Puffing A Wey at Dapdune Wharf

Puffing A Wey is an annual event held at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford. It is a joint event between the National Trust and the Steam Boat Association (SBA) to showcase their boats.

Puffing A Wey 2014

Puffing A Wey was on last weekend – and Saturday 12th July was the day to get involved. Put it in the diary for next year, as if it ends up a gloriously sunny day it’s the perfect day to get a free ride in a steam boat up the River Wey.

I was surprised it wasn’t busier – Dapdune Wharf is really close to the centre of Guildford, though once you’re there you wouldn’t think so. It’s a pity that Shalford Mill which is also on the River Wey isn’t open for the day, as we’d have gone along there as well – though realistically we probably didn’t have time.

Dapdune Wharf is an area of great historical significance to Guildford and Surrey in general. The Wey was one of the first British rivers to be made navigable, opening to barge traffic in 1653. It links Guildford to Weybridge, where it meets the Thames, moving onwards to London. Also, it’s over 350 years old – enough to blow a small person’s mind when you tell them.

Puffing A Wey 2014

Dapdune also has a surviving barge ‘Reliance’ which Shaun and H spent time exploring (it’s quite low and I didn’t want to risk it with my back!), plus you can also see where the huge Wey barges were built.

Puffing A Wey brings steam boats from around the UK to Guildford – and while the National Trust has a boat which does 40 minute rides down the River Wey (charge £3 per person), the steam boats offered rides for free. We were lucky to get a ride on the handmade boat, the St Aurelia and experienced a fabulous 30 minute ride towards Guildford, then to the other side of the railway bridge at Dapdune Wharf. Not all boats offer rides, it is entirely the boat owner’s discretion. We didn’t have to wait for long either. It felt so peaceful gently chugging along the river (and you’re close to the water, for my deep water phobia I managed quite well!).

Puffing A Wey 2014

It was a really enjoyable day – H loved going on the boat, and we had a good safety chat beforehand in case anything went wrong (it didn’t, but you need to be prepared). Be aware there are no lifejackets, so you are doing it entirely at your own risk. Having said that, we were safe, the rivers weren’t busy, though boats sometimes had to wait for other boats to clear the mooring areas when dropping off passengers.

There were kids activities which kept H entertained – and they were suitable for all ages. Add a nice National Trust cafe with good value food, and decent facilities (and a good sized picnic area), and it was a pretty good day out – what started as a day we thought might be interesting ended being a day which was absolutely marvellous! I’m definitely keeping an eye out for next year’s event anyway.

Dapdune Wharf Lock Model

My highlight of the day apart from the boat ride, was a model of a lock – H has been reading about towpaths in a story at school and I’d tried to explain them, but badly. Having a lock with water in which explains everything clearly made it fascinating for H. I think a trip to Teddington may be on the cards one day soon.

The River Wey and Godalming Navigations and Dapdune Wharf can be found here. I’m going to predict next years event will be July 2015, and would highly recommend. The Steam Boat Association can be found here.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


The sun finally arrived this weekend, so plans were hastily made to pay a visit to Wisley with friends. I knew it was close to us, but had no idea by quite how much.

Wisley is just a little further down the A3 from Painshill Park, close to the A3/M25 junction. To get the most out of Wisley, a RHS membership is essential. I’ve spotted a 20% cashback deal via Quidco, or if you collect Tesco Clubcard points then you only need £17 which are pretty good deals. Otherwise it’s around £45 a year for one person, you are able to take a guest for free and children under 5 go free. A RHS membership also gets you into a few other gardens around the country, though the guest rule doesn’t apply.


After spending the best part of a day at Wisley I’m pretty sure it would take a minimum of four trips to  get to know it better.

There is a lot of parking, a good thing as it was pretty busy. There are good garden shops too, something Shaun made the most of, getting a Burgon & Ball Verti-Plant which will make our back yard look lovely and is an ideal solution for us – we have no garden here, just pots and plants.


It was a glorious day – we started out with layers and ended up with just t-shirts it was so warm. For some reason I had visions of Wisley being like a large garden centre – I was wrong – it’s a huge garden with many areas and plenty to do for everyone.


There’s water, flowers, sculptures, walks, mud, hills, more hills, plenty of food areas, a great outdoor play area and so much more. Areas to sit and take it all in, and areas to wander around watching the world go by. We spent a while on top of the Fruit Mound – a hill with two spiral pathways to get up to the top (check it on Google Maps, it’s pretty cool), where there are seats and fresh air aplenty.


Then there’s the butterflies – so many of them in the hot and humid Glasshouse – we queued for around five minutes to get in though had to keep escaping outside to breathe! The butterflies were amazing, many different kinds (with a handy leaflet to help you identify them – good when you don’t retain information easily like me) – though the exhibition ‘Butterflies in the Glasshouse’ finished today.


If you like National Trust gardens then Wisley will appeal. It gave H and her friend a freedom she hasn’t had for a few weeks, where they could play together in the dens, run around the grounds, spot fish, admire the butterflies and so much more. The daffodils and snowdrops were out, and Wisley was such a lovely bright colourful wonderfully floral smelling kind of place. That and there was also a giant apple to study – part of a sculpture exhibition in the grounds running until the end of March 2014.

H was pretty tired after all the walking around, but enjoyed it. We ate in the Glasshouse Cafe and found the food to be reasonable, a decent vegetarian choice and good strong coffee. They do kids meals in a box with plenty of healthy choice on offer as well.


Linking in to Country Kids, Wisley’s site is over here. Huge thanks to Lianna for allowing me to be her guest!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Carshalton Frost Fair

We celebrated the second Carshalton Frost Fair today – packed full of stalls of local businesses by the ponds. In addition to this Sutton Ecology Centre had their Christmas Fair as well – which included their fab Santa trail!

Things are slowing down here. It’s getting colder and we’re staying in more, shame on us. However, a Saturday afternoon wandering by the ponds checking out all the stalls was great – there were some fabulous cake stalls (we missed out on the rainbow cake, alas) and our favourite Koula’s Kitchen was there so we stocked up on more locally made jam – H and Koula get on well and she always gets a special jar of her own to take home!

Carshalton Frost Fair

By the ponds there were two stages – one with all sorts, from choirs to clog dancers, bell ringers – nice festive entertainment and the kind of things which make Carshalton feel like a village. The other stage had local bands performing acoustic sets. Last year H enjoyed The Dirty Spoons, but they were on a little later this year so we missed them. The kids all got to dance to earlier acoustic acts though, a special mention goes to the loud guitar bits one artist had, and watching the two four year olds clamp their hands over their ears as it was too loud! I tried to get a photo but failed… (bottom photo, bottom right)

Yet again our favourite had to be the Ecology Centre’s Christmas trail – making your way around the grounds to find Santa’s sack (with clues, paw prints and tracks to help you find each clue.) It was perfect for a four year old that can read – they ran on ahead looking for prints while getting outside. Sutton Ecology Centre is right in the middle of Carshalton – yet it’s a lovely wild open space. It’s somewhere we need to get to more often, especially as it’s on our doorstep.

Carshalton Frost Fair

H and her friend M did the trail around the grounds and bumped into another friend from school, so the three girls ran around finding clues and having a great time. Of course, the end of the trail has them finding santa and a prize, which cheered them all up. We headed back out to the fair, buying more home made decorations for the tree from yet more local crafty people (it’s this point I wish I’d picked up some cards as I can’t name them), and finished off the day with a quick drink in The Sun who also had a craft stall outside, selling things that are currently available from their little shop in the outside area – Christmas decorations and more.

It felt really good to live here this weekend, with that and the Christmas lights the week before (where I picked up some of Calladoodles lovely wrapping paper – check out their website!) it’s really starting to feel festive around here. I have just one task left to do – I need photos of the lavender lights in Wallington!

Linking in to Country Kids this week!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Outdoor Play

This week is flying by. H is now in school and loving it, and we’ve had a few days of outdoor play this last week. We’re joining in with Country Kids, and I figured we could roll three posts into one.

Reigate Fort

Saturday we headed to Reigate Fort – a local National Trust place we’ve always fancied but never managed to get to (and it’s silly, it’s easy to get to and there’s plenty of parking for free as well). We got to the fort which is as you’d expect – various deserted buildings dug into the hillside overlooking a vast area. Trying to explain to H that it’s there because sometimes countries fight with each other proved a bit difficult. Hopefully school will help give her a better context!! You had views all the way to Gatwick which was good – we spotted loads of planes landing and taking off. There was a big grassy area, perfect for a picnic and playing tag with Daddy – before we headed back towards the car park.

There’s a walk from the car park at Reigate Fort which goes along the South Downs way, taking you to Gatton Park, so we started that one, but had to turn back after a short while – H was tired and not quite right and we didn’t want to tire her out too much before school. We like to get outdoors and she was trying out a pair of shoes for review that we chose which are perfect for outdoor use, with plenty of grip and support. I figured that if she has some good shoes for outdoor play she’s less likely to tumble over; most of her shoes have minimal grip and when you’re climbing trees you need a little bit.

Cane Hill September 2013

H felt sleepy, so we drove home hoping she’d nap in the car – and went past Coulsdon on our way. I’ve had a bit of an obsession about the former hospital Cane Hill and hadn’t been near it since I’d heard about it being demolished. It just so happened we drove past Cane Hill on our way home so I got out for a wander, with my camera of course. I was in for a shock; what was once an old derelict hospital is now grass, land with just the chapel and a tower (not the clock tower) that have survived. Cane Hill was an amazing building and I recommend you do a spot of googling on it – and now it has gone. If you see it now, you’d never know what was there. We got some photos of it back in 2008 when it was still intact just from the outside, and seeing what is left now really shocked me. I want to go back with Shaun and H properly and get around the other side – last time I was there it looked something like this. An amazing building left to rot until a fire in 2010 (ish?) which led to most of it being demolished.

Mayfield Lavender

The following day she felt much better so we headed to Mayfield Lavender. Rain was due so we knew it would be a flying visit, but we still got to walk or run up one length of the field and make it to the cafe/shop area before the skies opened – luckily we were under cover, and I’ve noticed H is running much faster with proper running shoes too, although she still likes to check what her competitors are doing (and then fall over). We’ll work on that one…

a play in the park

After school on Wednesday we headed out, stopping in the park for a run around. H is mastering the big girl swing and getting her co-ordination sorted out (she takes after me I think). Being outdoors is good too, as I feel like we’ve not done enough of it since school started; we’re all so tired. I’m letting go and letting her be on the stepping stones and watching her gain confidence on the ‘older’ things in the park. I’m not quite ready to do the climbing wall – maybe with her new shoes when she has a bit of grip!

So that’s our week. This weekend looks like it should be quieter, all being well, but rainy. Sigh!

We have been sent the Adidas shoes for the purpose of review and promoting outdoor play, all opinions are our own. Linking up to Country Kids as well.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Box Hill Natural Play Trail

Box Hill is one of our local National Trust sites – a little more than twelve miles from our house so one we go to frequently.

Box Hill Amazing Views

Box Hill is an area of so many things to discover – and quite recently The National Trust set up some new walkways there, one of which we stumbled across today when we went for a visit – the Natural Play Trail.

The walk is around two miles long, suitable for kids of all ages and buggies, and throughout the walk there are lots of things to do.

Box Hill

We discovered lots of huts – handy for a bear hunt or searching for Gruffalo’s – as well as various play areas made from wood and rope – a swing, a rope swing, some tree trunks to balance on and lots to see and spot.

We kept it simple and kept to balancing on logs. H is pretty good though unsteady (like her mum) so we started holding hands until by the end she was doing it on her own which was good – and there are a lot of logs to practice on.

There were play areas around the walk – one area had a rope to balance or climb on, a swing tied into it (H had a go and enjoyed hanging upside down the most), and a rope swing which we need to work on with H! They were great and suitable for H’s age with supervision. There were older kids but they were respectful of H and her younger age and let her play too which was nice.

Box Hill

All around the woods were dens built from sticks and branches, one of our favourite things when we go for walks like this – an estimate would be twenty or thirty easily and they were all easy to climb into. As well as this were play and balance areas using smaller logs which you could climb on, some with a twisty maze around them and others just enclosed by them.

At the end of the first one was a doorway carved into a tree which H loved!

Box Hill also now have some cute paints on the roadway, from Amazing Views to Tea and Cake – as well as signs welcoming you there.

Box Hill

There are other walks at the site – if next weekend, post Birthday Party is all too much I know we’ll be back again – it’s good for clearing the head! Plus I had no idea the concrete thing we stand on is actually a fort (which is obvious really when you think about it)

Head here to see the other walks on offer.

We have National Trust membership which is paid for by ourselves.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall