After months of building work, various illnesses including a trip to hospital, Yara and I are finally up and running again and we decided since it’s this time of year where the TV ads are all about Christmas and various towns across the country have already turned on their Christmas lights (it’s November!!!!), we HAD to visit a grotto.

Word of mouth told me there was a VERY good one over in Wendover so after a jolly drive from High Wycombe, we parked up at the World’s End garden centre. Yes, a garden centre! From the outset, the entrance was covered in all things Christmas and after a short walk past fairground rides (Yara immediately wanted to go on!), we arrived at Santa’s Grotto. £15 later (Child price is £12 and accompanying adult is £3) we walked through a beautiful winter wonderland filled with penguins in little houses, polar bears and plenty of fake snow. Since it was a weekday, it was very empty so we were able to take our time.

We then came to a section which was obviously themed around Roald Dahl’s BFG. I couldn’t understand what that had to do with Christmas but maybe because 2016 marks 100 years since the birth of the children’s writer? Enlighten me if you know any better.

img_0961At this point, my phone died on me (must get that sorted out!) and I wasn’t able to take any more photos. However, the rest of the grotto was beautiful yet made up of random characters like a massive unicorn and Winnie the Pooh. Maybe the kids understand it more than I do but Yara was excited beyond doubt. There was also a wishing pond with lots of coins in it for Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Yara of course, threw in her penny.

Finally, we got to the door which leads to Father Christmas and briefly waited out turn to meet the big man. Yara wasn’t scared at all – in fact she ended up having a lovely chat with him telling him her Christmas list. After a quick professional photo, she was handed a key ring and as soon as we said our farewells to Father Christmas and walk out, Yara said “but mummy, he didn’t give me a present!” I couldn’t help but laugh. The key ring was for the elf guarding the toy shop; after we gave it to her, Yara sped off and in about 10 seconds, chose her present (Hello Kitty soap and lip balm DIY kit in case you were wondering). I must say the selection of toys was fantastic and lots to chose from. Since my phone had died, I opted to buy the professional photo in a key ring/magnet format and you can see it below. Not the greatest quality for £7 but better than nothing.

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The best part was that on our way out, they had free face-painting and Yara had a beautiful rainbow butterfly painted on. The lady even gave her free biscuits so that kept the munchkin happy.

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We headed out towards the restaurant, which was unexpectedly FULL (I must say that aside from fellow mummies,  I felt like Yara and I were the youngest there…not that it’s a bad thing but slightly intimidating!). I ordered a festive turkey lunch and Yara had a ham and cheese toastie and we both shared a chocolate yule log slice, which was yummy! My festive turkey lunch cost something like £9.25 and it was a huge portion but the vegetables looked over-steamed and the gravy tasted like it had been sitting out a long time. Not the best lunch but it certainly filled me up.

Toilet facilities weren’t great – they were completely out of toilet paper and handwash. Not good when it’s THAT busy and there was no one to ask for more TP! Alas, us mummies are always prepared with wet wipes.

Full and energized, Yara was ready to go on some rides. There was a carousel, a ferris wheel, and a hurricane spinning thing. £2 a pop and instant satisfaction 🙂 There was also a few stalls of local arts and crafts and a lady from the Woodland Trust who tried to get me to sign to their ‘Chilterns’ initiative but at that point, I was getting a bit cold. We went and had a quick nosey around the garden centre which was pleasant yet like any other garden centre and finally it was home time.

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The word of mouth I got about this place was spot on – it was a gorgeous Santa’s grotto and the selection of presents from Father Christmas were very good. The whole ambience of the place and the very cold weather gave it all a touch of magic! I highly recommend you go midweek as I can’t imagine what it would be like on weekends. My only other suggestion is pack toilet paper and soap 🙂

Ho ho ho!

Petra x