A must see… Wilderness Woods, East Sussex

Ever had one of those weekends where everything just falls into place? Well we had one, and it was pretty darn special!

We headed off all the way (1.5 hrs drive!) to East Sussex – we were blessed with being gifted a three night stay at a Treehouse at Fairoak Farm (more on that in a later post). But I wanted to quickly tell you about a little place we happened upon on our travels…

Wilderness Woods. And what a wondeful wilderness it is.

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A small sign signalled the spot off the road and we thought we’d give it a go. Greeted by a lovely little cafe in a quirky wooden house with hand written signs and beautiful looking cakes, we started to read up on the place.

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Owned by The Moorish family since 2014, the site is 62 acres of chestnut coppice with stands of beech, scots pine, douglas, cedar and giant sequoia trees. It’s been expertly managed to include a cafe, a workshop, a kitchen garden, camping shelters and the most wonderful children’s activities and play areas.

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We arrived at 2.15 – lunch stopped at 2.30 so first up was to order from Rachel’s Wilderness Cafe. Utterly delicious! Healthy lunch boxes for the kids and a cheese and pickle board for us. So much salad and fresh local goodness! The weather was perfect so we sat outside and while we ate the kids played in the mud kitchen and wooden platforms in the trees. All located amongst the cafe tables so we could keep an eye on everything. (

The Fox still managed to stack it a couple of times but he could literally fall over a crack in the pavement!)

After lunch we followed the (very small amount) of visitors into the woods. A beautiful area for the kids to run around, a tractor for them to climb all over and some sculptures for them to wow over – and us!

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As we carried on round we discovered little bridges, a christmas tree farm and plenty of sticks to pick up and turn into rockets and airplanes. We only just scratched the surface on the forest to explore. Older kids were further down the valley racing around – just so much space! As we returned on the loop we then discovered the giant swing, slide and zip wire – we definitely weren’t getting our two out of there in a hurry! But we promised them an ice cream back at the cafe. Perfect!

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It really is such a special spot – no rules, no plastic signs, no crowds. Just room to roam and explore and spend time together. If I could create my perfect spot to visit, this really would be it. It’s just… magic!

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And before I forget, the cost… you’re just asked to pay what you feel they deserve.

Wilderness Wood

Hadlow Down
East Sussex
TN22 4HJ

http://www.wildernesswood.org

Open Wednesday – Sunday 9am-5pm and every day in the school holidays.

There was a fairy birthday party in the woods while we there – email information@lucyslittleforestschool.com if you’re interested in finding out more. If only our two didn’t have their birthday in the middle of winter!

If you’re interested in camping, email emilyanddan@wildernesswood.org

Final words from me, go this weekend. Go before everyone ELSE finds out how wonderful this place really is 🙂

 

 

 

The Loft @ Sparks Yard

When friends are visiting Arundel with kids, The Loft always tops my list of places to eat. We go there a lot ourselves, in fact it was the first place we ventured to after having the twins! So yes definitely a firm favourite!

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Leaving the house with newborn twins… winning!

Sparks Yard has been a bit of an institution in Arundel, West Sussex since the doors opened in 2003. Holly and Andy, owners of the American style shopspecialise in unique and fun gifts and homewares.

It was a few years ago though that they added to the space and opened a restaurant on the top floor of their Victorian warehouse.

The place is so easy to find, with on street parking right out the front. There’s a lift up to the restaurant which fits a double buggy and a Californian inspired menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and an after school snacks. Occasionally open in the evenings but seems to be happening less often recently.

What’s Good

The menu is one of the best kids menus we’ve ever seen. Hands down. From when my kids were first weaning, sharing one of the kids tasting menus -(five options from baby favourites like cucumber, breadsticks) to now enjoying a kids main meal each. Everything is made fresh and has a focus on being healthy. To go alongside the kids meals, the parents don’t do too badly either! California salad or a fish finger sandwich are my personal faves – and a great cocktail list. For kids, as well as the food, there’s colouring in placemats and freedom to walk around.

The design of the place is lovely, light and airy – it feels very much like the Aussie places we’re used to in Sydney. The new(ish) court yard is such a lovely spot now the weather is warmer too with a really good playlist to accompany your meal from speakers hidden in the palm trees. An extra kiddie plus point is the new sail sun shades erected recently.

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Could Do Better

As a healthy, relaxed cafe that feels a bit of a treat at the same time, there isn’t really much I can say that needs improvement. All that being said, I wouldn’t recommend this spot to anyone in a rush. On a few occasions we’ve been sat with hungry kids and the service can be just that side of too long.

Toilets/baby changing could do with a bit of a revamp.

To get to the outside courtyard, you have to get the lift up and walk through the shop. This can’t really be helped (the outside gates are locked) but something to be aware of when trying to herd little ones through the glassware and breakables on display/

Final Verdict: 4.5/5

Anywhere that makes me feel totally at ease with both boys on my own is always going to be a winner!

 

The Loft at Sparks Yard

18 Tarrant Street

Arundel

West Sussex

BN18 9DJ

+44 1903 885588

info@sparksyard.com