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Until last year I’d never carved a pumpkin. Apart from the faff of removing the pulp and seeds, I really enjoyed carving it, so was looking forward to trying something else this year. Hatton Adventure World asked if we’d like to come to Pumpkin Week and choose our pumpkin direct from the field, so of course I said yes.
We only went to Hatton a few weeks ago so N could remember really well all the things he enjoyed, so he’d been looking forward to it loads before we arrived. Pumpkin Week is one of their special events and runs during the October half term week. I decided we’d go on the first Sunday in the hope it wouldn’t be too busy. The weather was cold and very windy, but that didn’t seem to stop people coming for the event.
The first thing we noticed walking from the shopping village to the Adventure World was the spooky music, and the pumpkin displays. Hatton really do make it feel quite spooky and just right for Halloween. Of course N refused to have his photo taken sat amongst the pumpkins which I was gutted about. The displays really looked lovely, even though they were quite simple.
Throughout the site, there were Halloween dummies and scarecrows with sickles and scythes, knifes and barrels of gore. N didn’t seem too spooked about the ones outside, but it was great to see how much effort that was put in.
Of course the combine, tractors and sandpit was calling him, so I spent a lot of time standing around watching him play. I love how involved he gets with one simple activity, and the sandpit is definitely a draw for children of different ages.
N also had a quick trampoline, then we walked round trying to find some of the large ‘animal’ pumpkins for our pumpkin quiz. I wanted to help win N a prize by completing it, but by the time we left we were still missing one and he refused to walk anymore!
Then the JCB tractors were calling N so he had a stint in the play area, which this time was pretty packed. Not helped by lots of parents inside the track area helping their children and taking photos. N had a few pedals round and then we wandered into the nearby ‘scary scales and terrifying tails’ to check out the spooky goings on in there.
There were the usual reptiles, spiders and ‘creepy’ animals which N’s never that interested in, although he did have a quick glance at the ‘pumpkin’ lady with the snake. And there was a smouldering, smoking cauldron that other children were posing round for photos.
Despite N saying he didn’t want to, we also checked out the guinea pig village again – I’m not a particular fan, but it is mammoth with the pure numbers. They were also just getting some out of the runs for children to hold them if wanted, but N was quickly into the next area…drawn again to it by the Peter Rabbit mural on the wall.
N wanted to go into Snortys for some soft play before lunch but it was packed out and he wasn’t sure about the crowds and noise so we just had lunch instead. Considering how busy it was, we did find seats with no problems, although there is the Spinning Jenny Restaurant who want to dine in relative peace and quiet away from soft play. N had a children’s lunchbox – again liking the choices to go in it (5 items plus a drink, with little pots of raisins, sausage and mini marshmallows going down a treat as well as fresh fruit, sandwiches, yoghurts, crisps and chocolate being included in the options). I wanted a jacket potato again having found it good value and good size portions last time. But the potatoes weren’t quite cooked when we were there at just after 12 – I didn’t want to wait 10-15 minutes so had a cheesy pasta dish which was a tad on the bland side. I was also offered chips with it (carbs on carbs), but was able to have salad instead. Veg option or garlic bread would have been a nice touch.
Inside there were spooky Halloween decorations again, and just behind our seating area was a spooky full size cloaked ‘man’ which occasionally moved. I didn’t think anything of it until I got up to leave and tidy our tray up. I turned round to see N hadn’t followed, and next thing I knew he was crying and wouldn’t leave the table. I think the scary ‘man’ must have moved as I walked. I had to carry him out as there was no way he’d walk past the man. Oops.
Then it was time for us to go and pick our pumpkin. Needless to say you could tell who the regulars were…complete with tough fabric shopping bags, pushchairs, and wheely boxes to carry their pumpkins in. I hadn’t really thought about that, so had to rely on the plastic bag we were given as we handed in our ‘free pumpkin for every child’ voucher.
N loved being in the pumpkin field. He was definitely in his element, searching out for a good pumpkin.
‘Not a big pumpkin mummy, or daddy won’t be pleased’. Eh? No idea where he’d got that from, but a medium sized one would be good for ease of carving and carrying back to the car.
Pumpkin fields really are a picture of Autumn and Halloween. It was so hard to choose one, because each time you spotted a nice one and went to it, you saw another one.
Eventually we made our choice and started walking back up the hill. Our bag broke, so all I can say is that my arms had such a good workout (especially as N wanted to keep holding my hand), they were in agony the next day. Next time I go to pick my own pumpkin away from a supermarket, I shall be taking a trolley. Alternatively I’d have happily paid for the loan of a trolley or wagon for going back to the car.
On the way back I wanted to check out the spooky halloween marquee where there was the haunted house for over 8s (at certain times of the day) and also benches set up to carve your pumpkin, which you could then enter into the carving competition. N found it a bit too spooky in the dark with staff dressed up in their Halloween costumes, so we didn’t stay long. It is meant to be suitable for all ages, apart from the set times for the haunted house part, but I suppose it depends on your children.
My only issue was that there’s only one entrance and to get to it is a long way round if you’re lugging a pumpkin and have a 3 year old with ‘tired legs’. Then of course to exit you have to walk the long way round too. Would have been nice to have been able to exit out the short cut route.
There were also other spooky activities taking place that we didn’t make it too: the usual owl/falconry displays, scary storytelling for younger children, a Halloween disco in the family theatre, and the spooky eternity engine tractor ride. There’s easily enough to spend a whole day with the family there and you can’t miss the spooky touches, including having all the staff dressed in various costumes.
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