemur walkthrough. Not only that but once you’ve exited the Safari Park, your day doesn’t end there. There’s plenty more animals to encounter including Crocodiles, Bats, Koalas, Lorikeets and many more. Plus, there’s a Jungle Cruise located towards the back end of the park. Sadly we didn’t get to go on this during our visit as the queue was horrifically busy. Fingers crossed we can go on this on our next visit!

Projection Mapping

The projection mapping on Longleat House is new for 2019, and boy, I’ve seen projection mapping done really well along my travels. This is up there as one of my favourites. The facade of Longleat House is beautiful enough on its own but the projection mapping at night really adds to the atmosphere. It can be easy to miss if guests aren’t heading towards the front of the house once the lanterns have been turned on. Projections on the house included star constellations, mythical creatures and legends. It was beautifully portrayed and I couldn’t stop watching (and taking photos). If you are heading to Longleat Festival of Light this year, do not miss this!

Pizza Piazza

There’s plenty of eateries around the park which is very important when it comes to feeding the family. One place that delivered high-quality food, fantastic customer service and an all-round great experience was Pizza Piazza. This place was quite hidden without the help of the park map. Serving a fab range of Pizzas & meal deals. It’s perfect for families on a budget. The average price was around £10 for a Margherita Pizza, £14 for a Texas BBQ/Meat Feast Pizza and £2.50 for either a soft drink or hot beverage. Meal Deals were also available from £15 to £25 depending on your group size. The food was high quality and incredibly filling, highly recommend. If you’re on the move, you can have a takeaway which I think is fantastic for families/groups on the move or if you can’t find a table to sit at during busy periods.

longleat house with star constellation projectionlarge griffon lanternfairy sat on toadstool with a flutestampede of flying horsesunicorn lanternfestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light review

Lowlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…

Too busy

Okay, I understand that this event has grown in popularity over the years. Saturday’s visit was incredibly busy. It was very difficult to enjoy the experience without getting in people’s way or trying to manoeuvre the crowds. I’m not a huge lover of crowds anyway and can get very overwhelmed in these situations. However, there was a distinct lack of crowd control. Having more marshalls in different places to help ease congestion. A lot of people were standing in the way or stopping in awkward spots. Consequently, this meant us photographers couldn’t get the shot we wanted. If you are a family with young children, please keep in mind how busy certain areas get. If you can, please keep your children close at all times or try to wait until a quieter period.

A lot to cover in one day

Take it from me, you’ll need a plan to make the most of your day at Longleat. We arrived at Longleat around 12pm so didn’t get a full day at the park. Longleat opens at 10am, Safari Park opens from 9.30am. There is a LOT to cover if you really want to make the most of your visit. Aside from the Jungle Cruise and Longleat House, we still covered at least 85% of the park. Something to keep in mind if you’re looking to attend in the future. The main Festival of Light event gives you around 3 hours to walk the park and see the lanterns. The lanterns are switched on around 4.30pm. I believe this is ample time to take photos and see them all. With plenty of planning before your visit, you’ll be able to enjoy everything that Longleat has to offer.

Lack of signposts

For an event that becomes incredibly busy at this time of year, the signposts around this park are either too small to see or lacking in different areas. Whilst you have a park map to guide you, it’s still tricky to find what you are looking for. The layout of Longleat Adventure Park isn’t very logical in my opinion. There’s a lot of different walkways that steer off the main path. Some places seem hidden away so make sure you have that park map handy! Some temporary event signage to guide people around the park would help massively. This would help with the crowd control as there were a lot of people stopping in the middle of pathways looking lost. Given the number of guests on park, this caused a lot of congestion and didn’t help with the flow for people who were looking for shops, toilets and food places.

star lights in purplefestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light review

Despite the lowlights, I had a great time and would definitely recommend this event for anyone who’s looking for a weekend day trip with family & friends. Travelling from afar? There’s plenty of places to stay in the nearby area including Warminster, Salisbury and more. If this is your first time, enjoy it and make sure to allocate at least 3 hours for the Safari Park – it’s big!

Longleat Festival of Light runs on selected dates from 9th November to 5th January 2020. Hurry, tickets are selling fast and you don’t want to miss out on this amazing event – buy tickets on their website or find out more about the Festival of Light here.

That’s all for now!Lottie xoxo

 

Moors Valley Country Park | Top 5 Things to Do

Moors Valley Country Park | Top 5 Things to Do

moors valley country park top 5 things to do

I have spent many years as a youngster with my family, exploring the beauty and wonder of Moors Valley Country Park. Located near Ringwood in the New Forest, Moors Valley is one of those places you need to experience if you’re in the local area. There’s so much to see and do that I’ve compiled my top 5 things to do at Moors Valley Country Park in this blog post. It’s become my favourite destination in the spring/summer when the sun is shining.

One thing I’ve found is that some people may not realise what activities are available to do in the country park. There’s so much to see and do for the whole family, with your significant other or even by yourself. Trust me, it’s so peaceful spending some time wandering around. It’s a perfect pick-me-up when you’re feeling down! You will be spoilt for choice. Whilst I might be biased as I have grown up visiting here, this is a must-do for everyone. So let me give you 5 top things you can do when visiting Moors Valley Country Park.

moors valley country park steam railwaymoors valley country park top 5 things to domoors valley country park top 5 things to do

Steam Railway

Any train fans will not want to miss the Moors Valley Steam Railway. These mini style steam trains travel along the banks of Moors Lake. Winding through tunnels, tight curves and small inclines. This is the perfect way to enjoy the stunning views and experience a true steam train ride. There may be a small upcharge for the train. Depends on whether you choose a roundtrip or one way trip to either Lakeside or Kingsclere station. I feel like this is something you cannot miss!

Play Trail/Tree Top Trail

My fondest memories of the Tree Top Trail is when I was a kid and seeing these massive wooden structures of creatures. You could climb inside them, climb on top of them and were the perfect photo spots. That may have been 15 years or so ago but the structures are still around to this day! Designed mainly for kids but adults, you can join in too. It doesn’t matter about being judged, it’s all about having fun!

go ape moors valley country parkgirl stood next to gorilla statue outside go ape moors valley

Go Ape Treetop Courses

I bloody love Go Ape courses. Yes, they are challenging but they provide 2/3 hours of high adrenaline fun. Climb through the trees with various routes to choose from. There’s an adult and a junior course so you can decide how brave you’re feeling. You don’t need to have maxed out fitness levels to do these. Although it does help massively! There’s water at the start of each section of the course to keep you hydrated. Perfect for a really hot day, just like what we had! This is an upcharge attraction but highly recommend for all thrillseekers out there. And remember the important rule, ALWAYS STAY ATTACHED!

Go Ape Forest Segways

I’m going to put my hand up now and say that I’ve never ridden a Segway before. If you have, let me know in the comments below as I’d love to hear your experiences. It’s on my bucket list of things I’d love to do one day! Segways are available as part of the Go Ape area of Moors Valley. Costing around £35 per person. Travel through the forest on a Segway, what better way to travel right? Although I can imagine I’d struggle to get my balance…

moors valley country park top 5 things to domoors valley country park top 5 things to domoors valley country park top 5 things to do

Cycle/Walking Trails

Finally, for the avid exercise gurus, there’s plenty of trails to explore for both walkers and cyclists. If you own a bike, bring it along with you and cycle along the many trails. All trails are waymarked depending on difficulty and length. Don’t fret if you do not own a bike as you can hire one at the Moors Valley cycle hire centre. Times vary from 1 hour to the whole day. I’m not one for cycling personally. I much prefer a gentle walk around the forest, especially towards the Lookout as it’s the perfect spot to take plenty of photos! Fitness gurus can enjoy the Fitness trail with exercise stations positioned along a 2-mile route within the forest. There’s something for everyone here, regardless of your desired sport.

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo