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  1. Yesterday we visited Bournemouth with friends to ride on the Santa Express, have our photo taken in the Snow Globe and take a stroll through the Gardens of Light.

    We met our friends at the Winter Gardens Car Park so we could catch the Train from the Lower Gardens (just near the flyover) and perfectly timed our arrival with the first Train of the day.  The boys were all super excited and off we set for the 20 minute journey to the Triangle where we knew the Giant Snow Globe would be.  The staff on the Santa Express should be praised for their jolliness and the boys loved the Christmas music and joking with the driver, it was ‘choo choo’s’ all the way!

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    Once we got to the Triangle we could see the Snow Globe and was delighted that there were only a couple of families queuing.  The staff were yet again cheery and pleased to see us and within 10 minutes all 4 Mums and toddlers had their photo’s taken so we waited inside Flirt Café Bar with hot drinks for the Train to come back which we had been told would take about 45 minutes.

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    Once we were back on the Train we only had a short journey to the Lower Gardens where we planned to visit the Gardens of Light.  The children utterly loved the huge snowflakes on the pathway which almost looked painted on until you tried to walk over them and realised they were projected.  The Ice Rink looked fantastic and my son desperately pleaded to go Ice Skating.  I had told him that he was too young but recently I’ve seen a toddler session advertised which is Monday to Friday from 10am – 11am and includes the use of a Penguin or Seal aid.  Once I managed to get him away we visited each of the light pods and a clear favourite with all of them was most definitely ‘Under the Sea’ although we did have a good giggle at them dancing in front of the disco balls.

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    After the Gardens of Light we took a quick trip through the Square to ride on the Carousel (had we of been child free we could have easily headed straight for the Moose Bar though).

    By now the time was getting on and our 4 little monkeys were getting very tired and hungry so we headed for Aruba where I had already booked a table.  My friends had never visited before however we have dined at Aruba several times and knew how child friendly and accommodating they were.  Yet again the staff and food were fantastic and it still remains one of our favourite places in Bournemouth to eat.  

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    Good to know………..

    Car Parking is Free in certain Car Parks on selected Sundays and after 4pm on selected Thursdays.  Please visit the Website for participating Car Parks and days/times. 

    Train stops, days and times for the Santa Express are on the Website and only costs £1 per person for an all day ticket plus under 2’s are free!

    The Snow Globe will only be in Bournemouth for the next few days so hurry up if you want to visit!  Entry and photo is completely free so make sure you visit for a fantastic souvenir of your day.

    Flirt Cafe Bar in the Triangle are very child friendly and have some toys and books at the back corner by the sofas.

    There’s plenty going on in the Square every day and full details and times can be found on the Website.

    The Carousel in the Square costs £2 per person.

    Children’s Meals at Aruba are £6.95 for a meal, dessert and drink.  Please visit the Website for a look at the Menu and keep an eye out for their popular children’s Events.

    The Alpine Market is in the heart of Bournemouth Town and will be there until the 30th of Dec.

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    Thanks Bournemouth for a great day with friends!




  2. Our recent Dorsetmums Meetup was held at Kingston Maurward Animal Farm and Gardens which is near Dorchester and very easy to find just off the A35.  When we arrived we were met with quite possibly the friendliest welcome from a gentlemen who clearly loves children and was eagerly asking his little customers which animal was their favourite.  I had planned to stay at the door to welcome any families who were coming to join us however my son’s superhero eyesight managed to see the Play Park through the trees and he was off like a flash!  When I did manage to bring him back and fully introduce myself to the staff I was told there was a marquee set up with some toys, free squash for the party plus after lunch they had a hawk display, guinea pig stroking and pony grooming planned!

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    So off we set with our animal food and I tried to say hello to every family I met to welcome them to the Farm.  I was actually quite surprised at how many animals we found and we tried to feed the cheeky Alpacas but they were making funny noises and through cries of laughter I eventually poured some food for them on the grass rather than holding out my hand.  We also found gorgeous little Shetland ponies, donkeys, pigs, goats, calves, birds, guinea pigs and THE biggest bunnies I’d ever seen in my life!

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    We spent quite some time visiting the animals but my son was desperate to get to the Play Park again so off we went.  It might not look huge but it kept him and plenty of other children amused for a long time and it gave me a chance to say hello to some more Mums.

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    After some time I told as many families as I could that we were off to explore the gardens if anyone wanted to join us.  The path we took by the Play Park had a few steps but I’m told there is a pushchair friendly route which I’m sure the staff will be happy to show you.  I utterly loved exploring the gardens and could of spent all day there if my son hadn’t noisily announced ‘I need a poo’!  So off we went to the main house and found some toilets there which he could use.  I really wanted to go down to the lake and find the walled garden too but it was starting to rain a little and I wanted to get back to the Farm in case families were starting to leave. 

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    Back at the Farm we decided it was time to eat in the Café and found plenty of choice including sandwiches and toasties, soup, cake and children’s lunch boxes.  The prices were incredibly affordable and so we sat in the conservatory with a Cheese and Tomato toasted sandwich and drinks to share.

    As we were finishing lunch we noticed one of the staff preparing for the hawk display which we excitedly rushed to watch.  After this we were able to stroke the guinea pigs and groom the ponies which all of the children enjoyed. *Please note that the dsiplays are not on every day.

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    Sadly by now the rain was getting harder and looking at my watch I hadn’t even realised we’d been there well over 4 hours and it was probably time to go home.  As we got in the car I asked Sam what his favourite part of the Farm was and had to laugh when he said ‘milking the cow’.

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    All in all, we had a fantastic day and would thoroughly recommend it to others.  The staff clearly enjoy their job and we quite liked the non commercial feel of the Farm.  Most of the Farm and Gardens are outdoors so probably not enjoyed so much on a Great British rainy day but you could always run inside for a cuppa while a shower passes. 

    Please visit the Website for Admission Prices and keep an eye out for a money off voucher in their leaflet.  Annual Passes are great value for money at £21 for a Single Ticket, £37 for a Double Ticket and £50 for a Family Ticket.


    Nice to know….

    Car Parking is Free.

    The Café has a microwave which you can use to warm baby milk and baby food.

    There are colouring in pictures and crayons in the conservatory to keep the children entertained.

    The Café has plenty of food and drinks however there is a larger restaurant located at the House serving hot meals.

    The toilets have baby change units.

    There is an outside area to wash your hands but it’s advisable to carry baby wipes and anticbac gel.

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    The beautiful Gardens are set within 35 acres of grounds and staff will be more than happy to tell you about the history of the Estate.

    The leaflet we were given states there is a Nature Trail around the Lake so please ask for details on arrival if you are interested.

    You can buy bags of Animal feed for 50p.

    There is a nice small gift shop for all of the good little boys and girls and the prices are not highly inflated like some popular Attractions.

    Kingston Maurward have lots of family Events throughout the year including Lambing Weekend, Easter Egg Hunts, Fairs and the popular Family Fun Day.

    Please keep an eye out their Facebook page for news or follow them on Twitter.  If you would like to know more about Kingston Maurward then please visit the Website

    Big thank you to everyone at Kingston Maurward for such a fantastic day and for putting up the Marquee, providing the squash and animal displays.  We’ll see you again in Spring!




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    Please note the prices and details given were correct at the time of writing and Dorsetmums always advises readers to contact a venue before travelling if you have any queries.