Festive Season – The Reindeer Centre – 20th November 2019

This morning didn’t started as planned but Rachel and I refused to let it get us down. As mum always said ‘don’t let the bastards get you down’ We got ready to go out. I found a few different outfits for Bella making sure they were warm. As lovely as the Reindeer Centre is, it is freezing with it being all based in barns on a working farm. Bella decided on some reindeer leggings and her Christmas jumper. Rachel got her dressed while I got myself dressed. Soon we were all wrapped up and ready to go.

Now it’s a bit of a long drive from ours to the Reindeer Centre and it’s down all these little country lanes so it took us a while to get there. We eventually made it and parked up. Now Daly and I had gone to the Reindeer Centre when we first got together 5 years ago and the car park was rammed, however today it was dead. Being term time and midweek only people with very young children or on their day off were there. I think there was about 12 to 15 cars in the car park.

We walked round to the ticket booth and paid. The lady in the ticket booth was lovely and wished us a good day. She made time to talk to Bella about seeing Santa and the Reindeers. Bella was so excited when she saw a deer display by the entrance. She saw the lights and trees and shouted ‘Christmas’ She is so excited about it.

We walked to the main entrance. By the entrance was a penguin with a cut out face. Rachel popped her head through. We tried to get Bella to take part but she wasn’t too sure. One of Santa’s helpers came over to see what we were up to. She had no other guests to deal with so it was so nice that she came over to speak to us and was so welcoming.

Bella had a little passport for her visit with stickers to put in. The helper explained to us how to use her passport. She also checked our tickets. On Bella’s ticket there was a little tear off section where the helper could write Bella’s name and age so she could pass it on to Santa for our visit. She also gave Bella a little bag of sweets. It was wonderful how the treats started as soon as the experience.

Once our tickets had been checked and we were welcomed we were lead down to the holding area before we could head through to Santa’s grotto. At the end we were introduced to Wobbles the Reindeer. Rachel really liked stroking him. Bella wasn’t brave enough to stroke the reindeer but she was happy to watch Rachel The helper headed through to check if Santa was able to see us, he was currently with another family so we got to spend a bit longer with Wobbles.

Soon we were greeted by Santa’s elf who called us through to meet the big man himself. We had to go and knock on his door to check he was ready to see us. Bella wasn’t feeling brave enough to knock on the door. I wonder if she was having some Trick or Treater flash backs. Rachel knocked on the door and we were called in by Santa.

Santa’s room was huge. Was a pretty nice set up. Bella wasn’t too sure of Santa. We didn’t have any tears this year but she was still clingy and not a fan of heading over to Santa. We ended up sitting on the floor the other side of the room to Santa.

Bella happily chatted to him though. She answered his questions and listened nicely to Santa talk about Peppa Pig world. He was lovely and trying to get Bella to feel as comfortable as possible.

Once they’d finished talking, Santa handed Bella a present. She was very excited, that’s one of the only things she really knows is Santa brings presents. She doesn’t quite understand that she can ask for certain toys or tell Santa what she’d like.

Once she’d received her present we had a family photo. Rachel and Bella sat on the little seat next to Santa while I perched on a stack of books the other side. We said goodbye to Santa and headed off into his grotto.

The first room we came across had a pretty tree and I tried to take a nice photo of Bella and Rachel sat in front of the tree. We noticed there was a box for the wrapping paper so I let Bella open her present.

She was very excited as she ripped the paper off. It turns out she’d been given a Shopkins Strawberry. Bella was very happy with her strawberry. She kept giving it lots of big cuddles.

It was time to head through the rest of the grotto. The grotto is a collection of seven rooms with different scenes. The first room was a woodland theme. Bella really liked the little fox sat by the bridge. She also pretended to splash in the river that was painted on the floor.

The next room was full of those little model houses and scenes that light up and move. Bella was fascinated by the ferris wheel. It is such a cute little room with all the models.

There was a bit of a snow scene in the next room. There were penguins making little snowmen and playing in the snow. I really liked all the lights. We were starting to feel the coldness though.

The largest room had various sized seals playing with balls and fish. In the centre there was a man cooking over a fire with his dogs. Rachel was excited about the husky dogs. We took a few photos knowing Daly was going tor be upset he missed out. Although I’m sure real ones would be better.

Into the final room we came across there were mechanical bears carol singing. Bella liked the teddy bears but quickly shooed us out.

At the end of the grotto we ended up at the photo stand and had a chance to look at the photo we had had taken with Santa. It was really nice to get a cute photo of Santa with Bella actually smilingly. We decided that we were going to purchase two photos, one for Rachel and one for I.

We took our photos and headed into the canteen. We were hungry and getting cold so a hot drink and some hot food was what we needed. We ordered our food and waited for it. Rachel had decided on a sausage bap and I had a craving for a bacon bap. We got Bella some nibbles and then we ordered our hot drinks.

The lovely thing is, if you buy a hot drink it comes in a pretty ceramic mug and you are able to keep. Daly and I had got ones when we came all those years ago and the mugs had definitely improved. I ordered a cup of tea while Rachel ordered a hot chocolate. I loved the way they made it. They turned the hot chocolate into a cute little snowman with a marshmallow.

We found somewhere to sit on these large picnic benches. While we were waiting for our food and Bella was munching, Bella and Rachel started to work through Bella’s passport. They added the stickers to the section that said she had visited Santa and then the section that said we had gone through Santa’s grotto. We hadn’t visited anywhere else yet so Bella couldn’t add anymore stickers.

After we’d finished eating and Rachel and I had finished putting the world back to rights, we moved on to the large barn with the play area and animals in.

As we walked into the barn there were large Christmas displays including a nativity. There was a door to our left that Bella wanted to head through and see what was inside. We were met by a winter wonderland. The room was full of fake snow. Of course Bella dived straight in quickly followed by Rachel. Bella was picking up handfuls of the snow (shredded paper) and throwing it at Rachel, giggling her head off.

Rachel and Bella continued having snow fights. I was persuaded to join them in the snow and I found little fake snowballs. I was following Bella around and throwing them at her. We ended up having a snowball fight with the balls, another child even joined in. It was lovely to see Bella playing with another child.

Rachel and I ended up sitting in the corner of the room. Bella came and joined us throwing handfuls of snow over Rachel’s head. Rachel wasn’t having that though. She picked up handfuls of snow and stuffed it down Bella’s coat.

We spent at least 20 minutes playing around in the snow and that stuff got everywhere. It was like real snow in the sense that it sticks to you and you can’t get it off. We headed out of the snow room, much to Bella’s annoyance so we could explore the rest of the barn.

There were a few members of staff on the stage in the centre of the barn singing and dancing along to Christmas songs, and Baby Shark. They was a couple of other families in the barn but it was still very quiet. Bella wasn’t interested in the singing and dancing though. There was a range of ride of toys e.g. cars and scooters. Bella found the horse and carriage and that was it, we lost her to playing with the carriage.

I let Bella play for a little bit but I really wanted to go see the animals and the rest of the areas in the barn. I eventually managed to persuade her to get out of the carriage and come with me to the ball pit.

In the corner of the room there was a massive hay bale ball pit. It was huge! We had to climb up a couple of hay bales to get in. Bella jumped in. I honestly thought she was going to disappear in the balls, it seemed so deep. It turns out it wasn’t so deep though. The balls only came to Bella’s waist.

Bella had fun climbing on to a soft shape that had fallen into the pit. She would climb up on to it and then jump back into the pit. She had great fun doing this. It kept her entertained for a while.

Soon, though, Bella wanted to get out and return to the cars. She got back into the little carriage and off she went. I let her play for a little bit but then I really wanted to go see the reindeer. I managed to drag her out of the carriage and off to the reindeer.

Rachel loved the reindeer, she was giving them all cuddles and stroking them. Sadly she didn’t have any reindeer food but they were happy for the strokes.

I tried to encourage Bella to go up to the reindeer but she wouldn’t. She happily looked at them but if they started to move towards her, she freaked and ran away. I’m guessing reindeers are not on her list of her favourite animals. We looked at them and then headed into creature corner.

In creature corner we saw lots of lizards. Bella was a little scared of them but she liked them more than the reindeer. As well as lizards they had small rodents such as mice and rats.

We came across a few meerkats. They were cold and hiding under the heat lamp. We could have done with one of them. I was certainly feeling the cold. I don’t do the cold. I struggle to regulate my body temperature and I find extreme temperatures play with my narcolepsy.

There were two sections to the creature corner. As we left the first section we came across a terrapin just chilling in his tank and swimming around. Bella was adamant it’s a turtle and I haven’t got the heart to tell her otherwise – it’s confusing with turtles, terrapins and tortoises.

In the next section of the creature corner we found rabbits, guinea pigs, and lots of chickens. Bella happily looked at all the chickens and told me what they were. She also saw there were owls in the enclosure next to the chickens and told me they went ‘ hoo, hoo!’

In the barn there were also goats and donkeys. Bella liked the goats and happily went over to say hi. I think the donkeys were a little bit big for Bella’s liking. I love donkeys though so happily had a little stroke.

We walked back through to the main creature corner. As we headed back through we noticed the meerkats had all huddled back under the heat lamp. Bella went over to the window to watch them. They didn’t really do anything. They were just all huddling together to stay warm.

We headed back into the main play area and once again Bella wanted to play with the carriage. Off she went. That was until she saw their indoor climbing frame. She ran off and decided she was going to play. Rachel was a bit horrified though. The climbing frame was in a big sandpit and apparently Rachel didn’t like the idea of sand.

While Bella was on the climbing frame, Rachel and I took turns having photos in front of the giant Christmas tree they had. I don’t often get photos of me so it was nice to have a few. Bella soon came and joined us and we were able to get a group shot in front of the tree.

We decided we should probably call it a day. We were all getting cold and we had seen everything. We started to head out of the barn and back to the car. As we got to the entrance I spotted Santa and Bella spotted the nativity. I had to go sit on Santa’s knee.

We finally made it back out into the open and took a look around the gift shop. Bella made me highly anxious in the gift shop though. An over excited toddler in a room full of breakable stuff is not my idea of fun. I had to shoo her out after about 2 minutes just so she would stop trying to touch everything.

We made our way back to the car via the penguin cut out outside the main entrance. Bella finally wanted to give it a go and I managed to get a photo of her. While we were playing with the penguin cut out I chatted to the same member of staff we had met when we arrived and also Santa’s elf.

I ended up having a long chat with Santa’s elf about the film Last Christmas that I had gone to see with Daly at the weekend. The elf and I both agreed that the film wasn’t as Christmassy as we thought but it was still a good film. We said our goodbyes and skipped down to the car singing ‘I want a hippopotamus for Christmas’

We had a fantastic day at the Reindeer Centre. We thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It’s a good Christmassy day out.

Night all, and let’s see what adventures come our way.

Love CiCi x

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