Christmas at Cliveden – 11th December 2011
With just two weeks to go until Christmas, we decided to head up to Cliveden so that the girls could visit Father Christmas.
We arrived to an accompaniment of light rain and parked up in the car-park as a number of visitors were moving into a large marquee to enjoy some carol singing.
Deciding to bypass the carol singing and investigate the Father Christmas trail instead, having obtained a map, clipboard and pencil and duly paid the required £4 per child, we set off in the rain.
Fortunately the inclement weather soon abated and we were able to follow the trail through the gardens seeking out various numbered clues and answering questions posed on the sheet – some of which had somewhat tenuous links to Christmas!
Eventually we emerged at the side of the main house and on rounding the corner, were greeted by a queue of around 30 people waiting to meet the Big Man.
We joined the back of the queue and had to wait outside for around 20 minutes before we finally reached the front of the queue and were directed to Santa’s Grotto by one of his helpers.
The Grotto was quite well set out and impressively organised, with all the gifts being sorted by sex and age of the child. There were even some for ‘Over 11s’!
Father Christmas himself was secreted behind a screen which was liberally decorated with holly.
When it was our turn, we were ushered into his presence and he invited Rebekah and Holly to sit on chairs opposite him before asking them various questions about Chrismas – whether they had a tree, had they bought presents and most importantly had they been good?
He finished by giving them their presents which they opened as soon as they got outside the Grotto. Rebekah received a Christmas quiz and activity book. Holly was equally pleased with her gift of a pair of binoculars.
Overall the whole ‘experience’ had been well thought out and organised. It was good to get outside for a walk in the open air and being able to combine it with seeing Father Christmas proved ideal.
My only thought would be to consider having some shelter for the queue from the elements. On a December day, 20+ minutes is a long time to wait outside! Surprisingly the girls didn’t seem to mind though!