Ace Swim School - Hamilton, NZ


Both our girls have been taking swimming lessons at Ace Swim School for nearly two years now and have absolutely loved their time there!

Ace is a lovely little 10m pool located on Casey Ave where the water is warm, the pool is shallow enough (only 1m deep) for them to stand up in and the teachers are extremely competent, patient and friendly. They hold baby, pre-school and school age lessons and are passionate about teaching children how to enjoy the water as well as to be safe in the water. Children learn the four strokes in a fun, safe environment and gain the skill of swimming for life. I could not recommend it more!

Arabella and Lucy having fun in the water

Arabella and Lucy having fun in the water

As a family, we chose to stick to the block courses every school holiday as they fit in best with our schedule... The girls progressed so much during the course of each week, so it was definitely a great option. They are extremely confident in the water and are such happy little swimmers now - for that we cannot thank you enough. All of the holiday block courses run for a week, Mon-Fri, at the same time with the same teacher each day. They are held at Ace except over the summer holidays when they are held at Peachgrove Intermediate pool - a solar heated 25m pool that gives them the experience of depth and longer lengths.   

Summer swimming at Peachgrove Intermediate 25m pool

Summer swimming at Peachgrove Intermediate 25m pool

After the children complete certain levels or finish a block course they are assessed and given certificates to reward their progress. This is a great motivation for them to work hard, try their best and progress - plus it keeps it fun.

To everyone at Ace Swim School, we thank you immensely for everything you have done for both of our girls. Thank you for your patience, your kindness and your expertise. Arabella and Lucy love the water and are so proud of how much they have progressed by having lessons with you. We will miss coming but wish you all the very best for the future!

Love Holly & Family x

TUESDAY'S 10: 10 Favourite Free* Places in Hamilton, NZ


Alice in Wonderland statue at Hamilton Gardens

Alice in Wonderland statue at Hamilton Gardens

When deciding to emigrate from the UK we initially planned to move to Auckland - we'd lived in Parnell for about a year in 2004/5 pre kids and had loved it... But with vastly increased prices and a lot more traffic since we'd lived there last, a 2 year old and a 6 month old baby in tow plus a sister who was living in Hamilton, it just made more sense to make a home in the Waikato.

We found it surprising that Hamilton seemed to have a less than favourable reputation amongst people who didn't live here and we kept getting asked (especially by Aucklanders): Why here? We've been here for exactly four years now and it has in fact been a wonderful early childhood period for our girls. We've discovered some wonderful places to visit, play, explore and picnic, we've found lots of lovely cafes, eateries and interesting shops and we've met some amazing people along the way - some of which will be lifelong friends. Despite how much the city has grown in the last few years, we've decided that Hamilton is actually still a very well kept secret!    

Hamilton is a very family friendly city with fantastic parks and green spaces, lots of indoor & outdoor activities, brilliant schools, great places to eat, a museum, various art galleries, safe suburbs where children still play on the streets together, numerous amazing events throughout the year (Balloons over Waikato has got to be our favourite annual event!) and above all else, truly lovely, lovely people. 

Happy Hamilton memories at the gardens, lake, river, parks, museum, libraries and Garden Place. 

Happy Hamilton memories at the gardens, lake, river, parks, museum, libraries and Garden Place. 

As we pack our belongings once again to move on to our next adventure in Tauranga, we wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone in Hamilton who has made our life here that much easier. It has been a wonderful four years and we are a little sad at the life we are leaving behind, but we will be back throughout the year to visit our favourite places. 

Before we go, the girls have put together a list of their top spots for you:

10 Favourite Free* Places to visit in Hamilton:

  1. Hamilton Gardens
  2. The Lake & Lake Park
  3. The River Walks
  4. Claudelands Park & Jubilee Bush Walk
  5. Waikato Museum (*Some exhibitions are paid)
  6. Tauhara Park, Callum Brae
  7. Hamilton Libraries
  8. Parana Park & Memorial Park
  9. Garden Place Water Feature
  10. Minogue Park 

Happy Exploring,

Love Holly & Family x

Chapel Hill Kindergarten - Hamilton, NZ


Chapel Hill Kindergarten, Hamilton NZ

Chapel Hill Kindergarten, Hamilton NZ

We have been a Chapel Hill Kindergarten family since January 2012, shortly after arriving in New Zealand. At the time we didn't have a car and it was within walking distance so we never looked anywhere else... After our very first visit we knew we had completely lucked out with the location we'd chosen, as it was instantly obvious that CHK was an extremely special place with wonderful teachers who are changing lives every day...

Chapel Hill is a Christian Kindergarten that provides excellent quality education which helps prepare children for school. It is a very safe, nurturing, stimulating and exciting environment for them where they are challenged physically, creatively as well as spiritually to become wondrous learners and to grow as thoughtful little individuals. As a kindergarten they are extremely community focused and their involvement with parents, families and local places helps strengthen the relationships all round. The open door policy means you are welcome to pop in for a visit at any time or stay and get creative with your child if you like. There are multiple nations represented at CHK which makes for a wonderfully mixed, global environment for kids to grow up in, knowing that they are all the same. The different cultural days, national holidays and shared lunches are all testament to the fact that the staff respect and honour the values, customs and traditions of all families and are inclusive of all children regardless of gender, race, culture, religion or social background.

Global greetings, Austrian dresses for Culture Day and Matariki celebration face painting

Global greetings, Austrian dresses for Culture Day and Matariki celebration face painting

They have a fabulous safe and secure outdoor area for the kids to play, explore, discover and test out new skills as well as shady spots where they can quietly participate in more creative activities in the open air. There are various little adventure trails, a veggie garden and the latest addition - 5 chickens: Maisy, Daisy, Rosie, Bessie & Susie!     

Inside there are several areas for different activities... Crafting and activity stations, a very extensive play kitchen with lots of lovely handmade felt items, a dress up area, story corner, play dough table and a mat room with fish tanks, bricks, blocks, train sets, toy animals, musical instruments, science experiment equipment and all kinds of other treasures!  Another new addition to the kindy family of pets is a turtle - now called Frankie. 

The walls and ceilings display an ever evolving array of truly amazing artwork and crafts that the children have made, creating a visual feast for both children and parents. It is lovely for them to be able to take pride in their achievements by having them displayed on the walls, or to work together in a little team on a large shared project.

They also have a kitchen area that sees numerous baking delights come to life. Children love baking and cooking... helping to prepare ingredients and practising using different tools, measuring, mixing, shaping, rolling, forming shapes and decorating of course are all wonderful skills for them to learn and this is an activity that every single one of them enjoys! The sense of responsibility they are given is great for their development and the personal satisfaction of being able to enjoy something they have created themselves is priceless. Chapel Hill even brought out their own cookbook a couple of years ago...

Throughout the year the children get to learn about and explore loads of fabulous topics that all amplify their love of learning and wonder for the world around them. They have themed weeks and months that always include stories, activities, artwork, projects, experiments and occasionally trips out or dress up days. To name just a few themes our girls have studied: the weather, the solar system, bugs, underwater creatures, zoo and farm animals, plant life, recycling, paper-making, birds, vehicles, movement and motion, art history, architecture, bridges, science experiments, Christmas and its true meaning, Matariki, Waitangi Day and Chinese New Year...   

What fun learning to be had!

What fun learning to be had!

Whatever topics are currently being explored, they are always supported with lots of artwork and creativity. It seems a prerequisite that all of the teachers are extremely artistic and creative! Some of the pieces that have come home have been absolutely frame or display worthy - I can hardly believe the amount of treasures we have around the house from our time at CHK, thanks guys! We have participated in two art auctions in the last few years and some of the pieces that the teachers and children created together, as well as each child's individual artwork were truly phenomenal. I truly believe that inspiring creativity in children and getting them involved artistically is one of the best possible gifts they can get in life. It teaches so many other skills, helps with dexterity and coordination, opens up their minds and helps them to solve other problems in creative ways.

Just a small selection of some of the amazing artwork and creative techniques being taught at CHK! 

Just a small selection of some of the amazing artwork and creative techniques being taught at CHK! 

Inspired by more artwork than we could possibly save, frame or fit on the wall, we decided to make a digital version of all of the wonderful work our number one daughter created during her time at Chapel Hill. We'll do the same for our youngest once she leaves and they'll have something they can always treasure... (instructions to follow on the Projects page when we do the next one!)

Chapel Hill wouldn't be the special place it is without the truly amazing, wonderfully creative, thoughtful and inspiring teachers and staff that run it. Some of them have become like family to us over the years and we are so overwhelmingly grateful for everything they have done for both of our daughters, as well as for us as a family. We have happy memories and beautiful artwork that we will always treasure. Our girls have absolutely loved their years at their "home away from home" and I can hardly believe how lucky they've been to have both spent their preschool years at CHK. I couldn't have wished for anything better for them!

We thank you for your kindness, we thank you for your creativity and we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for nurturing, inspiring and above all loving our children. We will miss you all dearly but will always remember you fondly. 

Lots of Love,

Holly, Simon, Arabella & Lucy x

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you from two very happy little Potter girls xx

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you from two very happy little Potter girls xx

Duck Island - Grey St, Hamilton


Duck Island Ice Cream Parlour

Duck Island Ice Cream Parlour

Spring has sprung! I have it on great authority - from my 4yr old source - that the 1st of September (despite the rain today) is officially the beginning of Spring here in sunny NZ, so what better way to celebrate the arrival of balmier weather than to head on down to Duck Island for a delicious ice cream... 

We ventured there last weekend (just before I broke my knee) after rave recommendations from numerous friends to go and check it out – both for ourselves and to blog about. I'd seen inside the building during the construction phase and we had been keen to visit, but being mid-winter and not traditionally ice cream season yet, we simply hadn't quite got round to it 

Duck Island ice cream & sprinkles

Duck Island ice cream & sprinkles

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when we visited, Grey Street seemed eerily quiet and so we foolishly assumed we'd have the place to ourselves. By the time we'd finished our ice creams however, the quirky little shop was completely packed and we left just to clear some room for the next people to sit down! The queue snaked right around the main part of the shop, proving that ice cream is good for all weather and that people were coming from all parts of town to sample the delights on offer at Duck Island.  

The best ice cream we've had in ages!

The best ice cream we've had in ages!

The flavours we sampled were:

  • Liquorice for Simon
  • Toasted Marshmallow for Arabella
  • Malted Chocolate for Lucy
  • Vanilla & Blackberry Balsamic for me

Simon - always happy to try something new - doesn't usually like liquorice but he gave it a go. He enjoyed the ice cream but found the actually pieces a bit overpowering, perfect for a liquorice lover though and I'm sure it would be a first choice for both my Dad and my brother. The girls both wolfed theirs down with lots of yummy noises and as for mine, it was absolutely perfect for me! Just the right combination of sweet, tangy, fruity and refreshing without being sickly - I have been craving some more ever since!!

For those that don't know, Duck Island is a spin off venture of Chim choo ree restaurant in Hamilton (which we have yet to visit and review) and both premises are owned and run by Cam, Kim and Morgan. The fascination with making ice cream began in the kitchen of their restaurant, where they have always made their own ice cream for the dessert menu. The experimentation with numerous different flavour combinations has been something they've really enjoyed and they felt there was a gap in the market for a shop that created interesting flavoured ice creams. Inspired by similar ice cream parlours in America, they had been wanting to open up an ice cream shop for a year or so but were just waiting for the right space to become available. It seems that Duck Island was well worth the wait, as their corner setting on the edge of the park will almost guarantee a line around the block come summer, I have no doubt!    

Duck Island ice cream

Duck Island ice cream

All the ice creams as well as everything else they serve - from sauces and sodas to cookies and other delights - are all made on site. As a rule their ice creams don't have eggs in them (which can be an allergy concern for some) and of the 18 or so flavours in the cabinet at any time, there would probably only be one with egg yolk in it. There are also always 4-5 dairy free ice creams available, usually coconut milk based or straight fruit sorbets, meaning that really everyone is catered for! They like to use seasonal ingredients so whatever is currently in season will be found in the ice cream cabinet... Just don't expect boring old flavours, most of them have their own little twist on the ordinary! They are really looking forward to the arrival of summer and you can be sure there will be lots of berry and stone fruit flavours to sample. Delicious! 

Duck Island ice cream

Duck Island ice cream

Since opening their doors three months ago they have had an overwhelmingly positive response and they are extremely grateful to the wonderful people of Hamilton who have come out in winter to buy ice cream.  

I wish you all the best with the shop guys, congratulations on a fantastic first three months and thank you for the delicious flavours and friendly service. We will be back soon for more! - Once I can hobble in that is.  

Love Holly & Family x 

PS: Just in case you were wondering, they also sell tubs to enjoy at home...

Smith & McKenzie Chophouse - Chartwell, Hamilton


Smith & McKenzie

Smith & McKenzie

Smith & McKenzie, a fantastic family oriented steakhouse in Chartwell that is reminiscent of great New York steakhouses, opened in March 2009, taking over from an old Cobb & Co restaurant called The Charthouse. They spent their first 6 months just getting up and running, then closed their doors for the next 6 months to completely gut the building, redesign the space and fit it out as the modern industrial, old style butchery chophouse we've now all come to know and love - the fireplace in the main restaurant is the only feature that remained! A lot of the character features and meat hooks you'll see dotted around the place were salvaged from a Horotiu meat works building that had burned down.

Last year I was at the Business Excellence Awards dinner and the whole room seemed genuinely delighted for them when Smith & McKenzie received the Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Award for best Hospitality Business. Not only this, they went away with the Supreme Winner for Business Excellence 2014 award as well. They have also been judged New Zealand Best Restaurant twice by Hospitality New Zealand, in 2011 & 2014. That's a pretty good reason to check it out I'd say!  

The main restaurant

The main restaurant

Toby Elliottyson, the General Manager of S&M has been an integral part of the business from the start and was fully involved with the renovation process. Trained as a chef which took him overseas for a while, he started his journey in hospitality in the kitchen at aged just 15 washing dishes. He says that to this day his first boss is still the best one he's ever had and that he was integral in mentoring him and getting him started on the path that has led him where he is now - a partner and shareholder in the Phoenix Group and the man in charge of around 40 employees, all working towards the same goal of trying to create a memorable experience for the customers every time. He works in partnership with his wife, whom he met working in the industry and after a stint running a restaurant up the Coromandel for a while, they decided to settle back in Hamilton. By all accounts it is a relationship and working partnership that really works and the happy staff, loyal customers and excellent reviews are a testament to what they have built together.

The bar area

The bar area

Whether you are heading to the bar for a snack and a few drinks after work, meeting friends there to watch a game, sitting in the restaurant for a family celebration dinner, enjoying a quiet meal with your partner or making use of their private function balcony, the atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly and the food never disappoints. They pride themselves on sourcing premium quality meats, supporting local farmers and growers wherever possible and on bringing the customer the best possible dining experience. The chefs are innovative, highly trained and very creative in their approach and you can see them hard at work in the partially open kitchen...

A view of the kitchen

A view of the kitchen

The quality of the food along with the friendly service is the reason that so many people are loyal clientele and keep going back. They in turn are rewarded for their loyalty with a really excellent points system, their Steak Holders Club. (In fact the last time we went in for an early evening snack and to sample the delights of the cheesecake festival, we paid for it entirely with accrued points!)

Smith & McKenzie have a Locals Hour every day from 4.30 - 6pm and a couple of regular nights:

  • Monday night is kids night, where kids under ten dine for $2 and that $2 then gets donated back to their school or kindergarten. There is always some form of entertainment to keep them busy while the parents enjoy their meal and this turned an otherwise quiet night into one of their busiest and most popular. We could hardly believe it the first time we took a friend there for her birthday and it happened to be a Monday - what a luxury to be able to eat a peaceful meal and finish a sentence!
  • Tuesday is quiz night with great drink deals and prizes up for grabs.
  • Thursday is Royal Rack Rib night, where 1kg of their free farmed smoked BBQ ribs are just $25.
  • On Sundays they do a roast dinner including dessert for $30.

They support Hukanui School weekly by giving a "Free cupcake & drink" voucher to each of the Stars of the Week and also host a fantastic annual Cheesecake Festival (reviewed here), which supports local schools and community groups. It has been going since 2000 and gets bigger and better every year - a great reason to pop out for dessert!

We've enjoyed numerous celebrations and meals at Smith & McKenzie since arriving in Hamilton a few years ago and would happily recommend it to anyone. We want to thank you all for the delicious food, thank you for the lovely service and thank you for the memories we've created there...

Love Holly & Family x 

Happy times at Smith & McKenzie - Arabella's 5th & 6th Birthdays and Star of the Week cupcakes

Happy times at Smith & McKenzie - Arabella's 5th & 6th Birthdays and Star of the Week cupcakes

Coffee Culture - Five Cross Roads, Hamilton


Coffee Culture - Five Cross Roads, Hamilton

Coffee Culture - Five Cross Roads, Hamilton

It has almost been exactly a year since Coffee Culture opened its doors on Five Cross roads in Hamilton. During the construction everybody watched in awe and with great curiosity as to what would be taking over the site where the 5 Cross Roads Cake Kitchen used to be. It was a little sad to be losing this shop as it was the go to place for any possible piece of baking equipment you needed (I rented the 4 & 0 tins there for Simon's giant 40 cake), but what was taking its place certainly looked good. Once it opened it always seemed to be full and the few car parking spots on the street outside were always taken. Unfortunately we never managed to go in as we were always just passing on the way somewhere....

However, when our living situation changed at the end of March and we found ourselves just up the road from here, we were admittedly quite excited to have such a great place to walk to. During our moving day we took an hour out to wander down and check it out for lunch and ended up leaving with a box of treats for later that afternoon. Yum! Ever since then we have been loyal customers and have regularly stopped in either on the way to or back from the park, after school as a little treat (we've even done homework there) or on a quiet weekend when we just wanted to get out for a little walk and winter warmer. It's also been a great central meeting place for work discussions. 

We love the mix of urban, industrial decor and the converted warehouse look is really inviting. It's a cool mix of faux red brick walls, polished concrete floors, warm earthy tones, hanging shelves filled with a plethora of bottles, plants, trinkets & treasures and mismatched industrial lighting. The comfy booths and quirky stools & chairs encourage you to sit a while and there's a magazine rack filled with the latest items from the news-stand just to ensure you do. Every time we've been in there are always plenty of people enjoying their time there! The staff are all really friendly, the drinks are always good, there's a cabinet full of a revolving array of lovely treats and even the gluten-free are well catered for (Lucy thanks you!).

In July Coffee Culture ran a fabulous event called Winterfest, which consisted of 31 different challenges to inspire you to get outside, embrace the cooler weather, try new things and have some fun. The girls absolutely loved the idea and we completed about 24 of the 31 I think, which was great fun - we shall look out for it again next year. Unfortunately we weren't the lucky winners of the grand prize Fiji trip, but we did enjoy the free coffee and cake vouchers we won as well as the winter warmer pack - Thank you guys!

So if you're looking for a place to take the kids for a fluffy or hot chocolate, want a nice spot to catch up with a friend, or simply fancy treating yourself to half an hour off and a quiet sit, I would fully recommend Coffee Culture. There's a kids play corner if that helps and I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy. Plus they are open late nights till 10pm from Wednesday to Saturday! Well worth a little trip out.

Thank you to all the staff there for friendly service and for always making us feel welcome. 

Love Holly & Family x      

Little fans of Coffee Culture - and since it's Lemon Month here we had to try the lemon cheesecake!

Little fans of Coffee Culture - and since it's Lemon Month here we had to try the lemon cheesecake!

Hamilton Gardens - Voted 2014 Garden of the Year!


Hamilton Gardens has got to be, hands down, our most favourite place in this city and I cannot rave about it or recommend it highly enough. In the almost four years since we have been here we have spent more days and hours there than anywhere else and we have enjoyed it regardless of the season or weather. Everybody that has visited us here has been treated to a day out at The Gardens and they have all gone away impressed... So I wanted to share it with more of you! It is a visual feast and a sensory delight all year round with so much to see, smell, hear, take in and appreciate. So much more than just a botanical garden, it is a treasure trove of forms, patterns, geometric shapes, architectural beauty, interesting sculptures, colour, cultural diversity and historical information. Unsurprising that it was voted International Garden of the year last year! There are so many different parts to explore and you could go every day for a week and choose a whole different experience each time. Our girls certainly do depending on the weather, the time of day and their current mood and it is a fun adventure every time. 

Just a few of the delights of Hamilton Gardens

Just a few of the delights of Hamilton Gardens

 In Spring The Gardens are bursting at the seams with beautiful blossoms and the weather is perfect for long lazy days spent picnicking, wandering and just enjoying the visual overload. Summers are full of gloriously bright colours and those hot sunny months - where too much walking around can be tiresome -are perfect for spending time in the Rose Garden, sitting under the shade of the trees or one of the many gazebos, enjoying a breakfast picnic in the sunshine or an early evening get-together with friends. As Autumn rolls around you can see the season changing before your very eyes and this is a wonderful time to explore the woodlands, go on a nature trail and kick up some leaves. The mild Winter here is a blessing for the Gardens and with the abundance of evergreen trees and the variety of plants that are suited to the different seasons, it still remains a lovely, colourful place to visit during the cooler months. Wrap a scarf around you, pop on a hat and just enjoy being outside amongst all the greenery. And even if it's raining, there are the Victorian greenhouses to explore, or just bring an umbrella and splash in the puddles – your kids will love you for it! 

Beauty and colour to be found at any time of the year

Beauty and colour to be found at any time of the year

Hamilton Gardens is made up of numerous themed gardens and collections that are all beautiful to explore and photograph at different times of the yearYou can click on the name links to see a full description of each one and learn more. 

The Paradise Collection features the following gardens from around the world

This is my personal favourite along with the Rose Garden

This is my personal favourite along with the Rose Garden

This garden is bursting with colour and is a very popular wedding spot and photoshoot location

This garden is bursting with colour and is a very popular wedding spot and photoshoot location

All the children's favourite spot in summer!

All the children's favourite spot in summer!

A great spot for watching fish, views of the river and seeing the amazing bamboo trees

A great spot for watching fish, views of the river and seeing the amazing bamboo trees

Smell the flowers or just sit and enjoy the sound of the birds & water features in the walled gardens

Smell the flowers or just sit and enjoy the sound of the birds & water features in the walled gardens

Pause and relax as you take in the perfectly laid out features here - Simon's personal favourite 

Pause and relax as you take in the perfectly laid out features here - Simon's personal favourite 

Moving on from these, the Productive Collection changes dramatically with the seasons depending on what is currently growing, so they are always interesting and educational to visit: 

NZ's only traditional Maori productive garden. The kumara harvested are given to local charities and iwi

NZ's only traditional Maori productive garden. The kumara harvested are given to local charities and iwi

Bees, chickens, vegetables, compost and more - a brilliant example of sustainable principles

Bees, chickens, vegetables, compost and more - a brilliant example of sustainable principles

An amazing walled garden filled with a constantly revolving array of fruits and vegetables - yum!

An amazing walled garden filled with a constantly revolving array of fruits and vegetables - yum!

Off the central sundial circle, the herb garden is split into 4 plots - culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and perfume 

Off the central sundial circle, the herb garden is split into 4 plots - culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and perfume 

The Fantasy Collection comprises of gardens that explore the different aspects of fantasy, from botanical, artistic and historical to cultural representations. These are the ones we have watched develop over the past few years and there are very  exciting new gardens planned within this collection.  

I absolutely LOVE this new garden, and particularly fancy the "Pudding House" for my monthly Pudding Club - not sure if you can actually go inside though

I absolutely LOVE this new garden, and particularly fancy the "Pudding House" for my monthly Pudding Club - not sure if you can actually go inside though

A lovely spot to sit on a bench or in the shade of the pavilion and watch the kids enjoy the grass

A lovely spot to sit on a bench or in the shade of the pavilion and watch the kids enjoy the grass

Around the other side of the Gardens, the Cultivar Collection features some of the larger areas dedicated to specific plants and themes. Cultural events are hosted on these gardens throughout the year that will appeal to all ages and are well worth coming along to. I will no doubt follow this post up with visuals of these gardens when the weather improves, but will leave you with the links for now. We do however have a special affinity with the Rose Garden... Can you tell?? 

This is my absolute most favourite spot in Hamilton and it feeds my soul. I could happily spend all day here

This is my absolute most favourite spot in Hamilton and it feeds my soul. I could happily spend all day here

Last but not least there is the Landscape Collection: 

After all that exploring, you can sit and unwind at the Café (if you can find a seat!) and enjoy watching the ducks on Turtle Lake or the hive of activity on the central lawn and before you leave, don’t forget to check out the amazing wood sculpture wall inside the Pavillion. Plus there's even a playpark for the kids!

If all this seems a bit overwhelming, believe me it is! (I could have probably written a seperate post on each of the gardens, but thought this would give you a great feel for the whole lot.) We couldn't believe the treasure that we'd stumbled upon the first time we visited for a breakfast picnic on the Camellia lawn, followed by a wander round the Paradise Collections and we left excited about coming back regularly. That is why one day is not nearly enough to explore the delights that are Hamilton Gardens! We have watched our children grow up here and so many of their happy early childhood memories are wrapped up in certain lovely spots. We would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone involved with The Gardens for all of the wonderful hard work you do, for the beautiful gardens you've created and the amazing annual events. We look forward to seeing the new developments and we will definitely be returning with friends for the events that have become fixtures in our annual calendar. I'll follow up on the blog as they occur... 

The pumpkin and scarecrow festival - 2 of Arabella & Lucy's favourite fun events!

The pumpkin and scarecrow festival - 2 of Arabella & Lucy's favourite fun events!

I encourage you all to make the most of Hamilton Gardens if you're here or add it to your must see list if you are heading to this part of the world. Take your time and just enjoy exploring all the different parts, there is beauty to discover around every corner and it is good medicine for all ages! 

Perhaps I'll see you there...

Holly x

Do you have a favourite spot that has become a part of your everyday life? Any recommendations for places we should visit one day?