Last weekend we wanted somewhere nearby to visit to make the most of the warm weather. I’ve not been to the National Herb Centre for years, but decided that we should go and check out the nature trail.
The National Herb Centre’s just outside Banbury; it’s a herb centre obviously, with every variety of herbs for sale that you could possibly imagine. They also sell other plants, fruit trees and more. As well as this, there are 6 display gardens, the nature trail, a shop and a restaurant. They also run lots of events for children throughout the year, although there wasn’t anything on while we were there.
N loved checking out the garden centre goods on sale. He wasn’t too sure about these recycled garden ‘ornaments’.
But got very excited about seeing this stone Land Rover. I had to stop him from sitting on it!
We headed straight to the nature trail walk. N wasn’t keen – I think he’d seen the hill we’d have to walk back up.
It took a while for me to get his to move from his sitting place. I diverted him by stopping so we could look at the display gardens. Compared to last time I visited where they looked immaculate, they were a bit overgrown as Autumn’s arrived. This was the roman garden.
We also found a horse chestnut tree so tried to find some conkers, but we could only find cases, spotting the others still securely on the trees. Then it was down to the nature trail. N was excited about the path because he didn’t think there was room for anyone to come past. Oh, and it was a great place to just sit and admire the view.
We listened to the crickets chirruping, watched a couple of birds of prey circling, and picked a few blackberries along the way. At the bottom of the hill there’s a lovely wooden structure to sit and relax before walking on towards the pond.
Of course while on a walk you need to have a stick. N had found one, and used it to pretend to chop down the long grass on the walk.
The pond was full of reeds, and there were lots of these teasels surrounding it. I love how these look in the sunlight against the trees or sky.
By that stage of the walk it was getting close to lunch time so we decided to head back. You can walk some way round the full trail, but we didn’t do much of it. On the way back up the hill N decided to pick me some flowers. He does like picking up leaves and different flowers, so next time we head out for a walk, I must remember to take a little bag for him to collect bits of nature so we can create a collage afterwards.
Heading to the restaurant we spotted a big Connect Four game, so of course we had to have a game. They have one at nursery so I thought N might have an idea of what he needed to do. But it seems not, and he just wanted to fill it up.
The menu in the restaurant was good for hot food. Sundays they even do roasts, then there were a variety of salads, sandwiches, hot food. N had a children’s lunchbox at the bargain price of £3.95 for a roll, crisps, drink, raisins and a fudge bar, plus colouring book and crayons. I have to admit the ham roll wasn’t great – he didn’t eat it all, as the ham was a bit greasy and the roll looked to me like a hamburger or muffin roll. My chunky chips caught his eye so he swiped a few of those.
I had issues with my panini. I didn’t fancy many of the fillings so opted for tuna and cheese, but like so many places, it was basically all tuna. I didn’t spot any cheese. I think I’m too fussy when it comes to sandwiches as I like to prescribe exactly how they are (at my old work, I would ask for cheese with a touch of tuna).
It’s obviously a popular place for lunch as there were reserved tables, as well as several filled outside. The hot food did look good. Maybe we’ll come back another time for lunch.
I’d said that we could go and find the playground, so I didn’t have chance to stop and smell all the different mints or thymes as we walked through the herbs. It was worth finding, just to see the view over the valley.
They had some lovely obstacle style play equipment, with bridges and balance beams.
But the big draw was the wonderful climbing frame, complete with telescope and steering wheel.
There’s also a mini maze which is lovely to look at and the perfect height and difficulty for young children.
N loved wandering through it. I’m not surprised as it was a bit unexpected to find it there; it looked wonderful in the sunlight. Although it appeared that the sundial was broken!
We really enjoyed exploring the National Herb Centre, and there’s definitely more for us to discover on another visit. I’ll have to keep a watch out for the special events in case there’s one worth booking onto.